Cowboys coaches have believed that this class of freshmen carries great potential.
And while early in camp, they’re seeing some confirmation.
“We had nine players, I counted, on the second team today that are true freshmen, basically,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “Those guys are going to have to play, so I'm encouraged in that area.”
Most of the freshmen who have put themselves in play are on defense, where the Cowboys took huge personnel hits from a year ago.
The defensive front is a strength, loaded with experience and proven players. But the back seven features but two players with extensive experience in linebacker Ryan Simmons and cornerback Kevin Peterson.
“We've got a number of players that have a lot of experience and understanding, and then there's a gap,” Gundy said. “Then we have more players that are talented, but don't have any experience.
“It's really the best definition of where we're at right now as a defense.”
CARAVAN STOP REVEALING
Gundy broke some news, to an extent, at the Cowboy Caravan stop at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City Tuesday night.
Prepping the crowd on the 2014 Cowboys, Gundy ran through common talking points before saying: “We have a heck of a quarterback battle going.”
He had some fun, too. A young girl asked him, “When we beat Florida State, will you do the dance in the locker room?” Gundy responded, “That’s the plan … Whenever we do, everybody in here will be dancing.”
OSU opens the season against the Seminoles on Aug. 30 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Other select outtakes from his combination primer/question-and-answer session:
“It’s been as fun as ever for myself and my staff to see young players develop.”
“I think this is the best recruiting staff we’ve had.”
“This is my first time as head coach that we’ve put a plan in place before we left for summer break, for a variety of reasons. One, they’re pretty good.”
“We’re recruiting further ahead, on 2016-17 prospects. We hate to get too far ahead, but prospects now are bigger, faster, stronger than ever.”
“We’ll play at least two guys (at linebacker) who were playing high school football last year.”
PRACTICES GAINING INTENSITY
Tuesday morning’s practice was the Cowboys’ fifth, but the first in full pads.
And that came with some added intensity.
“It's a good feeling to get back in pads,” said sophomore linebacker Seth Jacobs, in competition for a starting job. “Everyone's flying around. Everybody's getting more reps. Everyone's working hard and trying to get their assignments right.”
The Pokes will conclude this week with their first full-scale scrimmage Saturday.
ROLAND BACK FROM GROOMSMAN DUTY
Running back Desmond Roland was excused over the weekend to attend his sister’s wedding.
“First time ever at a wedding and I really enjoyed it,” Roland said. “I held back the tears. It was a shock seeing my sister getting married. She was just babysitting me the other day.
“It was just amazing to see her get married. And I’m glad Coach Gundy let me go to the wedding.”
A former All-American long-distance runner at Grambling State, the former Neia Richard tabbed little brother as a groomsman.
“I was late to rehearsal,” he said. “We were still figuring stuff out the day of the wedding. I was like, ‘I hope I don’t mess things up for my sister. She’s going to be really mad.’
“But we did a good job and she had a great time. And she’s really happy, so that’s all that matters.”
“We've been showing some intensity, some juice and some emotion. We've done a good job of that. I thought today, at first, that we didn't have that edge coming out to practice, but as the day went on, we got better. Then, there's the mental mistakes, which have a collective accountability out there. There's a responsibility to get it right, which you realize can be a process as coach.” — Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer