OSU football: Justin Gilbert is one of several Cowboys due for a breakout season
Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon were vital to OSU's Big 12 title chase, but so were many others who are preparing for another season in orange and black.
Justin Gilbert's online bio photo tugs attention not to his face, but to his right bicep.
A rather prominent bicep, too, for a 6-foot, 194-pound cornerback. And the presentation appears to be by design, with Gilbert's orange jersey tugged tightly up to his shoulder, giving the gun show full exposure.
Big 12 Breakouts?
The Big 12 media poll produced four Cowboys on the preseason all-conference team: running back Joseph Randle, cornerback Brodrick Brown, offensive lineman Lane Taylor and punter/kicker Quinn Sharp.
Here's a look at other Cowboys who could emerge as all-league performers by season's end:
Justin Gilbert, CB, Jr. The only thing getting in the way of Gilbert's appeal might be Brown's big shadow.
Daytawion Lowe, S, Jr. He led the Cowboys in tackles a year ago and assumes the enforcer role of Markelle Martin.
Alex Elkins, LB, Sr. Adjustment to Big 12 football went well; Year 2 should be even better.
Tracy Moore, WR, Sr. He's always been a talent who somehow got sidetracked; seems focused for final go-round.
Josh Stewart, IR, So. Coaches have raved about him since his arrival on campus and a spread-the-wealth switch should benefit him.
Shaun Lewis, LB, Jr. The co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, Lewis is a playmaker with star potential.
Caleb Lavey, LB, Jr. Not flashy, but productive, and always in the right spot.
Michael Bowie, OT, Sr. Was inconsistent in his first season, but it often takes junior college transfers a year to figure things out.
Gilbert's overall profile seems in line for greater exposure in 2012, too.
The Cowboys were represented on the Preseason All-Big 12 Team, although modestly for a reigning conference championship squad returning 16 players with at least five games of starting experience.
Sure, Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon were vital to the title chase. But so were many others preparing for another season in orange and black.
Running back Joseph Randle, offensive lineman Lane Taylor, cornerback Brodrick Brown and punter/kicker Quinn Sharp were named to the media's early all-league team.
A strong case can be made for more, with Gilbert topping the list of Cowboys on the verge of a breakout, at least when it comes to outside recognition.
Also budding for breakout status: safety Daytawion Lowe, any of OSU's three linebackers — Alex Elkins, Shaun Lewis or Caleb Lavey — wideout Tracy Moore or several young players who perhaps only need opportunity that now awaits.
Entering his junior season, Gilbert is only into his third year as a devoted corner. A high school quarterback who also played in his prep team's secondary, he keeps improving as a Cowboy. Daily battles with Blackmon brought out the best in Gilbert, who won his share of those practice matchups.
It transferred to games, too, with Gilbert ranking 30th in the country and sixth in the Big 12 in passes defended a year ago, when he also produced five interceptions, picking off elite quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Landry Jones.
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