Cowboy Scrimmage Notebook

Going into preseason camp one of the deepest positions on the Cowboys team was middle linebacker with super senior Orie Lemon returning for a fifth year, along with senior Tolus Moala to back him up.

Behind Moala was early reporting and talented freshman Caleb Lavey and another veteran Kenny Alexander. New arrival Tyler Johnson, who arrived this fall after playing six years of minor league baseball in the Angels organization, was going to get the luxury of plenty of education. Wow, how things have changed at the position and for linebackers coach Glenn Spencer.

"All of a sudden with three linebackers down I have to find some depth from somewhere, so those younger guys I have to throw them in a ton of reps," said Spencer.

"That gave the Johnson kid a chance to get some reps, and then (Justin) Gent because he's got to be dual trained as the other Mike linebacker now too. I'm thinking last night after I lost Tolu (to a season-ending knee injury) and I'm thinking what do we do if Tyler (Johnson) hadn't walked in the door. He's got a lot to learn, wow.

"People down't realize what that position takes. One shift or one motion and his assignment changes. He's got to know what is going on in front of him. The gap integrity of the defense is up to him. The drops, who he drops off of and what his coverage responsibility is. He hasn't played football in six years."

The 6-1, 236-pound Johnson is eager and has the physical ability and now he obviously has the opportunity. Earlier in camp Lavey had an elbow injury and Alexander an Achille's injury. For a coach that has lost three backup middle linebackers, Spencer is fairly encouraged.

No Kendall Hunter
Starting running back Kendall Hunter was not in Stillwater for the final scrimmage of camp. The Cowboys senior was home for personal reasons and will be back for the start of classes on Monday.

Had Hunter been there he would have played, but not much. Still, offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, not citing excuses, did say the offense is different when they have Hunter.

"We are a little better when 24 is out there," said Holgorsen. "You know we have to play about 10 different skill kids and if we don't get some skill kids to step up and make some plays then we are going to be very average on offense."

Go Go Gilbert
One of the biggest highlights of the entire scrimmage came on special teams, which did get plenty of work in the 100-play scrimmage. There was work on punt return and after Dan Bailey blasted a pretty good punt for the scout punt team, freshman Justin Gilbert, the speedster out of Huntsville, Texas, caught the ball, had fellow freshman Larry Stephens flip over him trying to tackle him, and then Gilbert took off up the middle and literally outran everybody for an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown. Gilbert is scheduled to work on kickoff returns as well and could be a human highlight reel with his sub-4.3 speed.

Basketball Recruiting: Nash Upstairs
Upstairs in the basketball office of head coach Travis Ford where they could watch the football scrimmage was five-star Scout basketball prospect LeBryan Nash out of Dallas (Lincoln), Texas.

Nash is the half brother of former OSU point guard Byron Eaton. The 6-6, 210-pound Nash averaged nearly 15 points a game last season. He is shooter, slasher, rebounder, defender, and basically is capable of doing it all.

The general feeling in basketball recruiting circles is that OSU is battling Big 12 basketball rival Baylor on Nash. Nash was at Gallagher-Iba Arena back in February and sat behind the OSU bench to see the Cowboys upset of top-ranked Kansas.

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