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2021 Season

Big 12 Spring Outlook: After Losing Some Stars, Can The Pokes Stay In The Title Mix?

There’s a veteran presence on defense, but how long will it take the offense to come along?



Getty Images - Brian Bahr

With spring football starting up, teams in the Big 12 are hitting the practice field for the next few weeks. For the Oklahoma State Cowboys, practices starts on Sunday, and will conclude in late April. Below, we give an overview of the program and provide an idea of what questions the Pokes will seek to answer over the course of the next month.

The Cowboys went into last season with hopes of reaching the Big 12 Championship. Defensively, they fielded one of the best units in the conference, but an offense with a lot of potential going into 2020 struggled to consistently produce. The Pokes had momentum through September and October, but went 3-3 to finish the regular season, knocking them out of the conference title race.

Now, going into Mike Gundy’s 17th season with Oklahoma State, the Cowboys face the loss of a few stars from last year’s team, and 2021 looks to be a season where some new faces are developed. The defense will likely have to carry some of the load as the offense comes along for the Pokes, but this spring Gundy and his staff will get an idea of how long that growth will take.

SPRING GAME: April 24th
LOCATION: Boone Pickens Stadium (Stillwater, OK)

Offensive Questions For The Cowboys

Despite not losing either of their starting quarterbacks from 2020, the Pokes might have a bit of a controversy at signal caller this offseason. Quarterback Spencer Sanders continued to struggle with turnovers as a second year starter, despite throwing for over 2,000 yards last season. Freshman Shane Illingworth flashed potential in limited snaps, though, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility to think Sanders might get dethroned. Running back Chuba Hubbard is off to the NFL. It’ll be difficult to replace a talent like that, but L.D. Brown and Dezmon Jackson showed last season that they’re ready to take on a bigger role.

The real questions, though, are among the pass catchers, where four of the six most productive receivers from 2020 are now off the roster. Wide receivers Tylan Wallace and Dillon Stoner have their eyes on the NFL, and both backup receiver Landon Wolf and tight end Jelani Woods decided to transfer. The Pokes seem to always have guys who can catch the ball, but it will be interesting to see who emerges to fill in those spots.

There were some losses up front, as offensive linemen Teven Jenkins and Ry Schneider are gone, so new starters will need to be found at those spots. Miami (OH) grad transfer Danny Godlevske could step in to become a new starter at center, where he has a wealth of experience at the collegiate level.

Defensive Questions For The Cowboys

With multiple veterans coming back across the two deep, the defense for Oklahoma State shouldn’t see any dropoff in 2021. Defensive tackle Cameron Murray will be gone from the defensive line after declaring for the NFL Draft in January. Two seniors – Israel Antwine or Sione Asi – could step into the vacant starting spot up front. Depth at linebacker could be a concern, as both Amen Ogbongbemiga and Calvin Bundage decided to not return as sixth year seniors. That leaves a starting spot open, which super senior Devin Harper will likely fill. New faces will need to be identified to fill out the two deep behind them, however.

The secondary might be the deepest and most experienced position group for the Pokes. Kolby Harvell-Peel reconsidered his decision to enter the NFL Draft, and will once again anchor down a safety position as a super senior. The only real loss for Oklahoma State on the back end is cornerback Rodarius Williams, who announced back in December that he’s headed off to the professional ranks. Look for Christian Holmes – another super senior – to take that starting spot on the outside.