STILLWATER, Okla. - The Oklahoma State football team practiced for approximately two hours in warm conditions on the Boone Pickens Stadium turf dressed in shorts with no pads on Wednesday.
Second-year running backs coach Jemal Singleton provided a breakdown of his pupils, led by returning all-Big 12 performer Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith. The duo combined to rush 299 times for 1,862 yards with 33 touchdowns last season. Singleton's comments:
On what a successful spring would look like for the running backs:
"I'm looking for guys to make the most of their opportunity to get better every day and for us to finish the spring where we are in a much better position than we were in to start. I'd like to see guys get stronger and be more mentally aware with a sense of exactly what we're trying to get accomplished on every play - just being students of the game. I'd like to see the running backs get more football smart this spring."
On the strengths of Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith:
"It's a pretty unique situation where we have two backs that are really polar opposites in a lot of their skill traits. I consider Joseph Randle as more of a slasher-type runner - even his body structure, he's a longer, leader type of guy. Jeremy Smith is a more explosive type of back, especially in short-yardage situations. He's very quick with a low center of gravity. Joseph is definitely a threat as a receiver as well. Jeremy needs to work on his receiving skills more. They're very unique and a great change of pace in terms of some of the things that they're good at. With two guys like that, I really have a 1a and 1b. I've got two backs who if they were at different places, they'd probably be starters. We're lucky that we've got those two here."
On his most pleasant surprise about the running backs since joining the staff:
"Their growth. They were young. Both of them had played as freshmen, but they were still young. Seeing their football knowledge grow - just basic stuff like the fundamentals of football. It's been good to see that they're willing to do that. They're trying to learn more of the football side of it, not just `hey, I'm a running back, I run the football.' They're learning how schemes are involved. They're learning how protections are involved. I've been impressed that they're willing to step out of their comfort zone and continue to learn."
On his relationship with the running backs:
"It's a process for a coach and player relationship to develop. The most important thing is building trust. There's not a whole lot that a young man is going to do for you until he trusts you. That's a process from the first day until whenever. We're still getting to know each other and our personalities and what is going to click. That is part of coaching - how to inspire someone and how to motivate someone in a way that touches them."
On his perception of the OSU program before joining it versus the reality of it now that he's been on staff for a year:
"I knew about Oklahoma State before coming here. I knew this was a program that won and had facilities, great support and all of that. I had always heard that Oklahoma State fans are great fans, they're supportive and they've been around for the good years and the down years. After being here for a year, I've seen that this is a fan base that is all-in. They're not just around when things are going well. I really got that feeling from the community and from Oklahoma State supporters. It's been nice getting to know the area and the people involved in the program."