After losing a 28-player senior class, Oklahoma State goes into the 2014 season with starting positions to fill and many other spots on the depth chart open. Especially on defense, new faces are likely to make an immediate impact. On offense, the Cowboys grabbed a few players who could become stars. Here are some new Cowboys to keep an eye on this season:
Josh Mabin, LB
A three-star recruit from Klein Oak (Texas) High School, Mabin comes in with college-ready size at 6-2, 227. He also runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, and though he might be more of an inside linebacker prototype, Mabin will be one of several incoming linebackers competing to start on the outside after the Cowboys lost Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey to graduation.
Gyasi Akem, LB
Akem is a four-star recruit from Broken Arrow, and though he’s smaller (6-1, 210) and slower (4.6) than Mabin, he’s known for his physical style and has had a long relationship with the OSU coaching staff. Thrown in Pearland (Texas) recruit Justin Phillips, and the new guys are sure to become familiar in a thin OSU linebacking corps.
Josh Furman, S
Furman graduated from Michigan in May before transferring to OSU, making him eligible immediately. OSU needs help and experience at safety, and Furman provides just that. He was no star at Michigan, but he started three games for the Wolverines in 2013 and walks into a depth chart situation that should give the 6-foot-2 transfer every opportunity to start at strong safety.
Sione Palelei, RB
The Louisiana native went under the radar after suffering a season-ending injury early in his senior year, but he has a 4.35 40-yard dash time and enters a backfield looking for a fourth option. With Devon Thomas all but officially out of the picture, Palelei could earn a few carries early in his career.
Mason Rudolph, QB
The 6-foot-4, 217-pound quarterback from Rock Hill, S.C., enrolled at OSU to compete for a starting job. He wasn’t spectacular in spring practices, but he has a strong arm and underrated mobility. His first season in Stillwater will likely depend on how J.W. Walsh performs, but the OSU coaching staff recruited Rudolph to play, and that time will come. It’s just a matter of when.
Tyreek Hill, RB-WR
If you don’t already know about him, you should. Hill comes from Garden City Community College, and he already broke OSU records this spring on the track. He brings supreme speed, and proved with highlight plays in the spring that he’s already one of the Cowboys’ top offensive players. Hill will likely play running back, receiver and possibly return kicks.