Position by Position: Offensive Line

The staff of Go Pokes Magazine recently completed work on the Football Preview issue of Go Pokes Magazine and we are tremendously excited about the outcome. This may be one of the best issues in the history of our magazine. However, that is for you to decide.

A challenge that I have taken on each year is how to make what is a football preview staple, the position by position preview, more exciting and fresh other than what you see in most football preview magazines. In the past we have compared the Oklahoma State position groups to the best in the Big 12, the best all-time at OSU, and others.

This year we are comparing the 2008 team to the 2005 team, Mike Gundy's first squad, the one he mostly inherited. I am often asked, and I have heard Mike Gundy and his coaches often asked, how much better the program is talent-wise since Gundy took over? It is unscientific. Here is a preview of what we did. To protect the magazine it is edited down somewhat and is missing the final scores we assigned to each group, both 2008 and 2005. We started with the offensive line.

Offensive Linemen
2008 2005

LT 76 Russell Okung, 6-5, 300, Jr. LT 71 Charlie Johnson, 6-4, 305, Sr.
71 Trent Perkins, 6-5, 300, So. 68 Adam Gourley, 6-6, 290, Sr.

LG 78 Michael Booker, 6-3, 290, So. or LG 61 David Koenig, 6-4, 290, So.
70 Jonathan Rush, 6-5, 300, RS-Fr. 60 Caleb Noble, 6-1, 305, Jr.

C 54 Andrew Lewis, 6-5, 290, Jr. C 63 David Washington, 6-4, 295, RS-Fr.
52 Andrew Lawrence, 6-4, 295, Jr. or 72 Kurt Seifried, 6-4, 300, Jr.
63 David Washington, 6-4, 300, Sr.

RG 65 Steve Denning, 6-5, 295, Sr. RG 66 Corey Curtis, 6-4, 290, Sr.
77 Noah Franklin, 6-5, 310, Jr. 60 Caleb Noble, 6-1, 305, Jr.

RT 60 Brady Bond, 6-6, 290, Jr. RT 75 Corey Hilliard, 6-5, 310, Jr.
72 Andrew Mitchell, 6-5, 305, Jr. 78 Kellen Davis, 6-5, 290, Sr.

They are the guys that get the least publicity but there is no shortage of appreciation for the Oklahoma State offensive line. When offensive coordinator Larry Fedora left to take the head coaching position at Southern Miss, Gundy got together with athletic director Mike Holder and they made a preemptive move to make sure offensive line coach Joe Wickline did not go with Fedora.

Wickline has had all of these guys, with the exception of David Washington, throughout their entire college careers. They have grown up and for the first time in the least two decades it appears that the Cowboys will have a solid two deep on the offensive line.

"You know how Wick (Joe Wickline) moves those guys around," said Gundy, who often says he can't always follow Wickline's methods. "We're close. We were one and a half deep and we could enter the fall with a legitimate two deep in the offensive line. I'd love to use a different offensive line every fourth series."

How about that? With Russell Okung and Brady Bond returning at the tackles, Steve Denning returning at guard, and the bonus of two returning starters at center in Andrew Lewis and senior the senior veteran Washington, that is a great core group. Junior college All-American Andrew Mitchell from Snow C.C. came in to beat out Bond and all the Garber product did was Cowboy up to protect his position.

Michael Booker and red-shirt freshman Jonathan Rush staged a healthy battle for the left guard position. The youngsters backing up -- like Trent Perkins at tackle, Grant Garner at center and older backups like Noah Franklin and Andrew Lawrence -- are what make it possible that OSU could alternate in a fresh offensive line and really wear down the opposing defenses.

"They are progressing, and I think there is a legitimate chance that in August we may feel like we have a solid second offensive line, a legitimate two-deep," echoed Gundy.

Wickline has the final call, but this situation has been three years in the making. Offensive line is no longer a group anybody needs to apologize for. It's time for insiders and outsiders alike to start finding the right compliments to make about the Cowboys offensive front.
Comparison:: As far as depth there is no comparison with the way that Wickline and Gundy and company have been careful in constructing the offensive line. There were players left over from the Les Miles era that couldn't play and some that weren't suited to the faster paced spread offense. From a front line standpoint any offense would like to have Charlie Johnson, who converted from tight end and became a Super Bowl champion with the Indianapolis Colts blocking for Peyton Manning. Corey Hilliard and David Koenig were both outstanding. David Washington is back as part of both groups.

If you just took the starters it is pretty comparable with Johnson and fellow NFL Draft selection Hilliard giving the 2005 group a slight edge. However, Russell Okung, Washington, Brady Bond, and Mitchell could catch the eyes of NFL scouts in the next couple of years. Again, from a depth standpoint this year's line is so complete that the second line may see serious playing time. In 2005 there wasn't a complete second line.

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