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August 6, 2006

Fall practice positional battle tracker

Oklahoma State entered their first practices with a handful of real battles for starting positions and several for backup positions. The O-StateIllustrated.com fall practice positional battle tracker will be updated through the preseason as developments warrant. The debut of the tracker is updated through the August 5th practice.
TRAINING CAMP POSITION BATTLES
RIGHT GUARD

The players: Senior Kurt Seifried, redshirt freshman Noah Franklin, true freshmen Trent Perkins and Jacob Secrest.

The skinny: Coming out of the spring, Seifried looked like he might have locked down the job, just ahead of Secrest and Franklin. The first day of fall camp, Secrest moved out to right tackle. On the second day, true frosh Perkins shifted down from tackle. Those moves look permanent.

Latest movement: After the youngsters moves, Seifried has started taking virtually all of his reps as the second-team center. The rotation at right guard is firmly set with Franklin seeing all of the first-team snaps and Perkins with the second-team. Remarkably, what was the tightest battle in the spring and expected to be the most contested in the early fall may now be the most settled. updated 8/6.

LEFT GUARD

The players: Sophomore Stephen Denning and redshirt freshman Andrew Lawrence

The skinny: Lawrence saw action at both left and right guard in the spring, while Denning was the wire-to-wire starter at left guard. Lawrence has landed at left guard and is pushing Denning daily.

Latest movement: In the third workout of the preaseason, Lawrence got most of the first-team reps in individual positional drills. When the team came together for 11-on-11 work, it was Denning. Denning has more experience and is one of the strongest o-linemen on the team. But he isn't always in the right spot and might not grasp the mental aspect of the position as well as his competition. Lawrence's biggest problem is lack of experience. At the moment, this one is too close to call, but Lawrence appears to be building momentum. updated 8/6.

CORNERBACK

The players: Junior Martel VanZant, Sophomore Quinton Moore, junior Scott Broughton, sophomore T.J. Bell, freshman Perrish Cox, freshman Terrance Anderson

The skinny: Go ahead and pencil in Jacob Lacey as one of the season opener's starters at corner. From there, though, it's wide open. Newcomers Broughton, Cox and Anderson are all toiling on the third team early in fall camp, but their ability is very apparent. Broughton is the most polished of the three, while Cox brings a truly special level of athleticsm. Anderson splits the difference between the two, being more polished than Cox and perhaps more athletic than Broughton. Van Zant, Moore and Bell won't lay down for the newcomers though. Moore, who is in just his third practice at corner, is probably the most intriguing veteran to watch in this battle because of his reputation as a big time hitter.

Latest movement: Current number ones: Lacey and MVZ. Twos: Bell and Moore. Threes: Cox and Broughton/Anderson. Worth noting is who is working as the nickle back with the first-team. It's primarily been Bell, but Cox saw reps in 11-on-11 on Saturday night. Season opener starter prediction: Lacey and Moore. updated 8/6.

LINEBACKER

The players: Redshirt freshman Alex Odiari, junior Marcus Brown, senior Jeremy Nethon, freshmen Donnell Williams, Justin Gent, junior Zach Carter.

The skinny: Rod Johnson (middle) and Chris Collins (strongside) are pretty much set as starters. Nethon left spring as the starter on the weakside, but Odiari was there on the first day of fall practice and hasn't relinquished the spot through the first three workouts. While Johnson is a strong starter at the MIKE, Brown is a very impressive backup and will play a lot considering Johnson's knack for getting dinged up during games (due primarily to his "wreckless abandon" playing style). Fellow true freshman Williams is serving as Collins' backup after being on campus (but not practicing due to a shoulder injury) for spring ball. He'll be pushed by freshman Lavine. Gent, who head coach Mike Gundy tabbed as a potential immediate contributor on signing day, looks ready but faces a steep challenge to unseat Johnson or Brown any time soon. Walk-on JUCO transfer Carter sure doesn't look or play like your typical walk-on.

Latest movement: Through three days of practices, the rotation is pretty set as described above. 28 year-old walk-on Delvin James is also seeing some action at strongside 'backer and is an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on. updated 8/6.

KICKER

The players: Senior Bruce Redden and sophomore Jason Ricks.

The skinny: Both players have one year of starting experience. Last season, with Ricks injured, former walk-on Redden converted on 11 of 14 field goal attempts (long - 52 yards) and 23 of 24 PAT's. In 2004, Ricks made 11 of 16 field goals (long - 55 yards) and 47 of 49 PAT's to lead OSU in scoring with 80 points.

Latest movement: Redden had an appendectomy right before the start of camp, but that really hasn't slowed him down much. Through the first day of camp, it's neck-and-neck all the way. Projected season opener starter - we think Redden will get the opportunity to build on his surprising 2005 season to start things off in 2006, with Ricks handling kickoffs. Probably too close to call beyond a guess, however. updated 8/6.

RECEIVER

The players: Junior Anthony Parks, sophomore Ricky Price, sophomore Jeremy Broadway, sophomore Seth Newton, junior Tommy Devereaux, junior Chijuan Mack, freshman Artrell Woods, redshirt freshman Zac Ross.

The skinny: The Cowboys are completely set at the top, with senior D'Juan Woods and junior Adarius Bowman. The real competition lies in the starting position when the Cowboys run a three-receiver set. JUCO transfer Parks and Price have a nice battle for the majority of the playing time going on here. Additionally, even with two studs like Woods and Bowman, the Cowboys will use a bunch of receivers all season, so jockeying for position in the depth chart is key as well.

Latest movement: Parks looks like the #3 option beyond Woods and Bowman. But, like we said above, there will be a lot of rotation and Price will have alot of snaps in '06. Broadway has had a very strong camp so far, as has Newton. Juniors Mack and Devereaux have about two more weeks to prove they haven't been "over-recruited" right out of any playing time. Freshman Artrell Woods may end up redshirting because he's actually a new full-time receiver, but has been among the most impressive first-year players in camp.updated 8/6.

STRONG SAFETY

The players: Redshirt freshman Andre Sexton and senior Grant Jones

The skinny: Sexton is going to be the starter here. The question is how much playing time Jones can take from Sexton as a backup. If he plays like he did in OSU's Orange-White spring game, it could approach a rotation.

Latest movement: Not a lot of movement here as both players look about like they did through the spring. updated 8/6.

RUNNING BACK

The players: Sophomore Michael Hamilton, junior Julius Crosslin, junior Dantrell Savage, freshman Keith Toston

The skinny: The title of "Oklahoma State starting running back" is Hamilton's to lose. Gundy said after the second practice of the fall that it would be very hard for someone to come in and unseat OSU's freshman rushing record holder. Before camp, it was expected that Hamilton would start, Crosslin handle short yardage and goal line situations and Savage would be the change-of-pace and third down back. Frankly, most expected Toston would move to safety within a couple of weeks of the start of camp.

Latest movement: It's still Hamilton's job to lose. That being said, if newcomers Savage or Toston can prove to be capable in all areas (rushing, receiving, pass protection), they could erode some of Hamilton's rushing attempts. Through three practices, Savage is as expected - very shifty and quick and a capable receiver. After a breakout performance on Saturday evening, Toston was the talk of camp. updated 8/6.



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