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Spring Position Preview: OSU is Deep and Dynamic at Defensive Tackle

The Cowboys have filled their interior DL with high-end transfers from OKC.



Spring practice is officially here, so let’s continue our series of position previews by looking at group that’s facing the type of challenge you love to have — a plethora of options and the question of how to make use of them.

Last week we looked at the Oklahoma State’s defensive ends. This week we’re looking at the Cowboys’ deep defensive tackle group.

Returning Starters

In this cast of characters, Cameron Murray is the dependable vet who’s seen it all. After playing in 18 games over his freshman and sophomore seasons, Murray started all 13 games as a redshirt junior in 2019 and led all linemen in tackles (30), tackles for loss (6.5) and sacks (3.5).

While Murray represents a steadying presence among the Cowboys’ interior D-linemen, Israel Antwine can bring some flair. After starting in 11 of 12 games as a true freshman at Colorado, the Milwood product transferred back to his home state.

Antwine didn’t make his debut until the Big 12 opener at Texas, but the next week he had earned a starting spot which he kept the rest of the year. In doing so he relegated Brendon Evers to backup duties but the Bixby native Evers has shown a lot of improvement during his time at OSU and was still active in the rotation. That should continue in 2020.

Who Else?

Also returning among rotation D-tackles are Samuela Tuihalamaka, a redshirt sophomore who played 12 games as a freshman and Jayden Jernigan who appeared in every game as a true freshman in 2019, showing flashes of his playmaking ability.

Amadou Fofana returns for his redshirt senior season after playing in 11 games a year ago. OSU also added three-star Denton-Guyer DT Grant Mahon, but he’s unlikely to make an immediate impact on the field.

An Incoming X-Factor?

One year ago, Oklahoma State lost a multi-year starting defensive tackle in Darrion Daniels by way of transfer, leaving a big hole in the middle. This upcoming season, it could be the Cowboys who benefit from a highly-touted former four-star transferring in.

Whether or not they are able to fill the massive cleats that Daniels left when he headed to Nebraska for his final season remains to be seen, but between last year’s exciting young transfer Israel Antwine and incoming Arkansas transfer Collin Clay, OSU’s DT depth chart will likely be full of players who started their careers elsewhere than Stillwater.

Clay played in 11 of 12 games for the Razorbacks as true freshman last season and now he’s back in his home state ready to make an impact similar to his fellow former OKC star.

“He’s fit in really well,” said Mike Gundy of Clay on Monday. “We recruited him, and then he committed to Arkansas early. When he contacted us, we had a prior relationship, so it worked out well to get him back here after the coaching change they had over there. We’re glad he’s on our team.

The Oklahoma City native was the No. 20 defensive end in the 2019 class according to 247 Sports — six spots higher than Trace Ford — and held 20 offers including Oklahoma State, who he spurned for Arkansas.

But he’s in Stillwater now and, thanks to his adding over 30 pounds since high school, should be ready to make an immediate impact for the Cowboys now at D-tackle. That is, again, if he’s granted eligibility by the NCAA. Much like Antwine last year, a coaching change and a move back to his home state make a pretty good case.

Gundy touched on that as well during his spring practice press conference.

“[The waiver for immediate eligibility] takes time,” said Gundy. “I don’t think it’s going to matter in a month anyway. I think it’s just gonna go through, and in most cases when you have a rule change like that, they’re gonna grandfather back. They’re gonna go back and say he’s good, would be my guess.”

Spring Outlook

Even without Clay, OSU has a nice mix of returning starters and rotation players and young lineman who need to get their feet wet. That should make for some intense competition this spring and plenty of depth this fall. Something you can never take for granted in the trenches.

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