Cotton Bowl Matchups: Unsung Heroes (Part 1)

In watching tape and preparing for the upcoming 78th annual AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic on Jan. 3, here is a list of the top unsung players for both the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Missouri Tigers.

Unsung Cowboys (Offense)
81 Jhajuan Seales, WR
6-2, 190, RS-Fr.
Port Arthur (Memorial), Texas
The Cowboys turned him from Houston late in recruiting and boy they should be really glad that they did. He has developed in this his redshirt freshman season into a very reliable pass catcher that has the ability to take short passes and convert them into big plays.

His per reception average has improved all season. He is definitely an unsung target with seniors Tracy Moore and Charlie Moore involved and the presence of Josh Stewart inside that defenses have to be so concerned with.

54 Jake Jenkins, C
6-3, 298, Jr.
Gilmer, Texas
With seniors and All-Big 12 performers in Parker Graham and Brandon Webb on either side of him at guard, Jenkins sometimes is the forgotten veteran on the offensive line. He had a start last season and filled in nicely for then center Evan Epstein, who had to deal with an ankle injury during the season.

Jenkins is country tough, doesn't complain, smart, and carries on the tremendous tradition of good (shotgun) snaps. It is amazing how the Cowboys don't have to deal with that problem and so many other teams do. Jenkins doesn't ask for credit, but he certainly deserves it.

Unsung Tigers (Defense)
33 Markus Golden, DE
6-3, 260, Jr.
Afton, Missouri
He plays in the shadow of All-American defensive end Michael Sam and the Tigers other starting defensive end in Kony Ealy, but as a backup, Golden was still honorable mention All-SEC. That is an unsung star, and he has the numbers to prove it with 51 tackles, 33 unassisted, 13 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. That would make him the team's sack leader if he played at Oklahoma State. He is good against the run and a bull in pass rush.

7 Randy Ponder, CB
5-10, 195, Sr.
Edmond (Santa Fe), Okla.
Yes, there's an unsung Tiger on defense from Oklahoma. Ponder has worked his way into more and more playing time each season. He was actually recruited to Missouri (as a walk-on) by now offensive coordinator Josh Henson, who thought he might end up on the offensive side of the ball. He was plugged in on defense and earned a scholarship.

Ponder had five combined starts coming into this season and has started each and every game and finished the regular season and SEC Championship with 49 tackles and two interceptions with seven passes broken up. His fourth quarter interception at Georgia sealed the win for the Tigers, a landmark win and an interception that gets you into Missouri football lore. He is more physical than many corners and uses that to offset some speed advantages that some receivers may have on him.

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