Oklahoma State had a physical practice on Wednesday as that was practice number eight, more than halfway through the Cowboys are working hard to improve in the trenches on both sides.
Spring football for 2017 is past the midway point as of Wednesday as the Cowboys went through a two and a half hour practice that saw a fairly rocking pass pro drill between the offensive and the defensive line and an inside drill between those two groups on the heels of pass pro that was also very enthusiastic and a little loud. There were a couple of one-on-one match-ups were one side got just a little frustrated and a couple of times the tension spilled over into some brief skirmishes. Honestly, it is a product of several players on both the offensive line and defensive line getting opportunities to play and really show what they have. There is an urgency with those players that is causing very high effort and the added intensity.
"It is always interesting when you get a guy for whatever reason, maybe it's in his own mind, and he doesn't think he is going to get a chance to play," offensive line coach Josh Henson said. "Then he start to get a chance to play and the improvement is pretty substantial."
The young pups on the offensive line, that red-shirt freshman class of last season includes Dylan Galloway, who is starting at left tackle right now, and Matt Kegel, and Teven Jenkins. You also have an older player in Deionte Noel that is getting a chance and really never has. Noel is playing second team left guard. Over on defense Ben Hughes, former defensive end Trey Carter, and Taaj Bakari are all battling at defensive tackle to earn a place on the depth chart before two transfers come in this summer looking to nail down those spots. That is competition, it is urgency, and it is causing some short fuses in the heat of the line drills.
That is not to say that the competition is any less with the skill players as the ultra competitive young cornerbacks and older veteran corner Darius Curry are getting after it against the very veteran and talented receiver corps. Yes, there are some scrapes down there too. When they all come together for team period, it is still intense, but the behavior has seemed to be better.
Back on the defensive line, junior Darrion Daniels broke in and got some quality playing time as a true freshman and now as a junior is a definite leader at the position.
"I'm a lot better, a lot better (than he was as a freshman)," Daniels said before Wednesday's practice. "Coach (Joe Bob) Clements has really helped me with my technique. You know when I came in I always thought that physically and athletically I was able to do what I needed to do, but my technique was never there. My freshman year Jimmie Bean helped me out a lot. He helped me see the offense and break down plays. Then last year Vincent (Taylor) helped me with my mentality and Mote (Maile) helped me with my technique. If I were to play with those guys now ain't no telling what could happen."
Daniels says the pass rush being applied by this defensive line, the tackles, and ends like Jarrell Owens, Jordan Brailford, and Cole Walterscheid is being much appreciated by the corners. By the way, Brailford and Walterscheid were awesome in pass pro on Wednesday.
"D.C. (Darius Curry) tells me thank you because when his receiver comes out of his break, he says most of the time the quarterback is already having to run out of the pocket," Daniels said with a smile.
Oklahoma State will be back at it on Friday with practice number nine at 3 p.m.
Two notable visitors to practice on Wednesday. One was Oklahoma City (Bishop McGuinness), Okla. offensive tackle Owen Condon. The 6-7, 300 pound Condon has seen his recruiting bloom with offers now from Arkansas, Arizona State, Georgia, Iowa State, Kansas, SMU, TCU, Texas Tech, Tulsa, Vanderbilt, and Washington State in addition to the Cowboys. This is Condon's second visit this spring to Oklahoma State as he and his mother were here before spring practice started to meet with new offensive line coach Josh Henson. Henson and Oklahoma State have a commitment from Tuttle offensive lineman Hunter Anthony. The Cowboys have offered and would like to sweep a trifecta of Oklahoma-raised linemen adding Condon and Bixby's Bryce Bray.
Also on hand on Wednesday, was Benet Academy deep snapper Matt Hembrough. The 6-3, 200 pound Hembrough can really rocket the ball back there watching his tape. He is a little undersized, but has 4.9 speed and is decent in the strength department with a 265 pound bench press, 385 pound max in the squat, and a 215 pound clean. He is going to walk-on at Oklahoma State starting this summer. He was there with his brother and parents. Another fabulous addition to the walk-on program at OKlahoma State that is building momentum because so many have earned scholarships.