Practice Report: Youngsters Are Showing Up

STILLWATER – Besides the news that starting All-Big 12 caliber and senior cornerback Kevin Peterson had arthroscopic knee surgery but should still be back for the Sept. 3 opener at Central Michigan, there was some other light injury news as Kilgore Junior College transfer Jordan Burton, expected to start at the star linebacker following a strong spring practice, sat out the Monday morning workout.

“Burton’s got a little hip flexor. He’ll be out a couple of days,” Gundy said. “Kris Catlin is getting a lot of work, and he shows up everywhere, so that’s exciting.”

Another player that stood in for Burton on Sunday and Monday is former junior college All-American Devante Averette, who sat out most of last season with a medical redshirt following a knee injury. He was lumped in with a developing redshirt freshman in Jordan Brailford for some praise from the head coach.

“Even the down-the-line guys like Brailford (the redshirt freshman from Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School) and Averette – they’re all over the place," Gundy added. "Devante is everywhere. Every time I turn around, he shows up somewhere.”

That prompted us to start thinking about a list of unsung or maybe forgotten players that have a chance to make a difference with contributions this season. You can start the list with the three above in Catlin, who has all kind of experience; Brailford, who has added some 30 to 35 pounds in the Rob Glass strength program and he is ready to hel, and another redshirt freshman defensive Cole Walterscheid, who is similar in that he has gained some 40 pounds and has been seen making plays.

Also, on defense expect to hear the name of returning senior cornerback Miketavius Jones and Darius Curry, who are making a packed position of talent even more talented. On offense there may not be as many but offensive guard turned Cowboy back Zac Veatch has lost some 40 pounds while redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Frazier is now 6-5, 260 pounds, which is about 20 pounds up from where he was when he reported.

"Coach Glass mentioned that at one point this summer, 'Frazier is getting bigger while you keep getting smaller.' I've laughed at that but I feel so much better smaller," Vetch said. "I can move better and I feel more coordinated. Frazier has come light years and I'm really impressed with how he is playing."

As for practice on Monday, it was a mixed bag. We reported the defense had kind of had better days on the offense over the weekend and often, it bounces back from offense one day to defense the next as to which side has a better practice. Today's nearly two-hour practice under cloudy skies and cooler temperatures outside produced a team period early that was more defensive highlighted and moving inside for the second team period the offense had their turn in the sun (or should we say in the shade).

“The competitive drills were really good. Outside, in the first-team segment, the defensive pretty much controlled the drill. And then we went inside, and the offense controlled the drill,” Gundy recapped. “(A common question) is, ‘Who do you want to see do better in practice?’ I always want to see the defense control practice.”

One offensive guy that was noticed was James Washington. Last August it was the daily highlight reel catches by the freshman that boosted him into the starting line-up early in the season. On Saturday he had one of those type plays and today there were back-to-back sensational catches, both off the arm of starting quarterback Mason Rudolph, who had one of his better practices.

“He makes plays, you know,” Gundy said of Washington. “He’s a returning starter, for the most part. He’s much more comfortable and has a chance to really excel.”

Gundy was complimentary of both his quarterbacks. Rudolph scrambled in practice on one play to hit Brandon Sheperd for a touchdown. That is a talent that Rudolph's high school coach Kyle Richardson cited in comparing him to Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It's a talent Gundy likes in Rudolph.

“Those things make the difference in an eight-win season and an 11-win season – guys making plays when everything else fails," the Cowboys head coach said.

Meanwhile, Walsh has also been consistent and effective in camp. “J.W. has been really effective,” Gundy said. “He started and played here a lot. He’s a good player. We’re lucky to have two guys.”

The Cowboys went through a short one-hour practice on Monday night for their first two-a-days practice day with a lot of work on special teams. Another recruit was there in the afternoon, another Kansas defensive line prospect as Amani Bledsoe of Lawrence made the afternoon practice after Isaiahh Loudermilk of Howard (West Elk), Kansas had been at the morning practice with his family.

Oklahoma State practices once on Tuesday morning.

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