STILLWATER — Wes Lunt as starting quarterback is enough to make Oklahoma State reliant on the true freshman.
But it goes beyond the 18-year-old signal-caller for the defending Big 12 champions.
Six players on the Cowboys' most recent depth chart were still in high school at this time last year, perhaps making OSU the ranked team in the country that will most count on true freshmen this season. And it may be the largest amount of first-year players that coach Mike Gundy has expected to play key roles right away in his eight years as a head coach.
“Could be,” Gundy said. “Looking at it as a whole, I don't know. I haven't really studied that part. I'll say that this is the most talented group we've had, which allows us to rely on them more, because we feel like they can help us.”
Lunt is the only true freshman starting quarterback for a team ranked in The Associated Press' preseason top 25. Then add at least three receivers — C.J. Curry, Blake Webb and Austin Hays — and possibly as many as five, if Brandon Sheperd and Jhajuan Seales also see the field. Tack on two backup cornerbacks in Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin. A defensive end, most likely Victor Irokansi or Trace Clark, could also work into the rotation.
And that doesn't include the Cowboys who will play immediately on special teams.
To compare, defending Big Ten champion Wisconsin has one true freshman (backup right guard Dan Voltz) listed on its two-deep updated last week. National staple Virginia Tech has five true freshmen on its two-deep, though one is punter A.J. Hughes and another is J.C. Coleman, who is listed with two others as the second-team running back. Several other teams will wait until later this week to release their updated depth chart before the first game.
Gundy admits that the unknown with so many newcomers is a concern heading into the season, that practice and games are clearly different. But he remains optimistic about OSU's large crop of youngsters.
“We think, as coaches, we have a pretty idea of what's going to happen,” Gundy said. “We hope that that comes true, but we never really know until we get about a month into the season.”
Here's a breakdown of OSU's true freshmen who will play on offense or defense this season, as well as who could play.
Who will play
Wes Lunt, QB
Will become OSU's first true freshman starting quarterback since Tone Jones in 1993 when he takes his first snap against Savannah State on Saturday.
C.J. Curry, WR
Expectations were high for the big, physical Curry coming into fall camp, and he has kept his spot backing up Tracy Moore.
Blake Webb, WR
With injuries to David Glidden and Torrance Carr during fall camp, the speedy Webb got valuable reps.
Kevin Peterson, CB
Has already shown big-play ability and nose for the football.
Austin Hays, WR
Perhaps the biggest preseason surprise. Wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn has called Hays the most consistent freshman receiver.
Ashton Lampkin, CB
Another DB who has made most of extra reps while Devin Hedgepeth and Andrae May work way back from serious injury.
Who could play
Brandon Sheperd, WR
Has spent a good chunk of time running with the second team.
Victor Irokansi, DE
Explosive player off the edge; defensive coordinator Bill Young singled him out early in camp.
Jhajuan Seales, WR
A late bloomer in high school and sleeper of the 2012 class, Dunn has said Seales may have most potential of the five freshmen.
Trace Clark, DE
Intelligent player with great pedigree. Father, Stevan, played in NFL and brother, Zac, played at Oregon.