The past three seasons Oklahoma State running back Jeremy Smith watched as Joseph Randle developed from a relatively unknown to the star of the Cowboys’ offense.
But with Randle bolting for the NFL Draft, Smith has gone from running back 1B to the solidified No. 1 starter on the Cowboys depth chart.
“I am pretty happy,” Smith said. “It’s my time to shine now. I pretty much just have to make sure that I’m pretty in tune with the line and the coaches so I can have a pretty successful season.”
“Jeremy has been really good for us,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “He’s been a leader, he’s developed into a team player the last couple of years and we’re very comfortable with him. Obviously, he and Joseph shared the role for the last couple of years, but from this point on he’s the guy.”
Randle’s absence may mean a larger role for the senior from Tulsa Union, but it isn’t like this will be Smith’s first time in the backfield at Boone Pickens Stadium. During his sophomore season Smith shared time with Randle rushing for 646 yards and nine touchdowns.
“We’ve been in this situation before and obviously we’ll be in it in the future,” Gundy said. “But the program, the offense and the system – everything that we have set up – will provide and give those guys an opportunity to have success.”
The offense may give Smith a chance to excel in the starting role, but Smith has also taken it upon himself to try to fill both roles this season.
“You always have goals when you come into a season,” Smith said. “I have to write my goals down, post them to my wall or in my locker. That’s just something I do every offseason and during the season.
“My goals pretty much are just keep my starting job, make sure that I’m being that leader for our group,” Smith said. “Making sure that everybody’s here on time, working hard and stuff like that. I also want to keep pushing myself to be better.”
One of the biggest differences for Smith this season? He’s trying to be more effective out of the backfield when it comes to Oklahoma State’s pass-happy offense.
“(Catching passes) is always something to work on because it really helps your game,” Smith said. “It makes you more of a dual threat running back. It’s always important every year.”
But Smith isn’t the only one hoping to make an impact for the Cowboys this season in the backfield. Guys like Desmond Roland and Caleb Muncrief are starting to develop larger roles, sliding into the spot Smith occupied last season.
“Desmond is growing and getting better each and every day,” Smith said. “He’s becoming more of a leader, too. That’s just the best thing about him. … Young Caleb is coming along.”
Even so, Smith knows that when the Cowboys take the field against Mississippi State all eyes will be on him. But after three years of waiting, he says he doesn’t feel like there’s as much pressure to become the next great back at a school that has been known as Running Back U.
“There’s not really more pressure,” Smith said. “We both have our own different running styles. He did what he had to do and now it’s my time.”