Safeties Continue To Develop For Cowboys

With returning starters Jordan Sterns (free safety) and Tre Flowers (strong safety) leading the way, the Cowboys are also getting solid play from Kenneth Edison-McGruder, Jerel Morrow and Derrick Moncrief.

STILLWATER – The Oklahoma State Cowboys were back in full pads for the second straight day and the word is expect a third, and, maybe even, a fourth day in a row before the team gets a day off with the first day of classes at Oklahoma State on Monday.

Friday's practice was two hours plus with a structure and plan very similar to the practice on Thursday. About the only difference was the scripts for the periods and at the end instead of working on overtime, the offense and defense worked on a four-minute drill where the offense is trying to kill the clock and the defense is fighting to get the ball back. Observers called the practice more of a "50-50 split" between offense and defense.

Safeties coach Dan Hammerschmidt called it better than Thursday's practice.

"I thought it was good. I thought it was a little better than yesterday," said the veteran assistant coach. "I thought we were a little sluggish to start yesterday's practice, but we had some guys flying around and doing some good things. (Kenneth Edison­-McGruder) made some plays. Jerel Morrow played well yesterday so that's two days in a row for him. I thought they were bouncing around pretty well."

Morrow did have a good day on Thursday at the safety position and the special teams dynamo and MVP also delivered on Friday. Edison-McGruder, who is backing up Jordan Sterns at free safety, has had a good camp. He and his mentor, Sterns, are such similar players. Neither one needs an excuse to use their shoulder pads and chest. They will hit you.

"I have learned so much from Jordan and I know he can teach me so much more," Edison-McGruder said. "I knew when I first got here that he was a really good player and that I could learn a lot from him. It is fun playing in the same secondary with him."

"He always looks good," Hammerschmidt added on Sterns, one of the definite leaders on this football team. "My issue with him is always going too much. When he leaves the field, he jumps out there, back pedals on the cement, runs out there and tackles poles…You've got to just slow him down and make him take a break. We've just got to keep him rolling. He's always an effort guy, he's tough, he's a leader. My issue with him is just slowing him down."

Sterns has had a great camp and the secondary has looked good, strong and deep despite senior cornerback Ashton Lampkin and star linebacker Jordan Burton being held out of full speed work.

"We've held them out after their injuries just to be cautious," defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said on Thursday. "We know what they can do and it's allowed us to work more on building depth with some of the other players. Edison-McGruder has worked so well and been moved to free safety and that has allowed now eligible transfer from Auburn, Derrick Moncrief, to work in at strong safety.

"He'll be good. He knows the system now, he's making some plays," Hammerschmidt said of Moncrief. "He's still a little bit behind, but he's catching up. He is a smart kid, and he's going to help us a lot, depth-­wise."

Offensively, Chris Carson continued what has been a really good camp as he broke a long run in the team period that had the whistle not been blown would have been a long touchdown run. Receiver James Washington made several impressive catches, both short and deep. Quarterback Mason Rudolph, according to head coach Mike Gundy, has been consistent and good every day. He said he has even improved his arm strength significantly.

Another move on the offense line at guard as junior college All-American Larry Williams played with the first team at right guard. Before being at Hutchinson Community College, the North Carolina native played at East Carolina. It was thought in the spring and going into fall camp that Williams would provide competition on the offensive line. Nothing hammered in stone yet, but the move at left guard with Marcus Keyes has seemed to work well so far. 

Head coach Mike Gundy celebrated his 49th birthday on Friday. Asked if he looks forward to having a birthday some day where he isn't at football practice, Gundy had this response.

"I don't know anything else, besides everybody knows my birthday. Bill Haisten started on it several days ago," Gundy said. 

Gundy was certain he would hear some off-key versions of Happy Birthday throughout the day. 

As for the weekend, Gundy wants to scrimmage his team outdoors and preferably in the afternoon as the first three games will kick at 2:30 p.m., 11 a.m., and 2:30 p.m. in order. That is likely to happen on Saturday with a good forecast for sunshine and mild temperatures on Saturday afternoon.


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