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Calvin Bundage’s Return Highlights the Quality Depth OSU’s Defense has in 2020

Bundage is back, and OSU’s defense is deep.



Jim Knowles met with reporters for the first time this fall on Wednesday, and in his opening statement, he said a sentence that will excite a lot of Cowboy fans: “Calvin Bundage is back.”

After sitting out all last season with a back injury, Bundage is pack on the practice field with what Knowles said is some newfound appreciation.

“I think it’s like anything in life, if it gets taken away from you, you really appreciate it more,” Knowles said. “Calvin is just more locked in than he’s ever been. He’s focused. Right away, we can get him coming off the edge, him on one side, Trace on the other. There’s two serious threats. But he’s just locked in in everything he’s doing. Seems to really appreciate football.”

In three seasons, Bundage has 30 games of experience, where he has accumulated 129 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and a handful of big hit highlights.

The thought of Ford, who gained 21 pounds in the past year, and Bundage flying off the edge toward Big 12 quarterbacks should be a fun one for Edmond-Santa Fe High School and Oklahoma State fans as a whole.

Bundage’s return adds to what should be the deepest defensive Knowles has had in his tenure at Oklahoma State. Position group by position group, the Cowboys have stars and plenty of depth pieces with experience.

“I’m very pleased,” Knowles said. “We are poised to really take the next step. The leadership is great. Everybody knows what they’re doing, in the right places and playing fast. We’re multiple. Our packages are developing to really take the best advantage of the people that we have. I think we’re going to be able to put some great combinations on the field in terms of personnel at different times.

“Devin Harper is shining. Calvin Bundage is back — Trace Ford. There are some guys that are serious threats to have a great year with Trace and Calvin and Devin and Amen [Ogbongbemiga] and Malcolm [Rodriguez]. Christian Holmes has done a great job, the transfer. Really gonna be a great corner situation with him and Rodarius [Williams] and Jarrick [Bernard-Converse]. It’s been full speed ahead. I think we got a real chance to be good.”

Harper is a name that came up a few times unprompted in Wednesday’s availability between Knowles and defensive tackle Cameron Murray. Harper played behind Amen Ogbongbemiga and Malcolm Rodriguez at linebacker last year. He made 10 appearances as he battled through injuries, but he finished the year with 34 tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks.

It’ll be interesting how Knowles is able to get his linebacking unit involved in different schemes with Ogbongbemiga, Rodriguez, Harper and Bundage all proven and healthy. Ford also played multiple positions as a true freshman last season.

Corner is the one spot that needs to be filled in after A.J. Green’s graduation, but Knowles sounds confident in Jarrick Bernard-Converse and Christian Holmes. Bernard-Converse already has 22 starts under his belt as a Cowboy entering just his junior season, but those all came at safety. Holmes started 12 games for Missouri before coming to Stillwater as a grad transfer.

“Both those guys are quality players, quality individuals, football guys,” Knowles said. “We’re gonna be fine. I’m thrilled with the way it’s going. A.J. is a significant loss, yet to be able to replace him with a guy who has two years worth of starts and bring in a transfer who is everything you would ever want in a kid in terms of his ability and his focus and his wanting to be a part of the team, I feel great about the position.”

This is the first time in a long time where it truly feels OSU has defensive depth all over the field.

In no particular order, here is a list of players who either have already contributed to OSU in impactful ways or are expected to be high-impact transfers in 2020:

Name Position Class
Tanner McCalister S Jr.
Tre Sterling S R-Jr.
Jason Taylor S R-So.
Kolby Harvell-Peel S Jr.
Calvin Bundage LB R-Sr.
Amen Ogbongbemiga LB R-Sr.
Devin Harper LB R-Sr.
Malcolm Rodriguez LB Sr.
Samuela Tuihalamaka DT R-So.
Jayden Jernigan DT So.
Cameron Murray DT R-Sr.
Collin Clay DT So.
Israel Antwine DT Jr.
Amadou Fofana DT R-Sr.
Brendon Evers DT R-Jr.
Brock Martin DE R-Jr.
Tyler Lacy DE R-So.
Trace Ford DE So.
Christian Holmes CB R-Sr.
Rodarius Williams CB R-Sr.
Thomas Harper CB So.
Jarrick Bernard-Converse CB Jr.

That’s 22 guys when only 11 can be on the field at a time. And that’s not even including any young guys who make jumps during fall camp and the early parts of the season.

“I thought we had a great finish to last year and really helped the team win some games,” Knowles said. “We have a shot to have everybody healthy, so I see veteran players who know what to do and have a lot of speed. I see more depth than ever and a chance to really just be a well-rounded unit.”

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