STILLWATER — In his final media availability before the season opener at Oregon State, Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy was still noncommittal on the quarterback position for the Cowboys.
“We have a really good plan in place. It’s not something I’m going to discuss publicly at this time,” Gundy said.
But other positions around his team received some clarity with the depth chart distributed by the Oklahoma State athletic department.
Perhaps one of the most interesting shifts comes on the defensive side of the ball, where returning starter Malcolm Rodriguez – the top returning tackler from a year ago – has been moved from safety to linebacker, where he will start ahead of two-year starter Calvin Bundage behind the defensive line.
Rodriguez is listed at 6-foot, 205 pounds, while Bundage weighs in at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, and started 20 games the past two seasons after playing in 11 games as a true freshman out of Edmond Santa Fe.
“If you’re going to draw one up, his agility and speed would be a big advantage there,” Gundy said of Rodriguez. “His size could be an issue, we’ll see how it works. A lot of the game is played side to side now. It’s not played straight ahead, so that allows him to come down and help us out a little bit in that position.”
Starting opposite Rodriquez at linebacker will be redshirt junior Amen Ogbongbemiga – who will be backed up by redshirt seniors Kevin Henry and Philip Redwine-Bryant.
Bringing even more intrigue of moving Rodriguez up in the defense is the fact Jim Knowles’ defense this year will utilize three safeties, while using just two linebackers.
Scheduled to start at safety will be sophomore Jarrick Bernard, who started the last nine games last year, redshirt sophomore Tre Sterling – who was largely used on special teams last season – and sophomore Kolby Harvell-Peel, who wracked up 52 tackles as a true freshman last year.
The expected starters on the defensive line, which replaced nearly the entire two-deep from a year ago, will be redshirt sophomore Brock Martin and redshirt freshman Tyler Lacy on the edges, with redshirt junior Cameron Murray and redshirt sophomore Brendon Evers slotted as the started defensive tackles. The most experienced player on the line in terms of playing time – Colorado transfer Israel Antwine, who started 11 games as a true freshman last year – is listed as a backup to Murray at tackle.
On the offensive front, redshirt junior Dylan Galloway will start at left tackle, with three-year starter Marcus Keyes to his inside at the guard position. Redshirt senior Johnny Wilson will once again start at center, while redshirt freshman Bryce Bray will start at right guard and returning starter Teven Jenkins will fill in at right tackle again.
On special teams, Oklahoma State’s top two running backs will returning kicks. Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown are listed as the kick returners – while receivers Dillon Stoner and Landon Wolf and listed as punt returners.
“You don’t see as many of them now with the rule changes, but they want to be back there,” Gundy said about his tailbacks. “So, let them have at it. Let them work together and they want to try to touch the ball as much as possible.”
Also of note in the depth chart is a total of six true freshman in the two- or three-deep, with most of them being on the defensive side.
Cornerback Thomas Harper was already anticipated to be a true freshman to get playing time per Gundy earlier this fall, and he is listed as an “or” with Kemah Siverand for the backup to A.J. Green. Along the defensive line, ends Trace Ford and Jayden Jernigan are a pair of true freshmen listed as “or” to be backups, while true freshman Na’drian Dizadare is competing with Bundage as the backup for Rodriguez.
On the offensive side, the only true freshman projected in the three-deep is receiver Langston Anderson – the top-rated prospect in the 2018 recruiting class. He will start the year as the No. 3 option at the outside wide receiver behind Tylan Wallace and Tyrell Alexander.
Those are several of the candidates Gundy stated Friday that would likely not be redshirted this season in their true freshman year.