OSU has 24 new scholarship players coming in this season — so far — and while most will either redshirt or only help special teams, some players will be asked to make an immediate impact for 2020.
8. Tight end Quinton Stewart
It’s very likely the true freshman tight end redshirts in 2020. That said, we don’t know exactly how the Cowboy Back position will be utilized under new offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn. While Logan Carter, Dayton Metcalf and Jelani Woods are all back, this is a position group that needed depth, especially with Grayson Boomer transferring. Again, it’s likely Stewart won’t see the field, but if he could be ready to go in case of emergency — he’s an early enrollee — it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
7. Cornerback Jabbar Muhammad
Even with the decision to move Jarrick Bernard from safety to cornerback, there’s still a pretty good chance that one of the true freshman will see playing time this season. If I had to make a guess, it’s Jabbar Muhammad. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound defensive back was really good for DeSoto for three straight seasons, including racking up 66 tackles, 32 pass breakups and six interceptions during the past two seasons.
6. Weakside Defensive end Tyren Irby
OSU returns last year’s starters Tyler Lacy and Brock Martin, plus rising star Trace Ford. The expectation by most is for Collin Clay to fill the other spot on the two-deep, but at this point he hasn’t been approved to play immediately. That’s what makes junior college add Tyren Irby so important. He would essentially fill the Mike Scott role from last season as an experienced backup. If Ibry is at least as good as Scott was OSU shouldn’t see a drop off from last season.
5. Athlete Brennan Presley
OSU coach Mike Gundy has already indicated Presley will probably see the field next season and the coaching staff would be foolish not to make that happen, especially considering how much they lost at wide receiver.
OSU could look to bring in a grad transfer receiver to help bolster a position group that saw five players either transfer or run out of eligibility. But I think the depth is already on the roster, and they’ll come to the same conclusion after spring ball.
Even if Presley doesn’t get a lot of play at receiver this season, I would be shocked if he isn’t catching kick off or punts game one.
4. Quarterback Ethan Bullock
Four-star QB Shane Illingworth is the future, but the coaching staff would probably rather redshirt him for a season then rely on him in an emergency situation. Enter Bullock, the JUCO from San Francisco that will likely serve as Spencer Sanders’ backup next season. While Bullock might not ever see the field outside of blowouts and mop-up duty, having a guy with college game experience to back up a starting QB who has already missed games due to injury is a smart move.
3. Inside Linebacker Lamont Bishop
The linebacker position is certainly strength for OSU in 2020 with Calvin Bundage , Devin Harper, Amen Ogbongbemiga and Malcolm Rodriguez all returning. But, there’s not much in the way of experience behind those four and we’re still not sure exactly how close to 100 percent Bundage is to healthy. He missed the entire 2019 season after a back injury, and that’s not an injury someone bounces back from quickly.
While Bishop is himself coming off an ACL injury that forced him to miss most of last season, he’s expected to be fully healthy by the start of the season. With three years to use two years of eligibility (and a lot of seniors that will be gone after 2020), Bishop adds immediate depth and valuable experience in the future.
2. Cornerback Christian Holmes
The graduate transfer defensive back fills OSU’s biggest need for 2020; someone to cover the other side of the field opposite Rodarius Williams. With OSU’s lack of depth or experience at the position, bringing in a guy who was expected to start at Missouri this season, should turn the Cowboys’ biggest concern into a potential asset. Now, with OSU moving starting Bernard to cornerback, there’s a chance Holmes doesn’t start here. While that doesn’t hurt his value, it does keep him from being No. 1 on this list.
Holmes racked up 29 tackles his senior season, after totaling 35 tackles and two interceptions as a junior.
1. Guard Josh Sills
Despite starting left guard Marcus Keyes’ eligibility expiring, OSU shouldn’t see a drop off at the position with the addition of the West Virginia transfer. Sills was an All-Big 12 second teamer as a sophomore in 2018, and played in 25 games — 22 starts — at WVU. He missed most of the 2019 with a shoulder injury.
Set aside the fact Sills has two years of eligibility left, it allows OSU to not take a step back at a position on the line while continuing to build its depth up. This is huge not only for 2020, but for the future of the offensive line.