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OSU Football: Five Early Enrollees Who Will Benefit from Reps in Spring Ball

New names in a new place who could benefit from time this spring.



Photo credit: Leon Johnson/Twitter

With spring football on the horizon for Oklahoma State, an opportunity lies ahead for Cowboys young and old as official preparation begins for the 2023 season.

Spring football is a time when veterans can solidify themselves on the depth chart and understand the system in a more intricate way, but it will also be an important time for OSU this year to establish depth and young players. So, with 18 early enrollees this year — only one-third of which are from the high school or junior college ranks — I thought now may be a good time to step back and assess which players most need this time to prepare for the future.

Here are the five I landed on.

1. Alan Bowman, QB

Injuries derailed a very promising career for Bowman, who began his college career at Texas Tech and was most recently a backup at Michigan the last two seasons, but the opportunity is there at OSU for him to walk into a starting job. Garret Rangel showed some promise as a true freshman QB filling in for Spencer Sanders, but Bowman will likely be given a chance to compete for the No. 1 job. Which leads us to …

2. Zane Flores, QB

The future. Flores is a freshman and freshman QBs don’t often get run at OSU. Mike Gundy has over and over again deferred to veterans over youth, and especially at QB. However, Flores — the Gatorade Player of the Year in Nebraska — has the arm talent and pizazz to potentially step in and push for playing time. Neither Rangel nor Bowman look like they will be promised anything in terms of playing or starting time, so if Flores has the goods this spring, he could position himself to become a rare freshman contributor at the sport’s most important position.

3. Lardarius Webb, CB

You can’t ever have too many good corners. So the arrival of junior college corner Lardarius Webb is a welcome one. He was highly sought after from across the country before settling on the Pokes, and the possibility of him taking on a big role early is fairly high in Bryan Nardo’s system, where defensive backs are extremely important.

4. Arland Bruce IV, WR

The Iowa transfer didn’t put up big numbers with the Hawkeyes in an offensive system that was, let’s say, absolutelypositivelyincompetent. But Bruce flashed as a bright spot. He’s a small-but-quick pass-catcher who will get an opportunity to earn playing time right away with so many receivers leaving OSU via the portal this offseason. Former four-star pedigree.

5. Leon Johnson III, WR

The range of outcomes for Johnson — a Division III transfer from George Fox — is somewhere between could be total bust and maybe the next Calvin Johnson. I don’t know which he’ll be, but I’m excited to find out. He has great size at 6-foot-5 and profiles as a true X receiver. He’s coming off a career year where he tallied 1,156 yards and 14 touchdowns and steps in to a place at OSU where it will need guys to emerge, especially on the outside.

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