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Oklahoma State Takes (Surprisingly) Few Returning Starters Into 2017 Season

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Oklahoma State seems like it would return an experienced team for the 2017 football season, right? Well, according to Phil Steele, it actually does not. Steele — who has to be college football’s busiest man between January and July — recently ranked teams by how many starters they have returning.

Oklahoma State tied for seventh in the Big 12 and tied for 86th nationally. Here’s a look.

Rank TEAM TOTAL OFF QB DEF
T3 TCU 17 10 1 7
T3 Texas 17 7 1 10
T9 Oklahoma 16 9 1 7
T48 Baylor 14 7 0 7
T48 Kansas St 14 8 1 6
T48 Texas Tech 14 8 0 6
T86 Iowa St 12 6 1 6
T86 Kansas 12 8 1 4
T86 Oklahoma St 12 7 1 5
127 West Virginia 8 5 0 3

That’s surprising, right? Here are the offensive starters:

  • Zach Crabtree
  • Justice Hill
  • Mason Rudolph
  • James Washington
  • Brad Lundblade
  • Jalen McCleskey
  • Marcus Keyes

This is mildly misleading because Marcell Ateman is taking over for Jhajuan Seales (which is an upgrade) and transfer Aaron Cochran will fill in for Victor Salako. Also, RG Larry Williams did not start in the final game of the season, but he is more or less a starter.

On defense:

  • Tre Flowers
  • Ramon Richards
  • Chad Whitener
  • Cole Walterscheid
  • Jarrell Owens

I’m guessing¬†Kenneth Edison-McGruder is the odd man out here even though he did start the last two games. Again, Clemson transfer Adrian Baker (as many wins over OU as Mike Gundy) is not exactly a newbie, and other players with good experience (Justin Phillips, Calvin Bundage, Darrion Daniels and Trey Carter) will likely start at times and play a lot.

An example: “[Calvin has] grown a lot,” said Whitener who is one of the five returning starters on defense about sophomore Calvin Bundage. “He’s matured a lot and is playing very fast right now. Calvin is a guy that makes a lot of plays and he’s been doing that this spring so far.”

So this isn’t exactly cause for concern, but it is interesting. One unintended benefit of playing in the Big 12 is that you get a lot of guys who get a lot of reps. So many plays are run around these parts that more young players get a chance to go game speed. That makes for box scores traditional CFB analysts hate but also for a future that doesn’t necessarily rely on old horses.

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