Days before this year’s Cotton Bowl, Oklahoma State running back Desmond Roland reflected on a year where he went from troubled talent to unquestioned starter.
“I had a feeling it was going to come,” Roland said. “I just was staying positive, working hard, staying on my grind … I just knew when my name was called, I was going to have to take advantage of it.”
That time finally came midway through last season against Iowa State. Senior Jeremy Smith hadn’t met lofty expectations, and the OSU coaching staff gave Roland the nod.
“My position coach, (Jemal) Singleton said, ‘Hey, this is your opportunity,’” Roland said. “I was like, ‘I got to take full advantage of it. I got to make something happen.’”
By racking up 219 yards and four touchdowns, he did that and then some.
Roland became OSU’s starter, and behind a revamped offensive line he helped revive the Cowboys’ running game and propel them into the Cotton Bowl. Roland finished the season with 811 yards and 13 touchdowns.
More importantly, he proved he can handle the responsibilities of being a bell-cow running back. And with questions at other key positions, that might make him OSU’s most important offensive player this season.
Now, Singleton is less concerned with Roland and more worried about how players like Tyreek Hill, Rennie Childs and possibly another back will work behind him.
“We know what Desmond can do,” Singleton said. “He’s been here, we’ve seen him. He has a chance to be a senior in the system, and we know where he can be.”
Continue reading this story on the...