Oklahoma State’s defense loses a good chunk of its production from last season heading into the 2018 season
Younger players are going to be forced to step up, and the Cowboys aren’t short on promising talent.
A presumably revamped defense, led by new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, should have Oklahoma State fans excited for this season. There might be a few growing pains along the way, but a few players that got their feet wet last season might be ready to make the jump into leadership roles.
Here are three Oklahoma State defensive players to watch out for this season.
DT Enoch Smith Jr.
The loss of DeQuinton Osborne will leave a huge hole along Oklahoma State’s defensive line. Osborne led the Cowboys in tackles for loss and sacks in 2017, which could leave the door open for someone like Enoch Smith Jr. to step in and make up for Osborne’s production. Smith showed a few flashes in 2017, and the senior could be ready to become a leader for the Cowboys defense.
Smith was one of the top defensive tackle prospects out of high school and started his career at Michigan State, where he played his first two seasons. The 6-foot-2, 236-pound Smith spent a year at a junior college before transferring to Oklahoma State. This could be Smith’s year to truly shine.
LB Amen Ogbongbemiga
Like Smith, Amen Ogbongbemiga will have some big shoes to fill. Chad Whitener was a difference maker for the Cowboys at linebacker last season with 76 total tackles, 6½ for loss, and also had 2 interceptions. If the sophomore can take Whitener’s vacant spot, he’ll have ample opportunity to rack up the statistics as well.
As crucial of a role linebackers play in Big 12 defensive schemes, Oklahoma State needs a capable player ready to step up from Week 1. Ogbongbemiga will have some stiff competition for the starting job, but his experience in 2017 should serve him well.
S Thabo Mwaniki
Sophomore Thabo Mwaniki is one of several defensive backs that will try to change the narrative for the Cowboys’ defense in 2018. Mwaniki had 22 tackles and 1 interception last season.
He has the makings of a promising defensive back for the Cowboys, and he should be one of the top candidates to get plenty of early playing time after he established himself last season. As a freshman, Mwaniki was thrown into the fire in a lot of situations. If he can add some more weight, that experience and another offseason should go a long way in his development.
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