Cowboy Brock.jpg

Oklahoma State defensive end Brock Martin rocks a cowboy hat during the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in Arlington, Texas.

The preseason recognition continues.

As college football award watch lists are announced throughout the summer, Oklahoma State is represented on several.

Three Cowboys appear on lists that were announced Tuesday morning. Defensive ends Collin Oliver and Brock Martin made the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the top defensive player in college football. Offensive guard Hunter Woodard was named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy, given to the most outstanding interior lineman.

Every pool of potential candidates is large. The Bronko Nagurski watch list features 85 FBS players, while 89 FBS players are preseason contenders for the Outland Trophy. It’s a guessing game to predict who will stay in the running as the groups are narrowed, but the lists indicate which Cowboys the nation will be watching when football season begins.

At Big 12 Media Days, before he knew he would be considered for the Nagurski Trophy, sixth-year defensive end Martin acknowledged the high expectations for OSU’s D-line following a monumental season.

“If I could get to the quarterback a half-step quicker, that would be nice,” Martin said. “I’ve always said pressure is a privilege. We have guys like me and Collin Oliver and Trace Ford and Brendon Evers and Tyler Lacy; we have guys that have done this for a very long time.

“... We’ve all been comfortable with it and we all bring out different skill sets to the field at the same time, and it all just fits together well.”

Despite playing the same position, Oliver and Martin occupy different – but both impactful – roles in OSU’s defense: the young breakout star and the metaphorically grizzled veteran.

Oliver, a sophomore out of Edmond Santa Fe, returns from a standout 2021 campaign that prompted Big 12 coaches to unanimously select him as the conference’s defensive freshman of the year. He recorded 11.5 sacks, the most for any freshman in Cowboy history, and made multiple All-America teams.

Redshirt senior defensive end Tyler Lacy doesn’t have to wonder why Oliver, now a preseason All-Big 12 player, was so successful.

“Collin Oliver is a great athlete, that’s why,” Lacy said. “He has everything in his bag, and he’s getting better every single day. I try to push him. I try to be like a little leader to him and try to push him to the best that he can be.”

Martin, from Oologah, also collected honors after the 2021 season. Despite dealing with a left elbow dislocation he described as “the worst pain I’ve been through,” he returned from the injury and ended the season with nine sacks, receiving first-team All-Big 12 recognition and an honorable mention for Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Lacy endearingly described Martin as “the old man of the group,” and Outland Trophy Watch List candidate Woodard has a similar role for the offensive line. Woodard, a redshirt senior from Tuscola, Illinois, has started 22 games – the most of any Cowboy on offense except quarterback Spencer Sanders, who has logged 32 starts.

In the spring, redshirt junior Cole Birmingham mentioned how Woodard is taking on leadership without Josh Sills, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent.

“He’s not as vocal as Josh … but we look up to him just the same,” Birmingham said. “Everything he says, we listen to.”

Martin, Oliver and Woodard join a group of Cowboys who have received early recognition.

Sanders, a preseason All-Big 12 honoree, is on the Maxwell Watch List for the most outstanding college football player and the Davey O’Brien Watch List for the top quarterback. Dominic Richardson, a junior out of Bishop McGuiness in Oklahoma City, made the Doak Walker Award Watch List for the most outstanding running back. Preston Wilson, a redshirt junior from Argyle, Texas, appears on the Rimington Trophy Watch List for the best center.

The Cowboys have no representatives on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List for the best wide receiver in college football or the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List for the top defensive back. OSU’s receivers and defensive backs might be flying under the radar as young position groups, but Martin has seen what the DBs can do. “If we can help the defensive backs out, that’s what we’re going to do,” Martin said. “I wouldn’t say we have an inexperienced backfield this year. Younger guys, but those guys have played in games last year. They did well in those games.”

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