Cowboys wideout Isaiah Anderson has been creating much buzz this preseason, seemingly taking his senior season seriously.
Anderson came on as a productive receiver a year ago after Hubert Anyiam was lost to injury, finishing with 28 catches for 315 yards and four touchdowns. Now Anderson seems ready to do more.
“One thing Isaiah is doing is he's really catching the ball well,” said offensive coordinator Todd Monken. “Isaiah's always been a guy who could run, who you could throw a post to, who you could throw three or four different routes to. But he's really become more well-rounded. He's made three or four, I mean highlight catches, that I would have never guessed.”
Monken said Anderson has worked hard to improve. And with receivers coach Kasey Dunn pushing him, and backup receiver Charlie Moore pushing him, it seems to be happening.
“Kasey Dunn's done a nice job with him,” Monken said. “Ike's really worked at it. I think having Charlie out there to push him, having competition always raises someone's standard. If they want to play, they have to push themselves.
“I couldn't be happier for him, because Ike's a great kid. He's really advanced himself.”
RANDLE RUNNING AT HISTORY
With 1,668 career rushing yards, Cowboys running back Joseph Randle ranks No. 25 on OSU's career rushing chart.
Just a junior, Randle ran for 1,216 a year ago. Repeating that total would jump him into the top 10 and within striking distance of the career 4,000 mark – a lofty number reached by only Thurman Thomas (4,595), Terry Miller (4,581), David Thompson (4,318) and Kendall Hunter (4,181) in Cowboys history.
And Randle sounds like he's ready to take aim.
“I feel like I'm a better football player after the summer I just went through,” Randle said. “Being smarter. Being mentally ready. Being physically ready, in good shape.”
POSITION PLATOONS POSSIBLE
The running back duo of Randle and Jeremy Smith is Oklahoma State's prime example of a 1A and 1B combo. But that's not the only position where the Cowboys are likely to, essentially, have co-starters in 2012.
Defensive end: Cooper Bassett and Nigel Nicholas.
This is the only starting position that features an “or” on the preseason depth chart. Call these guys the Cowboys' utility players. Bassett has played tight end, defensive tackle and defensive end at OSU, while Nicholas began his career as an undersized tackle before moving back out to his natural position of end this spring.
Strong safety: Lavocheya Cooper and Shamiel Gary.
Not only will Cooper and Gary both play about 60 snaps per game, they'll often be on the field at the same time.
Wide receiver: Isaiah Anderson and Charlie Moore.
Anderson seems to have elevated his game, and Moore has done much to prove that his spring breakout was for real.
Middle linebacker: Caleb Lavey and Ryan Simmons.
Lavey was a dependable force in the middle for the Cowboys last season, ranking third on the team with 74 tackles. But Simmons is perhaps the most talented of a stout group of second-team linebackers who are pushing for playing time.
By John Helsley, Gina Mizell and Berry Tramel