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Plenty to prove: Oklahoma State

6/6/2013

Every season, every player feels they've got at least something to prove. Otherwise, all the work wouldn't be worth it. That said, some guys have more to prove than others.

These are the guys with the most to prove on their respective teams.

Next up: Oklahoma State.

More guys with plenty to prove.

Plenty to prove: CB Justin Gilbert

I almost picked tight end/wideout Blake Jackson for this dubious honor, but considering the underwhelming season from Justin Gilbert in 2012, you have to go with the Cowboys' promising cornerback. Coach Mike Gundy didn't even wait until October was over before putting some attention on the underwhelming junior campaign Gilbert had put together.

"Could be preseason hype, could be coming out early, could be on the cover of a magazine, Fiesta Bowl MVP," Gundy said. “I just think things like that happen sometimes to kids."

He later added: "His performance before (the TCU game) was below average, in this one it was average. It needs to be considerably better for us to play at a high level and for him personally."

He never really got over the top in 2012, and was held without an interception after swiping five in 2011, including picks off Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill, all top 10 picks in the 2012 NFL draft. Gilbert was simply average as a junior. He has the physical skills and potential to be an elite corner, perhaps the best in the Big 12. There was plenty of NFL buzz surrounding Gilbert after his strong 2011 season on the way to a Big 12 title, but it mostly dissipated throughout last season.

It could quickly return with a strong senior campaign in 2013. In the process, he could help Oklahoma State reach perennial Big 12 contender status with a second league title in three years. Gilbert's going to be a senior leader on a defense that returns seven starters. The Pokes have a chance to be one of the league's best, but without Brodrick Brown across from him, Gilbert has to lead at the position by example. The 6-foot, 200-pounder has great size and blazing speed, but none of that matters much if you can't cover. This is the weakest class of receivers we've seen in the Big 12 in a long time. The opportunity is there. Gilbert must prove that his 2011 season was closer to what he's capable of than last year's average season.