Cowboy Targets: Skill Position Players

The "Cowboy Targets" series is actually a story that will appear in the 2012 Football Preview Edition of Go Pokes Magazine. But we decided to make it an early summer series for's Premium subscribers. Here we go with the first installment which includes offensive skill players.

We are currently in a critical portion of the recruiting season at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys, under the leadership of head coach Mike Gundy the last eight years, normally collect a sizeable share of their commitments for their upcoming recruiting class during this period.

The evaluation period is almost over for the Cowboys coaching staff. The assistant coaches have compiled even more information and on-site evaluations to go with the junior recruiting they did while finishing up the previous recruiting class and the steady diet of watching video since the start of February when the coaching staff was back on campus. They have collected further information through the efforts of recruiting director Johnny Barr and his assistant Terrell Smith.

Now the Cowboys are in the midst of hosting their own camps and then being out on the road as guest instructors at various camps, many in Texas.

Expect a steady flow of prospects coming through Stillwater with their parents and high school coaches on unofficial visits. This is the busiest time for those to take place. It is through all of those activities that you can normally expect at least one-third of your class to make their verbal commitment.

The numbers have varied in the recruiting classes put together under Gundy and his staff, ranging from just three summer pledges (May through August) in 2009 to a whopping 13 commitments during the summer of 2010.

Here is a look at the numbers for each recruiting class below. We did not list Gundy's first class as that group was being recruited under Les Miles in the summer of 2004.

OSU Summer Commitments
2012 - 6 commitments
2011 - 7 commitments
2010 - 13 commitments
2009 - 3 commitments
2008 - 10 commitments
2007 - 8 commitments
2006 - 10 commitments

Below we profile the prospects that Oklahoma State already has pledged for the 2013 class, we take a look at targets, players we feel the Cowboys have a high interest in and that also have a mutual interest in the Cowboys. Many of these will be on campus at some point in the summer or will be in a camp where an Oklahoma State coach is guest instructing. There is contact throughout the summer as prospects can always make contact with coaches.

You will notice a mixture of prospects that are high profile with those of less renown, and that is typical as Oklahoma State is not what we call a "list" recruiting school. Like all schools they subscribe to research and they pay attention to national services, but as Mike Gundy and Johnny Barr have often said to me and other members of the recruiting media, "if a DVD is sent to our office, then it gets watched."

Many times that policy of checking every piece of material sent their way has led to prospects being put up on their board and eventually committed and signed as Cowboys.

Cowboy Commitments
Marcell Ateman, WR
6-4, 190, 4.5
Wylie (East), Texas
He had to be one of the top choices at the wide receiver position as he shows the ability to get wide open and at the same time is a big target. The other plus in watching him in action is he is good both in the short passing game with yards after catch as well as the vertical passing game. He plays hard even when he is not the primary receiver on the play and he is seen making effective blocks downfield. He visited Oklahoma State and was sold, choosing the Cowboys over the likes of Arkansas, Baylor, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas Tech, and Washington State. You always like getting a receiver that Mike Leach wanted.

Jack Kurzu, OL
6-5, 302, NA
St. Louis (Mary Institute), Mo.
He is a Joe Wickline-type of inside linemen as he is shown on tape overpowering blockers one on one. He is really adept at run blocking and is good on his feet in pulls and folds. He will need work on pass protection, but show me a high school offensive lineman that doesn't need work on pass blocking. The Cowboys got him when he had a few offers but Florida, Georgia Tech, and Stanford were on the verge. He is an honor student at a brilliant academic school.

Fred Ross, WR
6-0, 180, 4.5
Tyler (John Tyler), Texas
The Cowboys' first commitment in February, he was as good as any first commitment in recent memory. Ross is great with the ball in his hands and he can play in open spaces and go all day. That said, when he is fully developed he will be good sized and will be strong. His stats are awesome with 99 receptions as a junior for 1,335 yards and 15 touchdowns. Oklahoma State won over Baylor, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, and West Virginia.

Austin Allen
6-2, 205, NA
Fayetteville, Ark.
AzSt, Ark, Mem, MU, UNC, OSU, USF, Tenn, Tulsa
He received a recent offer by Oklahoma State. His father is an assistant coach at Arkansas. He is not as tall as a lot of spread offenses look for but he has excellent arm strength and the smarts of a coach's son.

Ryan Buchanan
6-4, 200, 4.8
Jackson (Prep), MIss.
Ark, ArkSt, Aub, UF, Miss, MsSt, OSU, USM, Syr
His granddad went to Oklahoma State and they are close. Buchanan plans on visiting both Oklahoma State and Tennessee early in the summer. He has excellent size and a solid arm, but in his tape you will see him handing off more than throwing as he plays in an offense that is 60 to 70 percent run. He may change the mind of his coaches as he threw for over 1,500 yards with 17 touchdowns and only six interceptions last season.

Parker McLeod
6-3, 190, NA
Marietta (Walton), Georgia
BC, UK, Louis, OSU, Wake
He led his team to a 14-1 season and the state championship game in the Georgia Dome by completing 64 percent of his passes with 18 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. His school's offense is predominantly run-oriented but they may need to change in McLeod's senior season. He has already made an unofficial visit to Oklahoma State.

Cody Thomas
6-4, 200, NA
Colleyville (Heritage), Texas
Ark, Aub, UF, FIU, MichSt, Miss, UNC, ND, OSU, OU, Ore, TCU, Tech, USC, Vandy, UVA
He's the first quarterback the Cowboys offered, Thomas has rapidly risen to be one of the top QB prospects in Texas. He is as good of a runner as he is a passer, and he is an excellent passer. He threw for almost 3,300 yards last season with 36 touchdowns passes and 15 interceptions. He is also a standout baseball player that will likely be a top pick a year from now in the MLB amateur draft.

Running Backs
Ezekiel Elliott
6-0, 195, 4.4
St. Louis (Burroughs School), Mo.
Verbally committed to Ohio State
Elliott has all the physical tools with speed, power and vision, but something that impressed me is his ability and patience to suspend his run and allow his blocking to do so much of the work, and make runs more explosive as a result. When he gets in the clear he is gone, We have yet to see anybody catch him from behind. He is also a very good pass catcher and is used often for passes ranging from the screens and short passing game to deeper wheel routes. He is committed to Ohio State, but is keeping an open line of communication with some schools.

Derrick Green
5-11, 220, 4.55
Richmond (Hermitage), Va.
Ark, Aub, Clem, GT, Ill, Miami, Mich, Miss, UNC, NCSt, OhSt, OSU, OU, PennSt, Purdue, Rut, SC, Tenn, UCLA, USC, Vandy, UVA, VT, UWV, Wis
He is a big back at 220 pounds but he has sub-4.4 speed, and you can imagine he can play in space or with his strength in the phone booth and plow over tacklers. When he gets into the open field he becomes a glider and is really one of those pretty running backs. He has a 32-inch vertical showing explosion if his 610-pound squat lift max isn't enough of an indicator.

Blake Johnson
6-1, 185, 4.47
Henryetta, Okla.
KU, KSU, OSU, Tulsa
Tulsa is really after him, and Oklahoma State seems to be just evaluating and the reason is he was fairly much off the grid at Henryetta as they struggled last season and he missed a chunk of games in the middle of the season with an injury. The Knights were competitive with him and overwhelmed without him. He scored on both sides of the ball in the opener last season with the defensive score being a pick six. You really have to see him to appreciate him as a prospect. He also plays basketball and that is something Gundy ofter looks for.

Kyle Scales
5-9, 165, 4.45
Norcross (Greater Atlanta Christian School), Ga.
Aub, FSU, GT, MsSt, OSU
If the Cowboys truly want another Kendall Hunter-type of running back then here he is. Scales has speed and is shifty. He is not real big right now but will fill out in college. He reminds you very much of Hunter. That change of gears and burst when he sees open field is very much present.

Altee Tenpenny
5-11, 200, 4.5
North Little Rock, Ark
Verbally committed to Alabama
Tenpenny committed to Alabama early, but he has continued to hold conversations with other schools including Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were on him early and stayed as interested as anybody through his injury that held him out of most of his junior season. As a sophomore, he attracted a lot of attention with 145 carries and 1,232 yards. When he is full speed and in gear he doesn't get touched often.

Kamani Thomas
5-9, 192, 4.5
Dallas (East Paulding), Ga.
Ala, GT, LSU, Miami, Mich, Vandy, Clem, UGA, Miss, MsSt, OSU, SoMiss, Troy>
Thomas shows the ability to run like a big back and glide, waiting for the play to develop and going outside. Then a play later, he will show an inside running play where he pops the linebacker so hard that he goes to his knees. There is a reason so many schools are interested as he has loads of ability. His moves are subtle, but effective and that is always the sign of a good running back. OSU has had success recruiting Georgia with Glenn Spencer taking the lead on that territory.

Corion Webster
5-11, 185, 4.5
Atlanta, Texas
AzSt, ArkSt, Mem, OSU, TCU, A&M, Tech
Here is another Kendall Hunter-style of running back but with a little more physicality as Webster is pretty comfortable running between tackles. The first two long runs I saw him complete he showed quick burst through the line of scrimmage and into the third level and nobody came close to heading him. He never had to make a move. Last season he had 220 carries for 1,865 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Dontre Wilson
5-10, 180, 4.4
DeSoto, Texas
Ala, Bay, CU, ColoSt, UF, MU, OSU, OU, Ore, OrSt, UT, A&M
Wilson is the best all-purpose running back prospect in the nation, at least as far as I have seen. He is equally adept at running with the football on everything from option, sweep, jet sweep, and between tackles. He has great hands and is fantastic on screens and short passing game as well as wheel routes downfield. He is a good cutback runner and also shows maturity in waiting and being patient to make the most out of blockers.

Wide Receivers
Kyle Collins
6-3, 185, 4.5
DeSoto, Texas
OSU A big target that is very much unsung, and overshadowed some by so many talented teammates and prospects at DeSoto. This is a high school where it is hard to earn a starting position. Collins is so athletic as he qualified for state in track in both the long jump and the 400 meters. He has a 23-11 long jump and a 48.45 in the 400 meters.

Hunter Jarmon
6-1, 185, 4.5
Waco (Midway), Texas
He has explosive speed and runs good routes. He really stands out on his team and is equally effective in the short passing and screen game as well as downfield. He appears to be a very emotional player that brings a passion to the game.

Ellis Jefferson
6-4, 190, NA
Denton (Guyer), Texas
Ala, Bay, CU, MsSt, OSU, OU, A&M, Tech, UCLA
An all-around athlete that is just what you expect to find at Guyer after the previous experience the Cowboys have had recruiting John Walsh's program. Jefferson is well schooled, well coached, and fundamentally sound in addition to being an excellent athlete. He is a big target that does a great job of positioning his body and giving the quarterback massive flexibility in getting the ball into an area where the play can be completed.

Robbie Rhodes
6-1, 190, 4.5
Fort Worth (Southwest), Texas
Bay, Miss, OSU, Texas, TCU, A&M, Tech
He plays bigger than he is as one of the most fun things to see on tape is when he goes up with a defensive back and how he seems to always come away with the football. He is also fast enough to just beat a corner with his speed. You can tell he likes the now route and the screen game with the opportunity to make the play in the wide open spaces. Even at practice he shows an attitude of really liking to play football.

RaShaad Samples
5-11, 170, 4.44
Dallas (Skyline), Texas
Ala, AzSt, Bay, Cal, CU, ColoSt, UH, KU, KSU, Miss, MissSt, ND, OhSt, OSU, Pur, SMU, TCU, UT, A&M, Tech, Tulsa, UCLA, Vandy, UW
A coach's son, Samples broke his tibia last spring and worked to get back and caught 65 passes for 1,369 yards and 19 touchdowns. Guess what? He broke the fibula in the same leg this spring, but says he will be back again in the fall. That makes him one of the most determined players out there. He has speed, is elusive, and is as comfortable in a disciplined offense as he is one that plays loose with options. He can run all routes, seam, stick, screens and does them all well.

Laquon Treadwell
6-3, 183, 4.5
Crete-Monee, Illinois
Ala, Ark, Aub, Ind, Iowa, Mich, MichSt, Minn, Miss, Neb, ND, OhSt, OSU, OU, USC, Vandy
He is truly one of the best overall prospects in the nation. Treadwell is physically imposing and very explosive. He is especially good in traffic at making the catch and then breaking the play open. It is also impressive to see him going over the middle and the confidence that he shows. He positions himself well, has great vertical extension, and hands that really secure the football.

Second Installment: Offensive and Defensive Line, Wednesday, May 16
Third Installment: Defensive Back Seven, Sunday, May 20

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