One of the pitfalls of Oklahoma State having such a deep stable of talented wide receivers, is somebody is ultimately going to be left out of the mix.
Redshirt sophomore Tyrell Alexander picked up on this and did something that would not only benefit him, but also his team.
After seeing limited playing time in six games last season – with the highlight being a 56-yard catch from Taylor Cornelius in the fourth quarter of the blowout against Kansas – Alexander wanted to make a move.
Now instead of trying to beat defensive backs, he’s joining them.
Alexander has shifted to the other side of the ball to help Oklahoma State with its cornerback depth – a situation Mike Gundy has stressed about dating back to even last year.
“It’s been tough because at receiver, you obviously know where you’re going but at DB you are more reacting. But he’s made strides,” Cowboy cornerbacks coach Tim Duffie said. “I look over there and see a kid that is wanting to play, but at the same time I see a kid that realizes what his role is and understands it’s a developmental process for him.”
OSU wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn added, “For us, he was in limbo of being that third receiver. He’s a good kid and has great speed, with that short-area quickness, so we all talked and felt it might be a good opportunity for him to slide over and see what he could do on the dark side.”
Being versatile is nothing new for Alexander.
At high school in Lancaster, Texas, Alexander – who also received offers from Oregon, Arkansas, Tennessee and Arizona State – spent time as a dual-threat quarterback his junior year, before shifting to wide receiver as a senior. His athleticism made him a candidate for working both sides of the ball when his team needed him most.
“In high school, I played a little bit (of cornerback) throughout the playoffs and actually got recruited a little bit for corner, so I have a little bit of experience from high school,” Alexander said.
The cornerback position at Oklahoma State has just four upperclassmen – thanks to the addition of Texas A&M graduate transfer Kemah Siverand, who has two years of eligibility remaining. Junior A.J. Green, who started last season, is the most experienced of that lot with redshirt juniors Bryce Balous and Bryce Brown seeing most of their action in special teams.
“A.J. and Rodarius have been there really helping me out. A.J. lives like 15 minutes from me back at home this summer, so we worked out a lot,” Alexander said.
But it hasn’t just been current Cowboys that have helped him make the move.
Alexander has had the benefit of an NFL cornerback to prepare him for his new position.
Lenzy Pipkins, who was a graduate transfer for the Cowboys in 2016 after three years at Louisiana-Monroe, played in 12 games for the Green Bay Packers as a rookie last season as a rookie free agent. A native of Arlington, Texas, he joined his former Cowboy teammates during summer workouts.
“Pipkins has helped giving me some techniques and giving me some drills to do. I worked out a little with him while we were back at home, so we all worked out together,” Alexander said.
The biggest adjustment for Lancaster, Texas, native has been learning not only his role in the secondary, but that of all five defensive backs in the new 4-2-5 defensive scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles.
“The toughest transition has just been understanding the position, learning coverages and understanding what everybody else is doing outside of my role on the field,” Alexander said. “Everything else has been pretty good. I still need to work on my technique and polish up that really.”