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Fall Camp Revelations: Seven Things We Learned About OSU

QB depth, strength in numbers on the OL and more.



Questions we had entering fall camp have largely been answered for Oklahoma State. We’ve gained clarity on the quarterback situation, who will be the prominent pieces in the new 4-2-5 defense, and more.

Let’s catch up to speed with those answers with an all-encompassing recap of what we learned from fall camp.

1. Offensive line goes deep

OSU’s big men up front were productive enough to provide running lanes in every which way last season for Justice Hill and J.D. King, but somehow this season’s unit appears to be primed for a step forward.

Depth is the biggest factor that plays into that projection, and right now, head coach Mike Gundy is confident in nearly two fist-fulls of linemen to carve out running lanes and protect the QB.

“We have eight linemen in my opinion that we’re fairly comfortable with that we could play our style of offense and block pretty good,” Gundy said via the Tulsa World. “So what we would like to do is give some of those guys a rest.”

Returning starters Marcus Keyes, Johnny Wilson and Teven Jenkins anchor the first unit up front for OSU. Left tackle Arlington Hambright and right guard Shane Richards are first-time starters, but have experience in the program under their belt learning under Josh Henson.

Here’s a look at how the positions across the front of the offense shook out.

RT: 1) Teven Jenkins 2) Walker Reed 3) Bryce Bray
RG: 1) Shane Richards 2) Ry Schneider 3) Hunter Woodard
C: 1) Johnny Wilson 2) Deionte Noel 3) Tyrese Williams
LG: 1) Marcus Keyes or Larry Williams
LT: 1) Arlington Hambright 2) Dylan Galloway or Larry Joubert

2. OSU is confident in Cornelius

The last start OSU quarterback Taylor Cornelius made was in high school in 2013. He’ll be the one leading OSU onto the field to start the season Thursday, but there’s no angst on Gundy’s side about how his veteran will perform.

“He can throw ’em all,” Gundy said via The Oklahoman. “I’m not nervous about him at all. I’m really not. I’ve been wrong before a lot of times in my life, but I’m not concerned one bit with him.”

3. Expect more punch in OSU’s return game

OSU simply hasn’t packed the some power it once did in the return game when the likes of Tyreek Hill, Josh Stewart and other prominent figures were regularly scoring touchdowns via punts or on kickoff. Mike Gundy wants to get back to that point.

“We haven’t been very exciting on returns in the last few years,” Gundy said via the Tulsa World. “So hopefully we can generate a little firepower. It’ll be based on the new rule. So I’m not sure how all that’s going to pan out. I don’t know how people are going to play. A lot of schools may flop the ball up in the air and just say hey, take it on the 25. So I don’t know, we’ll see.”

Oklahoma State’s two-deep at punt return is led by the explosive swiss-army knife known as Dillon Stoner. He’ll be spelled by Tylan Wallace at the No. 2 at the position. And on kick return, it’s LD Brown and Landon Wolf who are listed as starters. Gundy also mentioned the possibility of Chuba Hubbard, J.D. King, Kemah Siverand and Jalen McCleskey all potentially being involved, too, likely dependent upon early returns in the return game.

4. Linebacker depth could be worrisome

Patrick Macon tore his ACL in camp and freshman Blake Barron tore two ligaments soon after. Though Barron was likely in line for a redshirt season, Macon’s expected prolonged absence impacts OSU’s overall depth for this season.

Macon wasn’t a likely starter, but he could’ve provided valuable backup minutes that may be few-and-far between this season. As of now, there are only five scholarship players at linebacker. Any injuries could significantly impact OSU’s rotation this season.

Listed as starters entering the season are Calvin Bundage and Justin Phillips, with Devin Harper and Amen Ogbongbemiga respectively slated as backups.

5. The strength of OSU’s running backs is laughable

I mean this both literally and figuratively when I say the running back room is strong — Justice Hill and J.D. King can probably hangclean five of me without breaking a sweat. But figuratively, the depth of this bunch is equally as strong.

Justice Hill is the clear-cut starter and J.D. King is once again entrenched as the backup. Behind them is LD Brown or Chuba Hubbard, listed as co-third stringers. All of them are big-time playmakers, and it will leave teams guessing on which prospect to gameplan against.

“Justice and our whole running back group is unbelievable,” Taylor Cornelius said of the unit. “I hope they load the box that way we can air it out a little bit more, but we’ve got a lot of playmakers on this offense and anyone is capable of making a big-time play whenever.”

6. The strength of OSU’s defense lies up front

Oklahoma State returns 55 total starters along its defensive line, and seven total starters from 2017. Its biggest strength unquestionably lies up front with its big men, from pass-rushers to run-stuffers.

“Strongest position? Defensive line,” said linebacker Justin Phillips at Big 12 Media Days. “We have about five or six seniors on the defensive line. Whenever you’re taking that many veterans out there, you can ask so much from them.”

7. Expect plenty of youth in the secondary

OSU is breaking in new starters at all three safety positions this season, but that doesn’t necessarily spell doom. Former Star linebacker Kenneth Edison-McGruder is making the switch back to safety, his more natural position, and joining him will be sophomores Thabo Mwaniki and Malcolm Rodriguez, both of whom saw plenty of run as freshmen on special teams and in reserve time.

Question marks are aplenty with OSU’s second unit behind this lethal trio, but OSU has targeted fall camp as a trial run to get its inexperienced players up to speed behind them.

Here’s a look at the two-deep for each of the three safety spots.

  • S: 1) Kenneth Edison-McGruder (Sr.) 2) Kolby Peel (Fr.)
  • S: 1) Malcolm Rodriguez (Soph.) 2) Tre Sterling (R. Fr.)
  • S: 1) Thabo Mwaniki (Soph.) 2) Jarrick Bernard (Fr.)

“Coach (Dan) Hammerschmidt is rotating a lot of us through there so that we can learn two positions,” says Malcolm Rodriguez. “He’s doing a really good job of rotating the young guys in there and helping them to get some experience back there.”


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