OSU football journal: Israel Antwine fitting in quickly on defensive line
STILLWATER — It’s still uncertain if Colorado transfer and former Millwood star Israel Antwine will take the field for Oklahoma State this fall or be forced to wait until next year.
Antwine won’t know his fate for this season until the NCAA passes down a decision on his hardship waiver to become eligible this year, rather than sitting out a season after transferring.
As for his immediate status, the 6-foot-4, 295-pound sophomore has quickly melded with his new defensive line. He’s impressing his teammates with his combination of speed and strength.
“Israel is a freak of nature,” sophomore defensive end Brock Martin said.
Antwine would be an instant asset on the defensive line if he’s deemed eligible in the fall, and could be a long-term impact player for the Cowboys on a defensive line that lost all four starters and two key backups from last season.
“He’s a joy to have around,” defensive tackle Brendon Evers said. “He’s 300 pounds and he’s doing pull-ups with chains on. I can’t even do that. And he’s super-fast, too.
“He’s learned a lot since he’s been here. Obviously, him and everybody else, including myself, have a long way to go, but I think he’s gonna fit into our system really well.”
Braydon Johnson offers speed, versatility at receiver
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Asked who his team’s fastest player was, OSU coach Mike Gundy first tossed out the name of sophomore receiver Braydon Johnson before coming around to former Canadian track star Chuba Hubbard.
Ultimately, Gundy settled on Johnson as the favorite in a 40-yard race, and Hubbard in the 100.
Regardless, Johnson has the type of speed the Cowboys would like to get on the field more.
Last season, when the inside receiver position became thin, Johnson began working there, even though he had been an outside receiver since arriving at OSU. He only caught two passes, but established himself in the rotation.
Going forward, Johnson’s ability to play inside and outside could benefit him.
“I feel like (receivers coach Kasey Dunn) wants me to play both,” the 6-1, 195-pound Johnson said. “He feels like it would be best for the team, so I can move inside or outside based on what fits the offense.
“Inside is a little bit more comfortable for me. It’s more about reaction, more on the move.”
Cowboys using experimental padded helmets
Oklahoma State’s interior players, primarily on the offensive and defensive lines, are getting a little extra protection this spring.
The players are wearing padded caps that fit over the top of the helmet and are designed to provide extra protection against head injuries. The caps are made with flexible sections of padding more than an inch thick.
Gundy said the program has had the caps, but only began requiring certain players to wear them this spring.
“We didn’t know if we had enough studies that confirmed that there was actually a reason to wear them,” Gundy said. “We’re somewhat convinced now there’s enough study out there that says it doesn’t hurt our guys to wear them, so it can only be somewhat preventative. Now, whether they go to the extreme of reducing concussions or not, I don’t know that there’s enough study out there.
“But we feel like it can’t hurt our guys, and the basic laws of physics would say that it should help them.”