Rodarius Williams looked around the auxiliary gym inside Gallagher-Iba Arena as he noticed all the fresh faces surrounding him.
It was a mighty different sight than when the Oklahoma State redshirt junior arrived in 2016.
“I feel kind of old,” Williams said.
A far cry from how the 6-foot, 187-pound Williams felt in 2017 as he and classmate A.J. Green were thrown into the fire, getting burned a few times. That season was an eye-opener for the prankster Williams, but now here he was at OSU media day with a different perspective than that wide-eyed kid.
For the first time in what feels like a long time, the Cowboy cornerback group isn’t in turmoil or flux. Like the offensive line on the other side of the ball, experience has been hard to come by the past few years but now all the growing pains are gone.
The dynamic duo of Williams and Green, a senior, are saddling up for their third year as the corner tandem for OSU. Gone are the days of having to use freshmen because there isn’t anyone else. Gone are the days of going from transfer starter to transfer starter just to get by.
OSU still has a transfer, with Texas A&M graduate Kemah Siverand looking to make an impact after a year of playing catch-up following a late commencement. But, unlike other years, cornerback coach Tim Duffie won’t have to just rely on Williams, Green and Siverand to carry the load.
The reinforcements have come, giving the OSU secondary one of the deepest groups in the Big 12 Conference.
“Honestly I think it is age,” said Duffie, who has been on staff since 2013. “When I first coached the corners, it was old guys and then I went to young guys and it was hard trying to create some consistency. We went through it with A.J. and Rodarius. We were plug and play there for a while with transfers. You want to get your room where you know they are the guys, there is nobody else walking in.
“They took the keys to the car and rode with it,” Duffie said. “They are leading those young guys in how to do it. This is how it works. There is proof in the pudding with the guys that we have now and the younger guys are following along.”
The work day-in and day-out from Williams and Green hasn’t gone unnoticed outside of Stillwater, either, as both have been talked about plenty.
For Green, who has bulked up 30 pounds since his freshman season, he was named to the conference’s preseason team after finishing second team All-Big 12 last year.
“It is good to get a little recognition, but we have a bigger prize at stake with the Big 12 Championship,” Green said. “We are both working toward first team Big 12. The sky is the limit and we really haven’t reached anything yet so we just have to keep working.”
Green, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound native of DeSoto, Texas, concurs with Williams on how strange it is to already be almost done with college.
“I feel like when I first came in here, I was looking around for advice and what to do,” Green said. “Now, I am on that other side and looking at the door on the way out and I am giving that advice to the younger DBs with tips that can help them in the near future.”
Green ranked among the conference’s leaders in breakups last year with 11. He shut down Texas’ Collin Johnson and West Virginia’s David Sills. Williams led the team in interceptions with two and had almost 50 tackles.
With their expertise, Williams said he and Green have been able to give guidance to the younger players that the duo didn’t have much of when they were that age.
“Just letting them know that there is no more high school ball,” Williams said. “No more redshirting. Just bringing them along and helping them with confidence. If those guys go out there and get beat, I tell them to go to the next play. Coming from my experience, I started out with rough with James Washington and Marcell Ateman being physical receivers coming out of high school.”
Williams said, like Green, he doesn’t pay too much attention to the media hype around the cornerbacks, but he is using his younger brother as a motivator. Andraez “Greedy” Williams was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns after a stellar career at Louisiana State.
“It is definitely a motivation tool,” Rodarius Williams said. “You can use that to take you a long way and just seeing his success and trying to match it.”
Duffie likes what Green and Williams bring to the table in terms of communication.
“Being around them quite a bit, I think both of them are a little more vocal to other players and their teammates,” Duffie said. “They are always trying to communicate. Both of them are very outgoing within the position.”
Siverand provides a solid third option for the cornerback crew as he came on late last season, saying he advises a lot of the younger guys and knows he is looked at as a mentor.
“I think the thing I can bring best is leadership,” Siverand said. “I try to be positive throughout each practice because practices are long and going through that, I try to make sure everyone knows that I am here for them, we’re in this together and that helps a lot of us. Making sure everyone’s mind is still in it.”
Rounding out the 11-man crew of cornerbacks for OSU are redshirt senior Bryce Balous, redshirt sophomores Lamarcus Morton and Kris McCune, redshirt freshmen Jayveon Cardwell and Gabe Lemons, and true freshmen Demarco Jones, Xavier Player and the much-anticipated Thomas Harper.
With the Big 12 so offensive-minded, Green knows the pressure is on every year. But this year, he believes the Cowboys can match up with the best of the best, pound-for-pound. With the consistency built into the group, that goal is possible.
“I feel like it’s a key role in getting to the Big 12 Championship, especially DBs because corner and safety is a position where the game can be won or lost,” Green said. “You mess up and the scoreboard lights up. We just want to gel together on the back end and improve and hopefully get that Big 12 Championship.”