Big 12: Bryant Ward

Former blue-chip recruit rejoins Cowboys

March, 8, 2011
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Running back Kye Staley, an ESPNU 150 recruit in 2008, has rejoined the team at Oklahoma State after suffering a major knee injury in 2009 and quitting football last August.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy told reporters after the Cowboys' first spring practice on Monday that Staley had been working out with the team after gaining permission from Gundy, and later asked if he could take part in spring football.

"Kye is a special young man. He loves being around the team and he loves football. He had a very traumatic injury and he's working his way back," Gundy told reporters. "He does look good. I would like for nothing more than for him to hold up and compete."

Staley, a native of Guthrie, Okla., just north of Oklahoma City, signed with Oklahoma State as the nation's No. 14 running back and No. 117 overall recruit. He was considered by many recruiting services as the top prospect in Oklahoma.

The 5-foot-10 Staley gained weight, up to 213 pounds, and moved to fullback. Oklahoma State has a need at the position this year after Bryant Ward polished off an All-Big 12 season as a senior in 2010.

David Paulsen and Zach Fullingim are the only fullbacks listed on Oklahoma State's two-deep at the position, but it'd be a great story if Staley got back to 100 percent and earned some playing time as a junior in 2011.

Picking the North versus the South

December, 21, 2010
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Yesterday, you saw my all-star teams broken down by division.

Before I offer my pick, here's a few thoughts and observations that emerged from selecting those teams.
  • In comparing the divisions, there are several lopsided positions. The Big 12 South is every bit the quarterback oasis we thought it was, while the North, outside of Blaine Gabbert's arm and Taylor Martinez's legs, is a bit of a wasteland. All five quarterbacks in the South -- plus Steven Sheffield -- would represent the North after Gabbert, and based on the way Martinez played in conference games, maybe him, too.
  • The same goes for the South and receivers. Somehow, Jeff Fuller couldn't make the South team, because he's got a pair of Biletnikoff finalists ahead of him. T.J. Moe and Scotty McKnight can get open in the middle of the field and both catch everything, but it's clear that all the big, fast receivers are in the South. The three aforementioned receivers, plus Kendall Wright, Lyle Leong, Detron Lewis and maybe Ryan Swope could have represented the North.
  • Meanwhile, the running backs are the opposite, like we thought at the beginning of the year. Kendall Hunter is the league's best, but DeMarco Murray might have been bumped off the South team by a number of North backs, including Rodney Stewart, Daniel Thomas, Roy Helu Jr. Murray racks up a lot of catches and is probably more dangerous in the open field than any of those previous three, but those three got it done between the tackles way more often than Murray.
  • Speaking of tackles, are there any good defensive tackles in the Big 12 North outside of Jared Crick? There are a lot of ends, so I put three on the team. Outside of maybe Nebraska's Baker Steinkuhler and Missouri's Terrell Resonno, there aren't many guys to fear in the middle of Big 12 North defenses. Could that perhaps be an explanation for the success of backs like Stewart, Thomas, and Helu? Can't hurt.

So what would happen?

Like we mentioned before, you'd see both teams rely on their strengths. If Blaine Gabbert is stepping back and throwing the ball 45 times to guys like McKnight and Moe all day, he's going to need a ton of completions to do it. The safer bet is to rely on those backs and a pretty strong offensive line. Ricky Henry and Zach Kendall might be two of the best run blockers in the Big 12, and their ballcarrier teammates benefited, so have them lead the way at the two guard positions.

It'd be a bit of a throwback offense for Gabbert, who is used to the spread at Missouri and in high school, but hey, it's only one game, right? He'll be OK. If the North was going to pull the upset, it'll have to do it with downhill running.

Meanwhile, expect the South to mix in plenty of those downhill runs with wide-open passing like most of them are used to. Swing passes to backs like Hunter and Murray would work well, and Ward served nicely as a lead blocker for Hunter.

Can you imagine the "backs" or "diamond" formation with Hunter, Murray and Ward? That's scary.

Through the air, how fantastic would Amukamara vs. Blackmon on one side and Broyles vs. Dennard on the other be? I want this game to happen. Somebody get Boone Pickens on the phone.

This game would be closer than it might seem coming in because of the North's salty secondary. That said, give me the boys down South by a touchdown.

South 27, North 20.

The Big 12 North versus Big 12 South

December, 20, 2010
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Like it or not, the Big 12 will be without divisions after 2010, no matter how many legends or leaders made their mark in the league's short history as a two-part conference.

Over that history, the South has been dominant with a pair of national powers, Texas and Oklahoma who were consistently racking up big win totals over the last decade while the North has, more often than not, sent a significantly less impressive team to the title game. That's measurable in plenty of ways, but I'll settle for the 11-4 advantage in the championship game and a 13-4 advantage in BCS bowl game appearances.

But what about this year? The South is clearly the deeper division when you talk total teams, but then I got this e-mail, which got me wondering:

John in Omaha, Neb., wrote: Bored at work, thought I'd give you a blog topic idea. If you had to pick two all star teams, one made entirely of B12 north players at each position and then a B12 south all star team at each position and then had them play a game. Who would win and who would be the players. Off the top of my head I'd say the south would but I bet it's pretty close once you break it down player by player.

My interest was piqued. We know what the All-Big 12 team looks like, but what if you broke it down by division? For reference, my All-Big 12 team had 11 players from the North and 15 from the South.

Here are my picks, when broken down by division:

Big 12 South

OFFENSE
QB: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
RB: Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State; DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State; Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
TE/FB: Bryant Ward, Oklahoma State
OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State; Danny Watkins, Baylor; Eric Mensik, Oklahoma; Matt Allen, Texas A&M, Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech

DEFENSE
DL: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma; Lucas Patterson, Texas A&M; Colby Whitlock, Texas Tech; Sam Acho, Texas
LB: Von Miller, Texas A&M; Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State; Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
CB: Andrew McGee, Oklahoma State; Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma
S: Quinton Carter, Oklahoma; Byron Landor, Baylor

SPECIALISTS:
K: Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
PR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

Big 12 North

OFFENSE
QB: Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
RB: Rodney Stewart, Colorado, Daniel Thomas, Kansas State
WR: T.J. Moe, Missouri; Scotty McKnight, Colorado
TE/FB: Michael Egnew, Missouri
OL: Nate Solder, Colorado; Ricky Henry, Nebraska; Tim Barnes, Missouri; Zach Kendall, Kansas State, Ben Lamaak, Iowa State

DEFENSE
DL: Jared Crick, Nebraska; Aldon Smith, Missouri; Brad Madison, Missouri; Pierre Allen, Nebraska
LB: Lavonte David, Nebraska; Andrew Gachkar, Missouri; Jake Knott, Iowa State
CB: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska; Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
S: Eric Hagg, Nebraska; Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State

SPECIALISTS:
K: Alex Henery, Nebraska
P: Alex Henery, Nebraska
KR: William Powell, Kansas State
PR: Niles Paul, Nebraska

So, there are my teams. I'll offer some further observations, plus my pick in a post Tuesday. But for now ... who you got?

RB Pratt leaves Oklahoma State

April, 29, 2010
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Redshirt freshman running back Dexter Pratt has decided to leave the Oklahoma State program after one redshirt year, team officials confirmed on Wednesday.

Pratt came to Oklahoma State as the No. 15 running back in the country according to Scouts Inc., and No. 139 on the 2009 ESPNU 150.

The team didn't release the reason for Pratt's exit, but it seems pretty simple. Perhaps personal reasons are involved, but my best guess is he doesn't want to play in new coordinator Dana Holgorsen's offense. The offense will get shifty backs like Kendall Hunter and Travis Miller the ball in space and allow them to make linebackers and defensive backs miss one-on-one in space.

Pratt is a 6-foot-1, 224-pound bruiser. Oklahoma State won't completely abandon running between the tackles, but it sounds like it's not going to be where running backs make most of their yardage. Add to that Pratt not even playing the traditional running back position, and it makes sense. Instead of fighting for time with Hunter, he's behind senior Bryant Ward (also just under 225 pounds) at a second running back spot.

Oklahoma State's depth chart this spring removed the tight end position in favor of a fourth receiver and removed the fullback position in favor of the second running back position where Pratt sits on the depth chart.

That's not a position change, per se, and I'm not entirely sure how the role of the second running back differs from the first, but it seems likely that Pratt didn't like it. At least he tried out Holgorsen's system.

Both sides should come out of this fine. Pratt didn't play last season, but he's clearly talented, and shouldn't have trouble finding a team who wants him. He didn't sign up to play in this offense, and no coach is going to blame him for transferring. Before signing with the Cowboys, Pratt had scholarship offers from Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Nebraska. The Navasota, Texas, native originally committed to LSU before reneging and heading to Stillwater.

Oklahoma State still has plenty of depth at running back. Hunter, a senior this season, is also backed up by redshirt freshman Jeremy Smith. Miller, a sophomore, was one of the spring's top performers for the Cowboys before sitting out most of the spring game after taking a big hit from safety Markelle Martin.

Change already underway at Oklahoma State

March, 4, 2010
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New Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen arrived in Stillwater in January. A student of departed Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, Holgorsen said then he came to call the plays.

Today, the Cowboys released their preseason depth chart, and regardless of who is on it, where they’ll be lining up suggests the spread is officially in place at Oklahoma State.

Last season, the Cowboys lined up three receivers and a tight end. This spring's depth chart lists two inside receivers and two outside receivers.

Junior Hubert Anyiam and sophomore Justin Blackmon will start as wide receivers. Holgorsen’s inside receivers will be junior Josh Cooper and sophomore Tracy Moore.

Former All-American Kendall Hunter remains the starter at running back after missing extended time in 2009 because of an ankle injury.

The fullback position has also disappeared. In its place, a second running back spot stocked with a pair of 220-plus pound running backs, likely to be used in short-yardage situations or as blockers on third down.

Those slots went to Bryant Ward, a senior from Stillwater and Dexter Pratt, a freshman.

No surprise at quarterback, where junior Brandon Weeden enters the spring as the starter. Freshmen Clint Chelf and Johnny Deaton enter the spring as co-backups.

Holgorsen came to Oklahoma State via Houston, where he crafted college football’s best offense behind quarterback Case Keenum, who spearheaded a Houston team that beat the Cowboys, 45-35, in Stillwater last season.

All-Big 12 teams show recruiting hits and misses

February, 2, 2010
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As we all pore over the recruiting ratings of each school for the next few days, it's wise to take all of these rankings and ratings with a healthy grain of salt.

Recruiting is, always has been and always will be an inexact science. For every can't miss product, there are others who emerge out of nowhere to become standout players.

This trend was shown after I analyzed the first- and second-team All-Big 12 teams from the 2009 season and went back to check their original ESPNU grades. On some, the service hit. But on many others, it missed like Sean Weatherspoon and Danario Alexander.

Both had scores of 40 when they came out in their recruiting class. Weatherspoon weighed 195 pounds. Alexander was projected as a safety. And both put aside their dubious recruiting marks to develop into two of the best players in the country at their position over the course of their college career. I thought it was interesting to go back and look at the best players in the conference and see where they were ranked coming into college.

The ESPNU ratings database goes back only to 2006. That does not allow us to get ratings for players who took a redshirt year during their college careers. But it gives a pretty accurate picture about the crap shoot that college recruiting really is.

Here's a look at the Big 12's coaches' first and second teams for 2009. The positional rankings, typically listed second for most players, are national rankings.

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE

QB: Colt McCoy, Texas: Class of 2005, no information available.

RB: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State: Junior college class of 2009.

RB: Keith Toston, Oklahoma State: 77 rating; ranked 44th among all safeties; ranked 73rd in state.

FB: Bryant Ward, Oklahoma State: Walk-on.

WR: Jordan Shipley, Texas: Class of 2004, no information available.

WR: Danario Alexander, Missouri: 40 rating (as safety), ranked 229th in state.

WR: Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas: 40 rating, ranked 363rd in state.

TE: Jeron Mastrud, Kansas State: 40 rating, ranked 13th in state.

OL: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State: 73 rating, ranked 61st among all tackles, 138th in state.

OL: Trent Williams, Oklahoma: 76 rating, ranked 22nd among all guards, 78th in state.

OL: Nick Stringer, Kansas State: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: Brandon Carter, Texas Tech: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: Nate Solder, Colorado: 40 rating (as tight end), ranked 48th in state.

PK: Grant Ressel, Missouri: Walk-on.

KR/PR: Brandon Banks, Kansas State: Junior college class of 2008.


FIRST TEAM DEFENSE

DL: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska: Class of 2005, no information available.

DL: Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma: 89 rating, ranked 2nd among all defensive tackle, ranked first in state, ranked 21st in nation.

DL:Von Miller, Texas A&M: 77 rating, ranked 37th among all defensive ends, ranked 52nd in state.

DL: Brandon Sharpe, Texas Tech: Junior-college class of 2007.

DL: Jared Crick, Nebraska: 73 rating, ranked 86th among all defensive ends, ranked seventh in state.

LB: Jesse Smith, Iowa State: Class of 2005, no information available.

LB: Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri: 40 rating, ranked 294th in state.

LB: Travis Lewis, Oklahoma: 75 rating, ranked 86th among all running backs, ranked 96th in state.

DB: Earl Thomas, Texas: 71 rating, ranked 75th among all cornerbacks, ranked 170th in state.

DB: Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State: 77 rating, ranked 25th among all cornerbacks, ranked 57th in state.

DB: Dominique Franks, Oklahoma: 74 rating, ranked 53rd among all cornerbacks, ranked 15th in state.

DB: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska: 78 rating, ranked 31st among all running backs, ranked fifth in state.

DB: Larry Asante, Nebraska: Junior college class of 2007.

P: Derek Epperson, Baylor: 76 rating, ranked 15th among all kickers, ranked 87th in state.


SECOND TEAM OFFENSE

QB: Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M: 79 rating, ranked first among all athletes, ranked 29th in state.

RB Roy Helu Jr., Nebraska: 73 rating, ranked 113th among all running backs, ranked 97th in state.

RB: DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma: 92 rating, ranked first among all running backs, ranked first in state, ranked sixth in nation.

FB: Jamie McCoy, Texas A&M: Class of 2005, no information available.

WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma: 77 rating, ranked 58th among all wide receivers, ranked fourth in state.

WR: Kerry Meier, Kansas: Class of 2005 , no information available.

WR: Brandon Banks, Kansas State: Junior college class of 2008.

TE: Riar Geer, Colorado: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: J.D. Walton, Baylor: Class of 2005, no information available (transfer from Arizona State).

OL: Chris Hall, Texas: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: Kurtis Gregory, Missouri: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: Adam Ulatoski, Texas: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: Brody Eldridge, Oklahoma: Class of 2005, no information available.

OL: Lee Grimes, Texas A&M: Class of 2005, no information available.

PK: Alex Henery, Nebraska: Walk-on.

KR/PR: Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State: 77 rating, ranked 25th among all cornerbacks, ranked 57th in state.


SECOND TEAM DEFENSE

DL: Sergio Kindle, Texas: 92 rating, ranked first among all outside linebackers, ranked second in state, ranked seventh in nation.

DL: Lamarr Houston, Texas: 78 rating, ranked seventh among all fullbacks, ranked fourth in state.

DL: Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma: 80 rating, ranked 11th among all defensive ends, ranked 17th in state, ranked 137th nationally.

DL: Jaron Baston, Missouri: Class of 2005, no information available.

DL: Daniel Howard, Texas Tech: Junior college class of 2007

LB: Joe Pawelek, Baylor: Class of 2005, no information available.

LB: Roddrick Muckelroy, Texas: Class of 2005, no information available.

LB: Phillip Dillard, Nebraska: Class of 2005, no information available.

DB: Jamar Wall, Texas Tech: 72 rating, ranked 79th among all safeties, ranked 142nd in state.

DB: Quinton Carter, Oklahoma: 77 rating, ranked 39th among all safeties, ranked third in state.

DB: Brian Jackson, Oklahoma: Class of 2005, no information available.

DB: Jordan Lake, Baylor: Class of 2005, no information available.

DB: Cha’pelle Brown, Colorado: 40 rating, ranked 287th in state.

DB: Trent Hunter, Texas A&M: 68 rating, ranked 90th among all cornerbacks, ranked 250th in state.

P: Tress Way, Oklahoma: 78 rating, ranked sixth among all kickers, ranked sixth in state.

It's interesting to note that only four members of the two teams were ESPNU top 150 selections: Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy, DeMarco Murray and Jeremy Beal and Texas' Sergio Kindle.

Brown, McCoy, Suh are major award winners

December, 1, 2009
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Texas coach Mack Brown, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh were announced today as the Big 12's coach of the year, offensive player of the year and defensive player of the year.

McCoy and Suh also were the only two unanimous first-team selections to the All-Big 12 team picked by coaches.

McCoy becomes the fourth Texas player to be selected as offensive player and the third Longhorn quarterback. Previous Texas selections included Ricky Williams (1997 and 1998), Major Applewhite (1999) and Vince Young (2005).

Suh becomes the second Nebraska defensive player to be honored, joining Grant Wistrom (1996 and 1997).

And Brown earns his second coach of the year honors after winning it in 2005.

One interesting note that shows the balance in the conference this season is that every team in the league was represented by at least one player on the first-team squad.

Coaches also announced their All-Big 12 teams. They were forbidden from voting for their own players.

Here's a list of the award winners, as selected by the league's coaches

Coach of the Year: Mack Brown, Texas

Offensive Lineman of the Year: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State

Defensive Lineman of the Year: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

Offensive Freshman of the Year: Christine Michael, Texas A&M

Defensive Freshman of the Year: Aldon Smith, Missouri

Special Teams Player of the Year: Brandon Banks, Kansas State

Defensive Newcomer of the Year: David Sims, Iowa State

Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State

Defensive Player of the Year: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

Offensive Player of the Year: Colt McCoy, Texas

And here's a look at who the coaches chose for their first-team offensive and defensive units.

OFFENSE:

QB: Colt McCoy, Texas

RB: Daniel Thomas, Kansas State

RB: Keith Toston, Oklahoma State

FB: Bryant Ward, Oklahoma State

WR: Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas

WR: Jordan Shipley, Texas

WR: Danario Alexander, Missouri

TE: Jeron Mastrud, Kansas State

OL: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State *

OL: Trent Williams, Oklahoma *

OL: Nick Stringer, Kansas State

OL: Brandon Carter, Texas Tech

OL: Nate Solder, Colorado

K: Grant Ressel, Missouri

KR/PR: Brandon Banks, Kansas State

DEFENSE

DL: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

DL: Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma *

DL: Von Miller, Texas A&M

DL: Brandon Sharpe, Texas Tech

DL: Jared Crick, Nebraska

LB: Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri *

LB: Jesse Smith, Iowa State

LB: Travis Lewis, Oklahoma

DB: Earl Thomas, Texas

DB: Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State

DB: Larry Asante, Nebraska

DB: Prince Amukamara, Nebraska

DB: Dominique Franks, Oklahoma

P: Derek Epperson, Baylor

Note: Bold notations are unanimous selections. Those selections with an asterisk are repeat choices from last season.

I was a little disappointed that the coaches can make a decision to pick a fullback as a specific positional choice and then not designate one of the picks specifically for a center. Every team in the league has a center. Not every team in the Big 12 has a true fullback that plays the majority of his snaps.

Also, it's an age-old pet peeve of mine that they don't break down the defensive choices into specific positions like ends, tackles, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties.

Here's a link to the Big 12's web site for a complete listing of the first-team, second-team and honorable mention choices.

OSU walk-on kicker Bailey given scholarship

August, 5, 2009
8/05/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

So much for any competition in the kicking game for Oklahoma State this season.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy announced after the Cowboys' first day of practice that junior kicker Dan Bailey has been awarded a scholarship for the upcoming season.

Bailey ranked fourth in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage last season, hitting 15 of 19 kicks for 78.9 percent. His longest kick was 45 yards and two of his misses came from 50 yards or beyond. Bailey finished with 110 points last season.

Gundy also announced that running back Bryant Ward also has been awarded a scholarship.

"Both are now on scholarship," Gundy said. "When they walked on we told them if they contributed and took care of their class work we would consider paying for their education. I think since we've been here they are sixth and seventh walk-ons to earn scholarships."

The Cowboys opened practice after a brief rainstorm in the afternoon. The weather change forced the Cowboys to work out on the turf at Boone Pickens Stadium.

"This was one for the record books," senior cornerback Perrish Cox of the oppresive heat.

Gundy was pleased with his team's work, despite the sweltering temperatures.

"It was a good day to practice," Gundy said. "It was probably 125 degrees down there but I think everyone did a good job of getting through it. Players were moving around with a lot of adrenalin flowing. We have 28 more practices and we have to get better, but it was a good start."

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