Spring Football: Some Real Football

STILLWATER - Oklahoma State put its seventh spring practice in the books on Friday. There were officials on the field, and when the guys with stripped shirts are in town then real football in the form of some scrimmage action is not far behind. It wasn't an overload but the Cowboys did go through about a 30-minute full contact team period that was loaded with good play on both sides of the ball.

Offensive and defensive coaches will find good and bad in the grading of the material.

Quarterback J.W. Walsh ran and threw well. Tyreek Hill continues to impress as his speed is real. Brandon Sheperd is making a number of good catches, and beware of Jeremy Seaton as he is still a solid weapon.

Defensive end Sam Wren and defensive tackle James Castleman are both playmakers, as are middle linebacker Ryan Simmons and cornerback Kevin Peterson. Redshirt freshman corner Darius Curry is showing up more and more.

There were also a bunch of high school coaches on hand for the nearly three hour practice with the OSU coaching staff hosting the annual spring coaches clinic. The Cowboys coaching staff participates, but they also bring in high school coaches from Oklahoma and Texas.

Close to 150 coaches were in Stillwater, including former Cowboy linebacker Kenyatta Wright. The head coaches and one of their assistants conduct presentations. This year Kingfisher state championship head coach Jeff Myers, Longview, Texas head coach John King, Cedar Hill, Texas head coach Joey McGuire, and Norman North head coach Wade Standley were selected to present. It's a pretty prestigious and experienced group.

Oklahoma State fans are now roughly a week away from having the opportunity to see what this young Cowboys team looks like at the Orange Blitz.

We thought we'd give you, based on our observations, a guide of what to watch for next Saturday.

Offense With the quarterbacks look for three things. First, how smooth they conduct the offense getting the information on the play to everyone and how confident they are in running the offense. This is an area that greatly favors J.W. Walsh because of his experience, and he is smooth with his communication and confident. The other quarterbacks are getting better with it.

Second, watch how well each quarterback makes all the throws because the throws in the passing game range from very short to "Manziel Pro Day" long throws. This week Daxx Garman has been really humming the football, but Walsh has also thrown the ball well, and Mason Rudolph is naturally a good throwing quarterback.

The third aspect is simply how the offense moves consistently under the guidance of each quarterback. Hopefully, fans will get a chance to see that in the Orange Blitz, but so far that has been hard to see because everything has been so situational in team periods.

Check out Tyreek Hill turning the corner. If you were wondering if the young man is as fast in football as he is in track, once you see him turn the corner on a off-tackle play you will believe.

With the receivers check out Jhajuan Seales, Brandon Sheperd, C.J. Curry and Austin Hays. All four of those receivers arrived at OSU in the same recruiting class and all four are getting lots of reps in the offense this spring. Check them out physically and then thank Mike Gundy for bringing in Rob Glass as the strength and conditioning coach at Oklahoma State.

On the offensive line watch center Paul Lewis and anybody else that is playing there. Remember that the top two centers on the depth chart from last season are gone. Center is such a critical position and it is worth watching.

Let's start with the defensive line. This may be the strongest position on the team with the likes of defensive tackles James Castleman and Ofa Hautau back. Gundy admits that defensive line may be a team strength.

"I think so. They're a mature group," Gundy said this week after a practice. "I think we only have two or three returning starters on defense but we have a number of guys at that position that have played in games. When that happens, for the most part, we consider them returning starters."

At defensive end, Emmanuel Ogbah really came on last season. This spring he is another shining example of what Rob Glass and his staff are capable of getting done in the weight room. Vili Levini is a redshirt freshman who we've talked about a lot that is also very impressive.

"Vili (Levini) has played some at end and moved down some based on the package we're using, but Sam Wren and Trace Clark – those guys are really showing up because they're experienced players," Gundy added. "They've got to make plays for us, and I think they will because they have played in games."

Linebacker is a position that, like offensive line, will need the summer and preseason camp in August to finalize and prepare for the start of the season. The numbers are down and getting everybody healthy and getting in the newcomers will be necessary.

The secondary is a lot like the wide receivers as there is so much youth and inexperience but a lot of raw talent. Kevin Peterson is the leader but watch Ashton Lampkin, Darius Curry, Jerel Morrow and Taylor Lewis. Young players that are making mistakes some but also making plays.

The safeties include tall Tre Flowers to go with muscular and athletic Jordan Sterns, and Deric Robertson. They are all making enough plays that they are making the head coach happy.

The Cowboys will cross the halfway threshold in spring football on Monday when they are back on the practice field. The schedule for next week is practices on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, and the Orange Blitz Saturday.

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