Here is our guess at a baker's dozen of younger players that will be fun to see this spring as they show their readiness to help out during the 2013 season.
1. Sam Wren, DE
Arizona Western JC/Palestine, Texas
The first day I went to observe offseason conditioning the first stop I made was to see what Wren looked like. I was impressed as he doesn't look like the majority of junior college defenders that I've see come in. Most look like they need a healthy dose of work with Rob Glass and his staff, but Wren doesn't. He looks ready to play, and that's how the coaches are thinking. He looks the part but the big question now is how ready is he to play? His performance in spring is a major factor for the defense.
2. Seth Jacobs, SLB
Arroyo Grande, Calif.
When you watched film on Jacobs in high school you realized he had the ability to contribute in a hurry. The good thing for Jacobs and for Oklahoma State was the Cowboys did not need to force him. He had a redshirt season to get ready and now he should be off to a flying start with this spring used as the runway. He should be ready to work on all special teams and help at the star linebacker.
3. Jimmy Bean, DE
Bean played some as a true freshman when he was not just Bean, but bean pole. The ACL injury last August was unfortunate but in one way it was a plus. He redshirted and used his time in the weight room wisely in both rehab for the knee and strength building for the upper body. Look out as Bean combines a little experience with athletic strength and explosion. He could be a real headliner next season as the opportunity is there at defensive end.
4. Trace Clark, DE
Clark is the third defensive end in our top four of the Baker's Dozen and the reason is because there is a need for defensive ends to step up and there are plenty of candidates. Clark stands out because of the freshmen defensive ends last season he was the one the coaches tabbed to play, and he had five tackles and a quarterback hurry on the season. He has now put on an extra five pounds and has some confidence that is born out of experience. He has the physical tools and should take a big leap this spring.
5. Jhajuan Seales, WR
Port Arthur, Texas
Seales showed some really nice ability last August and then had the redshirt put on. However, as the season progressed receivers coach Kasey Dunn had all kinds of good things to say about Seales and his future each time he was asked. He has good size and is fast. His top spot among the receivers in this list may have something to do with a greater curiosity to see what he can show in the spring.
6. Devin Davis, OT
He is one of the more veteran players on this list. Davis has been in this position of developmental standout since offensive line coach Joe Wickline first introduced him and used a comparison with former Cowboy and current NFL Pro Bowler Russell Okung in the same sentence. Davis is huge, very athletic and ready to take over at a tackle position.
7. Brandon Sheperd, WR
St. Louis, Mo.
Sheperd received as much hype as any of the young receivers coming in with the 2012 recruiting class. He showed flashes of really good things last August, but seemingly hit that freshman wall that head coach Mike Gundy so often refers to with freshmen. He contributed on special teams with two tackles and had one reception. It will be fun to see how far he has advanced after offseason work.
8. Michael Wilson, OT
Wilson is similar to Devin Davis as he is a really strong tackle prospect. In bowl practices it was fun to watch him work as few defenders could get away from him. He has the potential to be a future star on the Wickline offensive line.
9. Caleb Muncrief, RB
Muncrief was a late addition to the 2012 recruiting class, but I have a personal feeling about this guy. He had monster numbers in high school and he is very fast. A key will be his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, which I honestly believe he is pretty good at. Last season as a freshman he had 11 carries for 49 yards. I'm really anxious to see what he can do even though I know there are skeptics. With Joseph Randle gone, somebody has to step up and form that first trio with Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland, and Muncrief gets first crack.
10. C.J. Curry, WR
Flowery Branch, Ga.
Curry was able to show more than any of the other wide receivers as he stayed in the mix in practice and caught a couple of passes in games before a shoulder injury he suffered in high school sent him to surgery and a medical redshirt. He is a big physical receiver that needs to work some on his burst. He has big-play ability.
11. Victor Irokansi, DE
Irokansi was the early favorite to play some as a freshman when he showed well in the early pass pro drills. But eventually that role went to Trace Clark and Irokansi got a redshirt. He is still loaded with potential and stronger than he was when he arrived. He has a lot of enthusiasm and should be fun to watch throughout the spring. The young defensive ends, which also include Emmanuel Ogbah and Eric Davis, will be as fun to watch as any area of the football team this spring.
12. Demarcus Sherod, LB
Sherod played on special teams and some at linebacker last season with six tackles and a sack to his credit. Along with Kris Catlin, Sherod is projected to backup the middle and weakside linebacker positions. Glenn Spencer is just not certain which one each will settle in at as they both have the qualities to play the two spots. I'm going to project Catlin at weakside and Sherod in the middle. He will be fun to watch at either spot.
13. Zac Veatch, OL
Broken Arrow, Okla.
When Veatch was recruited in the 2012 class we predicted that he would get big in a hurry. Listed at 255 pounds on the roster last season, he is now 290 pounds. I want the person that made that prediction in the staff room for a weekend trip to Vegas to predict horses, pro sporting events and future books, and cards at the black jack table. That was an excellent projection. He played tight end and defensive end in high school with the attitude and physicality that you are looking for. Now that he has added to the physical build it will be interesting to see if the attitude kept pace. A real solid prospect to impact the offensive line depth chart.