Finding second receiver critical for Cowboys

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Oklahoma State's offense is one of the nation's most explosive with a balanced run-pass attack keyed by quarterback Zac Robinson, running back Kendall Hunter and wide receiver Dez Bryant.

But as potent as the Cowboys can be, one big concern during fall camp will be developing a secondary wide receiver to help complement Bryant.

The Cowboys' big-play receiving threat accounted for a greater percentage of his team's receptions than any other player in the Big 12 when he produced 87 catches last season -- a whopping 41.4 percent of OSU's 210 completions in 2008.

Bryant's importance to the Cowboys was best illustrated in their 42-31 Holiday Bowl loss to Oregon as he produced seven receptions in the first quarter and nine in the first half to help spark an early Cowboys lead.

But after Bryant sustained a knee injury, the Cowboys' offense sputtered. Oregon outscored OSU 35-14 in the second half en route to the comeback victory.

It's made finding a second wide receiver one of coach Mike Gundy's critical tasks during fall camp.

Jeremy Broadway was dismissed from the team after the season ended and Bo Bowling was suspended in February after he was earlier arrested on drug possession charges. Bowling is not listed on the Cowboys' training camp roster.

Those moves could open playing opportunities for senior DeMarcus Conner and redshirt freshman Justin Blackmon, who are listed as starters in the Cowboys' three-receiver packages heading into fall camp.

And the Cowboys' ultimate depth at the position could be improved in future seasons by the return of Damian Davis, who has come back to the team after being dismissed for an unspecified violation of team rules after last season.

Davis definitely will not play this season, but is paying his own way to rejoin the program in what would be his redshirt season.

Coach Mike Gundy told reporters Wednesday that Davis is aiming to get "back in good standing" on the team.

Such a move isn't unprecedented by Gundy during his time with the Cowboys. Former OSU linebacker Jeremy Nethon was kicked off the team, but returned in 2005 on his own dime to play his way back into good graces with the program. Nethon eventually won back his scholarship and became a productive player for the Cowboys.

Gundy said that Davis, a talented 6-foot-5, 178-pounder who produced 19 catches for 414 yards last season -- and two key touchdowns against Missouri -- could follow in a similar manner.

"I hope he ends up like Nethon," Gundy said. "Damian is a good guy that just didn't abide by some things that we think are important in being on our football team. He deserves an opportunity to correct those ... and make himself better, his life better and our football team better in the future."