Plenty of Talent But Not Enough Spots

A football team cannot have too much talent. Coaches say that's rarely the case. If you have one good player at a position, then you want another to back him up. If you have two at a position, then you need a third in case one of the top two get injured. If you have three at a position, then one has to be a senior and you need a fourth to replace him after he graduates. It goes on and on and on.

Oklahoma State fans are curious this spring to see if the Cowboys have one good quarterback out of the three competing to succeed Brandon Weeden? They're looking for the kind of quarterback that can lead the offense to success.

Are there enough productive pass catchers to carry on with wide receiver talents like Justin Blackmon, Josh Cooper, Colton Chelf and Hubert Anyiam departed? With Grant Garner graduated can Evan Epstein or Jake Jenkins keep us from talking about how Garner spoiled us?

The answers to those questions continue to take shape. Head coach Mike Gundy seems to be at ease and answers questions about all three positions confidently. There are other positions where the Cowboys have more answers. Gundy has mentioned positions where his team is stacked with talent, although most of it is young talent that still needs developing.

Gundy is having fun at practice. You can see it as he moves around the practice field spending plenty of time and splitting time with each of the phases of offense and defense. Gundy loves practice and loves seeing how his players treat practice time.

He is looking for players that embrace the time on the field, love the game, and use the opportunity to get better. That is why midway through Wednesday's practice he called the team together and basically gave then a "do better" or 'have a better attitude" talk. It seemed to work and the practice picked up. The Friday practice was much more energized with good attitudes and good play on both sides to the ball.

As for quarterback, the trio of Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt are not ready for a depth chart decision yet. All three do some good things.

Lunt is behind the other two but if you grade him on the curve of what he will know and what his comfort level with be with the offense by August then he has a shot. Chelf and Walsh battle daily for the upper hand, and I agree with the head coach that a decision could be made in the next two weeks. All it will take is for one of those two to have three or four practices of being the better quarterback.

The receiver position clearly has the talent to be good. You can't bank on having a Blackmon-type talent, but don't bank on not having it either. Physically, there are some really talented players such as Blake Jackson, Torrance Carr, Josh Stewart and Isaiah Anderson.

Center was a major concern the first three of four practices, and it still is but both players are getting better every day. Gundy loves the physical part of his football team and he was all over it on Friday, spending plenty of time with the linemen in inside drill and in a two-vs.-two version of champion's drill. A few words by the head coach during that portion of practice can increase the intensity level.

Okay, so how about those stacked positions with loads of talent. Where are they? One reason that Gundy spends so much time down there may be because the offensive line is loaded. It is a positions group that has guys like fourth-year junior Brandon Webb scratching to get a position. But because of the return of three-year starters Lane Taylor and Jonathan Rush a spot at guard is tough to come by.

Daniel Koenig has played a lot as an extra blocking tight end and as a frequent fill-in at tackle. Offensive line coach Joe Wickline can't quit bragging on 6-6, 300-pound redshirt freshman Devin Davis at tackle. The line is loaded with solid young players like those three, while Gerron Anthony and Eli Dickerson also look to squeeze in some playing time. It is a good problem to have.

Glenn Spencer smiles a lot when asked about his linebackers. That's because the linebacker coach returns all three starters in star linebacker Shaun Lewis, middle backer Caleb Lavey, and weakside linebacker Alex Elkins.

At the star, Joe Mitchell is back and Lyndell Johnson is a freshman that is athletic and has had the light come on for him. Ryan Simmons has loads of potential at middle linebacker and will push Lavey. Demarcus Sherod is also talented and learning.

Nico Ornelas has to be watched carefully as he is a hitting machine and looks to blow somebody up at every opportunity. Kris Catlin is also very talented and, again, young. Elkins is the only senior, and linebacker could be a very strong position for the next three seasons.

Name the best cornerback tandem in the Big 12? It's your Cowboys duo of Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown. As a result Larry Stephens, Andrae May and Devin Hedgepeth, when he returns, will have to bettle for seconds.

However, with redshirt freshmen Miketavius Jones and Jonovan Griffin also at the position the competition is great. Jones and Griffin are coming along rapidly, and to be three deep at the corners is a very valuable tool for a football team.

So you can describe the Oklahoma State spring football glass as half-empty, or better said half-unanswered, or you can look at it as half-really loaded. While some positions questions are looking to get answered, other positions have more answers than are required.

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