Now that the freshman have arrived in Stillwater and fall camp has kicked off, its time we took a good look at the depth chart and see where the Cowboys are solid and where they need to see some players step up in fall camp.
Starter: Mason Rudolph
Backup: Taylor Cornelius
While Mason Rudolph is kickstarting his Heisman campaign in the obvious starting role, the fight for the back up spot has kicked into high gear as well. With redshirt junior Taylor Cornelius, redshirt sophomore John Kolar, redshirt freshman Keondre Wudtee, and true freshman Jelani Woods all vying for the spot, it all lies on their performances in camp. However, with the most experience in the group, I expect to see Taylor Cornelius keep the job through the beginning of the year.
2016 2-deep stats: 15 games played, 291-457 (63.68%), 4155 passing yards, 28 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 89 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs.
Starter: Justice Hill
Backup: Jeff Carr
Similar to the QB position, the starting job is locked up with the backup job up for grabs. Although in this situation, the battle has no obvious front runners. I chose to put junior Jeff Carr in the backup role since he’s the only one with D1 playing time under his belt. Don’t expect some kind of push from the up-and-comers though. Redshirt freshmen LD Brown and Ja’Ron Wilson looked good in the spring game and true freshmen Chuba Hubbard and J.D. King bring some high expectations with them. Realistically, the backup job will be done by committee until a clear front runner emerges, but for the time being, you can’t go wrong with a bit of experience heading the committee.
2016 2-deep stats: 20 games played, 218 carries, 1227 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs, 6 receptions, 50 receiving yards, 3 kick returns, 48 return yards.
Starters: James Washington, Chris Lacy, Jalen McCleskey and Marcel Ateman
Backups: Tylan Wallace, Tyrell Alexander, Dillon Stoner and Tyron Johnson
Oooooooooooooh boy. Welcome to the show, ladies and gentlemen. Headlined by Blitenkoff front runner James Washington, this group runs a legitimate eight players deep. Marcel Ateman returns from injury after being Rudolph’s vertical option in 2015 where he piled up 766 yards and five TDs on 45 receptions in a massive breakout season. Jalen McCleskey comes back after a phenomenal sophomore season where he proved how dangerous he could be out of the slot to become a reliable second option behind Washington. Chris Lacy provides a massive, experienced target with strong hands, but his his ability to consistently flatten DBs on run plays and knock back linebackers is what will prove him to be the starter.
The backups are no slouches either. LSU transfer and former 5-star wideout Tyron Johnson is finally eligible and will be a nightmare in the rotation. In his freshman season with LSU, he racked up 150 receiving yards (third best) and two TDs (second best) on only nine receptions (fourth best). He’s also expected to take one of the kickoff return spots next to Jeff Carr. Dillon Stoner comes back from injury as well after receiving lots of high praise from Mike Gundy before going down. Tyrell Alexander may have redshirted in his first season on campus but he looked good in the spring game and will contribute in the rotation. Lastly, the highest rated recruit since Dez Bryant will have some big shoes to fill in time, but he won’t be expected to do so immediately in this group. Tylan Wallace will look to become more regular in the rotation but is definitely in the 2-deep.
2016 2-deep stats (Washington, Lacy, McCleskey, and Stoner): 42 games played, 180 receptions, 2708 receiving yards, 20 receiving TDs, 7 rushing attempts, 37 rushing yards, 7 punt returns, 67 punt return yards, 3 kickoff return, 53 kick return yards.
2015 2-deep stats (Ateman and Johnson): 16 games played, 54 receptions, 916 receiving yards, 7 receiving TDs
Starter: Keenan Brown
Backup: Sione Finefeuiaki
With the departures of both Blake Jarwin and Zac Veatch, the CW position is going to experience some new blood. Keenan Brown started off his career at wide receiver and has since bulked up and studied under Jason McEndoo to learn how to set the edge and knock defenders back. He’s definitely still got the jumps and hand to dominate in the passing game but he’ll work well in the role formerly occupied by Jarwin. During the spring game, Brown lined up in the backfield, at tight end, in the slot, and at wideout and proved dangerous in each role. Finefeuiaki is a JUCO transfer who’s much bigger and will most likely be filling the run blocking, edge chipping, and sneaky passing role left by Veatch.
2016 2-deep stats: 8 games played, 2 receptions, 47 receiving yards.
Starters: Aaron Cochran, Marcus Keyes, Brad Lundblade, Larry Williams and Zach Crabtree
Backups: Shane Richards, Arlington Hambright, Johnny Wilson, Lemaefe Galea’i and Deionte Noel
After dismissing offensive line coach Greg Adkins, losing two rotational players and inheriting a recruiting class with no freshmen linemen, new coach Josh Henson has taken the job by storm and looks to keep the momentum rolling into the season. He doesn’t walk in with bare cupboards either, seeing how every projected starter has some starting experience from last season. Crabtree and Lundblade have been career starters while Keyes and Williams got the opportunity to start at points during the season. The only odd man out is Cochran who came to OSU as a grad transfer from Cal. If he gels well with the rest of the line, the Cowboys may very well boast one of the better O-Lines in the Big 12. The backups have been working their way into the rotation as well. Richards, Galea’i, Noel, and Wilson were in the rotation last year but didn’t play enough to really shine on their own. JUCO transfer Arlington Hambright came in as the lone O-Line commit of the 2017 class but his experience could very well work his way into the rotation.