The status of Oklahoma State sophomore safety Kolby Harvell-Peel has been speculated for the past week, and on Thursday, Mike Gundy confirmed the status on his young star in the secondary.
The College Station, Texas, native will not get the chance to face his hometown college, as he will miss the Texas Bowl with an injury.
“He’s played at a very high level. He’s been around the ball the whole time,” Gundy said at Thursday’s press conference in Houston. “If there’s ever a ball tipped or on the ground rolling around, he happens to be in the area, and he’s made plays. He’s been a good leader for us.
“It’s unfortunate that he can’t play in the game, but he’s been a really good leader for us, and we’re looking forward to his future at Oklahoma State.”
It’s a big loss for the Oklahoma State defense, losing an All-Big 12 Conference first team selection.
Harvell-Pell was third on the team in total tackles (71), was the only player on the team with multiple interceptions for the season (5) – as well as the only Cowboy with multiple forced fumbles (2) and fumble recoveries (2). He also was the top defender in pass breakups with 13.
“I felt so bad for him,” said linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga, who is second on the team in total tackles. “Kolby’s such a down to earth guy. This is really a home game for him and a home matchup playing against the hometown Aggies.
“It sucks to see stuff like that happen, when guys are getting the chance to play against teams that they probably looked up to their whole life. So we are going to go out there and represent him, and definitely going to play for him. We’re going to wear his number on our sleeve, and go out there and play like he was with us.”
Oklahoma State will also be without another starting safety for the first half of the game.
Due to being ejected in the second half of the Bedlam game for targeting, Tre Sterling – who is fourth on the team in tackles – must sit out the first half of the contest.
The Cowboys do have some safeties with some playing experience that could help fill the holes in sophomores Tanner McCalister, who has 27 tackles on the year, and Jarrick Bernard, who is sixth on the defense in total tackles. But it also thrusts redshirt freshmen Jason Taylor II and Kanion Williams into the rotation.
“With the guys coming in, especially with Tre being out as well, I know they’re going to step up there and they’ll be ready to go,” Ogbongbemiga said. “They’re some ballers. Their talent will come to light on Friday in the game.”
Report: Yurcich expected to be next Texas OC
Former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich appears to be returning to the Big 12 Conference after one year away.
According to a report by Brett McMurphy with Stadium, Yurcich is expected to be named the offensive coordinator for Tom Herman at Texas as soon as next week.
Yurcich, who spent six years as the OC at Oklahoma State, left Stillwater last offseason to become the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes, who had head coach Ryan Day calling plays for the offensive, ranked 40th in the country in passing yards per game (258.8) with Heisman Trophy finalist Justin Fields – a dual threat quarterback – under center. However, Ohio State ranked fifth in yards per game at 531, and average 48.7 points per game – which ranks first in the country.
Texas, with a less-accomplished dual threat quarterback in Sam Ehlinger, averaged 296.2 yards passing per game, which ranked 19th in FBS. The Longhorns averaged 468.2 yards per game, which ranked 15th, and are 17th in scoring offense with 35 points per game.
In Oklahoma State’s first season in seven years without Yurcich, the Cowboy offense 33.4 points per game – ranking 33rd – which was the lowest average since the 2014 season (Yurcich’s second season in Stillwater). With a young dual threat quarterback of its own, Oklahoma State averaged its fewest passing yards in a season (227.7) since 2009.