This was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.
Comparing offensive linemen to safeties is no easy task considering how different their jobs are, but it was a fun task to rank OSU’s 10 best players nonetheless. I’m not ready to base this list off the open spring practice, so you’ll notice the likes of C.J. Moore, Spencer Sanders and Dru Brown missing. With that said, let’s get to it.
10. Kolby Harvell-Peel/Jarrick Bernard
I’m not ready to separate these two from each other, so Kolby Harvell-Peel and Jarrick Bernard will share the No. 10 spot. My post, my rules.
The two safeties improved immensely as true freshmen in 2018, and it got to the point at the end of the season where they were a problem for opposing offenses. As freshmen, Harvell-Peel and Bernard combined for 111 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks and five pass breakups.
It was a rough first win as far as wins and losses go, but the freshmen duo could set up Jim Knowles’ defense for years to come.
9. Marcus Keyes/Johnny Wilson
This won’t become a thing throughout this list, but like with the two safeties, I had trouble picking between these two fifth-year offensive linemen.
Keyes and Wilson have combined for 59 career starts (37 from Keyes/22 from Wilson) a number that seems crazy considering the two still have a season to play. It’s also unusual for offensive linemen to play young, but both found a way to contribute as underclassmen.
The two have a new offensive line coach in Charlie Dickey, and the unit seems to be in good shape entering this season, finally having some solid depth.
8. Jelani Woods
Jelani Woods might have only had seven receptions in 2018, but he showed how impactful he could be with each of them.
It feels like Woods has been in Stillwater a while, but he is only entering his redshirt sophomore season. His 6-foot-8, 265-pound frame should provide a security blanket for whoever throws passes for the Pokes this fall.
7. Malcolm Rodriguez
Malcolm Rodriguez isn’t modern football’s crazy athletic, ball-hawking safety, but he provided a sense of consistency that the Cowboys needed last year with the youth in the secondary.
Rodriguez is OSU’s leading returning tackler, bringing down 83 guys as a sophomore. A year wiser, Rodriguez will assuredly improve even more in 2019, as should his secondary unit as a whole.
6. Calvin Bundage
At times, Calvin Bundage can be the best player on whatever field he is on, and other times he jumps to the other end of that spectrum. So, I’ll put him at No. 6.
Injuries didn’t help Bundage much in 2018, but the linebacker was still able to finish fourth on the team in tackles despite missing two games. With inexperience on the Cowboys’ defensive front, consistency could be key for Bundage in 2019.
5. A.J. Green
The highest-ranking defender on this list, A.J. Green enters his senior season having started every game since his sophomore year.
Playing corner in the Big 12 is sometimes like being asked to win the Daytona 500 on an electric scooter, but Green has been solid to this point of his OSU career. Green was an All-Big 12 Second Team performer in 2018, and he has an opportunity to better that as a senior, especially considering he has a more experienced secondary around him.
4. Teven Jenkins
I’m not going to act like my 5-10, 155-pound frame is an expert on all things offensive line, but seeing stuff like this gives me confidence that Teven Jenkins is pretty good:
— Dustin Ragusa (@DustRagu) September 29, 2018
Jenkins drew starts as a redshirt freshman in 2017, and last season, he started all 13 of OSU’s games, playing at right and left tackle.
3. Dillon Stoner
Entering last season, Dillon Stoner had 603 career receiving yards. In 2018, he had 603 receiving yards.
Stoner has been a solid set of hands the Cowboys the past two seasons, and his workload will likely increase in what will be his redshirt junior season. Gundy has even mentioned moving Stoner from the slot to the outside at times this season.
2. Chuba Hubbard
It’s wild that 2018 was only Chuba Hubbard’s redshirt freshman season.
Hubbard was good throughout the year, but he showed he was feature-back quality when Justice Hill’s season ended because of injury. In his last four games, Hubbard averaged 106.25 rushing yards per and scored five rushing touchdowns and caught another.
1. Tylan Wallace
Tylan Wallace will be plastered all over the team’s marketing this season, and rightfully so.
The 2018 Biletnikoff Finalist broke into OSU’s wide receiver record book, a record book that’s probably the toughest in the program to break into. Wallace’s 1,491 receiving yards last season ranks fifth in school history, just ahead of Dez Bryant’s sophomore season.
Wallace’s 86 receptions were the sixth most in school history, and his 12 touchdowns were tied for eighth. Needless to say, he earned the top spot.