As Brock Martin slowly rose from the ground and ambled off the field, the 51,444 fans in attendance as well as the ESPN+ broadcast were all looking at No. 30.
With two injuries at the defensive end position, freshman Collin Oliver was thrust onto the field. On the subsequent play immediately following Martin’s injury, Oliver broke free from his blocker, and stopped Kansas State receiver Phillip Brooks before he could move the chains.
Oliver, a four-star recruit from Edmond, Oklahoma, joined Oklahoma State’s football team in January, and will now be the starting defensive end for the Cowboys.
Coach Mike Gundy said he expects Oliver to succeed from the moment he jumps off the line.
“I like what I’m seeing from him,” Gundy said. “I see a young player that's learning on the run. He seems to be physically tough and mentally tough enough to continue to compete. He's another young man that fits with our culture. I don't ever hear him say anything, he doesn't miss anything, he's always at class, he runs hard, he trains hard and loves to play. He just competes."
Oliver has received the wisdom and teachings from his teammates, which Gundy said he believes will help Oliver on the field.
“Well Brock (Martin) has been good at that forever,” Gundy said. “Trace is good in his own way, and Brock will be more of a resource during the week and on game days.”
Martin will not be sidelined for the rest of the season, and Gundy believes Martin’s toughness will bring him back soon.
“Everybody has a pain tolerance and everybody has a different mental makeup,” Gundy said. “Brock’s is, 'I forget the pain, you tell me I'm okay, I'm gonna go play.' That's who he is. Brock’s injury, which is unbelievably painful, is not an injury that ends his season.”
In the meantime, Oliver will get a majority of the playing time at the LEO position for the Cowboys, and his teammates can not stop gazing at his talent
“He’s strong, athletic, and he’s really big and quick,” linebacker Devin Harper said. “He reminds me of a mixture between Trace (Ford) and Calvin (Bundage), that’s a good mix. He’s just so young and he’s so good. The future is bright for him.”
Gundy believes this is only the beginning for Oliver, who he predicts may become a star for the Cowboys.
“He’s physically mature enough,” Gundy said. “He has a really strong lower body. We think if he pushes hard and continues to work and do all the things we teach him, he can be a really good player.”