January 8, 2013

Road Ahead: Key personnel return

Up next in our multi-part series on the road that lies ahead for Oklahoma State football is the personnel section. As mentioned in Road Ahead: Important dates, two key dates factor in the personnel discussion. The first is January 15th, the deadline for underclassmen to declare their intention to enter the NFL draft.

Cornerback Justin Gilbert and running back Joseph Randle were the two Cowboys most likely to make that declaration. Gilbert's decision to remain in school is already known, but Randle's decision is not publicly-known at this time. Randle is believed to be leaning toward returning to OSU for his senior year. If that comes to pass, it will be a huge boost to the Cowboys in 2013.

The second date with direct implications on the personnel front comes on the first Wednesday in February, as it does every year. National Signing Day naturally is an important part of the discussion. That said, a future Road Ahead segment will breakdown recruiting in detail, so we'll largely leave it out of this discussion.

Offense

Assuming Randle returns, the OSU offense loses just two of the players that started in the Heart of Dallas Bowl; offensive linemen Evan Epstein and Lane Taylor. Going to the two-deep, the news is just as good, with guard Jonathan Rush and receiver Isaiah Anderson being the only losses.

Returning 82% of the two-deep to one of the nation's top offenses is a big positive on it's own, but the news gets better for the Cowboys. Receiver Tracy Moore was expected to be OSU's top wideout in 2012, but lost the majority of his season to injury. A medical redshirt means he'll be back in 2013. Additionally, Michael Harrison is expected to be back after a year-long suspension. That pair will shore up a receiving corps that had woefully thin depth at times last season.

In the Cowboys' spring session, a few objectives stand out. First will be integrating OSU's new offensive coordinator - whoever that may ultimately be - into the system. Though Clint Chelf was the starter down the stretch in 2012, it is expected the Cowboys will have an open battle of some degree at quarterback. On the offensive line, determining a suitable...

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