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Notebook: Oliver on Playing Linebacker, Rawls’ Time and Taking the Run Game Personally

Oliver is now listed as a linebacker on OSU’s roster.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — After about a three-month break, Cowboy football is back.

Oklahoma State started its spring practice schedule on Tuesday. OSU players met with the media afterward. Here are three things that stood out.

Collin Oliver, the Linebacker

With the Cowboys’ transitioning to a base three-man defensive front with new defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo, star pass-rusher Collin Oliver’s role will be a little different in 2023.

As a defensive end, Oliver had 15.5 sacks in his first two seasons of college football and was named a Freshman All-American in 2021. But now, the former Edmond Santa Fe standout is listed as a linebacker on the Cowboys’ roster.

It’s not complete foreign territory for the 6-foot-2, 235-pound junior. Oliver played some linebacker in high school, particularly as a junior. And the LEO defensive end spot he has manned the past two seasons has involved Oliver moving around on OSU’s defense. But no doubt, OSU fans can expect to see Oliver in some different spots in 2023.

“I have a lot of sources and stuff like that, people tell me that it’s a good change for me,” Oliver said. “Although I like pass-rushing and I like being on the D-line, linebacker is gonna be a vital role for me at the next level if I want to go there, so I believe it’s gonna be beneficial for me and my future.”

Rawls’ Time

A redshirt sophomore safety, Lyrik Rawls has sat behind some talented defensive backs in his first two seasons on campus, but 2023 looks to be his time.

Rawls has watched players like Kolby Harvell-Peel and Jason Taylor II be stars on Oklahoma State’s defense. In the modern world, it would’ve been easy for Rawls to grow impatient and look for playing time elsewhere, but he said he found value in learning behind the players in front of him.

“Every safety I’ve played behind, I’ve learned something from everybody,” Rawls said. “Jason Taylor and Kolby Peel, they’ve been great leaders to me since I first got here. So I feel like getting the skills and the teaching from them, it’ll be a great way for me to put it into my own game.”

Rawls showed out in OSU’s bowl game against Wisconsin, making five tackles including a strip sack. He also made a career-high seven tackles in OSU’s regular season finale against West Virginia, where he played a career-high 30 defensive snaps, according to PFF.

So after getting a taste of what Rawls is capable of, OSU fans will get the full course in 2023.

“I’m fired up about it,” Rawls said. “I’m already ready to put the pads on.”

Preston Wilson Takes the Run Game Personal

The Cowboys rushed for just 125.5 yards a game in 2022, which ranked 97th nationally among 131 FBS teams.

It was an issue that could open things up for the rest of the offense if corrected. Injuries at running back and especially along the offensive line didn’t help the Pokes last season. The Stillwater News Press’ Jon Walker asked offensive lineman Preston Wilson whether the run game was something he took personally.

“Sometimes a little too personal,” Wilson said. “Believe it or not, this stuff affects us outside of the facilities because it’s our everyday lives. It’s what we devoted our whole lives to since we’ve been young. So I do take it very personal. It’s something that we, as a unit, have talked to coaches about. Coaches have talked with us. It’s something that we, as a unit, take very personal and something that we’re gonna get addressed. I think the coaches have a great plan in how we’re gonna be able to fix that this year.”

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