Every college football team has players that it can’t live without, and the Oklahoma State Cowboys will be no exception in 2012.
Although they lost their two best players to the NFL, the Cowboys still have plenty of other playmakers whom they are counting on. Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon are gone, and these will be the guys who step in and take over for them.
Here are the five players the Cowboys can't live without next season.
Joseph Randle has some big expectations to live up to. In his sophomore season, he rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 24 touchdowns. Now, he's expected to do just as well, or better, in the absence of Weeden and Blackmon.
The Wichita, Kan., product will be a year older and a year better in 2012. He'll have the same old cuts, speed and strength, hopefully combined with improved ball security. He's a lock for All-Big 12 first team and has a good shot at being an All-American.
The Cowboy receiving corps is going to be pretty green next season, which is why Tracy Moore is so important to his team.
Moore, the most experienced wide receiver on the team, will move to the outside receiver position. He'll probably be getting most of the balls that went to Blackmon last year because he knows the offense better than any of the other receivers.
He has good hands and a big body that he knows how to use. He must be a difference-maker from Day 1 for this Cowboy team to succeed.
A safety from Midwest City, Okla., Daytawion Lowe led the Oklahoma State defense last year with 97 tackles as a sophomore. After the departure of star free safety Markelle Martin to the NFL, Lowe is ready to shine as the leader of the Cowboy secondary.
He's a hard-hitting safety who complements the rest of the turnover-creating defense extremely well. His ability to intimidate opposing players will come in handy next season.
A senior this season, Brodrick Brown may be small, but he's a feisty defender who has a nose for the football when it is in the air. He's a big part of why the Cowboy defense led the nation in forcing turnovers.
Brown was third in the nation in passes defended per game and ranked second in the Big 12 in interceptions. A playmaker like Brown is a good thing to have, and his play will be a big part of this defense's success.
To let you know how good Justin Gilbert is, he did intercept the best quarterback in college football—Stanford's Andrew Luck—in the Fiesta Bowl. Gilbert is a taller, athletic corner who is a difficult task for any wide receiver in college football.
He also is a great returner and will make a big impact on the Cowboys in that way in 2012. Winning the Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP was just the beginning for this playmaker.