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Notebook: Brennan Presley High on Arland Bruce, Leading as a Transfer and Jaden Nixon’s Offseason Work

Presley supports Bruce’s shoe choice.

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[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — The Cowboys on Monday put pads on for the first time this spring.

After practice, a handful of Oklahoma State players met with reporters to give updates on how things are going. Here are three things that stood out.

Presley High on Arland Bruce IV

There was quite a bit of turnover in the wide receiver room this offseason and especially in the slot.

Out are John Paul Richardson and Braylin Presley and in is former Iowa Hawkeye Arland Bruce IV. Bruce was a four-star prospect in the 2021 recruiting class before heading to Iowa City and catching 44 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns the past two seasons. Also a threat in the run game and return game, Bruce had six rushing touchdowns in his time with the Hawkeyes and 123 punt return yards last season.

He is listed at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds on the Cowboys’ spring roster, and veteran slot receiver Brennan Presley said the newcomer has already made some plays since arriving.

“He’s really good,” Presley said. “His feet are amazing. He got them sticks — I don’t know if y’all say that. But, like, he can stop on a dime. He’s made some cuts and stuff that have made some people miss. He’s a very shifty dude.”

Those amazing feet are apparently well protected.

“I saw him wearing Crocs, so I knew he was cool,” Presley said.

Leading as a Transfer

The Cowboys brought in 13 players from the transfer portal this offseason — at least a handful of which will likely be asked to produce right away.

It isn’t just on-the-field production the Cowboys will need to replace, though. Regardless of the portal, players leave programs every year leading a void in team leadership. Xavier Benson, a linebacker who transferred in last season, discussed some of the difficulties transfers face in that aspect and how he is trying to provide confidence in leadership for fellow linebacker Justin Wright.

“We all know how it is when you’re new somewhere and you gotta build all the trust and get through all the stuff,” Benson said. “You gotta wait. It’s rough. That’s what I was telling Justin. I was like, ‘Hey, I want you to know I’m all in with you. I want you to be comfortable as much as you can be.'”

Speedy Nixon Working on Lower Body Strength This Offseason

Through his first two seasons in orange and black, Jaden Nixon has shown in flashes how deadly his speed can be.

Nixon, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound redshirt sophomore running back, has rushed for 303 yards and a touchdown on 60 college carries. He has made a big play each season, busting a 63-yard touchdown against TCU in 2021 and having a monstrous 98-yard kick return against Baylor last season.

Coming into 2023, the Cowboys have options at running back with Nixon, Ollie Gordon, Deondre Jackson and Michigan State transfer Elijah Collins. Those three guys aside from Nixon all bring size to the position, but Nixon’s speed can break games open. Although he might never be the bruiser of a 6-1, 211-pound Gordon of a 6-foot, 220-pound Collins, Nixon said he has worked to improve upon his strength this offseason so he can bust through some contact and use his speed.

“Definitely just one-step cuts,” Nixon said. “Just my lower body, really — catching is another thing I also want to work on as well. Mainly just lower body, though. My lower body strength and everything like that. Just being able to, when I take hits, being able to drive and explode through contact and everything like that.”

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