DALLAS -- Joseph Randle remembers getting in some post-practice work last fall with a guy almost no one outside his Oklahoma State team had heard of.
The Cowboys running back sat and watched as receiver Charlie Moore was practicing one-handed catches from a machine tossing him balls.
Twenty balls whizzed toward Moore. All 20 stopped abruptly in just one of Moore's hands.
"I’m like, 'This dude’s got great hands and he ain’t even playing'," Randle, a 1,200-yard rusher in 2011, said of Moore.
So you'll have to excuse Randle's lack of surprise when that sticky-handed, 6-foot-2, 202-pound talent turned nine catches into 243 yards and three touchdowns in the spring game, capping a productive set of 15 spring practices.
"Even (former quarterback Brandon) Weeden last year was saying, ‘Charlie Moore’s gonna step up.’" Randle said. "But we have a lot of guys who are ready to step up."
Randle doesn't have to do any thinking when asked why the Cowboys are being written off as contenders to defend their 2011 Big 12 title, the first in school history.
"Because we lost Brandon and (two-time Biletnikoff Award-winning receiver Justin) Blackmon," he said. "They don’t understand that in great programs, people step up and make plays and we have guys in our program who have been waiting for this opportunity and they’re going to step up and make a lot of plays."
For Oklahoma State, that means bigger roles for returning receivers like Isaiah Anderson and Tracy Moore. Coach Mike Gundy suspended Michael Harrison, arguably the team's receiver with the most potential, for all of 2012. Harrison then left the team.
Sophomore Josh Stewart emerged this spring in Blackmon's absence, and Randle classified Charlie Moore as one of the fastest players on the team.
All that without even mentioning another spring standout, Blake Jackson, the nation's top juco tight end who transferred to Oklahoma State this offseason.
"You see what I’m saying? We’re just naming guys who can make plays, have play-making abilities," Randle said. "I think we’ll be just fine. I’m comfortable with the guys we have out there and their play-making abilities."
Oklahoma State did lose Blackmon and Weeden. There's no escaping that. Randle's back, though, with plenty of rising stars at receiver to buoy the first season under Wes Lunt, the Cowboys' true freshman quarterback.
"I’m around it every day and it’s a winning environment. It’s not a losing environment," Randle said. "We’ve got guys who have bought into the program and are ready to win."