The Big 12 has been known for their electric offenses for as we can remember. Last season alone, 7 out of the 10 teams in the conference averaged more than 30 points per game. Since the turn of the century, the Big 12 has been synonymous with offensive shootouts for Football games. The 2020 Oklahoma State Defense is here to put a stop to that.
Coming into this season, offensive star prospects Tylan Wallace and Chubba Hubbard returned to Stillwater for the 2020 season. Their decisions to forgo the 2020 NFL Draft stole the spotlight this offseason for the Cowboys. Once the season began, this Oklahoma State defense has proven captured the spotlight this season.
The Oklahoma State defense has only allowed 12 points per game this season. That is a 16 point improvement from the season before, and they have faced stiff competition thus far. Taking on one of the best teams in the American conference Tulsa, a respectable West Virginia squad, conference foe Kansas, and most recently 17th ranked Iowa State. They went on and stifled potential NFL prospects such as Pooka Williams Jr. and NFL 2021 Big Board member Brock Purdy.
Starting with their defensive line, of all NCAA power 5 programs they were the third rated unit this past week, and were fourth the week before that. For reference, take note of their five sack performance against West Virginia earlier this season to show how they can torture opposing Quarterbacks. Marshall Levinson of PFF Pokes’ Report wrote on them, “What makes this defensive line so good is that pass rushers are among the best in the nation in pass rushing and the run defenders are among the best in the nation in run defense.”
Their secondary has also been lights out for them as well. They have only allowed 176 passing yards per game thus far this season. Through four games, they have only allowed 3 passing touchdowns. They also are first in the entire NCAA through four games of the least amount of 10+ and 20+ yard plays allowed this season. The relationship of great defensive line play and lockdown secondary play is alive and well in Stillwater. That combination is key to success for this Oklahoma State defense.
Rodarius Williams, Cornerback, Senior
Rodarius Williams is a former 3-star prospect by way of Shreveport, Louisiana. Rodarius is the younger brother of Greedy Williams who is currently on the Cleveland Browns. His play so far this season will have him playing on Sundays with his brother. Williams has seemingly come into his role as a true leader on this Oklahoma State defense, and as one of best defensive backs in the country. Only 4 games into the season, Williams has already received PFF Defensive Player of the Week honors. In his first 72 coverage snaps, he did not allow a single yard when tested. If he can keep playing at this level, be ready to hear his name get called early at the 2021 NFL Draft.
Jarrick Bernard-Converse, Cornerback, Junior
Jarrick Bernard-Converse is the opposite outside corner to rising prospect Rodarius Williams. A junior, this is Bernard-Converse’s first year on manning on outside corner position. Thus far, he is off to an excellent start. The Shreveport, Louisiana native through his first two games this season only allowed 11 passing yards through his first 65 snaps. His play thus far earned Williams and himself a spot on the 2020 PFF College Football Top 10 Cornerback Tandems.
Kolby Harvell-Peel, Safety, Junior
Kolby Harvell-Peel of College Station, Texas is perhaps the biggest playmaker on this defense. The returning All Big-12 Safety is an undoubted leader of this defense. He is coming off of a 71 tackle, 5 interception, 13 pass break up, 2 forced fumble, and 2 recovered fumble performance in 2019. His 89.5 PFF coverage grade for last season was 8th highest in the entire country. He has gotten off to an impressive start this season as well with two interceptions already, including this highlight-reel interception against Iowa State last week. His ability to be a physical presence in the running game and his exception ball skills make him a rare talent. His defensive playmaking ability will continue to be an asset to this Oklahoma State defense this season.
Tre Sterling, Safety, Redshirt-Junior
Tre Sterling was a former 3-star prospect hailing from Sunnyvale, Texas entered into his 2019 season as his first year into a starting role. He took made the most of that opportunity by ending the season with an honorable mention All-Big 12 honors. He is currently the team’s leading tackler with 28 combined tackles on the season. Sterling’s versatility and physicality makes him such a unique and valuable piece of this defense. He can line up and be effective in the box, at slot, or even at free safety makes him so dynamic. As much hype as the cornerbacks have received, the Kolby Harvell-Peel and Tre Sterling safety tandem are equally as vital to this Oklahoma State defense.
Calvin Bundage, Outside Linebacker, Redshirt Senior
The redshirt-senior has been the unquestioned leader of this Oklahoma State defensive line and linebacking core. After missing 2019 due to injury, the Edmond, Oklahoma native has come back with a vengeance thus far in 2020. He currently leads his team and ranks third in the Big 12 in sacks with 3.5. His play in Week 4 earned him a spot on the PFF College Football team of the week. His much improved ability to rush the passer will help build his case to get selected in the 2021 NFL Draft in this year’s deep pass rushing class.