So many “legacy” players won’t be around next season for Oklahoma State. Three or four-year starters like Mason Rudolph, James Washington, Chad Whitener, Tre Flowers and Ramon Richards give way to the next men up. The 2018 recruiting class measures out as one of the best in the Gundy-era so the future looks bright.
Here are a few young players to watch in 2018.
Justice Hill – Go ahead and mark Hill down as a dark-horse Heisman candidate. He finished his sophomore season with 1,467 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns and was named to the All-Big 12 First Team. Yet, here we are with Rudolph and Washington out of the picture and Hill as the focal point of a dynamic offense. Maybe the best is yet to come?
Spencer Sanders – The hype-train is nearly off the rails for the dual-threat quarterback from Denton, Texas. It’s widely expected that he will be OSU’s starter next fall as a true freshman. He’ll have to beat Taylor Cornelius and Keondre Wudtee for the job, but that seems doable. Sanders finished his high school career with a 124-to-23 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 48 rushing scores.
Tyron Johnson – Is 2018 Tyron Johnson’s “bag year?” The junior-to-be figures to be one of several Cowboys to benefit from the abundance of targets now that James Washington and Marcell Ateman have graduated to the NFL. Johnson had 118 yards and two touchdowns in the Bedlam contest when Washington went out with an injury.
Tylan Wallace – One of these guys has to be the next Cowboy Biletnikoff Award winner, right? Despite OSU’s crazy depth at receiver, Wallace got on the field as a true freshman in 2017. He’s got as much potential as anyone on the roster and, more importantly, seems to truly buy in.
Chuba Hubbard – Mike Gundy was gushing about his Canadian speedster in the preseason, but Hubbard ended up redshirting and didn’t see the field this year. The running back job is Justice Hill’s, obviously, and J.D. King and LD Brown will push for carries, but Hubbard’s unmatched speed will make it impossible for the Pokes to keep him on the sidelines.
Calvin Bundage – He’s gone from raw product to every-down-player in two years. Bundage probably won’t ever be called a “polished” star, but he’s got “volatile” star written all over him. He notched 54 tackles and 3.0 sacks (2.0 on Baker Mayfield) in 2017. His ceiling is unbelievably high and his goal should be to become an All-Big 12 player in 2018 after being honorable mention this season.
A.J. Green – The cornerback position is going to be a battle this spring and fall. That’s what happens when you have young starters and bring in some promising recruits like JayVeon Cardwell, Tanner McAlister and Gabe Lemons. Green led the team with four interceptions this year and those all came within a three-week stretch against West Virginia, Oklahoma and Iowa State.
Thabo Mwaniki – One of the most unheralded recruits in the 2017 class earned as much playing time as any freshman this year. Mwankiki ranked 16th out of OSU’s 21-man recruiting class and he played in all 13 games and logged 22 tackles and an interception. With Tre Flowers and Ramon Richards gone, Mwaniki should be a full-time starter as a sophomore.
Amen Ogbongbemiga – Ogbongbemiga was productive as a redshirt freshman this year and he should be able to parlay that into a starting spot next fall. Someone needs to replace three-year starting middle linebacker Chad Whitener and the Canadian youngster could fill that void. At the least he’ll be counted on to play a lot of snaps.