Veatch Has Found A Home As A Cowboy Back

One of the great debates throughout Oklahoma State's spring football practice was whether former offensive guard Zac Veatch could be a legitimate receiving target in the offense after dropping nearly 40 pounds while moving back to tight end. Veatch was a tight end at Broken Arrow High school and caught a few passes for the Tigers. He did not catch a pass during his previous tight end duty at OSU.

This spring he was targeted some in practice, but when White team quarterback and the Cowboys starter Mason Rudolph threaded the ball through several defenders in the first quarter of Saturday's Orange-White spring game to Veatch running toward the back of the end zone for a touchdown, well, we all had our answer.

"Yes, a long time coming and it felt good," Veatch said afterward. "It was a good throw by Mason and I'm glad he saw me and had the confidence to put it back there."

It was better than your average catch as there was some distractions in the area as Veatch had to get up a little for the ball. Losing those 40 some pounds, the last 10 pounds he admitted came off during a brief sickness, really helped.

"Losing weight probably helped and getting faster," Veatch added. "I've been doing ball drills before practice and just getting better. We're versatile as a group. Everyone is very skilled. There's value to that.

"Wherever I can get on the field and help the team as much as I can is what I want to do. The coaching staff is going to make the best decision on where my best fit for the team is, and I'm all about it."

Head coach Mike Gundy broke out the new term Cowboy Backs a couple of weeks ago, and planted it with the media that covers the team. The term is used to blanket describe the players that play tight end, fullback, and in some cases, some of those players play both positions.

In fact, most of them, Veatch included, will line up in both spots and multiple places in the offensive formations. I like to say where those guys will determine the flavor of the offense, chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry.

"We thought that over the last couple years by not having that position, that fullback and that tight end, that we struggled some running the football," Gundy told the media from the podium on a question that I proposed about building that position group up. In a unique twist only one player in the position group was recruited and given a scholarship to play that particular position and that is redshirt sophomore Jordan Frazier.

Senior Jeremy Seaton and junior Blake Jarwin are both walk-ons who migrated to that position, and oddly enough, both are former quarterbacks. Britton Abbott is a walk-on who is also a former quarterback from Liberal, Kansas, and he is progressing rapidly. Veatch is a scholarship player but the intention was for him to be an offensive lineman when he was signed.

"We’ll continue to take one a year for that Cowboy Back,” Gundy added to the context of building the position group with scholarship players, although the ones he has are perfect. "The 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, 260-pound, 265-pound guy. … It’s a really good opportunity for them if they desire to play in the NFL if they can play on the line and in the backfield."

Veatch can line up anywhere from wide to tight to an H-back to fullback. He later had a big block on Rennie Childs' 58-yard run.

"That's better than catching a touchdown. I'm not lying to you," Veatch said. "Sealing the edge and seeing the running back shoot past you is a better feeling than catching a touchdown. I love it."

A big key to the success of the group and how it has taken off this spring is the group now has a full-time assistant in charge in Jason McEndoo. Like his players, he was going from sideline to sideline throughout the game Saturday. Veatch said McEndoo and his personality and offensive line background all fit perfect with this group as they have to be unselfish and offensive line-like in attitude.

"It's unbelievable the way we've come together as a group," Veatch said. "Coach McEndoo has done an unbelievable job really emphasizing unity and being together."

The explanation is out there but Veatch admits it is still spreading even among Cowboy fans, so when he is asked what position he is playing he sticks with old school in his response but mixes it with the new term.

"I say tight end and Cowboy Back," he said. "Then people ask what a Cowboy Back is."

That is when the fun begins, both in explanation and execution.

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