A huge number of factors go into the success of any football team, but mostly it comes down to players. In this series, we will be examining 25 of them in a reverse-order look at the players most crucial to the success of the 2007 Oklahoma State season.
This is not, however, a list of the best players on the team. Rather, this series takes into consideration the importance of a given position on the team, depth issues, experience and inexperience, and the historic strengths and weaknesses of Mike Gundy's program. The results, therefore, may surprise many readers, and will hopefully spur spirited discussion and debate.
Jacob Lacey: There might not be a player on the Oklahoma State roster that faced more ups and downs than cornerback Jacob Lacey.
He did more to change his body in the 2005-06 offseason than about 90% of his teammates. His additional musculature was readily apparent and he used it to his advantage in pre-season drills and the early part of the '06 season. By the time Big 12 Conference play rolled around, opponents were starting to pick on Lacey a bit and fans wondered how soon true freshman Perrish Cox would take Lacey's field corner spot from him. That never happened, but is still a question as the Cowboys prepare to enter fall drills for the 2007 season.
The answer to that question will have far-reaching implications for the Cowboy defense that's looking to remake itself under new coordinator Tim Beckman.
The ideal answer is probably that Lacey would step up and clearly re-secure his starting spot, and free up Cox to focus on his duties as a return man along with being the OSU nickel back (and perhaps playing some offense as well?). If it goes the other way and Cox wins the field corner job, Lacey would immediately become the favorite to take over as the nickel back.
One thing is clear – if the Cowboys are to make the jump into the top 40 defenses in the nation, not having a corner that quarterbacks can pick on is a key step.