Oklahoma State Football: 8 2014 Breakout Candidates
With spring practices concluding on April 11, now is the time to look back over the last few weeks and try to get an idea of which Oklahoma State players are going to become impact players this fall.
It's still very early in the process; however, through just 15 practices, players have started to emerge on both sides of the ball that look like breakout candidates for 2014.
Who are the eight players that could see themselves become the next stars at Oklahoma State? Read on to find out.
Brandon Sheperd, WR
Before we begin, I'd like to say there are quite a few offensive players that might become breakout candidates. That's what happens when you have so many young and talented skill position players.
In fact, I would not be surprised to see someone like Rennie Childs or Austin Hays be the best player at their position this fall.
With that said, I'm giving this first spot to Brandon Sheperd.
He's an incredibly driven and motivated young man who lives and breathes football. He possesses the talent of a former top-10 recruit at his position. Oh, and he might have the biggest hands in football.
This could be the season Sheperd finally puts it all together. That isn't to say he's going to be the best player on Oklahoma State's team, but I think he forms a dynamic outside combo with another player on this list, giving the Pokes a lethal one-two punch outside the numbers.
Look for Sheperd to be an incredible red-zone weapon with the ability to stretch the defense whenever his number is called.
Kevin Peterson, CB
On the defensive side of the ball, things are a little more difficult to read. So many of these players have little to no experience at this level, making it tougher to pick who's going to get playing time, let alone who's going to be a stud.
That said, a few guys have shown enough this spring to lock up a starting spot and put their name forward as a potential star in the making.
One of those guys is Kevin Peterson.
Peterson is the lone returning starter in Oklahoma State's secondary. That means he has to become a leader in 2014 and get the young players around him up to speed in a hurry.
Peterson has not disappointed this spring. He's been talked about constantly and has routinely made big-time plays for the young defense.
Don't be surprised to see Peterson take over the mantle from Justin Gilbert and become a shutdown cornerback over the 2014 season.
Tyreek Hill, RB
Tyreek "the Freek" Hill will probably go down as the most interesting man of Oklahoma State's 2014 spring.
Hill is undoubtedly the fastest player on the field every time he steps out and backs up that speed with the ability to play multiple positions for the Pokes.
It's going to be interesting to see how Oklahoma State uses its new weapon. During the spring he lined up in the slot and in the backfield almost equally, making it tough to tell exactly what it wants to do with him.
That said, it's obvious they're going to use him. A lot.
You can't let talent like that sit on the sideline, and I would expect to see Hill get as many touches as possible this fall. Don't be surprised if Hill leads the team (and maybe the conference) in all-purpose yards in his first season as a Cowboy.
Ryan Simmons, LB
Much like Kevin Peterson, Ryan Simmons is the only returning starter at linebacker for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
That makes him the de facto leader at the position and, if the coaches have their way, he'll lead the entire defense as well.
This spring, Simmons took over defensive play-calling duties from graduating senior Caleb Lavey, thus becoming the coach on the field for the young Pokes defense.
Simmons is going to have to be a steady presence for a linebacking corps that is replacing two all-time greats in Lavey and Shaun Lewis.
Blake Webb, WR
Tyreek Hill might have the distinction of fastest player on the team on lockdown, but Blake Webb might just be the Cowboys' second-fastest player.
Webb is coming off an injury that derailed a sophomore season that was looking like a solid follow-up to a quality freshman campaign. However, Webb suffered a nasty foot injury during a Monday practice last season that saw his season cut short after just two games.
Now, Webb is back and claims to be faster than ever. He has been turning heads all spring and exploded with an outstanding performance at the Orange Blitz.
Given his speed and ability to run after the catch, don't be surprised if Webb makes a bid to replace Josh Stewart at slot receiver in 2014.
Ashton Lampkin, CB
Kevin Peterson might be the captain of the defensive secondary; however, every great captain needs a lieutenant to back them up.
Enter Ashton Lampkin.
Lampkin didn't see the field as much as Peterson in 2013, but he did become a contributor for Oklahoma State last year. Now, he'll have to step up and become the starting corner opposite Peterson.
So far, it looks like he's up for the increased role and should help give the Pokes a couple of young, lockdown corners on the outside.
Jhajuan Seales, WR
If anybody on the Oklahoma State Cowboys' offense is going to become a star in 2014, it's going to be Jhajuan Seales.
Seales started as freshman last year and put up more than respectable numbers given the quality of upperclassmen around him.
Now, Josh Stewart, Tracy Moore, and Charlie Moore are all gone, opening up the field for the talented, young Seales.
If Seales doesn't become the go-to receiver for whoever starts at quarterback (I'm still betting on J.W. Walsh), I would be very surprised. He's simply too good to not be the team's No. 1.
The sky's the limit for Seales. Look for him to become one of the Big 12's best wideouts in 2014.
Jimmy Bean, DE
If Jhajuan Seales is the most likely breakout stud on the offensive side of the ball, then Jimmy Bean has to hold that distinction on defense.
Bean was a key contributor during the entirety of 2013, but he saved his best for last. He went for an impressive seven tackles and a sack in Oklahoma State's bowl game against the Missouri Tigers.
That's the kind of production I would expect from Bean during the entire 2014 season.
He's been drawing rave reviews all spring, seemingly building upon his excellent end-of-season performance against Mizzou.
Mike Gundy is already calling this defensive line potentially better than last year's (which is impressive considering the talent they lost, namely Calvin Barnett) and a big part of that has to do with Bean and the defensive ends.
Look for Bean to live up his coach's expectations and have an outstanding 2014 season.