No Real Surprises On Reporting Day

STILLWATER - It's just not the same as it used to be when Oklahoma State's players returned to Stillwater from being gone for the summer. The fact is that the majority have only been off campus less than a week after leaving for home after summer school. Thursday was more about checking to make sure equipment, insurance forms, etc., is in place for the start of practice Friday morning.

It will come early -- at 7:30 a.m. -- and after accidentally bumping into senior offensive guard Lane Taylor as he headed into the West End Zone he seemed to have some pep in his step despite the extreme heat.

"Here we go," said Taylor. "Time to start it all over again. I'm ready."

Seeing me pushing a hand cart, he asked, "They putting you to work here?" I replied, no, just delivering some books. Taylor and teammates will look to write a new book starting with the Cowboys first practice on Friday. It is a cast that includes returners but newcomers too.

"Our roster is as good as it's been from player one to player 100," said head coach Mike Gundy. "We have never been as deep as we are now.

"Are we going to miss those first-round draft picks like (Brandon) Weeden and (Justin) Blackmon? Sure, but we are deep throughout the roster and that will help us."

There are a few walk-ons previously on the roster that are gone and a few more have been enlisted. But those guys come and go unless they have caught on like center Evan Epstein or all-purpose performer Teddy Johnson.

There were no significant changes to the roster other than the absence of starting offensive tackle Michael Bowie, which was announced on Wednesday. Also, the absence of freshman offensive linemen Greg Brantley was reported earlier.

Again, some walk-ons are gone including receiver Elliot Faerber, who had come in this summer but chose not to stay. Those things happen and they are not significant in determining how the team moves forward.

Linebacker Joe Mitchell did report after a couple of weeks of news that he was considering transferring and then that he wasn't. He is back for camp and the word is that he has both feet in the circle. Mitchell played in all 13 games last season, and had 32 tackles, 26 unassisted.

He is a solid performer on defense and special teams. His attendance assures linebackers coach /co-defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer will have a solid three deep at all three linebacker positions, including returning staters Alex Elkins (weak), Caleb Lavey (middle), and Shaun Lewis (star).

"You work hard at recruiting and to make good choices and find kids with character and integrity, that will do right in the classroom on and off the field," described Spencer.

"When you do that you end with some really good depth and older guys that can play and younger guys that can play and will improve. Right now, this is a good position for us."

As camp opens the greatest concerns are the play of the quarterback in freshman Wes Lunt, the depth at receiver with Blackmon and (Josh) Cooper gone, and the depth behind standout starting cornerbacks Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert.

Cornerback depth first, and assistant coach Jason Jones says the answers will have to come from some youngsters.

"That is one of the things we will find out when we start practice on Friday," said Jones. "We have Jonovan Griffin, Miketavious (Jones), and also Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin, and between those four and Devin Hedgepeth is coming back and hopefully between those guys we will find the next two."

Gundy said at the Tulsa Posse Caravan on Wednesday night that all of the freshman receivers will get a chance and he anticipates playing a bunch of them in the first game to help with depth and the rotation.

"We only have a couple of seniors in Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson, a junior in Charlie Moore, and a sophomore in Josh Stewart coming back," said Gundy. "There is (junior college transfer) Blake Jackson, but after that is is freshmen and red-shirt freshmen. We have to play them and they have to help us out."

Keep an eye on C.J. Curry, Brandon Sheperd, Jhajuan Seales and Blake Webb as all four of those guys showed up well in summer workouts.

As for Lunt, he too showed up very well in summer workouts and is now 220 pounds to go with his 6-4 frame. Gundy feels Lunt will be okay.

"We want our players to go out and play the best they can and have fun playing the game," said Gundy. "There are a lot of questions about Wes, and that is all we can ask him to do. He needs to do that and give us as much as he can at this particular time. He is not going to go out and play like Brandon Weeden. We want him to give us all he's got, and the other guys need to rally around him."

There continues to lots of talk of J.W. Walsh's involvement in the offense, and Gundy gave a greenlight to that happening at some point.

"He's a good player and he can help us win," said the head coach. "The other reason I want to see him play is that at some point we are likely to need him to play and win a game for us.

"Quarterbacks in this league get hit and most of them miss some critical time. Weeden was incredibly healthy, but you never know when you will need that second quarterback to help you win a game."

It is all about winning games and Gundy believes his program is at the point where they can win any game they play. He has said that these Cowboys could lose a game or two. He just continues to say he's not sure which games they may be, if there are any losses at all.

When you have won a Big 12 title and you've won a BCS bowl over a first-round draft pick quarterback then you have the credentials to talk that way on the first day of fall camp.

Gundy walked into Thursday night's first team meeting to set the tone for the 2012 team. The tone last year rang true from start to finish and even in defeat at Iowa State as they rose above adversity. Time for a sequel in Stillwater.

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