STILLWATER — In the first week of Oklahoma State's fall camp, Cowboy newcomers got their chance to impress coaches. And some returning players started to make their push for a more prominent role this fall.
There's still more than two weeks until the Cowboys begin a quest to defend their Big 12 title. But here's a look at some of the true freshmen (other than quarterback Wes Lunt) who have made an early impact, as well as returners who are contenders to rise on the depth chart.
C.J. Curry, wide receiver
As the only other true freshman besides Lunt listed on the preseason depth chart released before camp even began, expectations were already high for Curry. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound outside receiver has taken reps with the first and second team and is a virtual lock to see significant time in the offense in his first season.
Wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn: “He's big, fast, pretty. And he's a coach's kid. Coach's kids tend to have a different perspective of football, of the game, than most. They're coached a little harder. They take coaching a little better. They understand the ups and downs. They understand getting back up after you got knocked down. It's just different. Coach's kids have an easier time adjusting (to college football).”
Blake Webb, inside receiver
Webb is smaller than Curry (5-11) but can run the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds. And with fellow inside receiver Torrance Carr out 2-3 weeks with a foot injury, Webb's practice reps could increase even more. In addition to Webb and Curry, Brandon Sheperd and Austin Hays could work into the receiver rotation.
Inside receivers coach Doug Meacham: “Blake's going to play. There's no question. He's so fast, and he's picking up the offense well. … He's in the rotation right now, so we're counting on him.”
Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin, cornerbacks
With Devin Hedgepeth and Andrae May both coming off serious injuries, the spots behind starters Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown have been up for grabs between two redshirt freshmen in Miketavius Jones and Jonovan Griffin and two true freshmen in Peterson and Lampkin. Brown praised both newcomers last week, and Peterson has especially shown a knack for reading the ball and snagging the interception.
Cornerbacks coach Jason Jones: “Both of them are smart. They come in and watch tape and ask questions. They pick up on things pretty quickly. The one thing that caught everybody's attention was the first day in pads when it was the first time they got a chance to really thud and things like that. Both of those guys are physical guys. They came down and were making tackles on the tailbacks and tackling wide receivers.”
Victor Irokansi, defensive end
Defensive coordinator Bill Young said Saturday that he's been impressed with all four of the Cowboys' defensive end signees in Irokansi, Eric Davis, Trace Clark and Emmanuel Ogbah. But he singled out Irokansi unsolicited after one practice last week.
Defensive coordinator Bill Young: “He's just so quick off the football. The strength coaches say nobody outworked him during the summer program and that's carried right over to the field.”
Shamiel Gary, safety
Perhaps the Cowboys' only legitimate starting position battle is at strong safety, where Lavocheya Cooper has held a slight edge over Shamiel Gary. But safeties coach Van Malone likes Gary's aggressiveness, and there are certain defensive looks where the Tulsa Washington product is “the guy.” Gary sat out last season after transferring from Wyoming, where he was a freshman All-American in 2009.
Ryan Simmons, linebacker
One of the youngsters in OSU's athletic second unit, Simmons, a redshirt freshman, could eventually push Caleb Lavey for the starting job at middle linebacker. That would be quite the accomplishment, considering Lavey ranked third on the team with 74 tackles a season ago.
Ryan Robinson, defensive end
Already pegged as a starter at defensive end, coaches have raved about Robinson's progress in his second season since transferring from Jones County Junior College in Mississippi. His conditioning and understanding of the defense have improved dramatically, and Young loves his quick “punch” when the ball is snapped.
Daniel Koenig, offensive tackle
The loss of Michael Bowie led to opportunity for Koenig, who right now is slated to start at right tackle after Parker Graham was moved to the left side. The third Koenig brother to play at OSU, Daniel saw extensive time on the offensive line in four games last season.