Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy announced Saturday that three players who began summer camp as walk-ons have been given scholarships:
Senior punter Kip Smith, senior fullback Teddy Johnson and junior quarterback Daxx Garman.
“We have a great program here that we’re very proud of,” Gundy said. “I’m going to venture out to guess that we put more walk-ons on scholarship here than anyone else in this league. They’re treated with great respect and they get all the same opportunities that the scholarship players do, with the exception of tuition.”
Smith was the Cowboys’ featured punter and kickoff specialist last season, averaging 40.8 yards per punt and 60 yards per kick. Johnson was a key special teams contributor who makes the switch from linebacker to fullback in 2014.
Garman has yet to play for the Cowboys since transferring into the program two years ago from Arizona. But Gundy said last week Garman is preparing to take “10-to-12 snaps” in the opener against Florida State Aug. 30.
Gundy spoke at length about how much walk-ons have meant to his program over the past 10 years and remarked at the importance of the wall honoring their efforts near the Cowboys’ locker room.
TYREEK HILL TAKES ‘BIGGEST STEP’
One of Tyreek Hill's teammates said the first-year Cowboy had a run during Saturday's scrimmage that "was almost like one of those high school plays.”
Start near one sideline. Reverse all the way across the field. Dart up the other sideline.
“Coach (Jemal) Singleton about threw his hat off,” wide receiver David Glidden said. “At the same time, I don’t know if (Hill) got touched. He probably would have scored.”
Gundy said Hill’s performance was “the biggest step that he’s taken” through summer and fall camp.
“When (Hill) was out there with us in the spring, and I said this, he was still a track guy playing football,” Gundy said. “He showed some signs today of a football player playing football. So I thought it was a really good scrimmage for him.”
The things that stuck out to Gundy on Saturday? Hill fully exerting his energy throughout the 131-play scrimmage, and then returning to the field with the same amount of drive. And Hill’s dedication to refining technical aspects of his potential role next season, like run blocking and route running.
Glidden said he’s also watched Hill progress in those areas and others, including communication with his coaches and teammates.
“When he came in, (Hill) was kind of a shyer guy … but he’s opened up," Glidden said. “I think he’s starting to feel really comfortable around here with his coaches and his other teammates. We’re trying to make him feel at home.”
JONES TAKES IN SCRIMMAGE
Cowboys recruit Ronald Jones II had dual reason to be in Stillwater on Saturday.
First and foremost, he was there to help his sister — a journalism student — move back on campus.
But the trip also offered the premium running back prospect from Texas a look into OSU’s offense during Saturday’s scrimmage.
Jones took in the action with his family following a week in which he further confirmed his commitment to the Cowboys. The four-star back visited Texas A&M, but told Rivals.com that he was firm to OSU and didn’t plan to take any more official visits. Jones has also been actively recruiting other prospects to join him in Stillwater.
Considered one of the nation’s top running backs, Jones is coming off a junior season at McKinney North in which he ran for 2,406 yards and 39 touchdowns, averaging 9.9 yards per carry.
SPENCER: THE CLOCK IS TICKING
No stats or details were revealed on Saturday’s scrimmage, but interviews following suggested a good day by the offense.
“I think the offense did a great job and the defense still needs work,” said Cowboys defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. “It’s a good thing this was the first scrimmage and we have more left and we get a chance to improve.”
Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said there were no surprises – which wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
“I saw exactly what I would expect, probably,” Spencer said, “but it’s not what I want. What I saw doesn’t make me feel good.”
Three weeks remain until OSU faces No. 1 Florida State.
“There’s a big gap we have to close between now and the 30th,” Spencer said. “I told (the players) afterwards, ‘Get ready to be coached hard. Get ready for it.’
“And they were all shaking their heads. They want to be good. Now some of them have to realize what it takes to get good. And that’s our job as coaches.
“The bar’s not going to come down to them. So we have to figure out how to get them up to the bar.”