The football program and athletic media relations staff at Oklahoma State will release on Thursday the depth chart for the opening game of the season with Savannah State on Sept. 1. There really aren't too many surprises in the works. We did think it would be appropriate to release a preview of the depth chart and a review of camp with grades.
The head coach and the offensive coordinator have given Wes Lunt an "A" or high praise, so who would we be to argue with Mike Gundy and Todd Monken. Honestly, Lunt's development could not have gone any better.
After advancing enough to win the job in spring football, Lunt used the summer to improve his frame with Rob Glass's strength and conditioning program. Lunt put on 20 pounds of good muscle weight and got stronger and improved his conditioning.
Lunt used the workouts in the summer to bond with his teammates and allow them to get more comfortable with him as a leader. He did not go rah-rah and push himself on his teammates. His fall camp was keyed by a strong first scrimmage. His teammates have a lot of confidence in his calm demeanor.
The depth is really good as J.W. Walsh played well and Clint Chelf has to be one of the better third-team quarterbacks and one of the most experienced in the country.
Running Back: A
No problem here as incumbents Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith both have looked good as neither was pressed a lot with physical contact. The staff knows they are fine at running back.
The big plus is the way Desmond Roland has developed and improved. He has had a good camp and shown that he can help out. He also catches the ball well. The fourth back is freshman Caleb Muncrief.
The fullbacks have been strong as well as Kye Staley keeps getting better and is a strong leader. You also have David Paulsen, Jeremy Seaton and Teddy Johnson.
Wide and Inside Receiver: A
Near straight A's for the offense as outside receivers Charlie Moore and Isaiah Anderson have both played so well that Tracy Moore look like he will be taking more and more snaps inside. It's the Joe Wickline philosophy as he tries to get his five best linemen on the field. Now it's getting the four best receivers on the field.
Josh Stewart occupies the other inside position. After that foursome there are newcomers in freshmen like C.J. Curry, Brandon Sheperd, JhaJuan Seales, Austin Hays and Blake Webb. There are also others like junior college transfer Blake Jackson and Indiana State transfer John Goodlett included.
It is a big group that has shown talent despite some inexperience. Last season Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper combined for nearly 200 receptions. Expect about four players to combine for those numbers this season.
Offensive Line: B
It's really no big deal but the offensive line had to compensate for the loss of Michael Bowie at the start of camp. Joe Wickline wasted no time with the move of Parker Graham from right tackle to left tackle, and moving Daniel Koenig in to right tackle.
He has jostled the line-up some, but he has veteran guards in Lane Taylor and Jonathan Rush, and the new center Evan Epstein is really playing well. Wickline hopes to get through the season with a depth configuration on three tackles, three guards, and two centers ready to go while he works to develop more depth.
Defensive Line: B
Here are your surprises. But remember, these are positions where players will be rotating in and out. Defensive coordinator Bill Young called it a "battlefield promotion" last week when sophomore James Castleman was all of a sudden starting at tackle. Calvin Barnett is the other starter and the depth comes from Anthony Rogers, Christian Littlehead and Davidell Collins.
The ends look to have Nigel Nicholas and Ryan Robinson starting. Cooper Bassett and Tyler Johnson are backing up while freshmen Trace Clark and Victor Irokansi have made impressions in camp. Good news came when Jimmy Bean's knee injury was a lot less serious than originally thought.
It is all good here with nine linebackers, many with experience and all with talent, stacked three, three, and three, and all ready to play. The starters all return with Shaun Lewis, Caleb Lavey and Alex Elkins set to go. They have all had a good camp.
Of the others, and there are a bunch, Ryan Simmons has competed really well in the middle, Lyndell Johnson and Joe Mitchell have both played well at the "star," and Nico Ornelas has stood out at the weakside position.
The corners are set with Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert. It now appears that true freshmen Ashton Lampkin and Kevin Peterson have risen to the second line on the depth chart. I know that corners coach Jason Jones has been really impressed with the pups.
At safety, Daytawion Lowe is at free and new safeties coach Van Malone has a battle for the strong safety with Shamiel Gary, Lavocheya Cooper and Zack Craig.
Special Teams: B
Should be an "A" with Quinn Sharp, ample backups, solid snappers, and Justin Gilbert. But the question is who will return punts. That situation has yet to look acceptable. David Glidden will be back soon and the thought is that he will be that piece to the puzzle.