Two key 2013 contributors reportedly won't be around to contribute for Oklahoma State in 2014.
Citing "multiple sources close to the program" and his absence from this position-by-position breakdown of the 2014 roster posted on the Cowboys' official site, The Tulsa World reported Monday that Oklahoma State senior safety Lyndell Johnson "is no longer a member of the team." Johnson appeared in all 13 Cowboy games in 2013 and was the team's fifth-leading tackler in 2013 with 54 stops.
Mike Gundy confirmed later Monday that not only is Johnson gone, but center Jake Jenkins -- who started every game for the Cowboys in 2013 -- has earned his degree and is leaving the team to pursue his post-football career.
Johnson started three games in 2013 after moving from linebacker to the defensive backfield, and was expected to take over a full-time starting position in 2014 after the departures of seniors Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary. But this is how the Cowboy site described the team's spring situation at safety:
OSU lost a combined 62 career starts with the departure of safeties Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary after the 2013 season. Sophomores Deric Robertson and Jordan Sterns are the two most likely candidates to get first dibs at the vacated starting spots, with senior Larry Stephens also in position to get a look. Stephens was pegged to be in the playing time rotation a year ago before he sustained a season-ending injury in week one.
Between Robertson, Sterns and Stephens, Gundy will no doubt say that the Cowboys have no shortage of qualified candidates to take over for Lowe and Gary. But the fact remains that Johnson might have been the most qualified candidate, and that in the pass-happy Big 12, his absence may be keenly felt before the year is out -- as may be the experienced Jenkins'.