You know many of the estimated 17,500 fans that were at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday wanted to see quarterback Mason Rudolph. Heck, after the Orange-Black scrimmage was over and the fans were allowed on the field it was almost impossible to find the gray-jerseyed Rudolph as he was surrounded by a large multitude of Cowboy followers.
Backup quarterback Taylor Cornelius had a strong effort that included the wise decision on the run-pass option on the first play of the game to pull the ball and hit Jhajuan Seales on the slant. He was 9-of-14 passing for 192 yards on the day insured there were fans that wanted to take pictures with him and get an autograph. The defensive players like Jordan Brailford, Jarrell Owens, Trey Carter, linebacker Jordan Phillips, and Ramon Richards had fans around them too.
Then there was the walk-on, backup kicker Matt Ammendola.
With three-year starting kicker Ben Grogan out for the spring with hip surgery on his plant side after improving with the same surgery previously on his kicking side, that left Ammendola to kick during the spring with fellow walk-on Matt Hockett of Norman. Both have good legs and Hockett doubles as a punter behind starter Zach Sinor. In fact, Hockett punted four times on Saturday for the Orange team for an average of 38.3 yards and a long of 45. He also connected on the lone extra point for the Orange.
Ammendola out of Lansdale, Pa., featured several trick kicks in his recruiting tape. In his repertoire, the best trick of all for fans Saturday was when he stepped on the field in the second quarter and tried a 50-yard field goal. It not only split the uprights but it might have been good from 60 to 65 yards as he crossed the cross bar some 10 to 15 yards up in the air. It was drilled through.
Later in the second quarter, he tried a 40-yarder and the kick looked like a carbon copy. By the time he made his third appearance for a field goal in the fourth quarter, this time for a 32-yarder, the fans hardly paid attention because this would be a chip shot.
Head coach Mike Gundy has been looking for a strong leg to take over on kickoffs and give the Cowboys coverage unit some wind sprints rather than intense cover situation on kickoff returns. Even with the rule now that it comes out to the 25-yard line, Gundy would like to see some touchbacks. Ammendola did that on his lone kickoff, a shot that went nine yards deep in the end zone on the fly.
"I thought we kicked the ball well," Gundy said. "He is showing signs of strength and being able to drive the ball. Obviously, he'll have to have a good summer."
Nothing definitive there, but Grogan was on the sideline watching. After the scrimmage he looked relaxed, and that comes from the confidence of nailing game-winning kicks like Bedlam overtime in 2014, and Texas and Kansas State last season. There's a real good chance that Grogan does his job next season and may be relieved of the kickoff chores to let Ammendola get his feet wet.
What Ammendola may have done on Saturday is start the process to getting on the field to kick off as a redshirt freshman next fall and then save Oklahoma State the trouble of looking for and maybe even laying out a scholarship for a kicker in the next recruiting class, instead grooming Ammendola for the PAT/field goal duty and reward him with a schollie.