DB Vernon Grant

2004 Statistics

Coach: Mike Gundy
1st year
2004 Record: 7-5
at UCLA WON 31-20
SMU WON 59-7
at Colorado WON 42-14
at Missouri WON 20-17
at Texas LOST 35-56
at Texas Tech LOST 15-31
vs. Ohio State LOST 7-33

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-24

2005 Outlook

If you look at it from a straight numbers-personnel standpoint, OSU is returning 14 starters already. But with a new head coach and two new coordinators looking to change as many as six starters to new spots, and all of a sudden you're looking at what could have been a transition season to a possible rebuilding situation. The good news is that head coach Mike Gundy was already in the program. Les Miles took most of his key assistants with him to LSU, but Gundy was helped by the fact that associated head coach Joe DeForrest stayed and helped navigate the recruiting process. So there is some continuity there.

OSU will now spend the early part of the season finding itself, especially on defense. The offense is in a position to put up some big numbers, especially under Fedora. Finally, this team will be able to make a viable comeback (with either QB), something these Pokes could never do throwing it only 22%. Get out your calculator when they play Texas Tech. But the defense, never spectacular in '04, will find character, and how the defense does against the in-conference foes will dictate how far the Cowboys go. Gundy can always step in and take over on offense, but any serious defensive problems would prove disastrous.

Fortunately, the schedule will allow them to gear up slowly and start 3-0, but that could easily lull them into believing that not much more development is needed. Then, the real challengers arrive as the Big XII onslaught begins. Mizzu and Colorado are a good way to ease into five major foes with a combined 45-16 mark (from '04). This squad is surely good enough to beat a few of those juggernauts, but in this budding phase, they will, too, be susceptible to upstarts. The boys in the POSSE office have done a great job at putting the Cowboys in a position for the future, so take THE WALK with Gundy & Co. into a new, exciting, winning era of Oklahoma State football.

Projected 2005 record: 6-5
QB - 3 DL - 2
RB - 3 LB - 3.5
WR - 2.5 DB - 3
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Donovan Woods, 153-82-4, 1491 yds., 13 TD

Rushing: Donovan Woods, 111 att., 364 yds., 10 TD

Receiving: D'Juan Woods, 29 rec., 650 yds., 6 TD

Scoring: Jason Ricks, 11-15 FG, 46-48 PAT, 79 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: Jason Ricks, 11-15 FG, 46-48 PAT, 79 pts.

Tackles: Paul Duren, 63 tot., 40 solo

Sacks: Nathan Peterson, 4 sacks

Interceptions: Vernon Grant, 2 for 3 yds., Paul Duren, 2 for 34 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns: Daniel McLemore, 3 ret., 20.0 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Daniel McLemore, 2 ret., -0.5 avg., 0 TD


OT Cory Hilliard


OFFENSE: Seymore Shaw-TB, Billy Bajema-TE, Chris Akin-C, Sam Mayes-OG, Vernand Morency-TB (NFL), Prentiss Elliott-WR/KR/PR (dismissed)
DEFENSE: Efe Mowarin-DT, Clay Coe-NG, Darrent Williams-CB, Robert Jones-CB, Jon Holland-FS, Cole Farden-P, Vernon Grant-CB (deceased)

Then-freshman starter Donovan Woods and Bobby Reid battled for the spot last spring and were running neck-and-neck before Reid injured his shoulder and the team opted to redshirt him after he had surgery. Now the two are back at it again. Frankly, many in the Cowboy program are pulling for Reid -- but not because they dislike Woods or because Woods can't cut it. Woods is very well-liked and rightfully so (18th-ranked for efficiency, 13:5 TD: INT ratio), to the point where the coaching staff actually might like the idea of Reid winning the job outright so they can shift Woods to receiver or even running back. Under normal circumstances, coaches would be hesitant to take a starter who produced a 7-5 mark with a bowl berth and shift his position, then also run the risk of having both simultaneously suffer from injuries. But Reid is a pure passer with even faster feet than Woods, and the Cowboys do have depth, just in case. With the four- and five-receiver sets soon to be employed, all available athletes will be put on the field - opponents shouldn't lull their focus when both are out there, or Woods will corral the snap and Reid will go out with burning effects.

New offensive coordinator Larry Fedora likes to throw the ball, meaning he needs to get lots and lots of help for D'Juan Woods. But the fact remains that OSU gained under 70 first downs via the pass last year, less than six a game, and threw it only 22%. If he doesn't emerge as State's starting TB, Greg Gold is as good as his surname when it comes to catching passes and will surely be split wide. Chijuan Mack is blessed with a prototype-NFL body and similar speed. Luke Frazier is a solid possession receiver. Then there are the rest, with plenty of speed and size to go three-deep. Even with oft-troubled Prentiss finally dismissed, when they are in a four/five-receiver lineup(s), it will difficult for defenses to single on (either) Woods. This unit is definitely stacked for OSU to win.

Running Back
V-Mo (Morencey) is no-go (NFL). Gold brings variety to the mix. But if he can shake off a nagging injury bug, we see Seymore Shaw taking over as the starter. Downright spectacular at times, Shaw still needs to pass a class in August in order to regain a year of eligibility and be ready to go in September. Otherwise, redshirt freshman Mike Hamilton is ready to step up and super soph Calvin Roberts is an intriguing option here -- pardon the phun (he will cause). FB Julius Crosslin will also get a long look at TB, which really speaks volumes for the size they are seeking in both backfield slots. This bodes well for that play-action blocking and those blitz pickups so crucial for RBs to be able to do. This unit will be scaled back (from running it 78%), so the bruising style will work with the parity planned. Oh, and any RBs had better exhibit good hands, or they will find their number called less and less.

Tight End
This is a not an oft-seen dimension in new offensive coordinator Larry Fedora's system. In fact, TE Charlie Johnson, who has the best hands on the team, is therefore moving down to tackle. Redshirt freshman Brandon Pettigrew will serve this spot on the rare occasions that Fedora's offense calls for a TE. Otherwise, Pettigrew will be in the mix at WR as well.

Offensive Line
In a spring that promises to be dominated by position changes, as noted, Johnson moves from TE to OT. With Kellen Davis at the other tackle, that means Corey Hilliard goes to one guard, former starter David Keonig or Corey Curtis goes to the other guard and David Washington takes over at center. For better or worse, we saw what happened in the Alamo Bowl when the Cowboys had to shuffle positions on the line. Davis suffered a concussion the week before the game and couldn't play, necessitating a couple of changes, and Ohio State beat the 'Pokes up real good. But with time, it will all work out for the best by fall. The group is not too bulky, which means mobility and stunts can work in the creative ways we'll soon see. There is depth here, as well. The Cowboys allowed only 15 sacks in 11 games last year and that should stay the same.

All you need to know about how Fedora plans to wear his hat is to see what he did in the same role at Florida the previous seasons. Lots of three- and four-receiver sets. Lots of spreading the offense to isolate the defense. Lots of decoys. UF was the SEC's best (total) offense and only the second team in SEC history to have the league's top passer and top rusher, a real statement for the schemes we will soon see. Fedora will make the QB call, that's already been established. And while Woods may have the experience of those 12 games started last year, it is Reid who is the better passer and is faster, and, thusly, is the obvious choice to run a vertical passing game. Fedora likes to isolate receivers so that they only have to beat one guy for something big to happen. Along with power running between the tackles to confound defenses looking for the pass, just watch how plays are called with players' talents in mind, tailor-fitting the offenses needs to individuals strengths for optimal results. *** Opponent alert - look for the no huddle at the most unconventional times. ***


WR D'Juan Woods


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Donovan Woods-So (6-2, 215) Bobby Reid-Fr (6-3, 225)
RB Mike Hamilton-Fr (6-1, 230) Julius Crosslin-So (5-11, 230)
Shawn Willis-Sr (6-1, 260) (FB)
WR D'Juan Woods-Jr (6-1, 195) Luke Frazier-Sr (6-0, 205)
WR Chijuan Mack-So (6-3, 185) Tevin Williams-Jr (6-3, 215)
WR Tommy Devereaux-So (6-1, 170) Jeremy Broadway-Fr (5-11, 180)
TE Brandon Pettigrew-Fr (6-5, 230) Paschal Smith-So (6-4, 265)
OT Charlie Johnson-Sr (6-4, 280) Jeremy Palmoore-Fr (6-6, 320)
OG David Koenig-So (6-4, 280) Doug Bond-Jr (6-2, 305)
C David Washington-Fr (6-4, 275) Corey Curtis-Sr (6-4, 290)
OG Corey Hilliard-Jr (6-5, 300) Jeray Chatham-Fr (6-4, 260)
OT Kellen Davis-Sr (6-5, 290) Adam Gourley-Sr (6-6, 290)
K Jason Ricks-So (6-1, 180) Julius Neal-So (5-10, 200)



Defensive Line
There's been no pressure from this unit lately. On the front four, Nathan Peterson, Marque Fountain and Xavier Lawson-Kennedy all started and saw heavy time in the trenches. But this line underachieved, so there's plenty of pressure on these prototypically sized role players. Despite the returning starters and good depth (two incoming DTs can run sub-5.0-sec 40s), the immediate help expected from five-star JUCO-signee, DE Ryan McBean (No.6 juco prospect on rivals.com) will help immensely. The Cowboys will get more pass-rushing pressure (sacks total will go up), but watch average yards allowed per carry (was 4.6) to see if this unit will have any worthy impact. Why would teams ever have to throw it if they can gain that kind of yardage on the ground? This was a growing problem that continues to fester until stemmed, and we don't see much changing with the Cowboy's slate.

OSU is going to a 4-3 alignment, adding a linebacker to the set from last year's 4-2-5. Unfortunately, this is a unit already thinner than a bean-pole in the pan-handle. Only Paul Duren, Lawrence Pinson, Pagitte McGee and Rodrick Johnson have experience, and with the surplus at the safety position this is where the big changes will come. Senior Jamar Ransom made the same move in '03 and played quite well here - spring drills tell that he genuinely seems more comfortable moving from side to side. The other DBs looking to bump up fit the "keep the play in front of you, then make a big, containing hit" mentality now disseminated through new DC Vance Bedford. His secondary work with the Bears (1999-2004) means that mobility and vision will reign supreme, and predicating assignments based on the speed available here will work. Without being particularly good at either run or pass defense, this corps really never excelled at either. This crew will keep watch on the big play first, and fill gaps to effectively decrease foe's 47% third-down success rate from there.

Defensive Back
The Cowboys averaged an INT a game last year and the players who produced them are virtually all back. Seniors Jamie Thompson and Vernon Grant both should move to corner. Grant, in fact, started and played there as a freshman so it wouldn't be a huge adjustment as his talents (4.4 speed) lend him to such. Two players who have the potential for immediate impact are DB recruits Quinton Moore and Andre Sexton, although with the depth of this until there may not be a need for true freshmen to step in and start. This all fares well for the DBs' developments. The secondary had its moments when it was torched last year, but some of that blame has to fall at the feet of a defensive line that got little to no pressure on opposing quarterbacks. OSU will be ok here, especially with Bedford's accent for secondary improvements. As suggested above (LBs), watch to see just where the line blurs between the corps and the secondary, an advantage for a squad used to the 4-2-5 that also has interchangeable parts this way.

The traditional 4-3 alignment now employed by ex-Chicago Bear DB coach and recently named defensive coordinator Vance Bedford couldn't come fast enough for fans who were frustrated by the system last practiced. OSU was 74th in total defense, looking strong at neither major dimension (run and/or pass). Such a lack of identity won't happen under Bedford. Bedford also made a name as Michigan's secondary coach (in 1997, held opponents to 134 yds per game with a marginal defensive line; also had first true defensive Heisman winner, CB Charles Woodson). Bedford is not afraid to take chances, but simultaneously he will have this back seven keep the action in front of them so adjustments and swarming can be the desired effect seen. There will be more blitzes in the non-conference season alone than Cowboy fans have seen in the last two years combined. There are both big AND fast LBs to pull off whatever the play calls for, and since Bedford is a master technician who is skilled at tweaking and disguising formations, this development will all be fun to watch.


LB Paul Duren


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Marque Fountain-Jr (6-1, 260) Victor DeGrate-Jr (6-3, 245)
NG Ryan McBean-Jr (6-5, 275) Josh Pinaire-Jr (6-5, 290)
DT Xavier Lawson-Kennedy-Jr (6-1, 310) Walter Thomas-So (6-5, 340)
DE Darnell Smith-Jr (6-0, 260) Nathan Peterson-So (6-2, 250)
SLB Padgett McGee-Sr (6-1, 235) Jamar Ransom-Sr (5-10, 215)
MLB Paul Duren-Sr (6-1, 240) Roderick Johnson-So (6-3, 255)
WLB Lawrence Pinson-Sr (6-1, 240) Grant Jones-Jr (5-10, 195)
CB Daniel McLemore-Sr (5-7, 160) Quinton Moore-Fr (5-11, 185)
CB Martel Van Zant-So (6-2, 200) Calvin Mickens-Fr (6-2, 195)
SS Jamie Thompson-Sr (6-0, 190) Andre Sexton-Fr (6-1, 190)
FS Thomas Wright-Sr (6-0, 185) Jeremy Nethon-Jr (5-9, 190)
P Matt Fodge-Fr (6-0, 180) Bruce Redden-Fr (5-9, 183)




Jason Ricks is back, though Jason Ricks might not have a job come September. Oh, he is capable in kicking 11-of-16, but he was 0-of-4 from 40-49, though he did nail a 55-yarder. The Cowboys went out and got one of the state's premier kickers in Matt Fodge, so the competition will produce a KO specialist as a consolation. Coverage will likely drop off a bit, but still will be effective.

Either Ricks or Fodge will handle the punting after the departure of Cole Farden. The punt return team needs some work. It allowed an average of 10.4 yards per return, pretty much negating any advantage via quality punts on a regular basis. This is an area of concern until solved.

Return Game
The dismissal of PR/KR Prentiss Elliot leaves another huge special teams gap. Once we see headway here, we will let you know. Spring drills have trickled no info here so far.