Substitutes play an important role in football because, well, isn’t that obvious? Football is a violent sport! Mini car crashes happen every game! The odds of a starter falling off at any time are quite high. This only increases the importance of having good depth.
This is why having backups – and quality backups – is the key to success. Often the best teams aren’t the ones with the best starters, but the best ones with the most proficient two-deep board. Starters can sometimes only take you so far. (Cardale Jones at Ohio State is a prime example. So is Tua at Alabama, casually going from bench player to title winner in a championship game. Who sits behind the starter is often The key to success.)
It’s not just the quarterback either. When a receiver, running back, or offensive lineman breaks down, having someone who can fill the starter role with little to no loss of talent is critical.
So who are OSU’s most important backups in 2022?
Well, here are my picks, in no particular order.
1. Na’Drian Dizadare
It’s a blind pick for whoever is second on the depth chart in place of the No. 1 linebacker who will replace Malcolm Rodriguez. Former Texas Tech star Xavier Benson is expected to take over from Rodriguez in the middle with Dizadare, Nick Martin and Jeff Roberson all in the mix to star in it (or as Devin Harper) as well. Rodriguez’s impact last season was so big because of his intelligence and his ability to read the covers and then execute them, so taking that away from Benson – and his potential backup – will be key to preventing a fall on D this year.
2. Jean-Paul Richardson
Yes, out of the slot it will be Brennan Presley for Oklahoma State. But don’t dare overlook the quality of John Paul Richardson. Camp’s reviews – and it really goes back to last season – are impeccable. People around Stillwater love his game. Renowned playmaker.
3. De’Kelvion Radius
He’s a bit of an off-the-radar pick — Beamon only played one game last season with OSU — but he has major potential to be a long-term contributor. The redshirt freshman was a young cannon last season after being reclassified, so the goal was always for him to gain experience and grow in the training program, and now he is. got to the point where he should be considered a corner factor. Love its potential.
4. Gunnar Gundy
With QB Garret Rangel still just a proper freshman, I expect Gunnar Gundy, Mike Gundy’s son, to have the inside lane as things pan out now to earn the QB2 spot behind Spencer Sanders. Sanders has missed at least one game every season he has been the starter, so Gunnar’s abilities are very important not only as a depth play but as a potential replacement. The system will change when he’s in it – he’s not as mobile as Sanders (who is, though?) – but he has a strong arm, knows the system very well and can be a game manager safely and with skill.
5, 6, 7 and 8. Ollie Gordon, Deondre Jackson, CJ Brown, Jaden Nixon
With Dominic Richardson likely entrenched as a leader in an expected committee, who gets behind him in this position group is key. Mike Gundy has repeatedly pointed out this offseason that they intend to spread, so Richardson can get the first dibs, but they’re unlikely to drive him like a real workhorse. However, this whole group of positions behind him is both young and inexperienced. Nixon and Jackson (the former transfer from Texas A&M) have a combined career of five runs; Brown and Gordon are real beginners.