Spring Football: Emerging Playmakers

Whenever you do lists of any kind it can be dangerous, simply because the criteria for the list can be vague and unless very specifically detailed can cause hurt feelings about who is on or not on a list. Oklahoma State has only six practices left following Easter and the fans get their opportunity to survey the squad on Saturday, April 18, with the Orange Blitz and spring game.

I thought I would contribute with a list for your amusement and my amazement. The list is emerging playmakers in spring practice. The criteria is players that are brand new to the team, redshirted last season, or started less than three games in their first full season to be a part of the team last fall.

Examples of players that are playmakers but are not included would be running back Rennie Childs, a two-year letterman; quarterback J.W. Walsh, who is going to be a senior, and Ashton Lampkin, a junior who has started 17 games, including four last season before his injury.

For this list we will give you 10, but instead of a top 10 we'll divide it to five on each side of the ball. Normally you might not look at linemen as playmakers but defensive linemen make lots of plays and an offensive linemen can be a playmaker when he opens up a big hole or knocks a pass rusher away so the quarterback can deliver the ball. Count those as plays made.

1. #22 Todd Mays, RB - The versatile performer from two NJCAA national championship teams at East Mississippi C.C. has come in and played all his practice snaps at running back as that is where the opportunity is. Mays is a two move-and-go kind of back and his moves are good and his speed is legit. He has fumbled some, but he has also improved through the spring and was solid in the scrimmage and the next practice.

2. #15 Chis Lacy, WR - Lacy (pictured above) played some last season and showed he could contribute. Now he is more comfortable in different varieties of plays in the offense from downfield routes to short catches with more run after the catch designed in the play. He is smart and takes coaching well.

3. #6 Keenen Brown, WR - He redshirted last season but this young man is special in so many ways. He has great size with a 6-3 frame and weighs 205 now with really good speed for that size. He has excellent ball skills and will be a receiver that can stretch the field or find the sticks for the first down. He is very fun to watch.

4. #73 Victor Salako, OT - A real difference maker that shows he can seal the edge and also has that great frame and arm length to excel at keeping defensive ends off the quarterback. His feet are the key as he is athletic and can really move for a 6-6, 340-pound man. Salako is the most experienced player listed here as he started all 12 games at UAB last season.

5. #64 Jesse Robinson, OG - Robinson has a sense of humor and is an entertaining guy, but it takes more than a pretty face and personality to do well on the offensive line. He is a classic "masher" of an offensive lineman. If the Cowboys have a third-and-short or a fourth-and-1 at the goal line then I would want to run over Robinson.

1. #20 Jordan Burton, Star LB - Of all the mid-year JUCO newcomers Burton may be the best of all by production as he is seen all the time coming up and making stops on run plays or behind the line of scrimmage. He is physical but athletic enough to cover receivers and he knows how to use his hands in taking a receiver off his route early. He absolutely fits the definition of the "star" position.

2. #56 Motekiai Maile, DT - He amazed the team and all spectators at the scrimmage on Wednesday with his drop and then run thru the receiver and grabbing the ball with a one-handed snag. Maile is another tremendous JUCO transfer. He is athletic and looks like he weighs around 250 pounds, but is just under 310 pounds.

3. #19 Jordan Phillips, WLB - Phillips has a lot to learn and he needs to work his eyes and see the right things as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Glenn Spencer likes to teach, but Phillips is a stone cold hitter. He hits the way that discourages offensive players from wanting to touch the ball. He is the kind of defender that offensive players look around to spot and hope they don't see him.

4. #40 Devante Averette, LB - Averette can play both weak and middle linebacker, and he and Phillips have a great big brother and little brother rivalry going on. Like Phillips, Averette is a big hitter, but his age and maturity has him seeing things better sometimes. He is very athletic for 235 pounds.

5. #45 Chad Whitener, LB - A transfer from Cal that is originally from Texas he was a star on the scout team for the offense last fall and has carried that into the spring. A smart player that very easily could be the successor to Ryan Simmons at the very important middle linebacker position.

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