STILLWATER — A successful spring was key for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys enter the summer with a relatively healthy roster and several young players who are starting to develop into key contributors.
Now that the coaches have a better feel for the potential of the Cowboys already on campus, it's a great time to re-evaluate which February signees could make an impact this fall.
The situation is much different heading into the 2011 football season than it was in 2010, when OSU needed true freshman to play. Getting onto the field immediately will be much tougher for this year's crop of signees.
When asked how many true freshmen could see the field this fall, head coach Mike Gundy said it depends on how many are ready to play.
“It's based on those young men and how far along they are,” Gundy said. “We would always like to play a receiver and a running back, most of our linemen will redshirt and our skill guys on the back end, we'll play them. I'm going to guess, six to eight (freshmen will play).”
Here's a look at some of OSU's February signees (who didn't participate in spring football) who have a great opportunity to play this fall and why.
*Defensive tackle James Castleman: He switched from Texas Tech to OSU late in the recruiting process and was a great coup for the Pokes. At 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, Castleman has the size and athleticism to earn immediate playing time.
Castleman's opportunity: The Cowboys ended the spring still searching for defensive tackles to complete their rotation, and Castleman appears to have the ability to step in and fight for a spot from Day 1.
*Running back Herschel Sims: One of the headliners of the class, Sims should earn playing time immediately. He's a special talent and plays running back, a position that allows for a smooth transition into college football.
Sims' opportunity: Multiple times this spring, Gundy said he would like to have three or four running backs ready to play this fall. Kye Staley's solid spring could give OSU a solid third running back along with Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle, but expect Sims or Desmond Roland to provide additional depth at running back.
*Linebacker Alex Elkins: Elkins, a junior college transfer, didn't play high school football, yet picked up the game quickly at Blinn Community College. He caught the eye of OSU linebacker coach Glenn Spencer. At 6-4, 233 pounds, Elkins has good size and speed. His impact rides on how quickly he adapts to Division I football.
Elkins' opportunity: The Cowboys spent a good portion of the spring searching for a “Will” linebacker. Kris Catlin, Joe Mitchell, Chris Dinkins and LeRon Furr lined up at the position, but nobody really seized the starting spot. If Elkins comes in and takes advantage of the opportunity, he could earn the starting nod.
*Receiver David Glidden: Having played in a similar offense at Mustang, Glidden will arrive on campus with an advantage over the other receiver signees. He could be the ideal player to provide depth at inside receiver during his freshman year.
Glidden's opportunity: Josh Cooper is a mainstay on the Cowboys offense, but Glidden could battle the other inside receivers — Colton Chelf, Tracy Moore and others — for playing time. Last season, it was Bo Bowling who stepped up and played a complementary role alongside Cooper. Bowling is gone now, so that spot is open for the taking.
*Cornerbacks Jonovan Griffin or Miketavius Jones: Jones becomes the third Houston North Shore cornerback on the roster this fall and might be the best of the bunch. Griffin has been likened to Justin Gilbert by cornerbacks coach Jason Jones, thanks to his raw talent and exploits as a high school quarterback. How quickly he adapts to playing cornerback could decide his redshirt status.
Their opportunity: In this era of spread offenses, you can never have too many cornerbacks. OSU entered the spring looking for cornerbacks to fill its rotation — and it's still looking. Outside of Gilbert and Hedgepeth, nobody really stepped up to secure a spot this spring. If Jones or Griffin arrive this fall and impress early, they could become members of the cornerback rotation.