Of course, it's not a guarantee that all of these players expected to return will make an impact in 2013 and beyond. Running back Joseph Randle, one of the nation's premier running backs, could declare for the NFL Draft. A quarterback — or even two — could transfer after playing well in their stint as the starter. Injuries happen, as the Cowboys have learned so well this season.
But senior defensive end Cooper Bassett is satisfied with what he's leaving behind as he prepares to take the field at Boone Pickens Stadium for the final time.
“OSU's going to win multiple Big 12 championships and hopefully a national championship here pretty soon, because we're very close,” he said. “This program's been built up, and it's not a flash in the pan. With the coaching staff we have and the players we continually bring in and the support we get week in and week out…it's here to stay.
“I can't be happier to know that I'm leaving this place and it's going to continue to get bigger and better, and I get to come back and watch and enjoy and remember when.”
MORE FROM NEWSOK
2012 OSU SENIOR CLASS
Isaiah Anderson, WR
A speedster whose final season has been hampered by a finger injury.
Cooper Bassett, DL
A versatile lineman who has become a starter and fan favorite.
Brodrick Brown, CB
An All-Big 12 performer a year ago but still looking for his first interception of 2012.
DeJuan Davis, DL
A special teams contributor who has worked on both lines during his career.
Alex Elkins, LB
His journey from an open junior college tryout to starter for the Cowboys is a remarkable story.
Evan Epstein, C
A transfer from Air Force who became the starting center in his final season.
Tyler Fields, LB
A special teams contributor and key member of scout team.
Wes Harlan, H
Has never bobbled a snap during his Cowboy career.
Maurice Hayes, DL
A 300-pound interior lineman who has seen game action during his career.
Justin Horton, TE
A contributor on offense whose final season was cut short due to an injury sustained in the Iowa State game.
Jarid King, DL
A scout team member who has seen game action during career.
Andrae May, CB
Worked his way back from an ACL injury sustained during spring practice.
Nigel Nicholas, DE
Moved from tackle to his natural position of end this season and became a part-time starter.
David Paulsen, FB
Mostly a special teams contributor, but has played on offense during career.
Ryan Robinson, DE
A starter at end and arguably one of the most underrated Cowboys.
Jonathan Rush, OL
Returned for his sixth season as a starter at left guard.
Quinn Sharp, K/P
The reigning Big 12 Special Teams player of the year and perhaps the most valuable Cowboy.
Lane Taylor, OL
A staple on the offensive line and leads the team with 45 career starts.