As Oklahoma State gets set to take on Oregon State for its 2019 season opener, I wanted to take a look at some of the new faces on the Cowboy roster. In this Newcomers To Know series, I’ll be covering anyone who was added to the roster after the 2018 season, whether that be someone fresh out of high school, or a transfer from another college program. In these posts I’ll discuss each individual’s performance with their last team, the position they’ll most likely play and their playing time and statistical projections for 2019.
First up: 6-foot-4, 271 pound Bowling Green graduate transfer Kyle Junior.
After redshirting his freshman season, Junior was a key contributor on the Falcons’ defensive line for three seasons. Over a span of 35 games, he recorded 95 total tackles, including 13.0 for loss and 5.5 sacks. He also tacked on three fumble recoveries (returning one for a touchdown), one forced fumble and one pass defended.
The Ohio native’s position was listed as “Defensive Line” on Bowling Green’s website as he spent time at both end and tackle during his tenure with the Falcons. Although Junior was primarily playing against MAC competition, he showed he could compete with Power 5 level talent when given the chance, as shown below.
The Cowboys are losing a lot on the defensive line headed into next year like Cole Walterscheid, Enoch Smith Jr., Jarrell Owens, Jordan Brailford and Trey Carter, along with a talented guy like Darrion Daniels who missed a majority of last season due to injury. These six players combined for 161 tackles, including 38 for loss and 21 sacks.
OSU still has some skilled D-linemen on their roster like Brendon Evers, Brock Martin, Cam Murray, Mike Scott and two newcomers in Israel Antwine and Sione Asi, just to name a few. However, outside of Antwine, not many of these guys have a lot of experience playing at the FBS level.
That’s where Junior fills a need. As mentioned above, the former Falcon has 35 games under his belt and I think he’s a guy that can instantly make an impact for the Cowboys. There’s been a lot of talk about Junior contributing at defensive end for the Pokes in 2019, and I would expect that to be his position. I see him filling the Jarrell Owens spot, as opposed to the more defensive end/hybrid linebacker position that Jordan Brailford played. Additionally, I see Junior playing a major role when the Pokes go to their three down linemen look, as he has experience lining up their at Bowling Green (see image below).
Making a statistical projection for Junior is tough; making any statistical projection is tough. In terms of playing time, I see Junior fitting into the rotation with Antwine, Martin and Scott as the primary defensive ends. I think Antwine and Junior would also be the go-to guys to fill the end spot in a three down set, as I covered a little in the section above.
In terms of numbers, I think Junior sees the field in every game and comes in a little below Carter, Smith and Owens’ totals from last year. This would put him at about 25 tackles. I see him racking up 2.5 sacks and finishing with a decent season in his final year of eligibility.
Junior’s numbers won’t be eye popping, but I think he becomes a solid contributor for Oklahoma State next season.