Cowboys roster tracker: Wilson returns, all five starters on offensive line coming back for 2024

Cowboys roster tracker: Wilson returns, all five starters on offensive line coming back for 2024

Cowboy guard Preston Wilson is returning for his sixth season at Oklahoma State, he announced Friday on social media. Wilson was OSU's top-rated pass blocker last season, per Pro Football Focus. The five Cowboy offensive linemen who played 12 or more games last season have announced returns.

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

| Feb 5, 2024, 1:00pm CST

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

Feb 5, 2024, 1:00pm CST

STILLWATER — Quite literally, the biggest pieces of Oklahoma State’s 2023 offense are back. 

Preston Wilson, the 6-foot-5, 295-pound guard, announced a return for the 2024 season today, his sixth with OSU, on his Instagram. Wilson, a senior, played 13 games last season and was OSU’s top pass-blocking offensive lineman, per Pro Football Focus.

Wilson’s return means the five Cowboy linemen who played 12 or more games last season are back. Center Joe Michalski, tackles Jake Springfield and Dalton Cooper and guard and fellow guard Cole Birmingham have all announced returns. All are seniors.

They will be blocking for Ollie Gordon, the Doak Walker Award winner. Quarterback Alan Bowman, who was granted a seventh year of eligibility, knows the talented, veteran offense could be improved. OSU was the No. 8 scoring offense in the Big 12, averaging 29.6 points per game.

“Dangerous,” Bowman said of what the offense could look like in 2024. “Dangerous for sure.”

———————————–

The last offseason was busy for OSU.

There were 22 Cowboys who entered the transfer portal last season. Quarterback Spencer Sanders, cornerback Jabbar Muhammad and linebacker Mason Cobb headlined the departures. The mass exodus contributed to OSU’s biggest year-to-year makeover in recent memory.

As the NCAA transfer portal window opens Monday morning (and closes on Jan. 2), there will likely be several Cowboys who enter the portal. That’s how college football works, nowadays. ESPN reported more than 2,100 football players entered the portal last December, the most of any month since the portal was created in 2018.  

Will the portal activity this year be as crazy for OSU as it was last season? OSU brought in the nation’s No. 22 transfer portal recruiting class in 2023, and did a solid job replacing all the lost production.

This offseason, there are again areas OSU will likely be looking to buff through the portal. Quarterback Alan Bowman will be out of eligibility unless he receives a medical hardship waiver resulting from his 2019 season at Texas Tech,  where he broke his collarbone after three games. The Cowboys may have a potential hole to fill there. Offensive line and defensive line are other places OSU could try to add some depth, depending on which players return.

There are 16 Cowboy seniors eligible to return next season. The list includes five starters on the offensive line (Preston Wilson, Joe Michalski, Cole Birmingham, Dalton Cooper, Jake Springfield) and receiver Brennan Presley. Birmingham told media he is likely to return for a super-senior season, but no other announcements have been made.

Further OSU roster turnover ahead of the 2024 season hinges on NFL Draft/bowl game opt-out considerations. The Cowboys will see plenty of movement between now and the first week of 2024. We’ll keep an eye on all of it here:

Portal departures

Dec. 4: Lardarius Webb Jr. was the first Cowboy to announce a decision to enter the portal. The junior safety JUCO transfer from Jones College did so soon after the Big 12 Championship Game. He played in five games this season, exclusively on special teams.

Dec. 4: Tyrone Webber announced his intentions to enter the portal the day it opens. Webber, a junior offensive lineman, was 247 Sports’ No. 2 overall JUCO recruit from New Mexico Military Institute but didn’t play a snap in his only season with the Cowboys. 

Dec. 6 Gunnar Gundy has entered the transfer portal, as first reported by on3.com, which covers college sports and recruiting.

The son of coach Mike Gundy played in OSU’s first three games this season, completing 21 of 34 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown.

Gundy’s defining was leading two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to beat Central Arkansas, 27-13, in the season opener. Gundy was a walk-on who had offers from Toledo and Eastern Michigan out of Stillwater High School.

Dec. 8 Blaine Green, a redshirt sophomore receiver, has entered the transfer portal, per 24/7 Sports’ McClain Baxley. He enters with three years of eligibility left.

Green is the first OSU receiver to enter the portal this season. He caught 13 passes for 102 yards this year after being converted from the cowboy back position, with a season-high six receptions coming at Iowa State. He missed all of 2022 with a wrist injury. Blaine’s twin brother, Bryson, transferred to Wisconsin last January. Both came in as three-star recruits in the 2021 signing class.

Dec. 11 Jaden Bray, a big-play threat at wide receiver, entered the transfer portal per Rivals. The redshirt sophomore caught 30 passes for 382 yards this season but has battled injury each of the past two years. Last season, Bray broke his left thumb three times and played in just three games. Bray played in ten games this year, missing games against Cincinnati, Oklahoma and UCF with an arm injury. He has two years of eligibility remaining

Dec. 11 Viliami Makahununiu, a walk-on offensive lineman, also entered the transfer portal, per McClain Baxley of 247 Sports. Makahununiu did not play in 2022.

Dec. 12 Redshirt junior safety Nick Session entered the transfer portal, per McClain Baxley of 247 Sports. The former three-star recruit recorded three total tackles this season. He played in eight total games over his first three years at OSU.

Dec. 13  Redshirt sophomore Jaden Nixon entered the portal, per 247 Sports’ McClain Baxley, Nixon rushed for 197 yards, second on the team but well behind leader Ollie Gordon’s 1,614.

Jan. 2 Redshirt freshman cornerback D.J. McKinney entered the portal, per a report from 247 Sports. McKinney played every game for OSU this season and recorded 38 tackles and no interceptions.

Portal additions

Dec. 16 Kobe Hylton, safety, UTEP

 Dec. 16 Isaia Glass, offensive lineman, Arizona State

Jan. 4 Tyler Foster, tight end, Ohio University

Jan. 5 Obi Ezeigbo, defensive end, Gannon University

Jan. 10 AJ Green, running back, Arkansas

Feb. 5 Da’Wain Lofton, receiver, Virginia Tech

OSU had success looking in the portal where nobody else did last season. Receiver Leon Johnson III from the Division III George Fox University emerged as a critical player in a run to the conference championship game. Defensive lineman Justin Kirkland played an important role in the middle of a three-man front in every game this season and came from Utah Tech, a Western Athletic Conference representative.

Receiver De’Zhaun Stribling (Washington State) and Dalton Cooper (Texas State) also played important parts in OSU’s season.

“We still lost some good players but we benefited from some young men that really, really wanted to be at Oklahoma State and really, really wanted to play at this level and are having a blast,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “And that has helped the chemistry of this team. Ironically, it might have helped us more than if those guys wouldn’t have left.”

What positions do the Cowboys need to target for 2024?

Anthony Goodlow and Nathan Latu lead OSU defensive linemen in sacks, and both will be out of eligibility after this season. Depending on what happens with Bowman and freshman Garret Rangel, OSU could bring in a quarterback. If some of OSU’s offensive linemen test the NFL Draft waters, the Cowboys could look to add there.

The 2024 high school signing class

Luke Webb, DL, 6-4, 276 pounds, Deer Park, Texas, three stars

Landyn Cleveland, safety, 6-0, 183 , Mansfield, Texas, three stars

Caleb Hackleman, OL, 6-6, 280, Texarkana, Texas, three stars

David Kabongo, DB, 5-11, 185, Trophy Club, Texas, three stars

Temerrick Johnson, DL, 6-3, 209, Midlothian, Texas, three stars

Chauncey Johnson, OL, 6-5, 290, Lonoke, Arkansas, three stars

Nuku Mafi, OL, 6-5, 295, Salt Lake City, Utah, three stars

Rodney Fields, RB, 5-9, 185, Del City, three stars

Tré Griffiths, WR, 6-3, 200, Keller, Texas, three stars

LaDainian Fields, DB, 6-1, 175, Del City, three stars

Willie Nelson, DB, 5-10, 170, Longview, Texas, three stars

Gunnar Wilson, LB, 6-3, 206, Melissa, Texas, three stars

Armstrong Nnodim, DL, 6-2, 257, Mesquite, three stars

Jonathan Agumadu, DL, 6-2, 215, McKinney, Texas, three stars

Josh Ford, TE, 6-6, 252, Stillwater, three stars

Maealiuaki Smith, QB, 6-4, 195, San Mateo, California, three stars.

Jaden Allen-Hendrix, athlete, 6-2, 225, Columbia, South Carolina, no stars

Jacobi Oliphant, DB, 6-4, 175, St. Louis, Missouri, three stars

“Most of these guys have been committed to us a long time and I really like it,” Gundy said. “It’s balanced, it’s a good number for the direction that we’ll go as we try to manage through the changes with rosters and such.”

NFL Draft/Bowl opt-outs

Dec. 4: OSU has 16 seniors with decisions to make between returning to Stillwater or hitting the pros in 2024. Here’s the full list:

  • WR Brennan Presley (Announced return)
  • OL Cole Birmingham (Announced a return)
  • OL Dalton Cooper (Announced return)
  • OL Joe Michalski (Announced return)
  • OL Taylor Miterko
  • OL Jake Springfield (Announced return)
  • OL Preston Wilson (Announced return)
  • DL Kody Walterscheid
  • DL Xavier Ross (Announced return)
  • DL Collin Clay (Announced return)
  • DL Isreal Isuman-Hundley
  • DB Korie Black
  • DB Trey Rucker (Announced return)
  • DB Kenneth Harris
  • FB Jake Schultz (Announced return)
  • QB Peyton Thompson

Others announcing a return:

  • OL Jason Brooks

 

(This is a live offseason roster tracker. It will be updated through bowl season and the portal window.)

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Ben Hutchens and his twin brother Sam cover Oklahoma State for the Sellout Crowd. After a decade of living in the state, Ben finally feels justified in calling himself an Oklahoman. You can reach him at [email protected] and continue the dialogue @Ben_ Hutchens_ on social media.

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