Oklahoma State defensive tackle James Castleman says he is 100 percent healed from the foot surgery that kept him out of spring practice.
The 6-foot-2, 296-pound junior is the expected starter alongside Calvin Barnett in the middle of a defensive line being billed as one of the best in the Big 12.
Castleman underwent the surgery after last season and said the recovery process was slow, but worth it.
“It feels like I'm 100 percent right now,” he said. “Our health and conditioning coaches did a good job of getting me back, not pushing me too hard and making sure I didn't do certain things before I was healthy.
“I was just as patient as possible, trying to do what they told me to do.”
The Amarillo, Texas, native who shot to the top of the depth chart last season, finished with 30 tackles, 6.5 of them for lost yardage.
DEFENSIVE CHATTER CONTINUES
Ever since Glenn Spencer was elevated to the defensive coordinator's post, taking over for the fired Bill Young, the defensive talking point has centered on more aggressive play.
Still, the truth on just how aggressive the Cowboys will play seems to vary.
Spencer has downplayed any new approach, warning fans not to expect some shift to blitzes on every down.
Players, however, say there is a noticeable difference in approach.
“Oh, it's going to be way, way more aggressive,” said sophomore cornerback Kevin Peterson. “We're going to be batting down more balls. They're going to let us play man (coverage) more. They're going to let us play our game and do our thing.”
And it's a change that has been well-received.
“Starting from spring to now, Coach Spencer's been pushing, ‘Aggressive, aggressive, aggressive,'” said Ashton Lampkin, another sophomore corner. “And I mean, that's a DB's dream, to be aggressive.
“He's given us the option to put that in our toolbox, and we're going to take advantage of it.”
BODY BY (ROB) GLASS
Cowboys running back Jeremy Smith was a hot topic among his fellow players, and even his head coach Saturday.
But it wasn't for anything he's done on the field.
On Friday, a member of the OSU media relations staff tweeted a picture of Smith and said “Are you kidding me with the biceps...”
The picture was from the Cowboys' practice on Friday and showed Smith cradling a football in his huge arms.
“I always tease him that if I looked like him I'd just move to LA and just walk around in swim trunks all day,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said.
“He's certainly benefited from, as the players call it, ‘Body by (Rob) Glass.'”
Glass is OSU's assistant athletic director for speed, strength and conditioning.
Smith shrugged off the talk, only calling Gundy “super goofy.”
PLAYERS TALK PATMON
Safety Daytawion Lowe is impressed with the secondary's depth.
And the addition of transfer Tyler Patmon only aids that.
Patmon, under Gundy's rule about first-year players not being allowed to speak to the media, was unavailable for interviews Saturday, but some players talked about the impression he has already made.
“He's a guy that has played in the Big 12 already, so he knows what to expect,” Lowe said. “He knows the offenses that we face. So it's kind of like throw an extra guy in there type of thing.”
Patmon was a three-year starter at Kansas, where he led the team with three interceptions last season.
He also earned first-team Academic All-Big 12 honors, which is something that has stood out in the meeting room.
“Patmon's really, really smart,” Peterson said. “He's real technical. He's had a really good impact.”
JACKSON READY TO BREAK OUT
Last season, Blake Jackson led the Cowboys in yards per reception at 19.9. This year, he plans to add more consistency to his big-play ability.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound receiver said last year's experience after transferring from junior college was invaluable heading into his senior season.
“It humbled me a lot and made me even more motivated,” said Jackson, who had 30 catches for 598 yards and three TDs, yet also some notable drops. “I came out of juco with a lot of hype, so I was just ready to come out and perform. But now I know what it takes to go in on Saturday and give your best.
“You have to be mentally ready. You have to get in the film room to be on the same page with your quarterback, and you have to be focused. I think that experience last year is what I really needed in order to break out this year.”
SIXTH TIME A CHARM?
If it feels like fullback Kye Staley has been around for nearly a decade, you're not alone.
“Kye has been really good for us,” Gundy said. “We tease him that he's back for his 10th year.”
In reality, this is Staley's sixth season in Stillwater. After suffering a brutal knee injury in his first season at OSU, Staley has been a big part of the Cowboys' offense the past two seasons.
He was granted an extra year of eligibility in November.
“Kye would play here as long as he could,” Gundy said. “Its really amazing that he's capable of doing what he does in practice and in games.
“It's important for us to have that fullback at time and he's certainly a good one.”
Staley had 12 catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns in 2012, including a 52-yard catch-and-score against Louisiana-Lafayette.