What was a welcomed confirmation could prove to be huge news for Oklahoma State’s defense this fall.
It was announced Wednesday that former Colorado D-lineman Israel Antwine was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA and would, in fact, be eligible to see the field for OSU this fall.
“It’s awesome,” Gundy said after practice on Wednesday, hours after the news became public.
According to Gundy, it was the outcome he expected, but that you never really know until it’s official.
“We’ve been practicing him like we thought it would be [ruled in his favor],” said Gundy. “…We’re excited about him being eligible.”
Aside for his obvious talent — the coveted Oklahoma City native held 21 offers and played all 13 games as a true freshman at Colorado — Antwine adds much-needed experience to a rebuilding defensive line for Oklahoma State.
“It’s important, you know he had 450 snaps in a Power 5 conference school, so he’s been in the battles,” Gundy said. “These young guys that we have that we’re bringing along … they don’t have any experience. In my history of coaching football, you can do all you want and say all you want, but they have to go through it and feel, then get better.
“So he has played 450 snaps against quality opponents. So I think that experience is very important based on the departure of basically six guys last year.”
Those six departures accounted for all of OSU’s starting D-line experience on last year’s roster, but that’s not the only reason for excitement surrounding Antwine.
“He can play head-up on a tackle on the inside on an inside shade, and I think he’s going to be agile enough to play outside on certain schemes,” said Gundy. “We’ll just have to wait and see…
“He is very strong, but he has good feet. He’s kind of a tweener, gives you a little more.”
A little more could go a long way. With OSU having to fill so many holes along its defensive line, versatility is a plus and Antwine’s ability to line up either on the inside or at end could be huge this fall.
While he waited for the official decision to come down, Antwine had already taken part in four weeks of spring practice, making quick impression on some of his teammates along the way.
Last week redshirt sophomore defensive end Brock Martin called the former Millwood star a “freak of nature.”
“He’s like 300 pounds. In the weight room he’ll put on a 30-pound vest and two chains and he’ll rip out 10, 15 pullups like they’re nothing,” said Martin during last week’s media availability.
There will be an adjustment period and Antwine’s still got plenty to prove. Going from getting his feet wet as a true freshman in the Pac-12, to possibly being a featured playmaker and a potential starter at OSU in the Big 12 is a big step for anyone. But Martin doesn’t seem too worried about his newest teammate.
“New league, new place,” Martin said. “I like to see how they adapt. I think Israel’s done well. Learning new plays is always the toughest part, I think. Physically, he’s there, maybe over the top a little bit. After these next couple of weeks, we get into fall camp, I think he’ll be fine.”
Oklahoma State’s defense not only needs depth and experience, it needs playmakers. And if Antwine continues on his current trajectory (and live up to some of the hype), he could be the next star up front for the Cowboys.