We are inside one week from the season’s kickoff and the team has officially started its game-week preparations. That all started with Mike Gundy’s press conference today where he unveiled the first two-deep depth chart of the season. So let’s take a look and see what’s different than our earlier predictions.
My first realization when I looked at the depth chart was that there were a lot of “-or-” positions on the roster. There are five positions on offense that don’t have a single player nominated for that role. The first comes with the backup left guard with RSo. Johnny Wilson and RJr. Lemaefe Galea’i, although Wilson is also listed as the backup center. It does seem that a solid starting line has emerged in grad transfer Aaron Cochran, RSo. Marcus Keyes, longtime starter Brad Lundblade, RSr. Larry Williams, and Preseason All-Big 12 Zach Crabtree. New names along the line are RFr. Dylan Galloway and Teven Jenkins in backup roles. One notable person missing is JUCO transfer Arlington Hambright, the lone OL recruit from the most recent class.
The next “-or-” comes at wide receiver. You have Biletnikoff watchlist members James Washington and Jalen McCleskey as starters with the third spot up for grabs. With only three WR spots listed on the depth chart, the “battle” between seniors Chris Lacy and Marcell Ateman may be overstated. When it comes to any of the several four-WR formations, I’m sure they will both be on the field. The listed backups are Tyron Johnson and Dillon Stoner, both who have been receiving a lot of excitement in camp. True freshman Tylan Wallace has also been garnering a lot of attention since arriving on campus.
The third “-or-” comes with a bit of a surprise. In this case, the starting Cowboy Back job is listed as a tossup between RJr. Britton Abbott and JUCO transfer Sione Finefeuiaki, leaving RJr. Keenan Brown as the backup. I thought for-sure Brown would get the nod, seeing that he was the only one in the group with any offensive playing time last season. Finefeuiaki was coming in with a lot of praise and Abbott worked hard enough to earn himself a scholarship. I fully expect all three to see plenty of time but we might have to see what roles develop for each of them.
The last two question marks come as no surprise. The first being the second string RB job behind Justice Hill and the second being Mason Rudolph’s backup. With Jeff Carr transferring, the job will fall to one of four freshmen: J.D. King, Ja’Ron Wilson, LD Brown, or Chuba Hubbard. Pistols Firing is reporting that King has the job, but it may still be a backup-by-committee kind of thing for at least the first couple games. The backup QB job might not be settled but RJr. Taylor Cornelius has had every indication that he is in the lead, especially after earning a scholarship for his work. RFr. Keondre Wudtee is the other QB listed as competing for the job.
There’s five more “-or-’s” on defense and three of them come on the defensive line. I doubt this comes as a sign of weakness at the position, but rather that it is so deep that there are no clear front-runners. The settled starters appear to be RJr. DE Cole Walterscheid and Jr. DT Darrion Daniels with JUCO transfer Enoch Smith Jr. as a backup. On the other end, RJr. Jarrell Owens and RSr. Vili Leveni will see plenty of play time to determine the starter while RSr. DeQuinton Osborne and RJr. Trey Carter fight for the middle. One of the backup DE jobs is also up for debate bewteen Sr. Tralund Webber and RSo. Jordan Brailford.
There’s a little tossup in the linebackers group as well. RSr. Chad Whitener and RJr. Justin Phillips are the obvious starters with the third position to be settled between Jr. Kenneth Edison-McGruder and So. Calvin Bundage. The backup MLB position is also up for grabs between long-time special teams member Gyasi Akem and RFr. Amen Ogbongbemiga. RSo. Kevin Henry is the final member of the second unit.
Not a whole lot of surprise among the safeties, where Tre Flowers and Ramon Richard are starting. The backup strong safety job is currently between RSo. Za’Carrius Green and RSr. Darius Curry while RSr. Jerel Morrow is listed as the backup free safety.
There are no “-or-’s” at corner and that’s actually surprising. The listed starters are So. A.J. Green and RFr. Rodarius Williams with So. Madre Harper and Sr. Malik Kearse are the backups. But that leaves off Clemson graduate transfer Adrian Baker. Mike Gundy did mention that he would be brought in with the nickel package but he didn’t get a spot on the chart and some people had some thoughts about that.
Muy interesante. That game could tell us a lot about if this OSU team is legit...if Tulsa has QB worked out. https://t.co/YazOF8H2lT— Ian Boyd (@Ian_A_Boyd) August 25, 2017
This is not super surprising as he is going to have more of a specialized role and the young pups have been really impressive in practice.— Casper Poke (@CasperPoke11) August 25, 2017
Maybe the young guns have made a name for themselves by practicing against the nation’s best WR unit. We’ll see exactly how much they’ve grown on August 31.
There’s only two questions with this unit: the place kicker and the long snapper. Matt Ammendola has seemed like the front runner but RJr. Matt Hockett is listed as the other option. Sam Walkingstick was the long snapper last year but true freshman Matt Hembrough is also listed for this season. Beyond that, things seem pretty normal. Zach Sinor is the punter and kick holder, Ammendola will handle the kickoffs, and Jalen McCleskey is still taking punts with Dillon Stoner as his backup. Chris Lacy also returns as the sure-handed kick return man, but the big play return man job has opened with Jeff Carr’s transfer and Tyron Johnson has stepped up and will be looking to break things loose.
Six days left until we see these units in action and kickoff can’t get here soon enough.