The final chapter has yet to be written with this group and the question begs how would these Cowboys compare to the best ever and we're not talking about these other teams, but instead the best ever at each position. It's really not fair because, you see, the best team doesn't always equate to being the best individual players. It is still an interesting question. We won't call it definitive, but we will consider this an educated examination.
Quarterback: Brandon Weeden vs. Zac Robinson (2006-09)
Oklahoma State has had some good quarterbacks like the wishbone runner Brent Blackman, the Big Eight's all-time leader in passing and total offense in current head coach Mike Gundy, Josh Fields was pretty good, but Zac Robinson currently holds the school's records for passing and total offense. He did as of this moment, but here in a few weeks you will see the torch passed to Weeden. Robinson had the ability to make plays with his legs, which is a talent that Weeden is limited on, but when it comes to winging the football or as many coaches now say, spinning the ball, Weeden has no equal in the history of Cowboy football. He is the best and he already has claim to something none of the others mentioned do. Last season he was the unanimous All Big 12 quarterback.
There shouldn't be an argument over who the all-time greats are here. Oklahoma State is "Tailback U." but Sanders and Thomas rank ahead of the others. The commonality here is that, like Sanders and Thomas, Randle and Smith share the same backfield as did Sanders and Thomas at times. It is not fair to compare the duos as Sanders and Thomas are both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and have cast massive shadows on football in Stillwater and in the NFL. However, a huge point for the contemporaries is that they compliment each other well with different styles and Randle is such a good fit for this offense with his ability to catch the ball. That was something Thomas loved to do and he would have been a great fit for this offense as well.
Fullback: Kye Staley vs. George Palmer (1972-74)
I'm not going to list tight ends as the current team is somewhat makeshift in that department, but apologies to recent grad Bryant Ward, who was honored as a two-time All Big 12 fullback. I went with old wishbone fullback George Palmer, so tough he became a sheriff after his playing days. Staley has much less experience, but I bet George Palmer would agree that with all Staley has been through to play that he is his equal in the tough department.
Again, not really fair as the Woods brothers, Dykes, and Bryant would all be eligible to compare to the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner and All-American Blackmon. In that comparison I have made up my mind and I realize there is enough material to argue the question for months, but I have decided in my own mind and I saw all of these players that Blackmon is the best receiver that I have ever seen play at Oklahoma State. I'm basing that on the way he can just take over the game and do just about anything he wants. All of those guys could do it, but Blackmon seems to be able to do it anytime, anywhere, and against anybody. As a group the decision goes to the all-timers, but a point for the current receivers as a group. They seem to be very unselfish and they have shown to be a good group as far as blocking for each other and for the running game.
Offensive Line: Nick Martinez, Jonathan Rush, Grant Garner, Lane Taylor, and Levy Adcock vs. Russell Okung (2006-09), Sam Mayes (2001-04), Jon Kolb (1966-68), Darrel Gofourth (1974-76), and John Ward (1967-69)
Wow! Now this is a contest. I don't know how long it would take the collection of five Cowboy All-Americans to come together but I would like to see Joe Wickline coach that group up. Okung is a Wickline graduate, but Kolb, who has a fistful of Super Bowl rings from his days at Pittsburgh and Gofourth represent as tough a football players as I've ever witnessed wear an OSU uniform. All of those players except Mayes played in the NFL, as well. Mayes went to a training camp. Of the current Cowboys, I think at least four will have a chance to make the NFL and Adcock figures to be a fairly high draft pick. The real success of an offensive line is how they work together and that is why the current group wins. A cohesive offensive line that knows each other will always win out over a group of all stars.
Defensive Line: Richetti Jones, Nigel Nicholas, James Castleman, Anthony Rogers, Christian Littlehead, Jamie Blatnick, and Cooper Bassett vs. Leslie O'Neal (1982-85), James White (1972-75), Phillip Dokes (1973-76), and Kevin Williams (1993-97)
This is the easiest decision of all. It is true that the Oklahoma State defensive line is improved but when you start stacking All-Americans in there and guys that gone on to play in the NFL and make it to multiple Pro Bowls then the conversation ends very quickly. This is not even close. Just remembering O'Neal, White, Dokes and Williams makes me feel like the late Dennis Hopper in that old Nike commercial about Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith where Hopper talks about the "bad things" Smith does in his Nike football shoes. O'Neal, Williams, White, and Dokes – "bad things, man, bad things."
Much like the defensive line, although there is no doubt in my mind that Shaun Lewis would win a foot race with the six of the players and Alex Elkins might finish second. John Corker would be the challenger from yesteryear as he was a "freak" kind of big athlete. Vann and Young were fast enough for the day, but not in the category of current linebackers that often have to cover inside receivers. On tackles and force alone this one goes to the trio of All-Americans although it is fun to think about what could be in the crystal ball as Lewis is a potential All-American type player and Elkins is pretty good for a former rugby player that has is only playing his third year of organized football.
Let's see, Brown has made a play that would rank as the most amazing in recent memory, although McQuarters made a lot of sensational plays in his time as a Cowboy. You have to grade Cox down for his off the field situations of going AWOL during the bowl season as a freshman and then missing curfew as a senior. Brown and Gilbert have more time to put in, especially Gilbert, who has McQuarters-like skills.
No fair again, although this one is closer and the common denominator with these four is that they will all light you up. Moore, who was just back for the season opener with ULL to celebrate his entry into the Oklahoma State Athletics Hall of Honor, was the hardest hitting defensive back and maybe one of the hardest hitting players in school history. Keep an eye on Lowe as that is rapidly becoming his trademark. Martin has that reputation already. The hope is that Martin and, in the future, Lowe will add the distinction of being All-Americans to their resume' as Cowboys.
Specialists: Quinn Sharp vs. Cary Blanchard (1987-90)
So far, so good. We thought it was very fair to compare the latest player to do all three (punting, kickoffs, and placements) to the last guy that did all three on a regular basis. Blanchard was outstanding with 315 points for third on the all-time list. Blanchard also had his share of touchbacks on kickoffs, but remember, they kicked the ball from the 40-yard-line back then. Blanchard's punting average was never above 40.0-yards for a season, but he did hold the record for most tackles by a kicker/punter in school history. Sharp is threatening that record and has averaged 46.2-yards and 45.1-yards in his two seasons as punter. He led the nation last season in touchbacks on kickoffs and it off to a good start with field goals and PATs. There is work to do but Sharp has the edge.
Best team ever, that will be decided as the season plays out, but this team is challenging for having a solid number of contributors to the best individuals in Oklahoma State football history and that is another category to judge them on.