Spring Preview: Offensive Skill Positions

Oklahoma State's first spring practice Monday signals the start to molding and shaping a team that should be capable of future runs at the Big 12 championship. There is plenty of molding and shaping that needs to occur and some of that will be in the offensive skill positions. It all starts with quarterback and head coach Mike Gundy spoke about his quarterbacks when he met with the media Monday.

Gundy said that the quarterbacks will compete but that he expected returning veteran and one-time starter J.W. Walsh to be the leader, and he said expects the fourth-year junior will take the first snaps and be polished and show a great understanding of what the team wanted to get done on offense.

Walsh has shown he can be a solid passer with some of his past performances. He does understand the spread, no-huddle, up-tempo passing game including the multiple route options.

While Walsh in the incumbent, Mason Rudolph understands all of those aspects of the offense. He ran virtually the exact same attack in high school and ran it very well.

Gundy told reporters Monday that the quarterbacks would be allowed to compete and in the end that the best guy would play. There is always the danger of playing a freshman too early and while that appeared to be the case with Wes Lunt, you cannot say based on that that you would not play a freshman quarterback again. Different players are different in the regard to being ready to handle it all.

Gundy also stressed that the team is there for practice too. Everybody sees what happens and who is playing well or who is playing better. At the end of the day you have to play the player, in this case quarterback, that gives your team the best chance to win.

Daxx Garman will also get serious reps, and he has been waiting for a chance. Jake Hubenak is another talented player who offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said he feels they are lucky to have.

Gundy added that you can only spread the reps so thin and then you have a situation where nobody is getting enough work to improve the way you need them to.

Could two quarterbacks have a major role? I think so. If you are looking at Walsh and Rudolph, both can run. However, they run for different reasons as Walsh will run to make yards, and he is very good at it. Rudolph runs with his eyes looking downfield. Looking at his tape, he runs to buy the opportunity to throw downfield. I could see a scenario where both can play and the offense and it's diversity makes it work.

The running back position will be interesting in that returning starter Desmond Roland had shoulder surgery and will sit out the spring, allowing young Rennie Childs, red-shirt freshman Corion Webster, and brand new freshman Devon Thomas to get lots of reps. Caleb Muncrief wants to show that he is primed for more use as well.

Childs is up to 205 pounds in the offseason program and Webster is weighing in at 208. Thomas is 5-11, 210 pounds, so there is some beef with the backs.

For the first time in what seems like forever, Kye Staley will not be practicing. The long-time fullback is a great story of perseverance, but he gives way to Jeremy Seaton, Derek Branson and Teddy Johnson for the primary role of blocking and helping with pass protection and an occasional reception out of the backfield.

Seaton, a former quarterback and walk-on now on scholarship, doubles as a tight end. He is joined there by Blake Jarwin, a walk-on in the Seaton mold, and new scholarship freshman Jordan Frazier, who Gundy pointed out thought at one point during the offseason workouts that his whole body was cramping.

Tight end will show more and more in formations the Cowboys use and in part it is to load up with some power. But more than anything it is to make the offense even more versatile and difficult to defend. Think last year's Baylor game when Oklahoma State showed multiple tight ends and the Bears struggled to find an answer.

Gone are receivers Tracy Moore, Charlie Moore and Josh Stewart. However, Jhajuan Seales, Marcell Ateman, Brandon Sheperd, Blake Webb and David Glidden are back. Austin Hays appears to be healthy again, and he was only the best receiver in the freshman class two years ago.

Add Ra'Shaad Samples and C.J. Curry, as they each provide different skill sets in the ways of speed, size and strength. A lot of the buzz is being created by speedster and Big 12 Indoor Track 200 meters champion Tyreek "@Imfasterthanya" Hill.

The Cowboys receivers will be young, but as Gundy said about most of the positions on the team, all the reps the young players will get should grow this team up significantly this spring.


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