Football: News & Notes

You won't find anybody willing to lend their names to the list of supporters but the list is becoming sizeable. It's the list of individuals who are applauding new Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy for his decision to dismiss wide receiver Prentiss Elliott from the team.

One of best athletes on the team, Elliott was becoming less cooperative in his off-the-field requirements. There were reports of the freshman standout being late for team meetings, workouts, academic meetings, and problems with class attendance. There were also reports of two alleged confrontations -- one verbal with new strength coach Rob Glass and the other a physical altercation at a fraternity party outside of Stillwater.
It has not been secret that while claiming not to be a member Elliott does have friends and acquaintances in "G-Unit," a gang in the north Tulsa neighborhood that Elliott grew up in. That gang is now being blamed for a drive-by shooting in Tulsa last weekend that left two children dead. During the week I heard from several relatives, including a couple of parents of OSU players, that privately voiced their agreement with Gundy's decision to remove Elliott from the team. Their concern wasn't Elliott's off-the-field performance as much as it was the threat that his friends from Tulsa might start coming to Stillwater more and what activity they might bring with them.
As for Elliott, both Mike Gundy and Joe DeForest are actively helping him find a better college home for his situation. Elliott is still in school and pursuing his academics in order to remain eligible. He no longer has a locker in the OSU football locker room and does not work out with the squad. The coaches are taking phone calls from interested schools and communicating with Elliott about his choices and what would be best for him.
At first, a junior college such as Georgia Military Colelge was thought to be a good choice. But now we are hearing that Elliott wants to play and be eligible immediately and may look for a Division I-AA school out of state. That would allow him to continue playing and working toward an opportunity to play in the NFL.

The fans are talking about it on Internet message boards and on sports talk radio shows, and the Oklahoma State coaches are doing it as well in the meeting rooms. The talk is about players who could potentially move to new positions with the new offense and defense that will be introduced by the coaching staff starting on March 5 in spring football. The installation actually starts before that in meetings with coaches. It is already confirmed that former tight end Charlie Johnson will move inside and get a look at offensive tackle. There is also talk that Gundy confirmed that some safeties (Jamar Ransom and Chase Holland) were going to be looked at for linebacker.
"We've discussed some possibilities," said new defensive coordinator Vance Bedford. "First, we are going to be involved in working with the players in their off-season drills the final week before spring football and getting to know the abilities and athletic talent of all the players."
"Those decisions will be made during spring practice," said Gundy. "I would expect there will be some moving around of players and that should be situated after the first couple of weeks of practice."
Of course, fans are already thinking about a new position for quarterback Donovan Woods should Bobby Reid win the quarterback competition in the spring. Woods, like Reid, is considered too good not to play somewhere. That has not been discussed as those two will lead a quarterback competition that will include five signal callers in the spring, and freshman Zac Robinson in the fall.
There are some need positions that could get some new candidates. Those positions include cornerback, linebacker, defensive tackle and wide receiver.

Construction is still likely months away but the urgency is still there to get going with an indoor practice facility for football that could also be used for baseball, softball, soccer and track. All the sports could use it for running and conditioning. I had a chance to look at Iowa State's new indoor facility -- a $12 million facility that is the best in the Big 12 Conference -- and it is stunning. Iowa State coaches reveal that it has made the desired and expected difference in recruiting.
We have been told that funding for the expected $4.5 million facility that OSU is planning is two-thirds of the way there and that the other major hang up is securing the land. The OSU athletic department would like to build the indoor practice facility adjacent to the Athletic Center, Boone Pickens Stadium, and baseball and softball stadiums.

Freshman defensive end Nathan Peterson is coming along quite well with his rehab of the torn ACL he suffered in the Texas A&M game last season. He will not participate in any contact drills in the spring but will be available to be out there learning the new defense.
However, there are several Cowboys who will miss spring drills. Wide receiver Chijuan Mack suffered a torn ACL and recently had surgery. The hope is to have him back sometime early next season. Defensive end Darnell Smith will be held out of contact drills during the spring following shoulder surgery after the Alamo Bowl.

The Oklahoma State coaching staff has been putting in some serious hours, including working weekends with spring practice set to start on Saturday, March 5. The reasons for the extra work includes putting together playbooks on offense and defense, making sure every coach on staff is ready to teach his players the offense or defense, getting an early jump on recruiting, including preparing for Junior Day on March 5, and most of the coaches still have yet to unpack all the boxes and move fully into their offices.

The Cowboys strength and conditioning unit is not just getting a new coach in former Florida strength coach Rob Glass, but also a makeover with almost all new equipment. Nearly $100,000 of state-of-the-art equipment is scheduled to be delivered in May. The hope is that between the end of school and the start of the summer conditioning program all the new equipment will be moved in and situated so that athletes participating in the summer program will get started with the new equipment.

Oklahoma State is down to one graduate assistant coach in former standout offensive linemen Jeremy Offutt. Offutt, who was in his first season as a GA last fall, remains on the staff but David Rausch and John Wozniak have departed. One went with Les Miles to LSU as the assistant strength and conditioning coach, while the other has accepted an assistant coaching job at a small school. Gundy is in the process of choosing new graduate assistant coaches to assist for next season. The hope is to have one in for spring football. Another option is having a volunteer coach in to help with spring football.

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