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McGruder, Bundage Bring ‘Swag’ to Star Linebacker Role



Most of the attention surrounding Oklahoma State’s defense has been pointed at its inexperience at cornerback and the move of Ramon Richards from corner to safety — and how that somehow won’t exacerbate the situation.

There’s one position on defense that isn’t getting much press but it might be one of the best Oklahoma State has on that side of the ball. We’re talking about Star linebacker.

Mason Rudolph talked about two of its headliners after practice on Wednesday.

“Kenneth [Edison-McGruder] has added some weight and he’s a very physical guy. Both him and Calvin [Bundage] love contact,” Rudolph said.

The duo make up 1A and 1B on Glenn Spencer’s depth chart for the Star LB — a hybrid linebacker/defensive back who supports the run, can cover a slot receiver/tight end and can blitz when the situation calls for it. It’s something of a tweener position but offers crucial versatility to a defense that plans to run both three-down and four-down schemes.

OSU has used the position for years with guys like Josh Furman and Jordan Burton being impact players for the Cowboys from the Star role.

A position change

When Mike Gundy made headlines before spring camp announcing that Ramon Richards was moved to safety full-time, the move of Edison-McGruder from safety to linebacker fell between the cracks for most.

“We used Kenneth Edison-McGruder at linebacker during the bowl game,” said Gundy. “He’s developed a little bit and gotten a little bit thicker. He’s at a position where he can cover the No. 2 receiver and support the run some. If we can develop him in that position, it should help our defense.”

Tempered Enthusiasm

Kyle Porter and Kyle Boone caught up with Glenn Spencer during OSU’s golf media day and asked him about Bundage, his highly-recruited rookie who came into 2016 with a bang. Spencer made sure to temper any excitement citing some inconsistencies inherent to a true freshman season. But he eventually conceded. “But he [Bundage] hasn’t gotten close to the type [of player] he can be, which is encouraging,” Spencer said.

He also made sure to mention McGruder, the projected starter at Star linebacker this fall.

“You can’t talk about Calvin [Bundage] without talking about [Kenneth Edison-] McGruder,” said Spencer, ” because McGruder moving from the safety to that position, that has made that position probably one of the best on the team because I’ve got 1A and 1B there.

“Both of those guys are going to play a lot and if I’m smart I’ll probably have a package where I get them both on the field at the same time.”

Spencer, never the one to over-inflate a player’s ego, still couldn’t help but continue. “You see it. Collision speed. Contact speed.”

“They’re always around the ball and they kind of bring that defensive chip and swag that we have and we bring to the table,” said Rudolph. “They do a great job and they are always keeping the offense on its heels.”

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