STILLWATER — Oklahoma State’s 2014 season sniffs of transition.
The Cowboys must replace an impact class of 28 seniors and four more veterans — receiver Josh Stewart, centers Jake Jenkins and Travis Cross and safety Lyndell Johnson — who had eligibility remaining, yet won’t return for various reasons. Long-time offensive line coach Joe Wickline is gone, too.
Yet with six simple words Friday, Mike Gundy added an air of optimism to carry through the coming months.
“It was really a good spring,” Gundy said.
And it needed to be, considering this was perhaps the most important spring of the Gundy era.
The Cowboys entered with many major questions and a need for fast-developing answers, with the urgency of a season-opening date with defending national champion Florida State hanging over the program.
The 15 allowed spring workouts revealed some positives, but also issues left lingering …
What was learned
Walsh is No. 1. Another spring promised another quarterback competition at OSU. This race, however, wasn’t in doubt for long, as junior-to-be J.W. Walsh seized control of the position early in workouts, creating space between himself and challengers Daxx Garman and Mason Rudolph.
Walsh shouldn’t feel too comfortable, as he’s started at various points of the last two seasons, but finished neither atop the depth chart. Still, he showed an improved consistency in the passing game to go with his already strong intangibles as a leader and competitor.
It’s Walsh’s job to lose. And it’s up to him not to lose it.
Playmakers aplenty. One thing working in Walsh’s favor: he has help. Abundant help.
At receiver and running back, OSU boasts layers of talent. Mostly young talent, perhaps, yet a cast brimming with enough potential to push Gundy to quite a claim:
“I think we’ll be better at wideout next year than we were this year.”
And the Cowboys lose their top two producers, Josh Stewart and Tracy Moore, along with the dependable Charlie Moore.
That’s how much coaches believe in Jhajuan Seales, Marcel Ateman, Brandon Sheperd, C.J. Curry, Blake Webb, Austin Hays, Ra’Shaad Samples and more.
At running back, Desmond Roland and Rennie Childs return.
And there’s the tantalizing versatility of junior college addition Tyreek Hill, likely the fastest player in the Big 12.
Corner comfort. The Cowboys are rebuilding in the secondary, where three of the four starters must be replaced. But the two spots that matter most — the cornerback posts — seem to be in good hands.
Kevin Peterson is the lone returning starter in the defensive backfield and could be OSU’s next star corner. Ashton Lampkin confirmed himself as Justin Gilbert’s replacement with a strong spring.
“Do we need more gains before we line up? Yes, yes we do,” said Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. “They need every practice we can get. But I was impressed with what they did.”
Deep DL. Gundy’s excitement for the receiving corps is matched by his strong feeling about the defensive line.
“I like our defensive line,” he said. “I think that we could potentially be better on the defensive line than we were last year. We’ve got some speed and some strength and some maturity.”