Mike Gundy deflects any alarms attached to Oklahoma State's repeated roster hits.
Still, the warning signs are evident.
Since last summer, the Cowboys have seen 16 players exit the program for a variety of reasons, including such potential high-impact guys as Michael Bowie – the starter at left tackle – running back Herschel Sims and receivers Michael Harrison and Isaac McCoy.
In the past few weeks alone, OSU has lost Bowie, defensive tackle Mike Mustafa and four-star offensive line recruit Greg Brantley.
Even more concerning, 12 prospects originally signed in the 2010 recruiting class are gone, including perceived franchise quarterbacks Johnny Deaton and Nathan Sorenson.
The good news: OSU is getting production from most of the 2010 recruits who remain, with Joseph Randle, Justin Gilbert, Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey leading the way.
“We had guys leave, mainly for personal reasons,” Gundy said. “A very small percentage of those guys were actually going to factor into the three-deep this year.”
But what about next year? And 2014 for sure?
There soon could come a time when the Cowboys find themselves short on veteran contributors, and in turn, short on leadership.
And up a creek in terms of APR.
Immediately, it's hardly a reason for panic – as long as players at key positions don't get injured. Quality depth at wide receiver, running back, quarterback and on the offensive line has been stressed, putting a heavy burden on unproven youngsters to be on call, ready or not.
Good thing Cowboys coaches are excited about their cast of freshmen receivers, because they're already being expected to contribute. Next year, they'll be asked to star and lead the next big wave of freshmen wideouts who are being courted now, out of necessity.
Reasons for the roster shrinkage are many. In some cases, discipline problems were jettisoned. Some players decided college football was too hard. Others sought more immediate playing time, rather than wait their turn.
“The majority of those guys who left,” Gundy said, “didn't think they could compete at this level at an early enough stage in their career, so they didn't want to sit. And we give them releases, because I don't want a guy to be here if he doesn't want to be here.
“It's not anybody's fault. If a guy wants to go play ball at another school, he should be able to go play ball at another school, instead of sitting around here miserable and causing problems.”
That's an issue more and more across college football, not just at OSU. Players simply aren't willing to be patient.
“They leave too early,” Gundy said. “But you can't ever talk them out of it.
“What it means, and it's no secret, we're responsible for doing a good job and trying to bring guys into our program who have enough character to stay.”
What it also means is the Cowboys have little room for recruiting error over the next couple years, or all their work building depth will be for naught.
These are good times for OSU football, with the program coming off the best season in school history, complete with a Big 12 championship and a Fiesta Bowl win and a Top 25 ranking for 2012.
There's talent in place and optimism surrounding many young players. So finding potential flaws might just be nitpicking.
And yet, there is an uneasiness over the loss of talent, inside the program and out.
And the warning signs are evident.