Simmons Injury Makes For Big Shoes To Fill At Middle Linebacker - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Simmons Injury Makes For Big Shoes To Fill At Middle Linebacker

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When senior Ryan Simmons announced he would miss the rest of the season after tearing his MCL and PCL, Oklahoma State lost more than a Preseason All-Big 12 linebacker. The Cowboys lost their defensive leader and most experienced player.

Replacing him will not be easy.

Middle linebacker is sophomore Chad Whitener’s job now. The Cal transfer proved against Kansas State that he’s up for the task, pacing the team with nine tackles and two sacks. Simmons had 96 tackles to go with two sacks and 12 tackles for loss at the position last year.

“Chad Whitener was at another school, transferred in and paid his own way,” Mike Gundy said at a preseason practice after the walk-ons earned their scholarships.

“He said he would earn his scholarship, and we said that if everything worked out for him, we would reward him with a scholarship. Up to this point, he has done a great job, so we were able to give him a scholarship.”

Simmons tweeted a word of encouragement to the man stepping in for him.

While Whitener’s availability is a stroke of good fortune, the Cowboys know replacing the star middle linebacker goes beyond measurable stats.

Junior Seth Jacobs, in his second year, is the most-experienced player on the linebacker corps at this point. Older players like senior cornerback Kevin Peterson, senior defensive end Jimmy Bean and junior safety Jordan Sterns will have to help Jacobs and Whitener fill Simmons’ communicative void.

10/6/15 RELATED STORY: OSU Linebacker Simmons Suffers Season-Ending Injury

Oklahoma State takes on West Virginia at 6:00 p.m. in Morgantown on Saturday.

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