One-on-One With Joe DeForest

As the Oklahoma State Cowboys report for fall camp and prepare for the first practice Friday morning, here is a conversation with associate head coach and special teams coordinator Joe DeForest, who is entering his 10th season as an Oklahoma State assistant.

GP: As special teams coordinator you really need to jump into talent evaluation, especially with the new guys, right off the bat to see who might be able to help. I'm guessing that you are already going over some of that in your head.
DeForest: Well, obviously, the knowledge we get is through the strength staff and athletic talent and how they worked out this summer on top of what we saw in high school. It is a little easier for a skill guy to help out so you are looking at a Justin Gilbert, a Shaun Lewis, Zach Craig, maybe a (Chris) Dinkins, or Joe Randle. Those kind of players give you the reason to look at them a little closer in that maybe they will be able to help us this year.

GP: Special teams get worked some in the spring, actually more than most places with Coach Gundy, but in the fall you have to really get after it and bring it all together with evaluation, teaching, and polish before that first game. Do you feel a little under the gun here at the beginning?
DeForest: It is going to be a transition year for us and I know that word keeps popping up but we had two of the best returners in the country playing for us the last three years. We're going into this season with an unproven guy, so it is a point of concern for us and the staff. Then, of the skill players on all the units, you know like last year with all the injuries, if you lose a guy, like a safety or something then he may be a starter on four different (special teams) units, well that is four different spots. We have to be smart with how we practice and we have to be smart with how we approach things. It is hard not to practice special teams full speed but we have to be careful.

GP: The best thing is that you do return your specialists in kicker Dan Bailey, punter Quinn Sharp and snapper Marc Yerry. With apologies to the two others, Sharp is a potential All-American.
DeForest: He is an All-American and he has one of the strongest legs that I have ever seen. The problem with him at times is that he outkicks his coverage. What we have to do with him is a better job of hangtime and directional kicking. That is something we have emphasized over the summer for him.

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