Cowboys Hope Next Transfer Also Pays Off

Oklahoma State has had plenty of success with transfers on the defensive side in recent seasons – Tyler Patmon, Josh Furman and Michael Hunter – but Mike Gundy is hoping Barry J. Sanders provides a spark to the Cowboys running game in 2016.

When I steal an idea, I'm going to tell you that I've stolen it, and the Sunday Oklahoman featured a story on the front page of the sports section on how the University of Oklahoma may qualify as Transfer U. The Sooners have had their share of four-year school transfers that have helped out Bob Stoops program but in Stillwater, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy and his staff have done a lot with just a little in the way of four-year school transfers.

There are a number of college coaches and administrators that would like the senior graduate transfer rule rescinded. That is the rule that allows graduated seniors to transfer from one school and be eligible immediately if they begin graduate courses in a program that is not available on their previous campus. I can guarantee you that Gundy is not among the coaches wanting to strike that rule.

That policy has given Oklahoma State power in the secondary in the form of cornerback Tyler Patmon, star linebacker Josh Furman and cornerback Michael Hunter. Now Oklahoma State is hopeful it will reap huge rewards on the offensive side of the ball this fall with a legendary name arriving in Barry J. Sanders.

Sanders will be the fourth player in four years to arrive in Stillwater with a degree in hand and a desire for more success in football. He will also be the first arrival in the form of a senior graduate transfer, what I like to refer to as "super seniors" that won't need a campus map or a tour guide.

The first son of Oklahoma State Heisman Trophy winner and both Pro Football and College Football Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders grew up on the Stillwater campus. He was at virtually all of the Cowboys games during his record-breaking and attention-getting high school years at Heritage Hall in Oklahoma City. He was a popular guest at tailgates outside Boone Pickens Stadium and at post-game parties at the Greek houses on campus. He was a celebrity before college and when he chose Stanford coming off an All-American career in high school it was deflating for many OSU fans.

Now after playing in 36 games in three seasons at Stanford, but never as a starter, he comes back to the school his dad starred at and that he dreamed of playing for one day. "I obviously know what people are saying and have said for a long time now," Sanders said earlier this year after making his decision.

"I haven't let that stop me from doing what I have to do. I know how great my father was and I think I know how great I can be, so I'm excited for this opportunity. I believe the sky will be the limit in the way I perform. I have said before that anyone that tries to compare themselves to my father, it is hard to, it is very hard to. As much as I said that, I have some of his moves but that doesn't compare to what he was able to for over a long period of time. I hope to replicate that as much as I can, but this is reality," Sanders said.

In his three season of playing for the Cardinal, Sanders had 115 carries for 672 rushing yards and a per carry average of 5.9-yards per carry. With over 500 carries in his career his father had a per carry average of 6.3 yards and that is the all-time best at Oklahoma State.

Barry J. Sanders hopes to bring the kind of impact to Oklahoma State on offense that a trio of defenders have brought the past three seasons. 

In 2013, it was Tyler Patmon. The native Texan at cornerback had told then Kansas head coach Charlie Weis he wanted out and Weis sporting that big former Notre Dame head coach ego told him to scram. Patmon, who had played in 32 games as a Jayhawk, came in and played all 13 games as a senior and started five on his way to his first bowl game in his career. He finished with some great memories that included an interception in the game with his old school Kansas and a fumble recovery that he scooped and scored on running 78 yards for the exclamation point in an upset win over third-ranked Baylor.

Josh Furman was originally from Annapolis, Maryland, and had toiled for three seasons and a redshirt year at the University of Michigan with little to show for it. He had started just three games and had a total of 29 tackles and one blocked kick as a safety for the Wolverines.

He picked the Pokes for his final college stop after graduating from Michigan. He arrived in the summer and went through an interesting adjustment period with the Oklahoma heat and Rob Glass' summer conditioning program. In other words, he almost didn't make it. However, once he did and adjusted to a new position at star linebacker he more than doubled his career output at Michigan with 64 tackles, 50 unassisted. He was among the Big 12 leaders in sacks with seven and 14 tackles for loss. He had the first interception of his collegiate career and it was a clincher in Lawrence, Kan., to beat the Jayhawks.

"I didn't think about it at the time, but I think when they put me at the star linebacker position that was the perfect position for me to play," Furman said looking back on his Oklahoma State season. "Sure the change of schools was important but the change of position was just as important and Coach [Glenn] Spencer saw that being a good place for me."

Last season another transfer from Big 10 country arrived. But growing up in hot and humid Louisiana, Michael Hunter had no problem adjusting to the Oklahoma summer climate. He also had no complaints about his playing time at Indiana. The very athletic cornerback played in 36 games and started 24 games his sophomore and junior seasons of eligibility. His issue was he had never been to a bowl game, never had a winning season. The 10-straight wins to start the 2015 season were a wonderful experience for Hunter, and after win six, which clinched a bowl, Hunter was the lone Cowboy with tears in his eyes. For the rest of the team bowl eligibility was a foregone conclusion.

"To sum it up, I can't even put it in words," Hunter said as he prepared to go home to Louisiana for the Sugar Bowl, his first and only college bowl game. "It is like a dream come true. You know I played my last high school game in the Superdome and now I will play my final college game there too."

Hunter finished his only season at Oklahoma State with 20 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and two critical interceptions, one against Kansas State in a tight game and the other in a wild 70-53 victory at Texas Tech.

Patmon and Furman went on to NFL careers. Patmon was a starter for awhile with the Dallas Cowboys and is currently a member of the Miami Dolphins after signing with them after being let go late in the 2015 season by Dallas. Furman was drafted by the Denver Broncos and was released just before the start of the season. He is looking for an opportunity with another club. My guess is that Michael Hunter will either be drafted or be a prize undrafted free agent following a monster Pro Day workout in Stillwater last month that featured a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash.

Oklahoma State has had other four-year school transfers such as starting offensive left tackle Victor Salako, who ended up in Stillwater after UAB dropped football briefly; Chad Whitener, who came from California and is now the starting middle linebacker for the Cowboys, and keep an eye out for Auburn transfer safety Derrick Moncrief, who will be eligible after sitting out last season.

All transfers are welcome but those instant veterans that can play immediately thanks to the "super senior" rule have been key ingredients to Oklahoma State's success and if Sanders follows that same path it will make the 2016 season a lot of fun. 

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