Desmond Roland Looks To Expand Role

Desmond Roland Looks To Expand Role

The early conversation surrounding Oklahoma State running backs this spring has been focused on one veteran player: Jeremy Smith. But don't sleep on junior Desmond Roland. The former Dallas prep star said the things he learned last year should propel him to a breakout season in 2013.

Take a look at Roland's stats from his past two seasons:

2011: 17 carries, 95 yards, 0 touchdowns.

2012: 46 carries, 301 yards, 4 touchdowns.

He hopes to continue that upward swing in an improved role under new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. With Joseph Randle headed to the NFL, he and Jeremy Smith should see more carries this fall.

But in Roland's case, the biggest difference this spring has nothing to do with roster changes.

"My freshman year, I would go to practice just to get it over with," Roland said. "Now, I'm looking forward to practice every day. I know my assignments. I'm running harder and thinking smarter.

"I'm understanding how to be a student athlete, and not just a person who is in college. I'm here for a job, and that's to get a degree and play football. Now that I know that, I've just got to keep self-motivated."

Roland says that's led to better spring practices. Adding to his confidence heading into next season.

"At this point, I'm feeling great," Roland said. "I'm feeling more confident with this offense, more confident with the coaching staff, they trust me more. I'm not making as many mistakes. I'm just having fun with the game and working hard in practice."

We saw flashes of brilliance from Roland at times last season. Many of his big plays came late in blowout games: including a 42-yard touchdown run – one of his three TDs – against Savannah State. But that doesn't discount distinct elements of his game that make him a weapon in the backfield.

"I'm just running downhill," Roland said. "I don't make a lot of cuts. I feel like I don't need to. I either lower my shoulders, run them over, or just run past them. I'm faster than most people think I am."

Roland is still developing a chemistry with a group of young offensive linemen. Once that happens, he's looking to continue rich the running back tradition at OSU. Roland's appreciative to learn from those who came before him.

"Joe and Jeremy, they're both very hardworking players," Randle said. "They don't need anyone to tell them to go hard. I looked at Joe Randle and took a lot from him. He worked hard in the weight room, in class. I just look at him like I've got to do the same steps. Then maybe I'll have the same chance that he did."

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UP NEXT: Spring Finale
The Cowboys will split into two squads at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium. Fan gates at the south side of the stadium will open at 12:45 p.m. There will be a 30-minute autograph session on the field following the scrimmage / RADIO: KSPI 93.7 FM

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