Oklahoma State football: Trace Ford's recovery will be key to defensive line in 2021
STILLWATER — Back in mid-December, on the turf of Baylor’s McLane Stadium, one of the scariest moments of the Oklahoma State football season occurred.
Defensive end Trace Ford, one of the Cowboys’ most dynamic defenders, lay on the ground in obvious pain with what turned out to be a serious knee injury. He underwent surgery in the days afterward, and the recovery will be grueling.
Ford’s status will be the biggest question mark going into the 2021 season on a Cowboy defensive line that won’t otherwise change much.
Here’s a look at the status of the OSU defensive line:
Season rewind: More than anything, the defensive line was consistent in what it produced. Numbers weren’t eye-popping, but the group didn’t require extra help from linebackers, either. The line did its job in eating up blockers and pressuring quarterbacks.
Statistically, their numbers were all very similar. Tyler Lacy led the unit in tackles with 32. Ford led in sacks with 4.5. Lacy and Brock Martin were tops in quarterback hurries with five apiece.
Who’s out: Cameron Murray, Amadou Fofana
Who’s in: Aden Kelley, Fr., Nathan Latu, So., Collin Oliver, Fr.
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The take: Murray’s graduation will be a bigger loss than many realize, because of all the unnoticed dirty work he did in the trenches. But otherwise, every major contributor is back.
And beyond that, the unit will benefit from the return of Jayden Jernigan, who sat out this past season, and Collin Clay. The Putnam City product who transferred from Arkansas last winter tore his ACL in August. Kody Walterschied gained some valuable experience down the stretch as well.
Ford’s health — along with that of Tyren Irby, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in September — will be closely monitored and the development of some depth on the interior of the defensive line will be vital in the fall.
Projected depth chart
Trace Ford, So., 6-4, 428
Brock Martin, RJr., 6-3, 240
Israel Antwine, Jr., 6-4, 305
Brendon Evers, RJr., 6-2, 295
Sione Asi, RJr., 6-1, 310
Samuela Tuihalamaka, RSo., 6-1, 304
Tyler Lacy, RSo., 6-4, 285
Kody Walterschied, RFr., 6-3, 275
Scott Wright covers OSU athletics, especially football. You can send your story ideas to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ScottWrightOK. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.