Cowboys Spring Football: A-To-Z, Part 1

Leading up to the start of Oklahoma State's spring practice on March 10, we are restarting a series we began several years ago for Go Pokes Magazine. We will be evaluating each and every player in the Cowboys football program, comparing where they currently stand on the team with what they have accomplished, and what their chances are of moving up on the depth chart next season.

Remember, we will only be looking at players participating in spring practice or currently with the football program. Here we go.

Shawn Ackley, DT
6-4, 265, So.(RS)
Cleveland, Okla./Lindenwood College (Mo.)
Ackley did not play in 2013 as he transferred from Lindenwood College in Missouri back to his home state. He did help in practice with duties on the scout team. He is undersized at 265 pounds but has a frame that will take on added weight. He's a long shot to break the two deep at any point, Ackley will need to keep working and keep getting bigger.

Marcell Ateman, WR
6-4, 195, So.
Wylie (Wylie East), Texas
He had a huge impact as a freshman with 22 catches for 276 receiving yards. Oddly enough, he did not have a touchdown catch. In the future look for him to become that receiver that Cowboy quarterbacks look for in the fade route during red zone penetrations by the offense. His size is obviously a major attribute, but he also has good speed. The weakness that he needs to continue to work on is his strength as he fills out that 6-4 frame and becomes stronger and able to not only out-position but also bull around opposing cornerbacks. This spring will be important for him as he has a chance to not only gain more in performance but also to step into a role of leadership among the receiver corps that loses the likes of Tracy Moore, Charlie Moore, John Goodlett and Josh Stewart. He will be depended on to be a primary playmaker in the 2014 season.

Devante Averette, LB
6-1, 230, Jr.(RS)
Melvindale, Mich./Ellsworth C.C., Iowa
A first team All-American in junior college, Averette is a physical inside linebacker who has better than average speed. He also has an added year of maturity as he sat out a year after high school and worked a double shift at UPS. He knows what Brown did for him and what he hopes to do for Glenn Spencer and the Cowboys. He could step in to play almost immediately at either the weak side or middle linebacker position. Some junior college players need a half season or more to feel comfortable and really kick in their best performances. We predict Averette will be doing that this spring.

Dawson Bassett, LB
6-4, 220, Fr.(RS)
Tuttle, Okla.
Averette is a junior college player with the urgency to get out there and play right away but Bassett, a red-shirt freshman, has the same urgency. Bassett struggled some as almost all freshmen do in their red-shirt season, but a bout with mono didn't help. By the time it was postseason and bowl workouts, Bassett was back at full speed and showed some readiness during the bowl season and the young player showcase work during the bowl practices. This spring in the weight room is key for him, but he is athletic enough and smart enough that he could play soon. Playing on special teams right now is a given.

Jimmy Bean, DE
6-5, 248, Jr.(RS)
Denton (Guyer), Texas
The Denton Guyer community within the Cowboy football family shrunk by one with Josh Stewart declaring early for the NFL Draft. Bean, who red-shirted as a sophomore after a knee injury, came back with a strong red-shirt sophomore season. He left a lasting impressing from the bowl game with seven tackles (five unassisted) and one sack and three tackles for 14 yards in losses. Bean seemed to be all over the place and played a big role in the Missouri quarterbacks struggling so much of the game. On the season, Bean, who was much more physically matured and continues to gain in weight and strength, had 34 tackles with 4.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for losses. Bean started the Cotton Bowl and looks now to start the season opener. He may very well do that and become the second Guyer graduate to leave OSU football early.

Corey Bennett, RB
5-9, 190, Jr.(RS)
Choctaw, Okla.
Honestly, Bennett is as good a walk-on running back as you could ever imagine getting. He is a good student and he works very hard in practice. He had 12 carries for 94 rushing yards in the 2012 season, most of that coming against Savannah State when he also scored his only touchdown. He did not carry the ball at all in the 2013 season. He can play so don't be surprised if he does some.

Derek Branson, TE
6-2, 250, Jr.(RS)
McKinney (Boyd), Texas
Branson, always an Oklahoma State fan, went from mostly practice player and walk-on with little recognition to an extremely popular Cowboy in the 2013 season when he blocked and recovered an early punt against Texas Tech. Branson was noticed by the coaches long before his play against Texas Tech as he has a good-sized frame and is athletic with good burst of quickness. He is not shy about being physical either. The coaches identified him and groomed him on offense at fullback. He likely would rather move to defense but he has major opportunities now with Kye Staley's eligibility finally up. He will continue to play special teams but should see more activity in the backfield.

Here is a schedule for the rest of the series:
Friday, Feb. 14 - A/B
Sunday, Feb. 16 - C
Monday, Feb. 17 - D/E/F
Wednesday, Feb. 19 - H/I
Thursday, Feb. 20 - J
Sunday, Feb. 23 - L/M
Monday, Feb. 24 - N/O/P
Wednesday, Feb. 26 - Q/R
Thursday, Feb. 27 - S/T
Sunday, March 2 - U/V
Monday, March 3 - W
Wednesday, March 5 -X/Y/Z

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