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Special Teams Notebook: Pearson Helping in Returns, Ward on Taking Over, Pahl Learning from Aussies

Notes from OSU’s specialists.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — The Cowboys held their final media availability of the spring this week, and it was a special teams extravaganza.

Here are three storylines that stood out from those media scrums.

Pearson Set to Help in Return Game

An unfamiliar face looks to be in line to give Brennan Presley some breathers in the return game this upcoming season: walk-on Kyler Pearson.

Pearson is listed as a wide receiver but has played some running back this spring. Listed at 5-foot-6, 140 pounds, Pearson hails from Union High School in Tulsa and started his college career as a scholarship player at Kansas under Les Miles before bouncing around a little bit and finding himself closer to home.

“Going into my junior year, spring ball, the head coach was kinda like, ‘I think we should go our separate ways. I don’t think you’re really gonna be involved in our offense, and we’re gonna take you off scholarship,'” Pearson said. “I didn’t sit there and hold a grudge. I was like, ‘If you guys don’t want me here, I won’t be here.’

“I followed one of my staff members to UT-Martin. Played there for four games. They redshirted me. My dad, unfortunately, got sick that year, so my family kind of decided best to try to find a place back home. Luckily Coach (Kasey) Dunn had called and said come walk on down here. Loved it. Loving every bit of it.”

Pearson played two seasons with the Jayhawks, returning 10 kicks for 133 yards before transferring to UT-Martin, where he spent the 2022 season. The Skyhawks won the Ohio Valley that season, and Pearson returned a punt for nine yards. He was with the Cowboys during the 2023 season, but Pearson said he was ineligible to play because of the transfers.

Presley was the only Cowboy to record any punt return yards last season, and he did that while also returning 20 kicks, catching 101 passes and recording 11 rush attempts. All that is to say, Pearson could provide the Pokes value if he is able to provide Presley any amount of respite.

Ward Set to Take Over Place-Kicking Duties

Much of OSU’s 2023 roster is carrying over into 2024, but the Cowboys will be without their rock at kicker.

Alex Hale finished out his eligibility last fall by going 27-for-34 on field-goal attempts with a long of 53 yards.

Enter Logan Ward. Ward is a redshirt junior from Deer Creek High School. He’s handled a ton of kickoff duties for the Cowboys over the past two seasons, totaling in 7,741 yards off the tee across in that time. He also took over PAT duties late last season, finishing the year 7-for-7 on those. And in 2022, Ward filled in for an injured Tom Hutton on punt duties. But after traveling through basically everything else he can do in the specialist room, Ward is set to take over the place-kicking duties this season.

“Mindset, it’s hard to say that it’s changed,” Ward said. “I’ve always wanted to have this spot and to really just dominate at what I do. Knowing that Alex is gone doesn’t really change me.”

Pahl Learning from Aussie Punter

When you think of physically imposing positions in football, punter probably isn’t the first to pop in your head, but at 6-foot-5, Wes Pahl towered over the media contingent interviewing him Tuesday.

Pahl came to Oklahoma State from Columbus, Georgia, by way of a transfer from Western Kentucky. After not playing his first two years with the Hilltoppers, Pahl held for WKU in 2022 before hitting the portal looking for somewhere to make an impact. He ended up playing in all of OSU’s games last season, where his 45.1 yards per punt finished fourth in the Big 12. Pahl split punt duties with Australian Hudson Kaak.

It isn’t Pahl’s first time with an Australian, as he said there were also Aussie punters at WKU. Although Pahl is doing well for himself with his big leg, he said there are some things he has learned from the Australians.

“I hear them say that we grew up throwing the ball to our dad, they grew up kicking it to their dad,” Pahl said. “Kicking it back and forth to them. Their ball contact is really good.

“Knowing how to do those directional pooch punts, end over end, putting it where you want it, I’ve learned a lot from watching Hudson and learning from him and listening to him.”

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