Gundy was quick to remind his team to stick to the schedule and to put their best foot forward in representing Oklahoma State University and Cowboy football.
As for the two-hour practice, obviously we are limited in what we can convey but the 80-plus Extreme Campers and their morning speaker (former Oklahoma State Cowboys and Dallas Cowboys great Walt Garrison) saw plenty of position drills, a long seven-on-seven period, and a long team period.
The best thing about early practices is many of the players you knew you needed to count on like wide receiver Jhajuan Seales, speedster Tyreek Hill, offensive tackle Daniel Koenig, defensive tackle James Castleman, middle linebacker Ryan Simmons, and cornerbacks Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin are showing up.
This was the second straight day in helmets and shorts, but Sunday the Cowboys will be in shoulder pads for the first time as the NCAA acclimatization period continues. However, as we say each year, being in shoulder pads the way Gundy's teams practice is as good as being in full pads. They will get after it some on Sunday morning.
So, as the transition from touch football to contact football takes place, we will take our annual look at the newcomers and who is showing promise and also the inventory of newcomers that are either transfers or walk-ons. You have to know who the players are.
To start, linebacker Devante Averette is in Stillwater but it was explained he doesn't count on the list of 105 players that are on the initial report list. He can watch practice but cannot participate or go to position meetings.
It has been confirmed that Averette is way ahead on his rehab from early May ACL knee surgery. He could be released at some point and time where he could play early in the season, but as Gundy and defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer have said they are going to encourage the medical staff to be ultra conservative. There is one other player that is there on a medical, but I have been trying to play the process of elimination with coming up with that player.
Also, junior Kris Catlin is there working at linebacker, but it has been confirmed that he is not eligible for this fall. He is participating in drills to help speed up the development of the young linebackers since he knows the defense and assignments.
Of the newcomers that have shown up and looked promising in the first two practices without contact, running back Sione Palelei from Gonzales (East Ascension), La., takes top honors as running backs coach Jemal Singleton has really liked what he has seen and said Palelei has exceeded his expectations. The 5-10, 198-pound Palelei has speed, strength (biceps that require his jersey to be altered or cut), and moves. He also catches the ball well.
Receiver James Washington has made some sensational plays so far and is very consistent in his practice performance and catching the ball. That is another carry over from what Rob Glass pointed out with both players in the summer program.
On the defensive side of the ball, the trio of star linebacker Kirk Tucker (6-2, 195) out of Georgia, cornerback Ramon Richards (6-0, 180) from San Antonio Brackenridge, and inside linebacker Josh Mabin from Klein Oak in the Houston area have surged out to show signs of helping.
At linebacker help is imperative. However, all of this is very speculative as things change throughout camp and especially when the contact gets going in earnest. Gundy always pays attention and looks for young players that are capable of jumping up and playing a role early ,whether it is on offense, defense, or special teams.
One other area that fans are always interested in is the bonus guys, new walk-ons of transfers that are placed on the initial 105 list because they can contribute significantly either potentially in games or at least in practice. I've been wrong on a few of these, but I have checked them off in the first two days of practice. Here is the list (in alphabetical order):
41-Britton Abbott, FB, 6-3, 230, Fr., Liberal, Kansas-His dad, Cliff, was a standout LB at Tulsa and Britton was a star QB at Liberal and could be a very solid contributor.
14-Taylor Cornelius, QB, 6-6, 184, Fr., Bushland, Texas-Throws the ball pretty well and is an improvement over the late arriving walk-on quarterback Lagow from a year ago.
54-Josh Elias, DS, 6-0, 195, Jr.-Tr., San Jose (Valley Christian), Calif./Arizona-Transfer deep snapper from Arizona provides needed depth behind Kaleb Smith.
59-Matt Hockett, PK, 6-3, 185, Fr., Norman, Okla.-Hockett is a talented kicker that could get a shot if needed.
71-Brad Lundblade, OC, 6-3, 290, Fr., Argyle (Liberty Christian), Texas-He is an absolute bonus in getting an offensive lineman and a center that had Division I offers.
82-Cole Neph, WR, 6-3, 205, Fr., Owasso, Okla.-Another real bonus as Neph absolutely looks the part of a college receiver.
65-Ivan Thomas, DT, 6-0, 265, Fr., Lawton, Okla.-Stellar performer for the Wolverines that is a little undersized, but has potential.
89-Luke Timian, WR, 6-1, 185, Fr., Southlake (Carroll), Texas-Timian was a really good player for the powerhouse Dragons program in high school.
45-Chad Whitener, LB, 6-1, 240, So.-Tr., Mansfield, Texas/California-Transfer from Cal has to sit this season but could be a nice pickup.