John Holcomb: OSU's Road To Arlington Began In The Transfer Portal

So far in the transfer portal age, you can’t always predict what you’ll get from the athletes you bring in but the Cowboys’ success this season can be traced to the buy-in and leadership from players who may not have been highly sought after.

Sunday, November 26th 2023, 5:41 pm



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Statistics in football don’t always tell the whole story.

A snapshot of OSU after 12 games includes a mixed bag; the Cowboys have the nation’s leading rusher in Ollie Gordon but also the 112th-ranked team in total defense.

The Cowboys will face Texas for the Big 12 title because they won enough games in the league to earn that right, but just as important in OSU’s second half of the season surge are the things that can’t necessarily be quantified.

So far in the transfer portal age, you can’t always predict what you’ll get from the athletes you bring in but the Cowboys’ success this season can be traced to the buy-in and leadership from players who may not have been highly sought after.

Let’s start with quarterback Alan Bowman. The senior showed potential before injuries affected his time at Texas Tech. After transferring to Michigan he only played a handful of snaps.

Since arriving in Stillwater he’s been a positive presence in the locker room, and his belief that the Cowboys could be really good has spread throughout the roster. His leadership has been filled with optimism, and it’s been unavoidable.

Tight end Josiah Johnson came to OSU from UMass, and with only this season remaining he’s become a physical blocker that has helped in Ollie Gordon’s ascension to the top of the college football rushing rankings.

Receiver Leon Johnson, from D3 George Fox, wanted to redshirt to give himself a chance to get stronger in his one-season shot to impress NFL scouts. When injuries swept through the Cowboy receiving corps, Johnson willingly burned that redshirt and has become an instant weapon in the OSU passing game.

Those are just three of the players from the portal, mostly under-recruited or unnoticed, who have embraced Mike Gundy’s Cowboy culture.

Sometimes it’s more than strong stats that mark the difference between a bad, decent or good season.

Character and team chemistry matters.

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