“It was hard (sitting out),” Gary said. “But I just wanted to do my job (on the scout team) and give them a look on offense. It was just good going with the ride. It was a great year, and it was good having a chance to be a part of it.”
Since then, Gary and junior Lavocheya Cooper have been competing to start opposite Daytawion Lowe at safety.
Cooper topped the depth chart throughout spring practice and heading into fall camp. But he and Gary often play at the same time in certain packages when an extra defensive back is needed. And a head injury that held Cooper out of practice for a few days gave Gary some additional reps.
“Shamiel, in my mind, is one of the hardest-working guys on the team,” Malone said. “He does a good job watching video, anticipating, being in the right position, so he ends up making many plays.”
Gary, of course, wants that starting job. But he's most looking forward to his loved ones being able to drive an hour to watch him play in Stillwater this season.
“It's real special,” Gary said. “I get a chance to play in front of my family and friends.”
OSU safeties coach Van Malone still calls the competition for the starting strong safety job an even battle.
And he's just fine with that.
“Starter means a guy runs out first,” Malone said. “The next guy will be in two plays after him. That's kind of what I keep trying to get them to understand. Just keep playing, just keep doing what they're doing. As a coach, I'm excited about the competition.”
Juniors Lavocheya Cooper and Shamiel Gary will likely both play about 60 snaps per game in their quest to replace Markelle Martin in the secondary. Here's a closer look at what each player will bring to that spot.
Previously: Played in just four games in 2011 while working back from a knee injury. Has recorded 14 career tackles.
Edge: Straight-line speed, athleticism, consistency
Malone says: “Because he's going to make sure that he's sure, he's not going to take as many risks. He's going to always be consistently lined up, doing what he's supposed to do.”
Previously: Redshirted the 2011 season after transferring from Wyoming, where he was a freshman All-American in 2009.
Edge: Experience, vision, instincts, big-play capability
Malone says: “You know I'm all about turnovers, and he's a guy that ends up creating more turnovers. Not necessarily in all the team drills that you probably hear about, but all the little drills that we do. He probably is the better one at doing that.”