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Drafting Former Mike Gundy Players for the 2017 Season



As fall camp gets rolling this week, Mike Gundy has plenty on his plate. His team has lofty expectations but also questions at a couple of key spots. What if the 13th-year head coach could fill some of those spots with players from past teams? Hey, it’s still summer. So let’s do a short draft. Here are five former players that could make a huge and immediate impact on the 2017 team and potentially push the Cowboys over the edge for another Big 12 title and more.

These are all Gundy-era players and since this is completely for fun and imaginary, we’re talking about them as they were during their college careers.

5. Dan Bailey — Kicker

Dan Bailey is no longer the all-time leading scorer at Oklahoma State. Ben Grogan took that with him when he left Stillwater a year ago. That means OSU’s placekicking duties fall to Matt Ammendola, who has kicked once in college. That one kick was 53 yards, tying for fourth-longest in OSU history. But he’s still inexperienced. Behind Ammendola, is true freshman Jake McClure. Kicking depth may not be high on your list of 2017 topics, but don’t think for a second Mike Gundy doesn’t dwell on it. With all the close calls the Cowboys have had over the last few years, having a Dan Bailey on the sideline would calm some of those nerves.

Ammendola may turn out to be a gamer. He’s got the leg. But Bailey is a Lou Groza winner who had it all — accuracy, the leg and a clutch gene. And he’s doing alright at the next level. Quinn Sharp deserves some consideration here but Bailey’s leg gives him the edge. Against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2010, Bailey went 4-for-4 including a 47-yard field goal and two from 52 yards. Any of those three could be a career long for a lot of guys. Bailey knocked them all down in one game.

And here’s a look at Bailey, the cold-blooded assassin.

4. Emmanuel Ogbah — Defensive End

The Cowboys’ defensive line looks to be pretty deep and talented heading into 2017, but (so far) we don’t know of any stars that could shine quite like Emmanuel Ogbah off the edge. OSU’s all-time leader in QB hurries (26) in just three years, Ogbah finished fourth all-time in sacks (28), just six shy of the leader, Leslie O’Neal. Give him another year and you can bet he would take that crown and have a good chance at his third double-digit sack season.

From a production standpoint, Ogbah was unmatched but his demand for double-teams and ability to disrupt an offense impacted the game far past the numbers. When he turned it on, Ogbah was nearly unbeatable on the edge. Adding this prospect to the 2017 squad would put OSU’s d-line near the same level as their wide receiver corps in terms of talent and depth.

Here’s a quick reminder, in case you needed it.

3. Joseph Randle — Running Back

One big question on the coaching staff’s fall docket is how to fill out their depth chart at running back. Justice Hill is the No. 1 then you have a bunch of relative unknowns. There’s a lot of potential, but unknowns all the same. So if you were Mike Gundy and had the opportunity, why not shore up the position completely?

When Randle was on the field in orange, you knew what you were getting. Kendall Hunter has something to say about this pick and it could have gone either way. I was actually leaning towards Kendall Hunter, but decided to go with Randle for his size and physicality. He would provide a great change-of-style/pace to Justice Hill.

Randle rushed for 3,085 yards and 40 touchdowns in his three seasons in college. His 43 total touchdowns ranks fourth behind only Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas and Terry Miller. One more year and he probably finishes at least second on the list. He would need 18 to pass Barry Sanders, who was also a three-year player. That wouldn’t be out of the question, either. His 24 touchdowns as a sophomore helped him lead that transcendent 2011 offense in scoring.

So who starts? Since this is just for fun, I’d like to see some two-back sets a la that other team down south. Randle can catch a pass or two out of the backfield and he’s instantly the best-blocking back on the roster.

Here’s a look at this “prospect” in pass-protection, a known issue for the Cowboys.

And his overall truck-stick ability.

2. Dez Bryant – Wide Receiver / Punt Returns

There’s no explanation necessary but indulge me.

If you’re looking at needs for the 2017 OSU offense, wide receiver is not one of them. OSU might have the most talented and deep receiving corps in college football. But it’s Dez. And he’s coming in to fill another role — punt returner.

The Cowboys have plenty of skill guys but have lacked a game-changer at punt returner the last couple of years. In Bryant’s shortened career, he averaged 19.6 yards per punt return which is second all-time at Oklahoma State.

Obviously, Justin Blackmon could be here as well. He had the better career at OSU but we’re drafting for need and Dez is a game-changer on punts. In 22 career returns he scored three touchdowns. That’s a pretty great ratio.

Here’s a trip down memory lane and a look at what Dez can do for OSU’s punt return unit.

So save a spot for Dez in the next special teams meeting. And what the heck, give him a shot at receiver as well. Dez, The Prez and (insert any other two OSU receivers) and that’s one heck of a lineup. Mason Rudolph could hit 5,000 passing yards in 2017.

1. Justin Gilbert – Cornerback / Kickoff Returns

Gilbert’s NFL career has not panned out like he (or most OSU fans) probably expected. But that does not detract from the game-changer he was in college. Is he the best player Gundy’s coached? No. But look at the questions facing the 2017 team, and Gilbert could answer two big ones. He would be Oklahoma State’s unquestioned No. 1 corner, making the group look a lot better overall. Now you have Gilbert and Baker as starters and several young intriguing pieces around and behind them.

Secondly, he’s one of the best two-three kick returners Oklahoma State has ever had. You could make a case for Perrish Cox on both fronts but Gilbert edges him out slightly as a playmaker both on defense and in the return game. His seven-interception 2013 season was the best at Oklahoma State in nearly 30 years and his two interceptions returned to the house ties for most in a season.

And anytime you have a chance to go up 7-0 before your offense hits the field, that helps too. (See below.)


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