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Notebook: Gordon’s Busy Offseason, Where Kirkland Wants to Grow and Freshman Freak in the Weight Room

Watch out for Armstrong Nnodim.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — The Cowboys are back at it.

Oklahoma State started its spring practice schedule on Tuesday ahead of the 2024 season. Afterward, OSU players met with reporters for the first time since the Texas Bowl. Here are three things that stood out in those conversations.

Gordon’s Busy Offseason

Ollie Gordon hasn’t taken a handoff in about about three months, but OSU fans didn’t have to go all that far to see him.

Gordon was at myriad OSU sporting events this offseason, whether it be men’s basketball, women’s basketball, wrestling or tennis.

“Just showing support to the school,” Gordon said. “Oklahoma State, great school. All them always come to our games, no matter where it is. so I feel like we should show them love also.

“And, you know, we actually have some great other sports teams. It was fun.”

Gordon said his favorite of the offseason was probably tennis. OSU’s women are the No. 1 team in the country at 19-0 this season. The Cowgirls won an ITA indoor national title in February and have started Big 12 play 8-0 with eyes set on an NCAA title in May, a tournament that will take place at the Greenwood Tennis Center in Stillwater.

“Just the intensity,” Gordon said. “They’re just one on one, swinging the racket back and forth. It was fun to watch.”

Kirkland Wants to Be a ‘Playmaker’ in 2024

One of the most intriguing additions to the Cowboys’ roster last season was Utah Tech transfer nose tackle Justin Kirkland.

How could he not be? Kirkland was listed at 6-foot-4, 346 pounds last season and had high school tennis experience (two tennis references in one football notebook?).

He finished his first season with the Cowboys with 22 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a pair of pass breakups and a pair of quarterback hurries. Those numbers might not jump off the page, but not many interior defensive lineman’s numbers will. Kirkland’s job was moreso to eat a double team and create lanes for others to fly in and make a tackle.

But this upcoming season, Kirkland said he wants to do a little more.

“I think I need to get faster feet and be able to shed blocks better,” Kirkland said. “Last year I was really just playing the role of taking the double team. This year I want to be able to be more of a playmaker and make some plays on the field, make some real tackles and stuff.”

Now listed as a 6-3, 345-pound junior, Kirkland said his work off the field ought to help him accomplish that on the field.

“I think more film study, being able to understand where the running back is at, what the offense is trying to do schemes,” Kirkland said. “I just think it’s more time in the film room and really figuring out what I’m trying to do, how it can apply to me and putting it in the game.”

Freshman Freak in the Weight Room

One of my favorite part of the early spring availabilities is learning who raised eyebrows in the weight room during winter workouts.

Names you would expect got mentioned — like Kirkland and fellow nose tackle Collin Clay. But there is a freshman who turned heads as well: defensive end Armstrong Nnodim.

“We got a freshman — Armstrong — crazy strong,” linebacker Nickolas Martin said. “He’s like 17, 18, like 280 [pounds]. I think he like power cleaned like 365, something crazy.”

Nnodim was a three-star prospect out of Mesquite Horn. He was the No. 1,169 player in the 2024 class, according to the 247Sports composite ranking with OSU being his only Power Five offer. It’s early, but Nnodim could be another classic diamond in the rough find for Mike Gundy.

Weight room success doesn’t necessarily equal on-field success, but it certainly is a solid start — especially when your work with the iron is getting praised by fellow weight room freaks.

“He came in benching 700 pounds — I’m just playing — but benching a house, squatting the same,” Kirkland said. “He’s a fun guy to watch in the weight room.”

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