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OSU football: Defensive line looking for depth, impact players

Oklahoma State's Mike Scott (91) sacks Texas Tech's Alan Bowman (10) in the third quarter of a 41-17 Red Raiders win last season in Stillwater. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma State's Mike Scott (91) sacks Texas Tech's Alan Bowman (10) in the third quarter of a 41-17 Red Raiders win last season in Stillwater. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

STILLWATER — After enjoying the depth produced primarily from one big recruiting haul in 2014, Oklahoma State finds itself in search of a lot of help on the defensive line as spring practice arrives.

Six of the eight players who were on the depth chart last September are gone now, and filling those holes will be the biggest challenge facing the defense this spring.

With spring ball set to begin Monday, The Oklahoman is breaking down each of the Cowboys’ position groupings, this time examining the defensive line.

Scholarship players lost: Jordan Brailford, Jerrell Owens, Cole Walterscheid, Trey Carter, Enoch Smith Jr., Darrion Daniels.

Scholarship players returning: Mike Scott, RSr.; Cameron Murray, RJr.; Amadou Fofana, RJr.; Brock Martin, RSo.; Brendon Evers, RSo.; Tyler Lacy, RFr.; Braden Cassity, RFr.; Samuela Tuihalamaka, RFr.

Newcomers: Sione Asi*, Jr.; Israel Antwine*, So.; Jayden Jernigan*, Fr.; Xavier Ross, Fr.; Trace Ford, Fr.; Isreal Isuman-Hundley, Fr.; Kody Walterscheid, Fr.

*-On campus for spring practice

Three storylines to watch

Finding depth

Four returning players were in the rotation last season, with Scott and Martin seeing time at defensive end, and Murray and Evers at tackle. But after that, experience falls off fast.

As for defensive tackles, Fofana is a junior-college transfer who battled injuries last season while redshirting, and Asi steps in straight out of Snow College as a 300-pounder ready to contribute.

Antwine and Jernigan are both on campus as newcomers, but the expectations for either of them must be tempered, for different reasons. With Jernigan, it’s hard to ask a true freshman to jump right into action in the middle of the defensive line.

Antwine, on the other hand, would typically have to sit out this fall after transferring from Colorado. However, he is pursuing a hardship waiver to become eligible immediately. He started all but one game at defensive end for Colorado last season, and at 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds, his presence would be valuable immediately.

Where will Lacy play?

Lacy was a star defensive end coming out of high school, but he has grown into his big frame, having added at least 25 pounds since arriving last summer. Now listed at 6-4, 265, he could find a way to be a contributor both inside and outside.

HIs combination of size, strength and speed could give defensive coordinator Jim Knowles an opportunity to use his creativity in how he uses Lacy.

Are they finished?

With only four scholarship defensive ends on campus for spring, and only true freshmen currently signed as the remaining group of newcomers, OSU could still add to the class.

It has one spot open for a traditional recruit in the 2019 signing class, and a few more openings below the 85-scholarship limit, which would require more creative recruiting work to get players who would count toward the 2020 class.

But with playing time on the table, OSU could be an attractive landing spot for a graduate transfer.

Scott Wright

A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and... Read more ›