Shamiel Gary started all 13 games last season but struggled at times, particularly in pass coverage. Now playmaking dynamo Lyndell Johnson has moved to the position and will likely challenge for the No. 1 job throughout camp. Word is, though, that the spring battle has pushed Gary to improve. Zack Craig will also see playing time here.
This position battle got a new member after spring practice, with Tyler Patmon transferring from Kansas for his final season of eligibility. He'll challenge sophomores Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin for the starting spot opposite Justin Gilbert. Cornerback coach Van Malone also will be looking for contribution from sophomore Miketavius Jones, as well as incoming freshmen Jerel Morrow, Taylor Lewis and Darius Curry.
Jeremy Smith is primed to step into the starting job vacated early by Joseph Randle, but the competition for the roles behind him should be intriguing. Desmond Roland has apparently turned a corner, running backs coach Jemal Singleton said. But watch out for incoming freshmen Rennie Childs and Corion Webster, who could contribute early on.
Newcomers to watch
Grogan, rated the ninth-best kicker in the nation by Rivals, fits the Quinn Sharp mold. He can kick field goals beyond 50 yards. He can punt. He can boom kickoffs for touchbacks. Grogan hails from the same high school as TCU and preseason All-Big 12 kicker Jaden Oberkrom — and Grogan beat Oberkrom out for the starting job as a junior.
The Kansas transfer has a wealth of experience, compiling 146 tackles (11.5 for loss), two sacks, six interceptions and 22 pass breakups during what was sometimes a bumpy career in Lawrence. At the very least, he'll bring depth to a position that needs it.
Rennie Childs and Corion Webster
Recent history has shown true freshmen can have an immediate impact at running back at OSU, and the Cowboys will likely need that from Webster and/or Childs this season. Both possess a combination of strength and elusiveness, along with an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Marcell Ateman and Ra'Shaad Samples
These two receivers — along with cornerback Jerel Morrow — are considered the gems of the 2013 class. And despite the bevy of receivers already at the Cowboys' disposal, Ateman and Samples will both play right away. Ateman is a big-bodied outside receiver, while Samples is a speedster expected to play in the slot.
Practice schedule (all closed to public)
Fri., Aug. 2
Sat., Aug. 3
Sun., Aug 4
Mon., Aug. 5
Tues., Aug. 6 (first in full pads)
Wed., Aug. 7
Thurs., Aug. 8
Fri., Aug. 9 (two)
Sat., Aug. 10 (scrimmage)
Mon., Aug. 12 (two)
Tues., Aug. 13
Wed., Aug. 14 (two)
Thurs., Aug. 15
Fri., Aug. 16 (two)
Sat., Aug. 17 (scrimmage)