Parks Back As Cowboys Return To Practice

STILLWATER -- A welcomed sight today as the Cowboys got back on the practice field for the first time since classes began on Monday was wide receiver Anthony Parks in shorts with his number four practice jersey on and back with the wide receivers.

Earlier in camp the junior college transfer from Butler (Kan.) Community College, who was slated to start as the third wide receiver in the Cowboys spread attack, suffered a quad injury. In the course of evaluating that injury the OSU sports medicine staff discovered that Parks was playing with just one kidney. Athletes with only one kidney take a huge risk in participating in contact sports. Parks was told by head coach Mike Gundy last week that he had to give up football.

As you might imagine, Parks took the news very hard, but on Tuesday was back interacting with his teammates and said he was doing okay. "He's been around the office and practice," said Gundy. "He's doing fine."

Gundy had said that he offered Parks an opportunity to be a student assistant coach and said he would continue to supervise Parks in finishing his academics and get his diploma. Right now, Gundy said they are letting him recover from hearing the news that he would have to give up football.

"We're just letting him walk his way around and see how he feels about it," Gundy said of the coaching opportunity. "We don't need to know now. We're going to let him make a decision on what he wants to do and see how it goes with him. He's hanging in there."

As for the practice, Gundy made it sound fairly routine.

"Normal, normal practice, two hours and 15 minutes," said head coach. "We worked against each other and still had some good contact in practice. Tried to secure the football on offense and tried to strip it on defense, and just had a nice practice. It was good effort, guys running around, and we had a pretty long two-minute drill at the end which is a good conditioning tool for them, Coach (Rob) Glass is still running them right now which is good work. They moved around well."

One position that has been moving very well is safety. The Cowboys have seen the secondary as a whole perform pretty well in early fall camp. Andre Sexton, who redshirted last season after breaking his arm just before the opener, and Donovan Woods, who started last season at quarterback, aren't grizzled veterans on the back end of the defense, but they aren't playing like rookies either.

"They are both good leaders, but unfortunately they don't have a lot of experience," Gundy said of the safety tandem of Woods and Sexton. "Donovan has a little more because he has played in games, but is still relatively new in the back end of the defense, Sexton, the last time he played was in high school ball. They work hard and they understand the game. They are vocal and they do a good job of getting us lined up.

"I'm looking forward to watching those guys play. We struggled last season at the safety position all year long, and now we've got a couple of guys back there that will get us lined up and will strike you. We're close to getting (Clint) Coe back. He may be seven to 10 days out, but I noticed him back there today in seven-on-seven wrapping a guy up."

Cowboy fans will notice Sexton quickly. The starting strong safety makes sure of that as he is a hitter. Fans won't be the only ones to notice, his teammates on offense are well aware and opponents should learn that lesson quickly as well.

"He'll hit you," Gundy said quickly. "He broke Tommy Devereaux's nose in the last scrimmage. He'll bring it with the pads now, he'll hit you. Traditonally, we've had safeties around here that would hit you. He follows along in that category. You go back to Mark Moore, Lamar McGriggs, (Chris) Rockins, and even Jamie Thompson and those guys would hit you. It's nice to have him back there."

Sexton said Devereaux was mad at first after the hit on Saturday, but understands that's football. Sexton says it's his style of play.

"I like that and I even try and smile in my pictures so people might not think that I'll try and hit them on the field," said Sexton. "But out on the field I try to destroy people. Since my first high school big hit it has always been like that, to come down the field and hit people as hard as I can."

Another development that we first reported Monday night is that redshirt freshman offensive tackle Brady Bond is in the mix for a starting position on the offensive line. If Bond is a missing link at tackle, then returning tackle David Koenig will slide in to a guard position where he has played previously. Gundy said it's not decided, but it could be the offensive line answer.

"Brady is doing better than we thought he would at this point in his career," said Gundy. "When you play eight-man football and all of a sudden you look up and there are three more guys on each side of the football it can be confusing. He seems to be a bright football player. He is working through the difficult times of being an offensive lineman and seeing all the different stunts, twists, and blitzes and being yelled at all the time by the offensive line coach. He's accepted that and learning to settle in and see what is going on and play. He's a tall guy that has got good feet. He's coming along with his strength but he's not there yet. He's a really good prospect that is further along than we thought."

Bond, who set a goal to win a job this season, is displaying a good humble offensive lineman's attitude and said he has not read what Gundy has been saying about him.

"I just try and play, worry about myself, and try and make the team better," said Bond.

He did admit that the first time in practice when he was moved to the first team he reacted inside. "I felt pretty good," Bond said chuckling. "I felt pretty good and it's exciting. It's not my birthright, as Coach Wick (Wickline) would say to be here, so I have to keep working."

The Cowboys will keep working on Wednesday with a scrimmage, although it probably will not be as long as the three previous scrimmages. Gundy, when asked, said this scrimmage will not be the final exam before moving preparations to the opener with Missouri State.

"Somewhat, but there will be mistakes made tomorrow in the scrimmage that we will try to clean up toward the latter part of the week before we get into next week," said Gundy. "It's not necessarily a final exam. We're gearing toward Missouri State now."

All practices the remainder of the season are closed to the public. OSU opens the season at Boone Pickens Stadium with Missouri State on Sept. 2 at 6 p.m.

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