We’re still a little over four months away from the start of the 2021-2022 college football season, and with March Madness winding down, it’s about that time for football fans to start getting antsy for fall.
Oklahoma State had its first full-pads spring practice Tuesday, and while players are fighting for spots and coaches gather personnel, I want to take a look at some Cowboys who I think will take the biggest leaps from last season to this August. Players who may not have had huge roles in 2020 that have the potential to break out this season due to departures or perhaps a year of developing under strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass.
My list will only consist of players who were on the team last season and logged at least a little bit of playing time. No true freshmen or incoming transfers.
WR Brennan Presley – Soph.
Presley introduced himself to the college football world when he pulled off a hat trick in the Cheez-It Bowl, scoring three touchdowns totaling 118 yards on six catches versus Miami. He had all but one of his total receptions on the year in that Cheez-It Bowl, the other coming at Oklahoma, giving him totals of seven catches for 125 yards and three scores. Presley contributed to the running game as well, when he scored on a nine-yard jet sweep at Kansas State.
With the departures of Tylan Wallace and Dylan Stoner, Presley will be looked toward to take a bulk of the catches this season. Because of this, I think he will shine wherever he is placed on the field, whether it’s outside receiver or in the slot. His speed and quickness make life hard for opposing defensive backs, despite his 5-foot-8 frame. He gets downhill fast, which was showcased during his time at kick returner where he fielded seven kicks for 149 total yards. He also returned four punts for 18 yards.
RB Dominic Richardson – Soph.
Richardson is currently behind two backs on the depth chart, L.D. Brown and Dezmon Jackson, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he found himself considerable touches early into the season. The sophomore from Bishop McGuinness high school in Oklahoma City burst onto the scene against Baylor when the two aforementioned backs (and Chuba Hubbard) went down with injury. Richardson took advantage of his predicament by rushing for 169 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. That rushing total ranked him second in school history for yards rushed in a single game by an OSU freshman, behind only Thurman Thomas against K-State in 1984. He ended the year with 44 attempts for 223 yards and three touchdowns.
Dominic is a physical runner that isn’t afraid to put his shoulder down and truck you. That, combined with considerable speed makes him a versatile back for offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn. Both Brown and Jackson are seniors this season, so Richardson will have another season of experience under his belt before he becomes the potential starting running back in 2022, which I have no doubt he will be.
CB Korie Black – Soph.
On an excellent Cowboy defense that ranked among the best in the country, Black saw action in ten out of eleven games as a true freshman. He got most of his playing time on special teams, but showed promise in garbage time minutes late in games at corner, totaling three tackles on the year.
He didn’t have many opportunities to show out amidst a stacked defensive locker room, but when he was on the field he looked solid. Like a guy that could start on a worse defensive team. He has good size for a defensive back and is able to stay with his assignment pretty consistently. Look for Black to see the field more now that Rodarius Williams is off to the NFL.
WR Rashod Owens – R Fr.
Owens arrived to Stillwater last season as an underrated three-star athlete, and from the moment I watched film on him, I knew he was a steal. He’s a freak athlete who can jump to the moon, who also played basketball and ran track in high school. He appeared in four games last season, only recording a catch at Kansas, where he caught two for 19 yards. One of those being a 15 snag where he showcased his agility and ability to shake defenders.
Owens only played in four games as a freshman, so he was eligible for a redshirt. He sits among an always strong Cowboy wide receiver room, and much like Presley, I think the absence of Wallace and Stoner, as well as Dee Anderson transferring away, will give Owens the opportunity to emerge from the crowd.
DT Collin Clay – R Soph.
So this one is cheating a little bit because Clay hasn’t played a single snap for OSU yet, but he played in 11 of 12 games as a freshman at Arkansas. He transferred to Oklahoma State in 2020 but tore his ACL before the start of the season, so he’s been out of action since 2019. Despite this, I think Clay will introduce himself to the Big 12 in a big way in 2021. In one season at Arkansas, he recorded 17 tackles and half-a-tackle for loss.
Another reason I’m high on Clay is his recruiting pedigree. He held offers from Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Oregon, Missouri and others. The fact that he was highly sought after by some of the best programs in the country and played significant snaps at Arkansas makes me think this dude is the real deal. With the departures of Cam Murray and Amadou Fofana, Clay will have a chance to fight for a starting spot on the defensive line, although given how much D-Line coach Joe Bob Clements mix and matches personnel, being the starter doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get more playing time than anyone else. As long as Clay stays healthy, I expect to see him occupying the opponent’s backfield often this season.
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