Oklahoma State started its fourth week of spring football on Monday with an up-tempo, two-and-a-half hour practice that featured some defensive highlights during the team period. There were no turnovers that were mentioned last Friday in the Pokes first scrimmage of the spring but two safeties, Jordan Sterns and Jerrel Morrow picked off passes on Monday.
However, starting quarterback Mason Rudolph is not the kind of guy to let a practice end on lowlights for the offense, so before the team period was over Rudolph hummed a deep ball on a "Hail Mary" type of play and the ball found the intended target in the Cowboys tallest wide receiver Marcell Ateman for a spectacular play.
There was good and bad on both sides of the ball as the Cowboys continue to polish up their game this spring and mix veteran players will looking at some talented younger players.
Cowboys linebacker Devante Averette continues to balance being a student-athlete and college football player with being a father to his now 4-year-old son back in Michigan. The native of the Detroit area (Melvindale High School), Averette said he keeps constant contact even if he can't be there in person.
"It's going okay," Averette said, his eyes showing how he misses his boy. "My family and her family, we all get together and I Skype him every day. I ask about his homework over Skype and we go over the homework. It's like I'm not missing a day and I know he misses me because it has been a long time. When we're on Skype he always has a smile on his face and is always excited. It gives me motivation to do what I've got to do."
Averette is a shining example of what head coach Mike Gundy is talking about a lot. He will tell anybody listening that the first obligation that he and his staff have to the players is to make sure they get their education. He is always talking about making promises to moms, dads, grandparents, whoever they deal with in recruiting that they promised those relatives that the player would get his education.
Then Gundy is always preaching that he is looking to make better husbands, fathers, employees, and citizens out of his players. We all know it comes down to winning football games, but it is nice to hear a coach push the non-football agenda especially with the players.
Averette knows what he has to do is play football, play weak-side linebacker well but also get his academics handled and get that degree that is waiting. This is the same player that worked a double shift at UPS in Detroit for a year to help take care of his son before he embarked on his college football journey that started at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa where he earned All-American honors.
Averette is working hard to finish spring football and the spring semester strong so he can go back to Michigan for the month of May and spend it with his son and help with some homework in person.
"Yes, he can't wait, he can't wait," Averette said. "I've got to take him to see the Batman movie and the all the movies with the super heroes fighting. He can't wait and I can't wait."
In the meantime, Averette, who would like a shot at NFL football, is working to nail down that weak-side linebacker position. The linebacker corps is missing Jordan Burton this spring at the star position and Chad Whitener is out there at middle linebacker but he is held out of full contact for precautionary measures. The competition at weak-side is strong with Averette and sophomore Gyasi Akem, who is now 6-2, 230 pounds.
"It is a beautiful thing, the depth, and the competition and the younger guys because they are working just as hard in the film room as we are," Averette said. "They want to compete and they are driven and it is just great all across the board."
A little competition is not going to discourage Averette. He has put too much into this journey to be derailed now. There were the two years at Ellsworth and then upon arrival at Oklahoma State and with great anticipation that he would play early, he tore his ACL and was out.
Last season was the big taste as the 6-0, 230-pound Averette played in every game and had 30 tackles, 21 unassisted, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 2 interceptions, and a fumble recovery. His interception at West Virginia was crucial in the overtime win on the road. He has gone a long way toward earning defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Glenn Spencer's trust.
"He is a very intelligent coach. He just finds ways to challenge us," Averette said. "He is a great father and a great coach. I love playing for him and he pays great attention to detail. Me playing here is a gift from God and I can't wait to play this season and talk trash because my teammates know I like to talk trash and fire the team up."
Averette and the Cowboys will be back on the practice field on Wednesday for practice number 11. There should be another scrimmage this week, either Wednesday or possibly again on Friday.
More Recruits in Attendance on Monday
There are some recruiting analysts that believe it will be a Bedlam recruiting showdown for in-state defensive end prospect Isaiah Thomas of Tulsa Memorial. Thomas was in Stillwater on Monday and he is a very impressive looking young man. Every bit of the listed 6-4, 230 pounds, Thomas, who is coming off basketball season is in good shape. He has offers from the likes of Arizona, Baylor, Colorado, Iowa State, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt along with Oklahoma State and OU. No word on when he is expected to make a decision.
In from California where he is a quarterback at Los Angeles Bishop Mora Salesian High School was Robbie Blosser. The 6-2, 195-pound Blosser is making a tour of the country with stops at Northwestern, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. Today it was Oklahoma State and tomorrow he is visiting OU. So far, Blosser has a scholarship offer from North Texas and interest from San Diego State, Tennessee, and Vandy.
Guthrie offensive lineman Justin Dutton was also there. The 6-5, 302 pound Dutton is an intriguing prospect that is still looking for his recruiting activity to pick up.
Also, for the seventh practice in a row preferred walk-on quarterback Nyc Burns of Tulsa Berryhill was there. Burns is rapidly learning the Oklahoma State offense complete with signs as he pays attention and watches at practice. I would have to rank him the most eager walk-on in Oklahoma State football history, at least that I've ever seen.