Position-by-Position Analysis: Cowboys Backs

A pair of fifth-year seniors – Blake Jarwin and Zac Veatch – and a group of talented underclassmen make the Cowboys Backs position one of the deepest on the squad.

This is a feature we did post spring back in the days of Go Pokes Magazine. We would list every single player on the roster, including walk-ons, and give you a short synopsis of where they fit in on the team and what the possibilities are for them in making significant contributions in the upcoming season.

We will do these by position groups and again. Remember, it is just our observations and opinions, based on what we have seen and what we have heard from everybody from head coach Mike Gundy through the coordinators, position coaches, and graduate assistants and support personnel.

We started with the specialists and now will move to the Cowboys Backs. I had a chance on Saturday night to speak with Cowboys Backs coach Jason McEndoo at the Oklahoma State Posse Auction. McEndoo was most happy about getting through the spring with his group completely healthy.

Remember last spring and some during the season Jeremy Seaton was compromised by back issues. But this spring it was all hands on deck for the most multiple position on the Oklahoma State squad and the position grew in depth because of that. The Cowboys backs will be headed by a pair of seniors that offer strengths at two different skills for the position, but are suitably strong at both blocking and receiving/running with the football. It is entirely possible that the Cowboy Backs could be better this upcoming season. It will help because the added blocking support in the run game could be the difference between a good run game and one that doesn't do enough.

Cowboy Backs (The abbreviation for Cowboys Backs is CW)

47 Blake Jarwin, CW, 6-5, 248, RS-Sr., Tuttle, Okla.
A walk-on who has since been awarded a scholarship, Jarwin may be one of if not the best overall athlete on the team. He is definitely a product of the hard work in the weight room as his frame is filled out and he is solid, if not spectacular, in all testing ranging from the forty to the 5-10-5 shuttle to all the lifts. I asked him this spring if the NFL is a goal for him after this season and he replied, "absolutely/"  Last season he caught 17 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. I could see those numbers tripled this upcoming season as quarterback Mason Rudolph has learned that Jarwin in a heckuva a check down receiver. Earlier in his career he would have the drops at times, but that has really cleared up with maturity and experience and he makes certain catches and a lot of tough ones. If there is a weakness it might be staying on blocks and keeping contact with the defender after first engaging. He is one of those great effort guys that is a leadership example as he is always working to get better.

86 Zac Veatch, CW, 6-3, 265, RS-Sr., Broken Arrow, Okla.
A former offensive guard that played as a blocking tight end during his redshirt freshman season using the old extra pullover jersey to get in games with an 80s number. Now he wears 86 full-time. He is just as effective in the backfield lined up as a fullback or an H-back as he is on the line of scrimmage as a tight end. Veatch was originally presumed to be a blocker for this position but in his first action in the 2015 spring game he caught a touchdown pass and last season he caught five passes for 72 yards. He has good hands. He is a good blocker but needs to continue to improve as the blocking done by the Cowboy Backs, sometimes on the move or in open space, is so different from the trench blocking in confined areas that Veatch did as an offensive guard. 

85 Jordan Frazier, CW, 6-4, 265, RS-So., Springfield (Lighthouse Christian), Mo.
Frazier is progressing and in one practice this spring really gained a lot of attention when on one play he caught the ball, turned and flat exploded into a safety that was there to tackle him. It was one of those "ah ha" moments. The next play he caught a pass over the middle by diving and making a pretty athletic catch after the ball had been deflected after leaving the quarterback's hand. It's plays like that cause coaches to be more confident and put you in games. Frazier needs to make sure he knows and follows all assignments. A former national champion with his home school team in high school, Frazier is a really good athlete who is bigger and stronger than he has ever been.

6   Keenan Brown, CW, 6-3, 242, RS-So., Houston (Alief Taylor), Texas
Brown has had a hard luck career so far after redshirting as a freshman he had a very promising spring in 2015 and made a circus catch in the spring game only to injure his foot in fall camp and be compromised all season. As he tried to get healthy he continued to get bigger physically and thus the move from wide receiver to Cowboys Back. He is a very talented athlete, but you can't underestimate the time and patience needed to learn a new position. He is primarily a tight end, H-back or flex right now and doesn't line up as a fullback. Consider him a pass catching specialist for now at the position. 

82 Cole Neph, CW, 6-3, 230, RS-So., Owasso, Okla.
Neph stands out with long flowing red hair and as a really outstanding athlete. He was the player, as a freshman, that played the Washington quarterback Cyler Miles on the scout team in preparation for the Cactus Bowl and did such a good job he drew rave reviews from the first-team defense and the defensive coaching staff. Last season he played primarily on special teams, but don't second guess when you see Neph in the game as he has proven himself to be a scholarship-caliber athlete. I predict he will make big plays and be a regular contributor before his career is done. Originally, it was thought he would be a wide receiver and was last season but he continues to get bigger and stronger.  

48 Dawson Bassett, CW, 6-4, 234, RS-Jr., Tuttle, Okla.
Bassett has had an interesting Cowboy career but has been a contributor on special teams and continues to show up at practice and in drills. His experience makes him a valuable asset at the position. 

41 Britton Abbott, CW, 6-2, 246, RS-Fr., Liberal, Kan.
A former high school quarterback and a tough, hard-nosed player, Abbott could be considered the fullback specialist among the Cowboy Backs. He is very comfortable being in the backfield and blowing up defenders in power-run situations or as a stay home pass protector. He is also going to be a really good contributor on special teams, especially the return units as he excels at blocking in the open field. 

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