Oklahoma State Football: 5 Incoming Freshman to Watch in 2014
The Oklahoma State Cowboys ended the 2013 season with two heart-breaking losses and a disappointing 10-3 record.
However, with a week or so to digest the Cotton Bowl loss, fans now have the opportunity to look ahead to 2014 and see which new players will come in and make an impact for the Pokes.
This year's recruiting class might be one of Mike Gundy's best and the five players covered here should make an immediate impact when they take the field next fall.
Tyreek Hill, APB
Outside of the last player on this list, Tyreek Hill is probably the most intriguing player the Oklahoma State Cowboys are bringing in this season.
Hill did it all for his JUCO team and projects to be an outstanding slot receiver for the Pokes.
Considering that Josh Stewart recently announced his decision to go pro, it's highly possible that Hill could see significant playing time from day one.
If nothing else, he should be a phenomenal returner, as he possesses other-worldly speed and solid elusiveness.
All in all, Tyreek Hill is the guy you have to pay attention to this spring.
Gyasi Akem, OLB
Gyasi Akem makes the list because Oklahoma State is losing so many talented players on the defensive side of the ball.
Both Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey graduated, leaving two big holes in the linebacking corps.
Akem will have his work cut out for him, but, given his elite athleticism, he has a chance to be a playmaker right away for the Pokes.
Look for Akem to mostly be used as a pass-rusher early in his career and gain more playing time as he matures and works on his overall technique.
Devon Thomas, RB
Devon Thomas might seem like a strange pick here given that Oklahoma State already has quite a few capable running backs on their roster in Desmond Roland and Rennie Childs.
However, the Pokes do lose two great goal-line backs with Jeremy Smith and Kye Staley graduating, giving Thomas a chance to see the field early in his career.
Thomas comes in at a compact and powerful 5'10" and looks to have the skills needed to make plays in the redzone.
It's unlikely that he'll take serious minutes from Roland or Childs, but the potential is there for him to be a solid goal-line and third down option.
Chris Hardeman, CB
Just like Gyasi Akem, Chris Hardeman has a chance to make an impact because of the numerous players Oklahoma State is losing on the defensive side of the ball.
Star defensive back Justin Gilbert has taken his talents to the NFL and Tyler Patmon graduated, leaving a massive void at the cornerback position.
Additionally, both safeties from last year's team are gone. If it's not obvious, the Pokes need bodies in the defensive backfield.
Hardeman is on the short side (5'9"), so it's unlikely that he could move back to safety; that said, he should be able to step in early and use his physical style of play in nickel situations.
Guys like Ashton Lampkin and Kevin Peterson are going to be the main players at cornerback; however, don't be surprised if Hardeman makes an impact early and often for OSU.
Mason Rudolph, QB
This spring, Mason Rudolph will try to make the case for why he should be the second freshman quarterback to start for Oklahoma State in the past three seasons.
Obviously it will be tough for Rudolph to beat out J.W. Walsh; however, Rudolph's high school team runs the same Air Raid offense the Pokes use, giving him an edge that most freshmen wouldn't have.
That said, it's still way too early to tell if Rudolph can outplay Walsh in spring ball.
All told, it should be a very interesting next few months for Oklahoma State football.
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