The Oklahoma State Cowboys get their spring action underway Monday, March 11 in Boone Pickens Stadium. Coming off seven consecutive bowl appearances, the Pokes are looking to reassert themselves atop the Big 12, and are one of the early favorites in the league.
Coming into these 15 spring practices, there are several storylines to watch.
First and foremost, the battle to be starting quarterback will be fierce. Wes Lunt, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf all had sparks of greatness last season, but injuries kept any of them from consistently being the starter. However, in this instance Oklahoma State is looking at an abundance of wealth.
All three performed well in their time under center in 2012, and with Lunt and Walsh both only being sophomores, the Pokes are in a good situation for the next few years.
Another big story line to watch is how the secondary will pan out. Leading tackler from last season, safety Daytawion Lowe (75 tackles), is gone, and safety Shamiel Gary could be in jail after his neighbor turned him in for intentionally starving his two boxer dogs.
The Pokes also lose leading linebackers Alex Elkins (75 tackles in 2012), Shaun Lewis (58) and Caley Lavey (53), and there’s not enough depth to replace all three. Lyndell Johnson will be expected to step into the No. 1 role, but behind him, and Ryan Simmons, there’s not a lot of proven talent.
One of the big losses comes in an unusual place for Oklahoma State, or any school for that matter. Kicker/punter Quinn Sharp is gone, which means the Pokes will have a new leg on special teams for the first time in what feels like forever. Sharp received All American honors from the FWAA for both kicking and punting, and is expected to be drafted (rare for kickers) in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Every college fan knows that a strong kicking game is vital to the success of a team, so the three kickers on Oklahoma State’s roster, Bobby Stonebreaker, Kip Smith and Kevin King have some big shoes to fill.