No Surprises As Cowboys Report

Compared to last August in Mike Gundy's first year as head coach today was as smooth as could be when the Oklahoma State Cowboys reported. Last season featured long lines to check out equipment and for other tasks. Because the majority of returning players and freshmen had already checked out equipment, had their physicals, and for many freshmen even gone through orientation it was very relaxed.

Only the three new walk-ons had to complete the entire check-in sheet. The NCAA allows 105 players to report for camp prior to the start of classes and that list has been set most of the summer. The only surprise was that returning kicker Bruce Redden came in after undergoing an appendectomy and will be limited early in practice.

Steve Mocco, former OSU heavyweight wrestling star and multiple NCAA wrestling champion, was one of the 105 and will try to make an impact in a crowded and veteran defensive line. Among the other new walk-ons are a kicker and a deep snapper to provide some added competition for the returning specialists.

The freshmen reported with the only signees not on campus being Dallas Carter linebacker Adrian Hamilton, who has yet to be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, and South Grand Prairie linebacker/safety Deron Fontenot, who had recent shoulder surgery. Everybody else expected was on hand and checked in.

The players and staff had a welcome back dinner early in the evening and then a two-and-a-half hour team meeting. More meetings are scheduled for Thursday with the first practice of the camp scheduled for 4:45 p.m. on the grass practice fields east of Gallagher-Iba Arena.

"We're ready to go," said Gundy. "When you don't perform as well as you'd like to it's a long time before you get to start again - eight months, nine months however long it's been - so we're excited. Our players have worked hard, (and the) coaches have worked hard. We just want to get out there. It's the most fun time of the year for us as coaches because we actually get to do football."

One concern for Gundy will be weather conditions. Last August without an artificial surface available in the stadium a monsoon season broke out and the team even had to travel to Ponca City for practices. No one is expecting a monsoon season, but the heat has been especially severe with temperatures well above 100 most of the time over the last three weeks.

"It really can't get hot enough for us because I think it is great preparation for our team," said Gundy. "I am concerned about the heat. I have three sons of my own and I have one that is going to play football this year, and I know you want to push them, make them better, and get them in good shape, but at times it can get a little dangerous out there.

"The heat index is going to be close to 110 the next few weeks. We have to be smart with them in what we do. We have a plan for hydration and we talk to our players about nutrition and proper sleep. We need to put their bodies in position to handle the heat. We'll have to watch it and see how it goes. We have to practice in it because we have to play in it."

Offensively, coordinator Larry Fedora expects his players including quarterback Bobby Reid to come out Thursday ready to run anything in the offense and do it efficiently.

"When we get going I expect the recall to be there on everything," said Fedora. "We'll install plays according to our schedule, but to be honest with you I expect those guys to know those plays. It's not something where I expect we will have to go in and re-teach. All we're going to have to do is polish."

As for major objectives early in practice Fedora wants to find the guards in the offensive line quickly and allow the line to get comfortable and in sync together. He also wants to get new junior college transfer speedster Dantrell Savage involved quickly to see how he can help the offense.

"We want to get him up to speed as quickly as we can to see how he fits into this puzzle," explained Fedora. "We anticipate him being a big piece to it and we'll have to see how quickly he can digest all of it and get going. You don't want him thinking because then he can't be the player you expect him to be."

Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford points at the defensive line as being the front of the line guys in leading the defense to the level it needs to improve to.

"Coach (Nelson) Barnes is going to be after those guys," said Bedford. "For most of the summer I'd be in the office working and I'd see Larry Brown, Ryan McBean, Victor DeGrate and Marque Fountain and they'd be up there watching video all the time. They are ready to go. This is their last go round as far as college football is concerned. They are ready to go after it and show that we are better than people have us ranked right now."

Part of the group they will be leading and helping is the young linebacker corps that includes lone veteran Rodrick Johnson, returners Chris Collins, Jeremy Nethon, Alex Odiari, Marcus Brown, Donnell Williams and Seb Clements, and newcomers like Zach Carter, Justin Gent and Patrick Lavine.

"Things haven't changed for me much," Bedford said at linebacker. "We still have some guys, see ball, get ball. They may not know what to do, but when that ball is snapped we know one thing that we have a bunch of hungry dogs going after that football. I'm thrilled to death right now because we are bigger, faster, stronger than we have been at linebacker a year ago."

Besides practice Thursday the Cowboys have a 4:45 p.m. practice on Friday. The team will participate in media day on Saturday morning, with Fan Appreciation Day activities following from 1-4 p.m. on the concourse of Gallagher-Iba Arnea, and practice at 5:45 p.m.

Practice on Sunday is at 4:45 p.m., with the first practice in full pads set for Monday at 4:45 p.m. The first day of two-a-day practices is scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Camp goes through Saturday, August 19.

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