Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young is counting on defensive tackle Chris Donaldson to make a big impact on the Cowboys' defense this season.
Donaldson, at 6-foot-1, 299 pounds, is expected to be a starter and key contributor on the Pokes' interior.
"He knows what my potential is," Donaldson said of Young. "Coach always tells me to use my best assets. That's what he expects from me, to cause corruption in the backfield and penetrate a lot. I think I can do it a little bit, he thinks I can do it a lot."
Donaldson, a senior, is off to a good start, with two safeties in the Cowboys' first scrimmage on Saturday.
OSU's class ranked No. 16 in the nation
The Cowboys have the 16th-ranked recruiting class in the nation for 2011, according to ESPN.com. Running back Herschel Sims of Abiliene, Texas, and quarterback J.W. Walsh of Denton (Texas) Guyer headline the Pokes' group of commitments. Here's the website's analysis of the two offensive standouts:
On Sims: "Sims is a very well-rounded and has big-play potential on any touch. He is a highly productive rusher with a knack for finding the end zone and carrying his team."
On Walsh: "Walsh is one of the better quarterbacks in this class and has been well-coached. His delivery is lightning-quick, the ball jumps out of his hand smoothly and with zip. He possesses that tough swagger you want and he can play in the spread or from under center."
There has been constant chatter about the speed of true freshman cornerback Justin Gilbert since he stepped on campus this summer. Gilbert ran a 10.74 in the 100-meter dash as a senior at Huntsville (Texas) High School last year and is already considered among the fastest players on the roster.
Fellow cornerback Brodrick Brown is hesitant to say Gilbert is faster than he is.
"He's fast, he's one of the top in the state of Texas in the 100," Brown said. "But he hasn't raced me yet so I don't think he can beat me until he proves he can beat me."
One overlooked player in the "fastest Cowboy on the team" discussion is transfer David Gordon from Tulsa East Central. Gordon, who transferred to OSU from Arkansas but will have to sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules, ran a 10.17 in the 100-meter dash and won multiple state titles in high school.
Coach Mike Gundy said the Cowboys have made it through the first couple of weeks of practice relatively injury-free.
“We’ve had a few minor injuries,” Gundy said. “We haven’t had anybody out for the year except Caleb Lavey. We’ve had guys with four or five day injuries but for the most part we are hanging in there.”
Only Lavey, a freshman linebacker, and safety Daytawion Lowe, who was injured before fall practice began, have been lost for an extended period of time.
Guard Lane Taylor, the Cowboys' lone returning starter on the offensive line, injured an ankle in practice earlier this week but is expected to be healthy in time for the Cowboys’ opener with Washington State on Sept. 4.