Oklahoma State Cowboys’ Top 10 Returning Players in 2024 Include Ollie Gordon II, Collin Oliver

    After a surprising year, Mike Gundy and the top 10 returning players for the Oklahoma State Cowboys have a Big 12 title on their minds.

    In a new look Big 12 Conference, the Oklahoma State Cowboys enter as a championship contender in 2024. After a surprising season in 2023, they’re looking to build off that momentum. With their top 10 returning players this year, a title run is in the works for Oklahoma State this fall.

    Oklahoma State Cowboys’ Top 10 Returners in 2024

    Analyzing the returning players at every school is a difficult task in the transfer portal area. As such, we’ve included transfer-portal athletes on each team’s roster page to open spring camp in addition to the rostered players from last year.

    10) Cameron Epps, S

    Defending the pass wasn’t the Cowboys’ forte last year. They finished 126th in the country, allowing 275 yards per game through the air. They return plenty of experience in the secondary, but that group must improve this year.

    Cameron Epps stepped into a big role for the Cowboys’ defense in 2023, leading the team with three interceptions. With a full year as a starter on his resume, he looks to help a unit that wants to contribute more to the team’s success in 2024.

    9) Alan Bowman, QB

    Alan Bowman is back for another year of college football, and fans hope that means an improved stat line from his 2023 performance. While he threw for 3,460 yards and 15 touchdowns, he also threw 14 interceptions. Taking care of the football will be essential, and it will take a ton of pressure off Ollie Gordon II’s shoulders.

    8) Trey Rucker, S

    The Cowboys have talent in the secondary, but consistency is the key for that group this year. Trey Rucker proved to be a reliable playmaker for the defense, but they’ll need him to be more of a factor deep downfield this year.

    Rucker recorded 100 tackles, one of three players to do so in 2023, so we know he’s willing to tackle the ball carrier. Mike Gundy and his staff hope their safeties make fewer of those plays this year, given that they recorded a combined 205 tackles last year.

    7) Rashod Owens, WR

    One way for the secondary to improve is to face the Cowboys’ passing attack in practice this year. With the talent they have returning, it will be either sink or swim for the Pokes’ defensive backs, which speaks to the talent level at receiver.

    Rashod Owens is ready to take on a more significant role for the offense this year. After catching 63 passes for 895 yards and five touchdowns in 2023, the redshirt senior from San Antonio, Texas, wants to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this season. If Bowman takes better care of the football, that’s a strong possibility.

    6) Kendal Daniels, DB

    Last year, one of the biggest questions for the Cowboys’ defense was who would replace Jason Taylor II’s production and exceptional playmaking. Fortunately, Kendal Daniels returned to give them his replacement.

    MORE: 2024 Big 12 Power Rankings

    He might not have replicated the magic that Taylor brought to the defense, but Daniels certainly replaced his production. He recorded 105 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and two interceptions last year, and he’s ready to do it again. The staff hopes the tackle statistics decrease thanks to better play up front, but he’s ready to help if they need him again.

    5) Nickolas Martin, LB

    The linebacker position went through a transition last year, but it didn’t stop the playmakers from emerging. Everyone wanted to know how Collin Oliver would do in his new role as a stand-up linebacker, but Nickolas Martin got everyone’s attention.

    He led the team with 140 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and six sacks, and he also added two interceptions, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. If the Cowboys can reduce the number of tackles required for him to make, then the unit as a whole can take a step forward.

    4) Preston Wilson, OG

    If you’re looking for a reason why Ollie Gordon II had such a successful season in 2023, you won’t have to look far. From his own talent to an experienced offensive line, the Oklahoma State running back’s big season was inevitable. Given that much of that experience returns this year, Gordon appears set for another monster season.

    Preston Wilson was a driving force behind Gordon’s Heisman-worthy campaign, and he put together a season that landed him on College Football Network’s first-team All-Big 12. The 6’4″ and 290-pound redshirt senior from Argyle, Texas, returns 47 games of experience and 34 starts to one of the more battle-tested lines in the country.

    3) Brennan Presley, WR

    Good luck if you have to cover Oklahoma State’s receivers this year. With Rashod Owens, Dezhaun Stribling, and Brennan Presley returning, the Cowboys should be able to move the ball down the field more efficiently than last year. Presley’s tough to cover in the slot and is ready to put up even more significant numbers this year.

    He came nine yards short of a 1,000-yard season in 2023, but that appears within reach this year. In his four seasons with the Cowboys, he’s caught 225 passes for 2,548 yards and 16 touchdowns, and he could finish his career on another high note.

    2) Collin Oliver, LB

    When Collin Oliver burst onto the scene his freshman year, everyone expected the Cowboys to have a mainstay on the edge of their defense. The coaching staff clearly saw something and initiated a position change to linebacker, which was met with excitement but also questions. Oliver handled it in stride.

    His first season at the position was tough, but he hit his stride last year. He also figured out how to be just as disruptive as he was when he played on the edge, and now the staff can be excited about what he can do for them in 2024.

    Oliver’s already produced 130 tackles, 38.5 tackles for loss, and 21.5 sacks, so teams account for him in their gameplan. Even if he doesn’t produce like he has in the past, his presence opens up the field for those around him, making it easier for his teammates to make plays.

    1) Ollie Gordon II, RB

    College football’s reigning Doak Walker Award winner is back to thrash the Big 12 once again, but it will be tough to recreate last year’s production. A combination of teams scheming against him, plus a passing attack that should be improved, may inhibit his opportunities to repeat his gaudy production. Still, those things don’t diminish his value.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Big 12 RB Rankings

    Gordon’s a physical runner who’s not exactly a joy to tackle. He ran the ball 285 times last year for 1,732 yards and 21 touchdowns, and he’ll run behind an offensive line that should open up plenty of running room for him again this year.

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