Defensive back Lyndell Johnson, a rising senior who was expected to start at safety in 2014, is reportedly no longer a member of the Oklahoma State football team, according to sources close to the program who spoke with Kelly Hines of the Tulsa World.
Absent from a position-by-position breakdown of Oklahoma State's 2014 roster posted Monday morning on the team's website is senior safety Lyndell Johnson.
Multiple sources close to the program told the Tulsa World that Johnson is no longer a member of the team. A team spokesman said coach Mike Gundy will address Johnson's status at a spring-previewing news conference at noon Monday.
Johnson transitioned from linebacker to safety in 2013, not cracking the full-strength starting lineup but playing an important role as a reserve. He finished fifth on the team with 54 tackles and made three starts when Shamiel Gary was out with an injury, coming on late and playing his best football toward the end of the year.
In this important role, Johnson helped Oklahoma State field the strongest defense in Mike Gundy's head coaching tenure and one of the best in all of college football.
The Cowboys, a team that has traditionally won with offense, placed sixth behind just Florida State, Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Stanford and USC in the Football Outsiders defensive F/+ ratings last season.
By this metric, it would have been the best defense in the SEC.
In 2014, Johnson was expected to play an even bigger role and help Oklahoma State survive the losses of Gary, Thorpe Award finalist Justin Gilbert, defensive tackle Calvin Barnett and defensive backs Daytawion Lowe and Zack Craig.
Now, however, the Cowboys are dangerously thin. According to Hines, senior Larry Stephens and sophomores Deric Robertson and Jordan Sterns are the leading candidates to start in Johnson's spot.
Stephens suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1 of last season, while Robertson and Sterns combined to make 17 tackles in limited roles.
Gundy is expected to address the report during a press conference on Monday. We'll keep you updated if and when he does.