OSU football spring preview: Replacing all-time great playmakers, a new defense and more to watch

March 26, 2018

STILLWATER — At 6 a.m. Tuesday, Oklahoma State football without Mason Rudolph and James Washington begins.

And without Marcell Ateman. And Tre Flowers. And Chad Whitener.

This spring marks a transition from an era of OSU football that produced three consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time in school history. For Mike Gundy and the coaching staff, it’s the first spring in which Oklahoma State faces quarterback uncertainty since 2014.

Oh, and there’s a new defensive coordinator, too.

To get you primed for the names you’ll likely hear about over the next month — until OSU’s spring game on April 28 — here’s a look at the important storylines:

Storylines for OSU’s spring

Getting to know Knowles: It’s unclear when the media will get to speak to new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, but the spring will still be an opportunity to get to know the first-year coach’s defense as his players get to know him. Oklahoma State will make the switch from Glenn Spencer’s base 4-3 to a 4-2-5 defense, increasing the need for quality depth at defensive back.

Quarterback quandary: The most intriguing player on the practice field this spring will be the 6-foot-6 senior wearing No. 14. That’s Taylor Cornelius, who will have a chance to set himself apart with a solid spring. Reports on the quarterback entering his fifth year in the program have been positive.

Safety valves: While many of OSU’s departures are well-documented, the loss of experience in the secondary might fly under the radar. Oklahoma State must replace two mainstays in Tre Flowers and Ramon Richards. There are a number of quality young players vying for time, including sophomores Thabo Mwaniki and Malcolm Rodriguez.

Players and position battles to watch

Taylor Cornelius/Keondre Wudtee: This is likely to become a four-quarterback race in the summer, but for now, Cornelius and Wudtee get the spotlight. Cornelius, who came to OSU as a walk-on, has been in the program two more years than Wudtee. Now in his third season in the program, can the 6-foot-4 Wudtee make a major leap?

Dylan Galloway/Arlington Hambright/Shane Richards: While OSU awaits word on Larry Williams’ status at guard, offensive line coach Josh Henson is tasked with replacing both of his tackles (Aaron Cochran and Zachary Crabtree). Candidates include Galloway, a 6-foot-5, 297-pound sophomore, and two junior-college players who redshirted in 2017. Richards is the most noticeable of the three — it’s hard not to be seen at 6-foot-8, 336 pounds.

LC Greenwood/Braydon Johnson/Patrick McKaufman: Oklahoma State returns four receivers with experience: Jalen McCleskey, Dillon Stoner, Tyron Johnson and Tylan Wallace. But there will be snaps and targets available for some of Kasey Dunn’s younger prospects. At 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-6, respectively, Greenwood and McKaufman could compete to fill the holes left by Marcell Ateman and Chris Lacy’s departures.

Key dates

Tuesday: First practice (closed to the public)

Friday: First media availability session (Mike Gundy’s first since the Camping World Bowl)

April 28: Spring game, 1 p.m.