Notebook: Bray Back with Battle Scar, Smith More Comfortable Entering 2023, Rucker’s Move to Stillwater

STILLWATER — The Cowboys’ fall camp is nearing its end, as the Pokes are just 15 days out from starting their season.

Oklahoma State players met with the media for the second-to-last time before OSU’s Sept. 2 season-opener against Central Arkansas. Here are three takeaways from those interviews.

Bray Back with Scar from Last Season

Jaden Bray has a gnarly scar on his left thumb, a result of breaking it three times last season.

He said the initial break came in fall camp last season. Bray said he thought he just jammed it, so he finished out at practice. When he got back to the locker room, however, he said he couldn’t get his glove off.

Bray returned in Oklahoma State’s game against Texas Tech on Oct. 8, where he said it broke again in the first quarter. Bray finished the game, catching two passes for 24 yards, but once the adrenaline wore off, the pain set it.

So, he returned again — this time against Iowa State on Nov. 12. He also played against Oklahoma, catching three passes for 30 yards in those two games before a third break finished his season.

It was a freaky deal, but Bray was able to take a redshirt and enters 2023 as a 6-foot-2, 200-pound redshirt freshman with 304 career receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“Every time I look at [the scar], I feel like I’ve been through a lot, especially last year,” Bray said. “Persevering and just going along with the journey and stuff like that.”

Smith More Comfortable after Being ‘Thrown into the Fire’ Last Season

The term “thrown into the fire” could be used about much of the Cowboys’ roster after injuries decimated the team last season.

The most notable examples of that came at quarterback with Garret Rangel and Gunnar Gundy, but it also happened to Cam Smith.

Now a 6-2, 192-pound redshirt sophomore corner, Smith started against Texas, Kansas and Wisconsin last season, finishing the year with 22 tackles and two pass breakups. He joined Kendal Daniels as the only two freshmen to start a game on OSU’s defense.

“We use the term ‘thrown into the fire,’” Smith said. “That was kind of my situation — I was just thrown into the fire. … I know toward the end of the season, I started getting a little more comfortable, and I feel like I carried that into fall camp.”

Rucker on His Move to OSU

Trey Rucker’s move to Oklahoma State ahead of the 2021 season kind of came out of nowhere.

From Waldorf, Maryland, Rucker had played in 18 games in his first two seasons at Wake Forest, even making starts as a true freshman. With the Demon Deacons, Rucker had 84 tackles, two tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions. Then, all of a sudden, he was a Cowboy.

“I heard it was a great place,” Rucker said. “At first, I didn’t know anything too much about Oklahoma. But my parents had moved out here a year before while I was still at Wake Forest, and they fell in love with it. So, I was like, I’m gonna come out here and give it a try also.”

Rucker was primarily a special teams player in Oklahoma State’s Fiesta Bowl-winning 2021 season, appearing in all 13 games where he had 10 tackles. After some off-the-field trouble, Rucker redshirted in 2022, but he did play in Oklahoma State’s Guaranteed Rate Bowl against Wisconsin, where he was impressive. He should have an even bigger role in 2023.