Spring Football: Bassett Adjusting To DT

STILLWATER - Boone Pickens Stadium looked a little different for practice Friday afternoon. It wasn't the light blue skies littered with puffy clouds on an absolute gorgeous day. It was the nearly 200 high school coaches from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Kansas that either ringed the field or were sitting in the stands. There was a crowd at what has been closed practices.

Of course, the coaches were in Stillwater for the Oklahoma State Cowboys annual spring coaches clinic. It was a record crowd for the clinic that also featured the Oklahoma State staff speaking following practice during this evening's session.

Speakers included standout Oklahoma high school coaches like Glenpool head coach Steve Edwards and Guthrie head coach Rafe Watkins. Also, two of the winningest coaches in Texas, Jim Streety of San Antonio Madison and David Aymond of Galena Park North Shore and their coaching staffs were in attendance.

It was a colorful sideline and stands with all the different colored coaches polos in attendance.

Cooper Bassett found himself still adjusting Friday as the tight end a year ago, defensive end a week ago, and is now trying to establish himself inside at defensive tackle. This was his third practice at the position and the 6-5, 260-pound Bassett is learning what it is like to be really inside he trenches, and not living on the edge as he has in the past.

"I'm fine with it," said Bassett. "I played tight end and defensive in high school, and defensive end is something I fell back on and felt really comfortable with.

"I'm a little out of my element with three technique, but it comes down to whatever the team needs me to do then I'm going to do it. Regardless of d-tackle not being quite as sexy as defensive end is, I'll do the job if the team needs me to do it."

Bassett has guys around the team that he can relate to, or they relate to him. Senior defensive tackle Shane Jarka arrived at OSU as a linebacker, moved to defensive end, and at about the same point in his career moved to defensive tackle. He also grew from 245 pounds to 260 to a current 295.

Linebackers coach Glenn Spencer doesn't look like it now but he was a defensive tackle in college at Georgia tech, a four-year starter.

"My senior year in college every one of our starting defensive linemen was a tight end in high school and never played a down of defensive line in high school," said Spencer.

"It is a different world and he is going to go through a couple of days of shock with guys coming at him from both sides. You have to be a tough, tough bird to get down there and play. We wouldn't put him down there if we didn't think he could do it," Spencer added.

Spencer nailed it as Bassett is getting blocked from sides he never knew existed on the perimeter. He's holding his own, but the tough thing is you have to understand and feel what is going on before you can conquer it.

"Guys are out there stepping up and helping me get lined up and I think that is a key right now," said Bassett. "From lining up it goes to the technical part of the job and I think after time I will start getting better at that."

Also, like Spencer explained, Bassett is jumping right in because he knew the team needed help there and Cooper Bassett is a "team guy."

"I love, admire, and respect Coach (Bill) Young and he was actually my first (college scholarship) offer at Kansas," explained the Tuttle native. "He kept up with me even after I told him I was committing to Kansas State, and then after I switched to Oklahoma State he still kept up with me.

"I have a lot of respect for him and Coach Young doesn't have to persuade me to do anything. If he asks me to do something, then I will do it for him. I hope he didn't have to persuade me," added Bassett.

"Coach Young kind of left it open that if we get some depth at tackle then maybe I can slide back out to defensive end," continued Bassett sounding a little hopeful. "It is going to help me get more reps and get better acclimated to the defense. No matter what, the more reps the better. Whether it is three technique, five technique, or nine technique I'm going to take as many reps as I can get."

In the meantime, there is a positive. Bassett gets to eat as much of anything he wants at training table. In fact, he is in a position to make special requests.

"Everyone has kind of been hassling me lately. I'm up to 260 pounds and everyone is teasing me that I'm kind of light in the pants right now hoping that I can beef up some more," he said. "Shane (Jarka) has given me a couple of tips here and there about how he put it on. I'm sure Coach (Rob) Glass will have me bulked up by the start of the season."

Over on the other side of the football the musical chairs continues as offensive line coach Joe Wickline feels he has likely found eight or nine guys that will eventually become his best five on the offensive line. One of those guys who has been waiting his turn and waiting through pain is Jonathan Rush, who has been through two shoulder surgeries and is eager to play.

Wickline was eager to see what the big guy from Killeen, Texas had coming back.

"Jonathan is doing well," said Wickline. "We have some mechanical issues that we are working on, heavy on some pass pro. He's a little more versed at coming off the ball and double teaming the shade or scooping the three or knocking a linebacker down than he is sitting back a little bit.

"We have some things we are having to clean up on a little, but his effort is good. His body is good. His mind is right, so we expect a lot out of him."

Overall, Wickline joked that a tape of the offensive line's performance should be sent to the NCAA in the hopes they will look at it and give OSU 15 more days of spring practice. All kidding aside, this new offense is an adjustment for the big guys up front. Going back most of the time is a lot different than coming off the ball for the line.

"I'm old school and I've seen guys go to that offense before and develop," said Wickline sounding like an old sea captain or Marine sargent. "I think a guy can develop to what you ask him to do and that is my job to mold and develop a guy into a different kind of guy."

The molding continues Monday as Oklahoma State is heading toward week four of five and practice 10 of 15. The spring game is Saturday, April 17, at 6 p.m.

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