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Oklahoma State Football

Cowboys Breaking into the NFL Coast-to-Coast this Weekend

May 15, 2021

STILLWATER – All of the Oklahoma State rookies in the National Football League got their first indoctrination to the NFL with rookie minicamps, all except Las Vegas Raiders rookie free agent wide receiver. Stoner was in Las Vegas the previous weekend for his rookie minicamp. That meant the first pick out of the Big 12 offensive tackle Teven Jenkins was in Lake Forest at the Bears training facility and all of the others with Chuba Hubbard in Carolina, Tylan Wallace in Baltimore, Rodarius Williams in New Jersey with the Giants. Those are the draft choices, but Amen Ogbongbemiga, Cameron Murray, and Calvin Bundage were in camps too. Ogbongbemiga with the Los Angeles Chargers, Murray in Arizona, and Bundage in Pittsburgh.

In Carolina, Chuba Hubbard looked good and made the minicamp highlight reel with several catches out of the backfield. Former Baylor and now Panthers head coach knew Hubbard well from coaching against him in college. He even talked of how his wife called before the selection and strongly suggested the Panthers take Hubbard.

Brandon Todd - Carolina Panthers
Ammendola is now a Carolina Panther rookie.

Carolina actually has two former Oklahoma State players in their rookie group as kicker Matt Ammendola signed on as a free agent and was in the rookie minicamp this weekend.

Rhule was happy at the Panthers rookie minicamp to be coaching face-to-face again.

"I want you to be able to see my face, I want to see your face, I want to interact," Rhule said he told players. "Our staff, every one of our coaches except for maybe one young guy who is going through the process, we're all vaccinated. And we did it for family reasons, but also because we want to make sure to keep our players safe. For us to now be able to coach with our masks off, be in the building with our masks off, for us to follow the science of the CDC, that makes me feel great."

It could also encourage and speed up learning. That is the focus of the coaches as New York Giants Joe Judge, who could be seen at times taking long looks at his sixth-round selection in Rodarius Williams, talked about the nerves and the learning.

Matthew Swenson - NY Giants
Rodarius Williams is No. 25 for the Giants.

"It's all brand new to them," Judge said. "It's their first day in the National Football League, first time on the grass and first time in our systems and schemes. So really this is an orientation weekend. This isn't a competition weekend. This isn't a situation where we are cutting down the team this weekend. This is just get the guys out there moving on the grass, take a look at them and get a better idea where they are physically.”

Toward that aim of learning the Los Angeles Chargers, where Amen Ogbongbemiga showed up well for what they were doing, went without helmets. Honestly, Ogbongbemiga looked really in good shape and ready for the challenge of making the Chargers. Los Angeles head coach Brandon Staley styled his practices to help get the rookies comfortable.

Ty Nowell - Los Angeles Chargers
Ogbongbemiga was sharp in practice in L.A.

"Just learning how we operate from a meeting standpoint, then going onto the field, 'Hey, where do I line up? Where do we start stretch? Where's my individual? Where's my group period? Special teams?'

All of those things, from a detail and an organization standpoint, we're all new, so making sure that everybody gets into that comfort zone so that they can be as good as they can be,” Staley said. “This is a teaching camp. It's a teaching, learning few days. We're going to get this thing off the ground the right way."

Another Oklahoma State alum trying to make it as a rookie free agent is speedy edge rusher Calvin Bundage. He is wearing 33 in his Pittsburgh Steelers gold defensive jersey. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is enjoying having a chance to work solely with the rookies for a weekend. Something that was cancelled during COVID-19.

Karl Roser - Pittsburgh Steelers
Bundage in drills at the Steelers rookie minicamp.

"We're having a real good weekend," said Tomlin. "We are getting to know the players. The players are getting to know us as individuals, us in terms of some of the things that we hold near and dear, some cultural things. So, from that standpoint, we are really excited."

Outside of Chicago in Lake Forest at the longtime home of the Chicago Bears, Teven Jenkins was featured in their minicamp coverage. Jenkins wearing number 76 said even more than the draft that this experience hit home and he realized that he’s not in Kansas or Stillwater anymore.

"It definitely set in for me when I got on that plane ride," said Jenkins, the Bears second pick and the 39th pick overall in the draft. "That's when it definitely hit me, that's when it hit me the hardest.

"I'd never been to Chicago, Illinois. As soon as I landed, I felt like a tourist because I was looking side-to-side, looking out all the windows like, 'ooh, ahh,' trying to sightsee when I was in the plane and when I got into my car, too,” Jenkins continued. “It hit me hard because it's my dream and I'm just happy to be here."

Chicago Bears
Jenkins in action in Bears minicamp.

Offensive line play in the NFL is rugged and it is a major adjustment from college. Toughness and determination are two qualities that are a must. The Bears highest paid offensive lineman Cody Whitehair has those and it just so happens he was coached at Kansas State by the same coach Jenkins had at Oklahoma State in Charlie Dickey.

"I had a few reach out to me," Jenkins said of the Bears veteran offensive linemen. "The one I've been talking to mostly is ´╗┐Cody Whitehair´╗┐. I've been talking back and forth with him. Basically, he just reached out to see if I need a helping hand or anything, if I need extra help anywhere I can. All I can really say is I really appreciate him, and I really appreciate the things he's doing for me."

Jenkins made it simple what his life is all about.

“Right now I’m just trying to learn everything I can and just absorb (all the) information I can,” he said.

In Baltimore, the Ravens in-house reporters featured Tylan Wallace in some of their rookie minicamp coverage and the focus was on how different the Ravens NFL-style and power run/play-action passing attack is from the spread and up-tempo offense in Stillwater. Actually, pay attention and there are a lot of play action concepts in the Cowboys offense.

Shawn Hubbard - Baltimore Ravens
Wallace (16) competing in Baltimore with safety Brandon Stephens (21) from SMU.

"I think the biggest thing, at least for me, is just the different way they run offense in the NFL," Wallace said. "Obviously, I come from Oklahoma State. We're a big tempo team, one word, go. It's definitely different than getting in a huddle, hearing a play call and getting out there. I'm definitely excited to get in here and learn. The first day wasn't too bad, went pretty good, but I've definitely got a lot of learning to do."

Yes, the delivery is different as Oklahoma State has huddled on offense so seldom. The language is very different too. Wallace told the Ravens media his problem is not studying but realizing when he needs to put the playbook down and take a break.

"The hard part for me is knowing when to actually put the book down," Wallace said. "Yesterday I was really nervous. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing when I got out there."

Ravens reporter Ryan Mink had this to say about Wallace on the Ravens’ website:

“Don't sleep on fourth-round wide receiver Tylan Wallace. It's a big adjustment for him moving around to different spots in the offense after lining up almost exclusively on the right side at Oklahoma State. But Wallace has the suddenness and acceleration in his route-running to create separation, which makes him an interesting slot option. He had a nice diving catch in a situational hurry-up drill late in practice and, like Bateman, shows very reliable hands.”

The goal of all these former Oklahoma State players. Show they fit and can master the NFL, physically and mentally.

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