Despite two games remaining in the regular season, Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy talked Monday morning about the NFL future of several Cowboys.
Less than an hour later, one of those players announced something Gundy hinted might happen. Gundy talked about redshirt senior offensive lineman Teven Jenkins, who didn’t play Saturday against Texas Tech and also wasn’t on the field for the pre-game senior day ceremony, during his weekly meeting with the media.
“I think Teven is deciding to go prepare for the NFL,” Gundy said. “I hate to speak for him, but that’s what I think is going on. I’m going to let him, for lack of a better term, make that decision and if he decides to do that publicly, I’ll let him do that. But that’s the direction I see him going.
“I’m not sure what his status would be medically, because when you have a tweaked back, sometimes, well a lot of times, it won’t show up on and MRI or CT scan, but you still have some pain. I’m going to let him make that decision and how he communicates that to us and you guys at some point.”
Later Monday morning, Jenkins dropped an announcement via Twitter. The 6-foot-6, 320-pound lineman from Topeka, Kansas, said what Gundy had hinted at happening.
“This past week has left me with a lot of difficult decisions to make for my future and family,” Jenkins wrote in his message. “With this being said, I have decided to forgo the rest of the season and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. I would like to say thank you to all of my coaches that have been involved in developing me, coaching me, and teaching me to be where I am today. To all of my teammates – I love you guys and wish you all the best. You have become part of my family. All the friendships and memories made will never go forgotten. Oklahoma State has given me so many opportunities and I am proud to be a Cowboy. The fans have truly made my time here one I won’t forget. I hope I made y’all proud. Although I cannot wait to see where my future lies, I’ve cherished every moment I’ve had at OSU.”
Jenkins was the only full-time starter returning to the Cowboys’ offensive line this season. He had played in 37 games as a Cowboy.
Earlier this season, Gundy talked about Jenkins and helping him realize his potential.
“I’ve actually told him several times over the last couple of years – I was serious, but somewhat joking with him in the weight room when there’d be a bunch of guys working out and I’d say, ‘You know Teven, can you name the one person in this weight room that’s worth $40 million?’” Gundy asked. “He looks at me like I’m trying to give him a haircut or something. And he says, ‘No.’ And I said, ‘You, if you decide to work really hard. If you decide to just say you know what, I’m gonna do it. You’re the guy.’ That’s the kind of talent that he has. If he just gets his mind focused on that’s what I want to do. That’s the level the level that he can get to.”
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. recently ranked Jenkins as the No. 10 offensive tackle in the 2021 Draft class. The two-time Big 12 Conference honorable mention selection could be the first Cowboys’ offensive lineman drafted since Russell Okung was taken by the Seattle Seahawks with the sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft.
Gundy was also asked about the draft potential for another Cowboy who missed Saturday’s victory over Texas Tech. Star OSU running back Chuba Hubbard has struggled this year after an electric 2019 campaign that earned him 2019 First-Team All-American Awards and 2020 preseason hype as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
However, Hubbard has carried the ball 133 times for 625 yards and five touchdowns in seven games this season. CBS Sports has Hubbard as a potential third round pick, while walterfootball.com lists him as the sixth-best RB in this year’s class.
“I don’t know what those guys look for,” Gundy said. “I think there’s some players that are no-brainers. They’re going to be a first-round pick or any early-round pick. I don’t have any idea how the NFL sees Chuba right now. I’m not on those phone calls. The NFL doesn’t talk to me. They talk to academics, they talk to (strength and conditioning coach) Rob Glass, they talk to the operations people. I don’t have conversations with NFL scouts or coaches, so I’m not really in on that. It’d be unfair for me to say one way or the other how they see him at this particular time.”
Hubbard technically has another year of eligibility left if he should choose to use it. Two seniors – wide receiver Tylan Wallace and cornerback Rodarius Williams – will be looking to make it in the NFL after this season.
Gundy talked about both players, their importance to the team and potential to be drafted high in the spring.
“We were talking about him last night before we went home,” Gundy said of Wallace. “In my opinion, he’s made our football team much, much better from his competitive leadership standpoint. Our team has followed his willingness to perform at a high level. Personally for him, he’s made himself a lot of money this year.
“For example, late in the game against Oklahoma when we were down to the point where it was difficult for us to even think about coming back to win, we tried to take him out of the game and he wouldn’t go out of the game. He wanted to finish the game. That’s the kind of young man that you’re dealing with. He’s been a joy to be around and a joy to coach particularly this year coming back from his injury.”
As far as Williams, the Cowboy coach spoke highly of him and how he’s moved up the draft boards with his play this fall.
“I mentioned Tylan Wallace has made himself a lot of money this year, so has Rodarius,” Gundy said. “Rodarius is probably the hottest guy on our team right now when it comes to interest from the NFL. He’s been fabulous in coverage and he’s competed, played hard and his attitude’s been great.
“What he’s putting on tape is exactly what those guys at that level want to see in my opinion. You take a guy that’s potentially moved himself up three or four rounds in the draft by his play on tape this year, and obviously at Oklahoma State we don’t get a lot of guys that are going to go that high in the draft.”