Jaxon Salinas, OL
6-4, 300, RS-Fr.
Salinas is an excellent prospect who likely will spend his time at the guard position, and those two spots are even more wide open than the tackles. It is possible he could get a look at center too. With the absence of last year's starter Jake Jenkins that position is also wide open. Salinas spent his red-shirt year getting better on the scout team against the likes of Calvin Barnett and James Castleman. He has ability and strikes me as a player that picks up the mental aspect of the game quickly and that will help.
Ra'Shaad Samples, IR
5-11, 178, RS-Fr.
Dallas (Skyline), Texas
He has to be chomping at the bit to get out there and show what he can do. He was on the edge of playing as a true freshman, but because of numbers was not needed. He spent a lot of time last summer and early in fall camp of last season in the tutelage of former Cowboys slot standout Josh Stewart. If he soaked up as much as it seems that he did then that will serve him well. Samples is very fast and is totally recovered, including getting weight back, after a broken jaw during last season. He is a coach's son and that also factors big. It is really exciting to think that Samples and newcomer Tyreek Hill could be lined up on either side of the field with their abilities pressuring the interior pass defense of an opponent.
Christian Schroeder, WR
5-11, 180, Sr.
A walk-on that has been around for a long time and has stuck it out, Schroeder has really helped out on scout teams. He might potentially help out some on special teams, but he'd have to climb some on the receiver depth chart to make the travel squad and allow that to happen. This spring would be really important for that to happen.
Jhajuan Seales, WR
6-2, 188, So.
Port Arthur (Memorial), Texas
Seales has not only become a major threat at the wide receiver position and elevated himself to the top line of the depth chart but he has also become a leader on the team and he has done it in a short time span. Last season he had 39 receptions for 571 yards and three touchdowns, including 3 catches for 42 yards and a touchdown in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri. Seales not only has excellent talent with speed, size and strength but also a really positive work ethic that rubs off on teammates. This could be a season where he takes off. Coaches look at him as a premier threat and player. His potential has no limit.
Jeremy Seaton, FB/TE
6-2, 250, Jr.
A highly respected player that has walked on and gone from being a very good high school quarterback to being a real threat as both a blocker and receiver while lining up in a variety of positions while being labeled a fullback or a tight end. He has good hands and you know his past experience at quarterback helps him in his new role. He is also a major contributor on special teams with his ability to block on the move. Great story and really good young man, the kind you like having in your program.
Bryan Shanklin, FB
6-1, 238, Fr.-Tr.
Mansfield, Texas/Air Force Academy
Shanklin signed with Air Force out of high school but has since switched to Oklahoma State, where he was welcomed as a walk-on. He has loads of ability and stree the word load as he is one. He can pack a punch and will be ideal to join in the competition at the fullback position. He has looked good in his work in the offseason and was a member of the winning competition team with Team Walsh.
Brandon Sheperd, WR
6-1, 195, Jr.
St. Louis (Parkway Central), Mo.
You love his talent and love his ability to get open and make catches and then what his athletic ability allows him to do after the catch. The hurdle for Sheperd throughout his career has been becoming totally comfortable with the offense and always knowing what is expected of him, especially in option route situations that exist frequently in this offense. The spring will be important for him to shore up that part of the game and be ready to take a larger role in reps during games.
Demarcus Sherod, LB
6-0, 220, Jr.
Decatur (Columbia), Ga.
Sherod is on the inactive list for right now after missing last season with a knee injury and then dealing some with a shoulder injury in the 2012 season. He still played a bunch in 2012 with seven tackles (six unassisted). He is set to play middle linebacker and we will see how things shape up for him over the summer and in fall camp.
Ryan Simmons, LB
6-0, 242, Jr.
Cibolo (Steele), Texas
There are no questions about Simmons' motives as he is an all team-oriented and driven individual. His family bloodlines run that way. He is now bigger, stronger and much smarter in a football sense than he was when he began playing as a true freshman. He is likely going to take over a major portion of the leadership on defense by moving into the middle linebacker position vacated by Caleb Lavey. Simmons will look to continue Lavey's coach-on-the-field type presence and combine it with his athleticism and playmaking ability sideline to sideline. Over the past two years I believe Lavey pushed Simmons to play smarter, and Simmons pushed Lavey to play faster. Last season, Simmons had 62 tackles (45 unassisted), 9.0 tackles for losses, a sack, and an interception. There is a lot of pressure on Simmons as the veteran safeties and the top two players at the "star" hybrid position graduated. Leadership will be needed constantly.
Kaleb Smith, LS
6-3, 235, RS-Fr.
Fort Worth (All Saints Episcopal), Texas
He always has a smile on his face and you know he is excited about being here. He had all last summer and last season to follow around two of the best in Andrew Suter and Connor Sinko, who split the snapping chores. Smith will be expected to prove in the spring that he can handle both placements and punts. He will also be challenged to work on his speed and ability to get downfield and assist with coverage on punts.
Kip Smith, P/K
6-1, 209, Sr-Tr.
Broomfield (Legacy), Colo./UCLA
If you take away three or four punts from the entire season then he would be ideal in this day and age as he averaged right around 40 yards a kick, often with little or no return as his hang time allowed coverage to get good position. Take away the two short kicks against West Virginia, one later in the season and the punt that helped Jalen Saunders in the Bedlam game get the return for touchdown. Smith was also outstanding on kickoffs with 84 total, 19 touchbacks, two out of bounds, and the average was right at 60, meaning opponents averaged starting from their own 23.5 yard line. Smith will have to maintain his performance while showing improvement with his punting as a top-flight high school candidate is on the way in Zach Sinor.
Larry Stephens, DB
5-10, 187, Sr.
Galena Park (North Shore), Texas
Injured last season, Stephens has made the decision to come back and use his fifth season (red-shirt year). In his short amount of play before the injury he had two tackles. He will be a huge assist with his versatility in playing both corner and safety. He will not participate physically in the spring, but as a veteran that should not be an issue.
Jordan Sterns, S
6-1, 200, So.
Cibolo (Steele), Texas
Sterns was on the field as a freshman. He and fellow freshman Deric Robertson have a leg up on earning playing time in the Cowboys' experience-depleted safety position group. Sterns also helped on special teams and finished with 12 tackles (9 unassisted). He is so gung-ho and his motor runs high all the time. I love the fact that on the day he committed to Oklahoma State he was in the gym later on his own working out on weights to get bigger and stronger so he could play right away at OSU. He has a chance to be a real standout in the future on the defense.
Here is a schedule for the rest of the series:
Monday, March 3 - T/U/V
Wednesday, March 5 - W/X/Y/Z
Spring football begins on Monday, March 10.