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Scouting ahead: Linebackers

60th AutoZone Liberty Bowl OSU vs Mizzou-6776.jpg

OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles coaches his unit during the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee on Dec. 31, 2018.

After losing two key linebackers from last year’s team in Justin Phillips and Kenneth Edison-McGruder, the Oklahoma State football team will have to replace their production and leadership on the field.

Oklahoma State has two returning linebackers in senior Calvin Bundage and redshirt junior Devin Harper. Behind them, there are questions at the position of who can emerge as a reliable option for linebacker coach Jim Knowles.

During the 2018 season, Bundage played in 11 games, missing some time due to injury. Bundage logged 62 tackles, eight tackles for loss and had four quarterback hurries. Bundage is a good pass rusher off the edge and can get to the quarterback. One thing he will need to cut down on is the amount of penalties. 

In 2018, Devin Harper was a solid player for the Cowboys. Harper had 44 tackles, five tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in 13 games. 

Two players who played in a lot of games and have to step up are redshirt junior Amen Ogbongbemiga and redshirt senior Kevin Henry.

Last year Ogbonbemiga played in all 13 games but only had 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. His experience will be valuable for this year’s team as he will have to play more and be a viable backup to either Bundage or Harper.

Henry has been battling injuries in his time at Oklahoma State, but he feels good about the upcoming 2019 season.

"I'm definitely ready to play with the guys,” said Henry during the spring. “It's been a minute since I've been 100 (percent) but I feel great to be out there with them."

Henry saw a lot of action in 2018 and had 10 tackles.

One player who transitioned to linebacker for 2019 was former wide receiver LC Greenwood. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact he will have as he does not have experience at the linebacker position.

After redshirting as a freshman during the 2018 campaign, Blake Barron could also emerge to back up Bundage or Harper. Barron had a solid high school career in Texas and was the no. 25 linebacker in the 2018 recruiting rankings by Rivals and ESPN. Barron has the ability to be quick off the edge and get to the quarterback like he did as a senior in high school.

OSU’s depth at the linebacker position has its question marks going into the 2019 season, but has the potential to be good if it can get solid play from its relatively unproven reserves.

sports.ed@ocolly.com