There are 17 former Oklahoma State players scheduled to work out on Thursday at Pro Day for the NFL scouts, coaches, and administrators. Meanwhile, spring football day two had the Cowboys out for a two hour practice and running backs is an interesting position as returning freshman All-American Justice Hill is sidelined and a group of inexperienced players compete for the spot behind Hill on the depth chart.
Oklahoma State went through their second spring football practice on Wednesday of what will be a compressed first week with the third and final practice before spring break on Thursday. It will also be Pro Day on Thursday as the event will being with the Wunderlick Test at 9 a.m., followed by weight room work and measurements, before the players involved and the scouts move over to the Sherman Smith Training Center for the running and drills.
There are scheduled to be 17 participants for Pro Day and several were back to watch practice today including defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, star linebacker Jordan Burton, defensive tackle Mote Maile, and cornerback Ashton Lampkin. Taylor and Lampkin, who were at the NFL COmbine along with running back Chris Carson will only do on-the-field drills, not testing or timing.
Others expected to work out for the NFL scouts, coaches, and administrators are safety Jordan Sterns, wide receiver Jhajuan Seales, tight end Blake Jarwin, tight end Zac Veatch, running back Barry J. Sanders, running back Rennie Childs, offensive tackle Victor Salako, special teams performer Keegan Metcalf, safety Derrick Moncrief, cornerback Lenzy Pipkins, kicker Ben Grogan, and returning to OSU wide receiver C.J. Curry.
Also, on hand to watch practice on Wednesday was former cornerback and fifth-year senior transfer Michael Hunter, who spent last season with the New York Giants.
Running back is a unique position this spring as the obvious starter, 2016 USA Today Freshman All-American and thousand-yard rusher, Justice Hill is sitting out the spring following a shoulder procedure that resulted from an injury in high school. Hill will be the guy but Oklahoma State has always needed and used two-to-three running backs in a season. Last season Hill paired off with senior Chris Carson, who just last Friday made a strong impression at the NFL Combine testing in the top 10 in every category for running backs, as the duo totaled 1,701-yards and 15 touchdowns. Not only is Carson graduated but so did Rennie Childs and Barry J. Sanders. That leaves Jeff Carr as the only experienced running back for the spring and he has a career total of 48 carries and 12 pass receptions.
Carr is joined by red-shirt freshmen L.D. Brown (5-9, 193) from DeSoto, Texas and Ja'Ron Wilson (5-10, 225), a talented walk-on from Euless (Trinity), Texas. There is also senior walk-on Jakeem Johnson (5-9, 190) from Coweta and NEO A&M Junior College.
"We like our young guys, but they don't have any experience at all," head coach Mike Gundy said of the position. "That's one of those key positions that we feel pretty comfortable with who we have up front, but we need someone to come in and give us a little bit in the backup role."
Carr is the front runner simply based on his experience which includes a per carry average of 4.7-yards for his 48 career carries.
"He's going to get the ball a lot more this spring," Gundy added on Carr. "His role was diminished last year because of the emergence of Justice (Hill) and Chris (Carson) was here. Obviously Chris is gone now, but Jeff's body has changed and I like how he's developed. You've also got a couple of guys who are right there on his tail and have developed as well. It'll be interesting. One thing about the running back position, and it goes back to what Coach (Pat) Jones used to say, is that you can find out real quick if you've got real running backs. You can put them in there and let them go and when they get a little bit tired and banged around, the real ones will stay in there and fight."
I like Carr, a lot, and I am eager to see what the young pups can do. Brown was a solid back at DeSoto and has a lot of speed, while Wilson is a pounder, between the tackles back, that actually has a good deal of speed.
New running backs coach John Wozniak jumps into the mix to coach these guys and while he knows that Hill returns for the fall and there will also be two very talented freshmen in Canadian sprinter and running back Chuba Hubbard and Georgia All-State running back J.D. King, it will be good to find one of two of the spring competitors to plug into the depth chart.