Hopes for the 2011 season grew by leaps and bounds today after the news that two key cogs of the high-flying Oklahoma State offense will be returning.
Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden are staying in their saddles, as both players held a joint news conference today to announce their intentions of remaining in Stillwater next season and delaying a transition to the NFL.
"I'm very excited about coming back for my senior year," Weeden said. "It's a chance to finish what we started this season and another great opportunity to play at Oklahoma State."
The news is exciting for fans in Orange Country, as prospects of a Cowboy offense without either or both players next year was scary to say the least.
But no worries on this front, as both will be back.
With the allure of big-money as early as this spring, both players had to think seriously about their options. Go pro and take your chances there, or stay in Payne Co., gain another year of experience and another year of stats for your draft resume.
In the end, staying was the option both made.
"It can only make you better coming back," Blackmon said. "I can improve throughout next year with the coaching and the strength and conditioning staff we have here. They can get me better and try to get me to my full potential."
Both players seem to already have the tools needed to have potential on the next level, but both were admittedly in positions of being "one-year wonders." Neither were big parts of the 2009 campaign for OSU and that meant pro scouts and franchises only had this past season as a guide for both players. Another solid year in 2011 will give them two years, which is a much better indicator in the eyes of the NFL.
"I like the way they went about the process," said OSU head coach Mike Gundy. "They did their homework and talked to the people that are important to them.
"It goes without saying that we are excited to have them back. Their play on the field speaks for itself. More importantly, they are the type of people you want in your locker room."
And that amazing West End Zone locker room will have the names "Blackmon" and "Weeden" adorned on it for one more season. That's great for the offense, which is already currently searching for a new offensive coordinator for Dana Holgorsen, who is off to the country roads of West Virginia. Losing all three going into next season could have meant a major rebuild for Gundy and Co.
Both players thrived under Holgorsen's offense and the stats reflect that. Blackmon made 111 catches for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns. His efforts on the field led to him receiving the Biletnikoff Award and helped OSU fans to forget a little bit about Dez Bryant riding off to those other Cowboys down south. As for Weeden, the former third-stringer and hero of the Colorado game in 2009 landed the top spot heading into the season and made the most of the situation. The Edmond product excelled on the field, completing 342 out of 511 passes (66.7 percent) for 4,277 yards and 34 touchdowns (13 interceptions).
And while the search for an offensive coordinator continues, whoever is named to that spot will have two powerful weapons at his disposal in the form of Blackmon and Weeden.