Cowboys Return To Practice

STILLWATER - It was back to practice at Boone PIckens Stadium on Monday as the sunny days on the beaches of Florida and just a week off for some of the others are a thing of the past following last week's spring break for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Head coach Mike Gundy said he spent part of his spring break chasing his youngest down the slopes. His youngest son, Gage, prefers downhill to slalom.

Monday's 80-plus degree conditions were a change for all but the spring break beach goers. Gundy used the first practice back as the final mandatory practice in helmets, shorts, and jerseys. The just over two-hour practice was mainly a review session.

"Overall, we had a pretty good practice for the first day back from spring break," Gundy said after the practice. "Our tempo was good. Players were mentally into practice. We still have a long way to go with young players that need to learn to do all of the little things correctly – taking care of the football, forcing turnovers, all those things that are critical in winning football games."

It was interesting for some of the younger Cowboys like new freshman quarterback Wes Lunt or redshirt freshmen wide receiver David Glidden. Both had time to process the first three practices and use the time to mentally prepare to battle for a position on the depth chart.

Gundy said that scheduling spring practice with a week off for the break after the first week of practice does allow for younger players to adjust their minds to better prepare for what they are going through, and the intensity of practicing with a position on the line.

Seeing the change in some of those younger players in the next few practices will go a long way toward where they will land on the depth chart. There are a number of players on both sides of the ball, especially at linebacker and in the secondary, that could challenge for the opportunity to play more this fall.

There may not be another name that can immediately spark an opinion, positive or negative, as quickly as wide receiver Tracy Moore.

Moore is that player that fans always think is on the verge of stardom, and for good reason. He came out of powerhouse Tulsa Union High School where he had success. He was a player with lots of physical ability and flashed it as a freshman with 11 catches for 183 yards and three touchdowns. He had 17 receptions for 212 yards and a touchdown as a sophomore.

There were some problems off the field including the infamous Monday night trip to Dallas with Justin Blackmon for the Dallas-New York Giants game. Blackmon missed the Kansas State game because of it. Moore was limited to special teams in that game.

Last season was a break out season for Moore with 45 receptions for 672 yards and four touchdowns. There were still some bad steps off the field. The bottom line on Moore is this is a good kid. I have seen him on hospital visits with the kids. I have seen him at the Special Spectators Game with kids that have life threatening illnesses. Moore has a good heart and is a popular teammate.

Moore needs to step up physically and he has the potential to be a leader. He also has a chance to move into more time playing as an outside receiver like his good friend Justin Blackmon.

"My speed and playing smarter. I'll need to be faster moving to the outside," Moore said of what he needs to work on this spring and through the summer for a better season next fall. "I've been watching a lot of Justin Blackmon's tape and trying to figure out how to be more like him when I play outside.

"I'm learning how to play the position. Lead by example. That's the most important part of being a leader; you can't just tell them, you have to show them."

Leading by example is a lot like Blackmon did during his career. You practice hard every day and be enthusiastic and you see that it catches on. Like some of his teammates such as defensive end Cooper Bassett and running back Joseph Randle, Moore believes the loss of players like Blackmon, quarterback Brandon Weeden, and defensive ends Richetti Jones and Jamie Blatnick doesn't mean the team falls off the face of the planet or the Big 12. He believes this program will keep on winning.

"We have a chip on our shoulder," added Moore. "Last year, we had a lot of big-name players coming into the season and everybody was depending on them. This year, we're trying to figure out who is going to step up."

The other aspect this spring the Moore sees and likes is the competition. It's may be the best it's been on both sides of the ball, especially for a receiver working against that secondary.

"Some of the defensive players are really stepping up. Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary, who didn't get to play last year as a transfer, I see them working hard every day and I'm excited to get out there with those guys."

It would be nice if in the future the name Tracy Moore prompts just two thoughts, excellent player and strong leader. If Moore accomplishes that in his senior season then he will find himself on his way to follow in Blackmon's footsteps with a chance to play on Sundays.

The Cowboys will get back in full pads on Wednesday. This week are practices four through six of the NCAA-allotted 15 practices. OSU recently announced the final practice and scrimmage will be open to the public along with a post-practice meet and greet with Cowboys players and coaches on Saturday, April 21, beginning at 12:30 p.m.

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