August 9, 2012

Elkins ready to be a vocal leader

Graduation didn't hit the Cowboy football team too hard in terms of quantity, but in quality was a different story.

They obviously lost record-setting players in Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, but there's more there that people haven't talked about just yet. It's deeper than the box scores and trophy's, and it's on the defensive side of the ball.

Safety Markelle Martin and defensive ends Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones were all dominant personalities. Martin's inspirational way of carrying himself, Blatnick's constant desire to be the most hard-working player on the field, and Jones' ability to relate to anyone and everyone perfectly complemented each other, and ultimately played a huge role in leading the Pokes to their first conference championship in school history.

Now, they've gone their separate ways; Martin and Blatnick to the NFL, and Jones to the press box to join the OSU broadcast team.

That's what happens in college football. Departures. It's not like there isn't a team out there who doesn't go through something like this every year. The key to it is having players who are ready to step up and take charge of that now vacant position.

Enter Alex Elkins.

The senior linebacker joined the team last summer, and began the 2011 season as a starter. When the dust settled, he had registered 90 tackles and had quietly held his at the weak side position. He also came up huge in the biggest game of the season when Oklahoma came to town, producing 9 tackles, a sack, and forcing a fumble that Blatnick returned to the one yard line.

This year, the Cowboys aren't necessarily struggling in terms of leadership. Cornerback Brodrick Brown and linebackers Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis are known for letting their play do the talking, and perhaps the closest thing to a spoken leader the unit has is defensive end Cooper Bassett. Outside of that, there are great players, but not a leader that players have overwhelmingly talked about to media.

At some point, Elkins realized the somewhat absence of an outspoken guy, and has interest in the job opening.

"I'm definitely going to be more of a vocal leader," he said. "I was born a leader, and I wanted to be that, but I felt like I hadn't earned the team's respect just yet. I'm more than ready to do that."

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