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Five Senior Defenders Oklahoma State Is Going to Miss Most in 2018



When the Cowboys kick off the Camping World Bowl On Thursday in Orlando, it will be a curtain call for at least 22 seniors. The four-year members of this class have seen a lot. How about a solid performance against the defending national champs, followed by a five-game winning streak, followed by a five-game losing streak and capped by an all-time Bedlam upset? That was just in one freshman year for a lot of them.

Since then, the program has seen two (could be three) straight 10-win seasons, a NY6 bowl and played for two Big 12 titles. Ultimately, the group fell short of some lofty yet realistic goals. But these seniors will be missed both for what they brought on the field and off.

Here’s a look at the five seniors on defense that I think OSU will miss the most.

Ramon Richards

What can we say about Ramon? He’s a walking, talking, cereal-party hosting microcosm of Oklahoma State’s program over the last four years. He’s exciting, frustrating and has a flare for the dramatic finish — and we love him for all of it.

After the high school QB was thrust into a starting cornerback role as a true freshman, his playmaking ability was as apparent as his ability to encourage hair loss. But Ramon has shown up big in several games but has grown into a big time leader at OSU during his four years.

One thing Ramon has shown over his time in Stillwater is a knack for being in the right place at the right time. There were several big-time interceptions including the game-sealing pick in Austin this year. But this one against West Virginia during last year’s Homecoming game will always stick out in my mind.

Chad Whitener

The former Cal transfer walk-on stepped into a starting role at the Mike linebacker when mainstay Ryan Simmons’ career was ended due to injury. Whitener’s coming out party was in an almost single-handed dismantling of Trevone Boykin’s Heisman case in the all-timer between TCU and OSU in Stillwater.

He had two picks, including the one that ended it but was my favorite play. Come for the goal-line stand, stay for the reaction.

Whitener has turned into a leader on both the stat sheet and in the locker room. OSU will be replacing a lot, especially since it will start fall camp with inexperience at the Mike backer (the QB of its defense) for the first time since Ryan Simmons took over for Caleb Lavey five years earlier.

Tre Flowers

Flowers’ 42 career starts leads all Cowboy defenders and is second only to Zach Crabtree on this roster. And during that time he’s done nothing but produce. He’s currently second in tackles, His eight pass breakups is second only to his fellow safety, Ramon Richards (nine).

Flowers, like Jordan Sterns last year, will leave a big whole in the Cowboys’ secondary. His experience, plus big-play potential will be missed in a reloading secondary that will see A.J. Green and Rodarius Williams as its veteran leaders.

I can’t get enough highlights of this game and it just so happens that Flowers grabbed just the second pick of his career as one of the four given up by Trevone Boykin in Stillwater that day.

DeQuinton Osborne

Osborne has done nothing but outperform expectations since he the junior college transfer arrived on campus in 2016. The big man in the middle has been the most disruptive and fun to watch among a deep group of d-tackles.

DQ leads the team in sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (11), and at 6-foot even, he doesn’t scream upside or measureables at the next level. But if you watch tape on him, he agile and quick for his size and has a nose for the QB.

Pencil in two inches on the combine sheet and I think you might see more of a Andrew Billings lite, with enough natural skill to make an NFL roster. We’ll see about all of that, but OSU will definitely miss him on the inside in 2018.

Kirk Tucker

There were several that could have made this list. But for me, Kirk Tucker is the guy. He’s been both dependable and productive in doing pretty much everything the coaching staff has asked of him and rarely gets any praise. He was an instant contributor as a true freshman on special teams and in spot duty at the Star linebacker role.

And when the injury bug bit Kenneth Edison-McGruder early this year, Tucker filled in well. Here he is with his only career turnover forced. He showed up, did his job  by knocking the ball loose and someone else reaped the glory. Loves football, loves his family, doesn’t say a word. 

Honorable Mentions

Tralund Webber was the Cowboys’ leading returner in sacks from last year but got lost in the shuffle a bit with Jordan Brailford’s emergence. Jerel Morrow and Gyasi Akem have been steady, Vili Leveni has been productive when healthy.

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