The Oklahoma State Cowboys ended their 2013-14 season in disappointing fashion, losing their last two games to finish the year at 10-3 overall. To add insult to injury, one of those two losses came against the hated Oklahoma Sooners in a game that, had OSU won, would have given the Pokes the Big 12 Championship.
However, even with the sting of those recent losses still in the hearts of Cowboys fans, the New Year brings with it new possibility.
Oklahoma State loses quite a few guys on both sides of the ball, but we're focusing on offense and the five players who could step up this offseason to become solid contributors in 2014-15. Given that most recruits are not yet on campus, this list will mostly stray away from incoming freshmen—that being said, there is one young man who needs to be mentioned.
Check back later in the week for the five defensive players to keep an eye on. For now, let's look at these five potential offensive studs.
As mentioned, one incoming freshman has to be recognized when talking about Oklahoma State this spring—Mason Rudolph.
Hopefully, J.W. Walsh will come in with an improved arm and put to rest any doubt that he will be the starter in the season opener.
However, if he doesn't, you can rest assured that Rudolph will be waiting to show everyone what he can do.
The young signal-caller ran a similar Air Raid offense during his high school career and is coming off a senior season that saw him put up 80 total touchdowns to just eight interceptions.
With numbers like that, this spring is shaping up to be an intriguing battle between two young quarterbacks.
Oklahoma State is losing quite a few playmakers at the wideout position—Josh Stewart, Tracy Moore, Charlie Moore and Blake Jackson are all gone.
That leaves a void at multiple positions for young guys to step up and become key cogs in the 2014-15 season.
Jhajuan Seales arguably has the inside track to becoming the team's best outside receiver after a solid redshirt freshman campaign that saw him catch a touchdown pass in each of his last two games.
Look for him to play a similar role to the one Tracy and Charlie Moore have played in the past few seasons: lining up out wide and making big plays down the field.
Another couple of names to watch for are Austin Hays, who will be coming back from an injury that saw him miss most of last year, and Brandon Sheperd, who has shown flashes of the talent that made him a prep star but has yet to consistently put it together at the next level.
Admittedly, Jeremy Seaton is mostly here because he'll be replacing veteran back Kye Staley, one of the Cowboys' most underrated players over the last few years.
Additionally, it's not like the fullback position is overly important for the Pokes, but fans can attest to the many times that Staley made big plays on the goal line to get Oklahoma State crucial touchdowns.
Seaton might not possess the same experience Staley had in the role, but he is a mountain of a man. He tips the scales at 250 pounds to go along with his 6'2" frame.
Look for him to thrive in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Coming into the 2013 season, Devin Davis was pegged to be the Day 1 starter at left tackle for the Cowboys. The young lineman looked to be a cornerstone of a talented line, but it wasn't to be.
Unfortunately, he was injured just before the season started and missed the entire year.
It took some time for the Pokes to recover, as Joe Wickline's boys struggled over the first few weeks of the season before finally settling in around the start of league play.
It is imperative that Davis show his stuff this spring to alleviate some of the concern that Cowboys fans have after seeing longtime offensive line coach Joe Wickline leave to coach at Texas.
On top of that, OSU lost its best lineman in Parker Graham, which makes Davis' recovery one of the more important ones of the offseason.
As mentioned earlier, the Oklahoma State Cowboys are losing quite a few key players in their wide receiver corps; however, Marcell Ateman will be replacing a guy that the Cowboys actually did without for most of last year.
Inside receiver Blake Jackson sat out with an injury most of last year, which gave a chance for young guys like Ateman to get early playing time that they might not have seen otherwise.
That could be key as Ateman attempts to take the next step as a playmaker in Oklahoma State's scheme and, considering his 6'4" frame and speed, it makes sense to have him racing down the seam for big gains like Jackson did so many times two years ago.
Of course, OSU fans hope he doesn't have quite as many drops as the guy he's replacing.
In the end, this spring is set up to be very interesting for Oklahoma State fans, as the coaching staff tries to replace significant starters on both sides of the ball.
Don't forget to check back later in the week for the defensive side of this list.