Cotton Bowl Matchups: Unsung Heroes (Part 2)

In watching tape and preparing for the upcoming 78th annual AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic on Jan. 3, here is Part 2 of the top unsung players for both the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Missouri Tigers.

Unsung Cowboys (Defense)
52 Ryan Simmons, WLB
6-0, 242, So.
Cibolo (Steele), Texas
I am as guilty as anybody of slighting Simmons on mentions as he plays between two very talented seniors, but he brings a lot of attitude to the table and also, especially for his size, a lot of athleticism.

He can run sideline to sideline, which is great for a 240-pound plus linebacker. He is part of a linebacker corps that has all three members in the top four on defense in tackles. Simmons is fourth with 62 tackles, 45 unassisted with 9.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack. He also has an interception this season.

Next season, he is likely to take over as the veteran for Caleb Lavey in the middle, big shoes to fill but I believe he will do just fine. Simmons is a fan favorite from the day he walked in the door.

29 Joe Mitchell, Star LB
6-3, 225, Sr.
Katy (Morton Ranch), Texas
I was talking to a member of the support staff the other day and he made the observation that Joe Mitchell could become the next Ryan Robinson to come out of the Cowboys program. Robinson, for those that don't remember, came out of the OSU program last season and while being a backup at OSU made the roster of the Oakland Raiders.

I agree as Mitchell needs to see the special teams coach first when he signs with an NFL team, and volunteer to do anything and everything because he is capable and it will help him make the team. Mitchell has been fantastic in backing up one of the most key positions on the Oklahoma State defense as finished eighth on the team in tackles and despite not starting plays a lot of snaps. He has 44 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, two fumbles caused, and a fumble recovery. He can cover, can rush the quarterback, and is a good tackler in space.

26 Tyler Patmon, CB
5-10, 190, Sr.
Univ. of Kansas/Round Rock (Vista Ridge), Texas
He's really not so unsung as everybody knows who he is now. "This is the best thing yet and I plan on enjoying everything about being at a bowl game, but most of all playing the game," Patmon said the other day in his first interviews with the media.

A graduated senior, Patmon transferred to Oklahoma State from Kansas to see if he could find a different way to end his final collegiate season. He not only found it but he greatly contributed to it. Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said it was a slam dunk to name him Defensive Newcomer of the Year on the team.

He came in and played a lot, and played at a very high level. He had 28 tackles, an interception, and recovered the bad snap that Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty fumbled around with for a 78-yard touchdown. He'll go down as one of the best one-year transfers in school history.

Unsung Tigers (Offense)
32 Russell Hansbrough, RB
5-9, 190, So.
Arlington (Bowie), Texas
Henry Josey is the Tigers leading rusher and a great story, returning from a career-threatening knee injury. But Hansbrough is coming home with the Tigers carrying an 6.3 yards per carry average and a total of 660 rushing yards and four touchdowns in 105 carries. He has it all as he can run between the tackles and with toughness in traffic, but also has nice jets for the open field and cruising speed. I've been very impressed with all I have seen on video.

77 Evan Boehm, OC
6-3, 315, So.
Lee's Summit (West), Mo.
He has risen to starting status rapidly and plays second in honors on the offensive line to senior left tackle Justin Britt, but I think Boehm is the Tigers' best o-lineman. He snaps the ball well and is quick out of his stance and show quick feet and a forceful first move. He is quick enough to execute the fold block well and even pull on a sweep.

He is strong enough to turn a defensive tackle in a hurry and is also very adept at pass protection. Hard to find anywhere he makes mistakes and this could be fun to watch in the game as he will see some of OSU defensive tackle Calvin Barnett and will have to get out when he can on middle linebacker Caleb Lavey.

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