Spring Football: Media Marvels At Tyreek Hill

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy was more than just a little edgy last spring and through the summer with discussion in the media of his quarterbacks. In recent springs, since the departure of Brandon Weeden, the media has zeroed in trying to project winners and losers of the quarterback competition. Gundy gave the media someone different to zero in on Monday in Tyreek Hill.

While the media can't interview newcomer running back/slot receiver Tyreek Hill they can darn sure watch what he can do, try to describe it, ask others about it, and marvel in the speed and exploits on the football field of the versatile and explosive newcomer from Douglas (Coffee High School), Ga., by way of Garden City (Kan.) Community College.

The media showed up Monday afternoon at the invitation of Gundy expecting to watch the Cowboys go through a practice. What they actually got was a gold mine as following stretch and a pat-n-go period to loosen up receivers and quarterback's arms the ball was put down on the outside field adjacent to the Sherman Smith Training Center and complete with officials the Cowboys scrimmaged for about 90 minutes and 85 plays.

It was the team's most thorough scrimmage so far this spring.

"We had a good scrimmage today. There were a lot of mistakes, but there were some guys that made some plays, about 85 plays," Gundy analyzed afterwards in front of a large group of cameras and microphones. "We were able to work some field-goal situations, get all three quarterbacks quality work, get the running backs some work, and try to stress some guys a little bit.

"Defensively, we're a little young out there. We got exposed at times today just based on new guys. It was the first time that we've really played without the coaches being out there. They were on their own kind of, for a lack of a better term, but it was good today.

"The weather was perfect. It was quality work. We need about 50 more practices. Unfortunately, we don't get that many, but I was pleased with the effort today. I thought we improved as a football team."

The opening series was a good preview of what was to come throughout the practice. On the first play, quarterback J.W. Walsh gave the ball to Hill coming across the backfield and he took off around the right side of the offensive line and zigzagged his way for 27 yards.

The third play, he caught the ball from Walsh on a short pass that he turned into a double-digit gain. A 13-yard run came next, but after a 17-yard pass from Walsh to C.J. Curry the drive stalled. A big hit and stop on a short-yardage situation by linebacker Seth Jacobs on running back Rennie Childs helped to force Ben Grogan's 23-yard field goal.

Hill was far from finished as the scrimmage really became his spring practice coming out party when the Big 12 champion and NCAA fifth-place finisher in the indoor 200 meters this past track season took the ball and broke through a nice hole, made a dip outside and then cut back inside to daylight and covered 82 yards for a touchdown.

"We looked at him some at receiver, and we've played him some at tailback," Gundy added. "Hopefully we can fit him into our offense enough to get him the football. He seems to be holding up. If he can figure out what we're doing based off of the positions we're playing him at, he should be able to help us because he is really fast."

Hill would later score on a two-yard run in a situational goal line segment of the scrimmage and finished off with an 18-yard scoring run late in the scrimmage.

It's obvious that he can play a major role in the offense, both as a weapon and as a play maker taking pressure off and opening up avenues for other players.

"The main thing you want to make sure of with Tyreek is that you hand the ball to him to the right and to the left," Cowboys offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said when asked how you balance out using Hill as both a running back and a receiver. "Sometimes that will be the balance. He helps us, no doubt about it. We have to maintain balance, regardless. If teams load up the box, we still have to throw it down the field."

"I think you just have to look at his track times and what he was able to do in such a short time, running in his first indoor meets. He's really explosive," running backs coach Jemal Singleton added. "He's one of the fastest guys in the country. Now we're seeing how that translates to the football field."

Defenders don't enjoy chasing him and teammates completely understand his impact on the offense.

"When you have a guy on your team with Olympic class speed and you know it is always something you have to watch out for and then he can get the ball on the edges (of the offensive formation) then the question is can they catch him or stop him," said slot receiver Blake Webb. "He is a great addition to the team and we are real excited about him."

"Fun? I don't know how much fan that is because that boy is quick," defensive tackle James Castleman said of trying to tackle Hill. "You might need to ask somebody else that can chase him down the field."

Monday's performance was just on the practice field in a spring scrimmage, but performances like this don't happen by accident. Hill, who is scheduled to run some outdoor track when spring football is completed, has real ability and his speed makes him one of if not the fastest player in Oklahoma State history and one of the fastest in Division I college football.

There were other plays made in the scrimmage. All three quarterbacks looked good at times and had some things they could improve on. Jhajuan Seales and Blake Webb were popular targets for J.W. Walsh and Daxx Garman. Walsh hit Webb for a 38-yard gain and followed that up with a 26-yard touchdown throw to Seales.

Garman connected with Webb on a 40-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field. He also hit Seales on a short touchdown that was called back because of pass interference. Red-shirt freshman corner Darius Curry had coverage on the play. Overall, the young secondary had ups and downs and will benefit from watching the video of the scrimmage.

It was a very productive afternoon and one that the media enjoyed witnessing. The football scribes have been wanting for something to write about and now they have something in Hill, along with the defensive line, new offensive line coach Bob Connelly, and some talented and rapidly developing receivers. Gundy is going to be happy it's not the law firm sounding combination of Walsh, Garman, and Rudolph.

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