Cowboys Complete First Two-A-Day

STILLWATER - Coming off the staggered, split schedule Mother Nature forced on the Oklahoma State Cowboys Monday afternoon and evening, head coach Mike Gundy wasn't about to go light on his team as Tuesday was one of just two two-a-day practice days scheduled during this quick August camp before classes start on the OSU campus next Monday, Aug. 17.

The morning practice came on the heels of that split workout where the team didn't get off the Boone Pickens Stadium surface until about 8:45 p.m. Just a little more than 12 hours later, 9:15 a.m. they were back on it.

"It went good," said head coach Mike Gundy of the morning session. "We had a slow start. They hadn't been out there on the morning, on the turf. The sun was beating down on them a little bit after the rain. They were kind of fatigued at the beginning. The last hour and a half was really good so they finished strong.

"They practiced well this afternoon," continued Gundy. "There are a number of young guys that are getting to compete. There is a lot of learning that is taking place, but our effort is good. Our attitude is good. The team chemistry seems to be really good. Those are a lot of things that are moving in the right direction."

Quarterback Zac Robinson, who along with center Andrew Lewis gained even a little more noteriety with the appearance on the Sports Illustrated cover, was suited out in full pads but had very limited participation for the third day.

"Zac probably could have practiced this afternoon, but we held him out," said Gundy. "He feels better but I think we may hold him out another day or two just for precaution. I'm really enjoying watching the other two quarterbacks work and it is really helping them getting the reps with the first-team offense."

You can see both Brandon Weeden and Alex Cate making plays and there is no doubt that they are both better.

Gundy also likes the safeties, as he mentions them a lot.

"I think our safeties are tackling very well," said Gundy of what pleases him most. "I like how Lucien antoine is back in the flow. I like the way Johnny Thomas tackles. Voc (Johnson) is tackling well. Those are good things for us."

During practice when redshirt sophomore Richetti Jones lines up at defensive end opposite starting offensive left tackle Russell Okung, these are two ships passing in the Cowboy football program. Okung is a sure fire All-American that is already rated at the top of many NFL teams draft board for the 2010 NFL Draft. The Outland and Lombardi Award candidate could end up being the first player NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces next April. In fact, Okung could be in an NFL camp this August making a huge salary.

"I really feel the Lord blesses you in many ways and it doesn't have to be now," said Okung after practice of his decision to stay at OSU. "He can set you up for things later and He kind of puts you through things in order for something greater than you could have now."

That is a definite positive way of looking at it for Okung, who flat out dominates his competition in practice. He has always said that it was his decision. He has also professed how important it is for him to get his degree, and how important that is to his mother. Besides, a former teammate told him not to think about it.

"Man, (Brandon) Pettigrew told me not to even worry about it, so I don't," added Okung of advise from the former OSU tight end and first-round rookie for the Detroit Lions. "He is loving it and he had the same opportunity that I had and decided to stay (last season) and now he's loving it up there. I've spoke to him a few times."

As mentioned, Okung dominates his competition, which includes Jones. Richetti Jones came out of Lincoln High School in Dallas rated as one of the top 50 players in the nation. He was a sack machine for the Tigers starting since his freshman season. Then in his senior season, one day at practice, he suffered a freak injury as he fractured his hip. Now nearly three years later Jones feels good again.

"I'm trying to stay humble and working hard and trying to become a starter," said Jones. "If not a starter then get deep into the depth chart. I want to do it over and over again, every play. This is the one time I can actually say I am ready to play football and I feel great. I don't have anything holding me back and my hip is not even a factor anymore. I'm ready to roll."

Okung isn't on the defensive side of the ball, although he probably could be if he wanted to. Okung, who is as nice a guy as there is off the field, turns into a brutal competitor on it. He doesn't talk a lot, but he sends a message even in practice.

"You lead by example," said Okung. "It's not just talking but about action and how you present yourself. It's the way you do things and you hope it runs off on the younger guys."

While normally a sworn enemy of defenders, Okung really can help his teammates on the other side of the ball. First, going against him will make them a better player. Second, he's seen a lot and a little advice on how to beat those opposing offensive tackles is always appreciated.

"We usually don't do any of that and try to stay competitors, but I do try and tell guys their weaknesses and how they can get better so we can be a better team," said Okung. "That's the way it is with the defensive ends and me."

"People call us the weak link of the defense," said Jones. "They always say that but this year we're going to change that. It runs us hot every time we hear it. You know the phrase, I can show you better than I can tell you. That is what we are going to do."

Why not, it works on offense for Russell Okung.

Okung, Jones, and the rest of the Cowboys continue their work on Wednesday with just one practice at 4:45 p.m. All practices are closed to the public from here on out. The Cowboys will have their second and only other two-a-day scheduled on Thursday.

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