Camp Opens: March 12
Spring Game: April 21
Oklahoma State is fresh off the greatest season in school history, and easily the best two-year run ever. So right now, Mike Gundy is “The Man” in Stillwater, Okla. He was recently rewarded with an eight-year, $30.3 million contract extension.
Expectations will be high again in 2012, but OSU fans have to be a bit realistic as the Cowboys must replace a number of superstars – including Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and Levy Adcock.
So there is a lot to do this spring.
Stability Factor (1 = chaos; 5 = rock solid): 4.0
Despite the huge shoes that need to be filled, especially on offense, Gundy has built a program that can start to reload instead of rebuilding. It also helps that Oklahoma State’s program has been financed by T. Boone Pickens’ millions.
Under the Microscope: Quarterback
It’s not going to be easy to replace Weeden, who guided the Cowboys to a Big 12 championship last season. However, Clint Chelf, J.W. Welsh and Wes Lunt will battle it out this spring for the right to take over at quarterback.
Chelf is the most experienced, but don’t count out freshman Wes Lunt and his amazing potential. It’s definitely a new day for OSU.
Locked and Loaded: Defense
While the Cowboys’ defense was a much maligned unit last season, there are eight starters back from a group that wasn’t as bad as the numbers may appear. It would have been nice if Markelle Martin was back, but the defense should still be a point of pride this fall.
Jockeying for Position: Wide Receiver
With the departure of Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State is looking for a new go-to receiver this fall. Spring practice should give us a good feel on who that guy will be.
The leading candidates are Tracy Moore, Josh Stewart and Isaiah Anderson. Michael Harrison would have been in the mix, until he was suspended and eventually left the program.
Name to Know: Nigel Nicholas
Nicholas is being moved from defensive tackle back to his more natural position of defensive end. This means OSU’s coaches have some confidence in what they have on the line and it helps answer the question how they will replace the production of Richetti Jones and Jamie Blatnick.
Keep an eye on Nicholas as he reacquaints himself as a rusher off the edge.
Spring will be a success if…: the Pokes settle on a QB
The Cowboys have a number of jobs up for grabs this fall, but Oklahoma State’s prolific offense needs a stable force at quarterback to make it all work. I won’t be shocked if this position isn’t settled until fall or a few games into the season.