Receivers May Carry The Load For Cowboys

The other night I was watching the evening player-led workout inside Boone Pickens Stadium as J.W. Walsh, Mason Rudolph and Daxx Garman fired pass after pass at the willing receivers running verticals downfield. The passes were good but the receivers were too as few balls hit the ground. It was the same result when all four receivers lined up with the quarterbacks all throwing a different route.

Slants, shallows, hitches, posts, etc., as the receivers ran routes they did a good job of catching the ball. As a group they all look to be in good shape.

There is no doubt that the Oklahoma State Cowboys offense will need to run the ball. Desmond Roland, speedster Tyreek Hill and Rennie Childs will help.

However, it may be the talent and depth at receiver that dictates the success of the Cowboys on offense. The one concern is all 10 of the primary players expected to line up and catch passes are designated as sophomores or younger in football.

"There's no doubt there is going to be some good, some bad, just like you mentioned, (We) have a bunch of young guys coming up but they are a bunch of talented guys too," receivers coach Kasey Dunn said the other day in an interview. "It will be exciting when we get into the season because there are going to be some crazy plays as well."

Oklahoma State went 10-3 last season with an upset loss to West Virginia, a close, late upset at home to end the regular season to OU that cost the Cowboys the Big 12 title and a BCS bowl game, and the Cotton Bowl loss to Missouri on the last possession.

All three losses were close, and if two players with the explosive speed and ability to sizzle like Austin Hays and Blake Webb had been in the arsenal on offense it likely would have been different. At least two of those three games would have been wins.

"It will be nice to have those guys back," Dunn pronounced. "They are both very dependable and talented guys. You have to be pretty good football players to play in the Big 12 as a freshman and both did that.

"Austin (Hays) started off the season for us and getting him back this season is a real bonus. When he went down he was starting for us last season and so to have him back this season is a big, big bonus for us."

Hays and Webb are part of a backbone class of the receiver position that was recruited in 2012. For reasons beyond anybody's control that class is now layered in an interesting way with just one junior and four redshirt freshmen, two redshirted immediately, and Hays and Webb last year with injuries.

"This is a class that a couple of years ago we took and there were five of them with Brandon Sheperd, C.J. Curry, Seales, Blake Webb, and Austin Hays," Dunn explained. "Those guys were all part of that class and they are all coming around to that redshirt sophomore year now. Some played as freshmen and some played as redshirt freshmen, so it is time for them to step up and make plays and then we've got them for the next three years."

This summer it has been obvious that one player has taken control in a leadership manner.

"Seales is doing a nice job of fulfilling that leadership role even though he is a younger guy," Dunn added. "When we took that class, and Todd Monken was here, we were having conversations that Seales might be the one that has the high end, top ceiling.

"He is the one that we redshirted and we were going to play C.J. that year and he got hurt and then Austin, Webb, and Sheperd played. It just goes to show you that the redshirt year helps because he is the one that is the farthest along in playing and experience."

Add to the mix two potential freshmen this year in the explosive James Washington and big Keenen Brown and the younger receivers from the 2013 freshmen class in Marcell Ateman, who played, and Ra'Shaad Samples, who redshirted with injuries, and that makes up a big mix of talent at the position.

"He has a lot of twitch and a lot of speed and he can make football plays," Dunn said of Samples. "He has a lot of talent. He is a coach's kid and has a ton of ability and upside. We have a lot of kids that are freshmen and redshirt freshmen and you want them to come out competing and you really expect them to jump up by that redshirt sophomore year. That is when you expect them to jump up and really perform."

Lots of options, lots of talent, and lots of youth. That sums up the receiver position at Oklahoma State, a position that will go a long way in determining the future over the next few seasons of Cowboys football.


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