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Spring Preview: OSU Has Some Big Cleats to Fill at Linebacker

But there are some promising candidates to replace Rodriguez and Harper.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

The Cowboys kick off their spring practice next Tuesday, giving OSU’s coaches — including new defensive coordinator Derek Mason — their first look at how next fall’s depth charts might play out.

The Pokes return a lot of talent and depth from one of the (if not the) best OSU defenses in school history. But, for as much as there is coming back, there are a couple of big pairs of cleats to fill in the middle.

The Cowboys said goodbye to their top two tacklers in All-American Malcolm Rodriguez and All-Big 12 Honorable Mention Devin Harper. It’s the first time Mike Gundy’s lost his two starting linebackers since 2013 when Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis were both outgoing seniors. That’s huge.

Before we dig into how OSU will replace those two impact players, I want to point our previous spring position previews: RB | QB | WR | TE CB | OL | DL

Who is returning: Kamryn Farrar (redshirt junior), Mason Cobb (junior), Lamont Bishop (redshirt senior), Na’Drian Dizadare (redshirt junior), Donovan Stephens (redshirt freshman), Jeff Roberson (redshirt sophomore), Nickolas Martin (redshirt freshman) Constantino Borrelli (redshirt sophomore), Bo Hardy (redshirt sophomore), Tyler Berryhill (redshirt sophomore), Gordie Geymuller (redshirt junior)

The Cowboys aren’t completely green at the position with Mason Cobb and Kamryn Farrar having played rotation reps last season, but the loss of Rodriguez — the Cowboys’ defensive QB the last several years — cannot be overstated. The question will be whether anyone from last year’s roster (or incoming) can grow into that role, and how quickly.

Who is entering the mix: Additions to the spring roster at LB are junior college transfer Xavier Benson (6-3, 210) and incoming three-star tackler Gabe Brown (6-2, 210) from Stillwater High School.

Benson steps on campus as the most experienced backer on campus. Before last year’s season at Tyler Community College, he spent two seasons in Lubbock where he started 10 games for Texas Tech in 2019. He came in fourth among Red Raiders in tackles (57) and third with 21 solo takedowns. He also had four TFLs and a sack.

Pre-spring depth chart prediction

LB1 — Xavier Benson
LB1 — Mason Cobb
LB2 — Kamryn Farrar
LB2 — Lamont Bishop
LB3 — Jeff Roberson
LB3 — Nickolas Martin

I’m going out on a bit of a limb predicting three levels of depth at LB with so few reps returning and with so much changing among OSU’s staff. There’s a lot to be learned about much of the group and even more we don’t know about Derek Mason’s scheme and how the backers will fit into it. Also unknown will be the impact of longtime DL coach Joe Bob Clements’ move to the linebackers group. What I do know is that the Cowboys’ linebacker position is going to look a lot different than it did last year.

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