On signing day, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy lamented that there were not more in-state players in the Cowboys 2013 class of recruits. But he also had an explanation for it.
Gundy said the Cowboys, who are rapidly building a football tradition that attracts top talent, still don't have the tradition built that it may take to correct years and years of what has gone on in Oklahoma.
However, he said the 2014 class of Oklahoma players looks deeper than the last couple of years. In fact, the Cowboys first commitment in the 2014 class is Broken Arrow High School running back Devon Thomas.
The Cowboys did wind up with one Oklahoman in the 2013 class, and he has a familiar last name, Bassett. Dawson Bassett is the younger brother of graduating defensive end Cooper Bassett. He is one of those Oklahoma kids that OSU would like to logically think there will be more of in the future, young men that grow up Oklahoma State fans.
"We really liked Dawson from day one, and he was a tweener for us because we really didn't need linebackers. His brother has been tremendous for us, and his family loves Oklahoma State and that loyalty combined with the fact he is a good football player went a long way with our coaching staff," said Gundy.
"We were concerned throughout the recruiting process because he came out in a year where we didn't need his position. There was never an evaluation problem with his talent. We knew he had it, but it was whether he fit what we needed."
Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer is very enthusiastic about adding Bassett and thinks he will fit in nicely in the future.
"I told him on the phone the week before signing day, ‘we're not taking you because you are Cooper's brother. These things (scholarships) are too valuable. We're taking you because you've got size, you've got speed and you've got a lot to prove to people. You are going to be hungry. The thing that you get from your last name is that we know some things out there that some other people don't know that is going to help you become really good because we know what is in your heart,' said Spencer.
"He is 6-4, 215 pounds now and who knows what he is going to be in two or three years. We may look back and think that guy that didn't have a lot (of recruiting) going on is sure playing a lot of football and making a lot of plays for us," added Spencer.
"We realize that we have to have kids that really want to be at Oklahoma State," Gundy said. "Again, he is 6-4, 215 pounds. I would say 18 months from now, he will be every bit 6-4 and ½ and 245 pounds, so he is more athletic than what Cooper is and Cooper eventually grew into 260ish. From an agility standpoint he has better side to side movement and if he is anything like his brother then we have a really good player."
Running Backs Pretty Important
The OSU coaching staff felt it had a good handle on recruiting as far as running back with the commitment of Corion Webster of Atlanta, Texas. After the bowl game, Joseph Randle decided to enter the NFL Draft, but the Cowboys coaching staff was not caught off guard.
"When Joseph Randle decided to make himself eligible for the draft, Jemal Singleton had done a good job of staying in touch with several backs, but Rennie (Childs) was always his pick if something happened," Gundy explained of getting Childs in the class. "He did a really nice job and got back in on him, and Childs really fits what we do."
"Rennie Childs is a player that I really liked, going back to when I saw him at camp back in the summer," said Singleton. "He came to our camp and ran very, very well. He clocked at 4.4 on multiple watches, so we really liked his speed.
"He does some really good things ball skill-wise. I actually got to go down and see him play in a game and he is just a really tough and explosive runner that is a physical kid that also has really good top end speed."
Gundy feels that both Childs and Webster should both be 200 pounders in a year, and they will play between 200 and 205 pounds. This could develop into a similar situation as the Oklahoma State offense enjoyed the last two seasons with both Randle and returning senior Jeremy Smith treating the position as almost a tag team for success.
"Corion Webster comes from out there in East Texas and really is an explosive player," explained Singleton. "One of the things is his durability and his production has been impressive. You look at his high school career and he has accomplished a lot of things. He can catch the ball, run away from defenders, and is still really tough."
If this were a movie you might cast Webster in the role of Randle and Childs in the role of Smith. Or is it the other way around? I guess we'll find out.
Brother to Brother to Brother?
Cowboy football has had plenty of brother acts over the years. The Woods family, the Koenigs, and now you can add both the Bassett clan and the Curry family.
Dawson Bassett is following Cooper to OSU, and Darius Curry is following his brother, redshirt freshman wide receiver C.J. Curry, from Flowery Branch, Ga., where his dad, Felix, is the defensive coordinator for the Falcons.. The arrival of Darius in Stillwater will renew a rivalry of one-on-one coverage drills that the two have had going for a long time.
"We've been going at it as long as I can remember, and it was my sophomore year when I first decided I was going to be trying to go to college as a defensive back," said Darius.
"We started going at it, one on one, like at every practice and you know, I benefitted from it and he benefitted from it. It made him better and it made me better. The other day somebody was saying the younger one is almost always the better one, so I agreed with that."
Except, Darius is not the youngest Curry son. Felix and Trina Curry have a baby son, Justin, at home that just finished his sophomore season at Flowery Branch. Justin Curry rushed for 1,267 yards and 13 touchdowns while catching passes for another 290 yards and three touchdowns.
Reminded of that, Darius still agreed with the theory of the youngest brother turning out to be the best. "I believe that he is going to be the best Curry," said Darius.
The Roommate's Bet
New OSU wide receivers Marcell Ateman of Wylie (East), Texas and Ra'Shaad Samples of Dallas (Skyline), Texas have known each other a long time.
"Me and Marcell are going to do it up big on the field," said the personable Samples of the tandem that has also arranged to room together as Cowboys. "We're going to be roommates. We've known each other since we were 5 or 6 years old."
Two of the best receivers in Texas high school football, the pair had a friendly wager this past season.
"The bet was we were going to see who got the most touchdowns during the season," explained Ateman. "We both agreed and Ra'Shaad bet me whichever one of us finished with the most touchdowns at the end of the season would get to pick their room first when we room together. He finished with 25 touchdowns and I ended up finishing with 27."
Okay, so Ateman gets first pick of rooms. That is a combined 52 receiving touchdowns for the pair last season and for their careers the number is 85 touchdowns.
Uniforms Do the Trick
Recruits often say that OSU's uniforms are among the reason they began looking at the Cowboys. OSU has jumped right in there with Oregon as the college football team with the most combinations to choose from on game days.
Recruiting coordinator Johnny Barr says that all the work that Wes Edwards, Matt "Chief" Davis, Justin Williams and the equipment staff do in dressing the Cowboys does make a difference. The uniforms are one of the first things recruits see on official visits.
"Those kids on the visit come in and they go straight to the mannequins and the uniforms (on display in the football offices)," said Barr. "The recruits love it and they make a difference. This season, when we broke out more combinations with more helmets, it was obvious that it was helping with attracting good football players to look at Oklahoma State. They really like all the different looks."
Makes one wonder what may be in store next season.
Recruited an Offensive Line
Joe Wickline has five new offensive linemen to coach. Junior college signee Brandon Garrett (6-6, 295) is already on campus. Joining Garrett in the summer will be Zach Crabtree (6-7, 285), Jack Kurzu (6-5, 302), Jesse Robinson (6-6, 300), and Jaxon Salinas (6-4, 300).
The thought on signing day was that if you lined all five up in uniform, you could probably put together a complete offensive line on the fly. I would put Crabtree and Robinson at tackles, Garrett and Salinas at the guards, and have Kurzu at center.
"I think we look pretty good as a group and I think with Coach Wickline being the guy that brought us together and will be coaching us that we'd be pretty good," said Kurzu. "I think he looked at us and saw each of us in different roles, where we could line up next to each other."
Each of the five new offensive linemen said Wickline was one of the reasons they chose to sign with OSU.
"That was one of the main reasons I'm going there, and it is going to be an awesome opportunity," added Crabtree. "I've been told he is the best at what he does, and the chance to play for him and soak up what he knows and chase my dream is tremendous."
Respects to the Military
Gundy has always made it clear that he is a huge fan of those that make the sacrifice to serve in the military. I have witnessed him drop what he is doing and even delay a departure on the road to spend time and speak with anybody in military uniform.
Gundy's admiration of those who serve in the military is probably a product of a lot of things but possibly growing up near Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City, and the fact that his father was a civilian employee at the installation. Gundy had a blast flying with the Navy's Blue Angels. He also counts meeting former President and Commander in Chief George H. Bush as a highlight.
The new recruiting class includes Killeen safety Deric Robertson, whose parents, Alexander and Patricia, are Army veterans.
"We really have quality young men in this class, and Deric has a military background, which means a lot to me," Gundy said. "You have to have some of that instilled in you when you grow up in a military household.
"These guys are bright-eyed and they are eager. They have somebody in their life, whether it is both parents, a single parent, a grandparent that has helped them out, and they have it figured out because of that.
"We like what he brings to the table, and he will be 6-2, 215 pound playing safety. That is really the proto-type body style for us, the Markelle Martin size. He can still cover and will be a big hitter."