Spring Practice Notes: Day 10

Congratulations are in order for running backs coach Curtis Luper and his wife Nikki as Nikki gave birth on Monday afternoon to a seven pound, eight ounce healthy baby girl. The newest member of the Luper family, Cheyenne, joins sisters A'rielle and Charitie, and brothers Cameron and Chancellor. Mother and new daughter are doing just fine. Coach Luper got an excused absence from Monday's practice to help with the delivery as offensive coordinator Larry Fedora ran the backs through their paces.

Mystery Man
This is a great story with no certainty as to how it will end. Astute Oklahoma State fans and recruiting junkies may remember the name of Nacogdoches, Texas linebacker Delvin James. The talented James, an All-State selection and Top 50 national prospect, signed with the Cowboys following his senior season in 1995. However, before he could get to OSU to play football and baseball he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1996 Baseball Amateur Draft.

The owner of a 93-plus mph fastball became a high priority of the Rays to sign and he never made it to Stillwater. James spent most of seven years in the minor leagues before getting his major league opportunity with Tampa Bay in 2002. He appeared in eight games, starting six of those. He finished with an 0-3 record, an ERA of 6.55, giving up 40 hits, 25 runs that were all earned, walking 15 and striking out 17.

During his minor league career he was once the innocent victim of a shooting at a Raleigh, N.C., waffle house. James was struck in the left shoulder, but suffered no residual problems. Now out of baseball and 28 years old, James was walking the sidelines at the Cowboys practice on Monday. When recognized he confirmed his identity, but then said he was there to visit a friend and told this reporter I must have him confused with someone else regarding his past football exploits.

A quick check of several sources confirmed that James has visited a couple of Big 12 spring practices and may indeed be shopping for a school to revive his once promising football career. OSU allowed another former pro baseball player the same opportunity in Vernand Morency and now Morency is playing in the NFL for the Houston Texans.

James would have four years of eligibility and would be at least 32 years old by the time he completed all of it. Oh, and by the way, at 6-4, 222 pounds he sure looks like he could fill out a uniform.

Football Honorees
At the 13th annual Student-Athlete Awards Banquet Monday night there were a number of football honorees. Senior Charlie Johnson was named the top academic achiever of the outgoing senior class. Current defensive end Darnell Smith won several honors. Current junior safety Donovan Woods found out that his essay had earned him one of 300 invitations to the annual NCAA Leadership Conference in Florida this summer.

Graduating seniors honored included quarterback Jamie Beeghley, defensive end Trumain Carroll, running back Greg Gold, deep snapper Brian Jeffries, offensive tackle Charlie Johnson, fullback Jared McCoy, offensive guard Caleb Noble, safety Jamie Thompson, defensive tackle Cody Townsend, wide receiver Kenneth Williams, fullback Shawn Willis, and wide receiver D'Juan Woods. Woods still has another year to play and will graduate early and start graduate school.

Underclassmen honored included wide receiver Seth Newton, defensive end Darnell Smith, linebacker Seb Clements, defensive lineman Phillip Friess, deep snapper Zach Allen, wide receiver Jeremy Broadway, offensive guard Stephen Denning, punter Matt Fodge, fullback John Johnson, offensive guard Andrew Lawrence, defensive end T.J. Minor, safety Quinton Moore, wide receiver Todd Nelson, linebacker Alex Odiari, punter Cole Reynolds, and linebacker Durfey Thompson.

The cumulative grade point average of all student-athletes last year at OSU was over a 3.0. The Academic Student-Athletes of the Year were golfer Zack Robinson and soccer player Lauren Colwell.

Martin's Yards Very Legit
Walk-on DeAaron Martin was the leading rusher in the scrimmage on Friday. The basically unknown 5-7, 190-pound running back out of Oklahoma City Douglass carried 18 times for 88 yards. Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said the yards were legit.

"He's got good speed and is solidly built and we had guys like DeGrate and Sexton, good tacklers, hitting him and he wouldn't go down," said Bedford. "He's a got a strong upper body and there isn't much of him to hit. He earned what he got on Friday."

Head coach Mike Gundy said Martin will continue to get opportunities.

"He made some good runs," said Gundy. "He's got a ways to go learning, but when you have some guys that can make athletic runs you are going to give him opportunities. We gave him some opportunities today, and then when it got heated up we had to get another guy in there that understood the system a little better. He'll certainly get some opportunities to carry the ball and make some plays. The good news is he'll be here all summer training with coach (Rob) Glass, and then he gets 29 practices or whatever they allow prior to our first game. If he continues to run the ball well and protect the ball then we'll play him."

Tulsa Coaches Check Out Cowboys
With their spring practice complete more than a week ago there were three University of Tulsa offensive coaches who stopped by to see if they could learn or pick up anything from watching the Cowboys. There is no worry as OSU and Tulsa, long time rivals, are not scheduled to play eacy other at all in the future. Offensive coordinator Charlie Stubbs was joined by TU running backs coach Brad Calip and wide receivers coach Rob Schultz on the sidelines at the OSU workout.

Punters Get Some Weekend Instruction
Punters Matt Fodge and Cole Reynolds both missed the early Saturday morning meetings the Cowboys squad has during spring. The pair left after the scrimmage on Friday for Dallas to spend the weekend working with Rocky Willingham, Fodge's punting instructor. The group worked at Garland Stadium on speeding up their approach and perfecting their contact point with the ball.

"It helped," said assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Joe DeForest. "Their operational times were down to 2.1 seconds and faster today. Both guys were really kicking the ball well."

You might think it would be unusual to share a personal instructor, but Fodge and Reynolds - just like kickers Bruce Redden and Jason Ricks - have a healthy perspective on their competition.

"It doesn't matter whethere he's doing good and I'm doing good, or I'm doing good and he's doing bad," Fodge said of the competition. "Really it helps me out because he (Reynolds) sees what I'm doing wrong and I see what he's doing wrong and we can help each other out."

"I think it helped both us," Reynolds said of the Dallas trip. "The biggest thing about going down there is a lot of times when you go down and get a private lesson by the time you get back to Stillwater you forget some of it. With two of us getting the same coaching we can help each other out and say, ‘you need to drop the ball a little further out or don't forget Rocky told you that or Rocky told you this.'"

Kickoff Returns Get First Work
Kickoff returns got their first work on the spring on Monday, and the first pair of returners were Tommy Devereaux and returning kick returner Grant Jones. The second pair was cornerback Jacob Lacy and wide receiver Anthony Parks. Jeremy Broadway also worked some on returns.

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