Trio Of Recruits Watch Friday's Practice

STILLWATER - Oklahoma State went through a spirited two-hour, 20-minute practice Friday on the grass practice fields east of Gallagher-Iba Arena. College officials were at the practice to help head coach Mike Gundy and his staff with an eye on the rules and keeping execution crisp. The whistles were also quick as the conditions in team work was thud-and-one objective not to get anybody hurt.

There were several visitors at practice in the way of recruits as Purcell, Okla., athlete Cole Swayze, still rehabbing from an ACL surgery from an injury last season, was in Stillwater along with his father as they talked with Oklahoma State football staff. Swayze (6-0, 193, 4.45) has played quarterback and will likely continue to for the Dragons, but in college is likely to move to either wide receiver or safety.

The Owasso, Okla., passing duo of quarterback Kason Key (6-4, 210) and wide receiver Keon Hatcher (6-3, 187) were both at the OSU to watch the practice as well. Key and Hatcher had been to an Oklahoma State practice previously this spring.

The practice Friday was brisk and seemed to be very enthusiastic. In fact, afterward associate head coach Joe DeForest and several players called it a very good practice.

One of the best aspects of the current Oklahoma State football team, according Gundy, who now relishes his opportunity to walk around at each practice and eyeball what is going on with both sides of the ball, special teams, and each individual position, is the exchage between older players and younger players.

There is little jealousy, little over protection of places on the depth chart, but more appreciating competition and what each player can potentially bring to the team. Gundy talks about the veteran scholarship players helping younger players, and scholarship players helping walk-ons understand what is going on and what is expected even when that younger player or walk-on could provide competition for playing time.

"I continue to go back to our system and what's in place, and what we stand for," said Gundy. "The older players are starting to pass that on to the younger players, and I have said many times before that watching those veteran players coach our freshmen and newcomers is as enjoyable for me as anything because that somewhat solidifies our system that is in place, that it works and they care enough to bring the younger players along.

"I really think that is a huge step for our program and where we are at and where we are going."

While that spirit of cooperation and teamwork is found all over, the team it is extremely valuable on defense where returning starters like defensive ends Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones, linebackers Shaun Lewis and James Thomas, and most of the starters in the secondary, offering teaching and advice to some key players at defensive tackle, linebacker, and back-ups in the secondary.

"By us being seniors, me and Jamie and the other guys, we must get them ready," said senior-to-be defensive end Richetti Jones. "It's not easy and we have to build them up, coach them up, and just get them ready because it is a man's game out there."

As he mentioned previously, Gundy is seeing that happen. With defensive coordinator Bill Young and now co-defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer, Gundy has veteran coaches who are really good at developing players, but they can't do it as fast without help from those veteran players.

"They're coming along and the area we need some rapid growth in is linebacker where Orie (Lemon) made a million plays for us and Justin Gent was under appreciated for his play and experience," Gundy said.

"We're back to speed and athleticism, but also youth. They are coming along. I like the ends (Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones), and I like our secondary. We've got Brodrick (Brown), (Devin) Hedgepeth, (Justin) Gilbert, and you've got (Andrae) May and you've got Larry (Stephens).

"At safety, you have Markelle (Martin), (Johnny) Thomas, Daytawon (Lowe), (Lavocheya) Cooper, Zach (Craig) and guys rotating out there. We'll be mature back there. What we need is the four guys manning the tackle spots. We need to get as much production out them as we got out of the two guys doing that last season, Jarka and Donaldson."

There isn't much time left as Friday's practice wraps up the first four weeks and now there are just three practices remaining. The team will be back out there on Monday, get another practice in scheduled for Wednesday and then play the Orange-White game on Saturday, April 16, at 2 p.m.

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