Starkel Seems Comfortable At OSU

In late January, before signing day for the 2015 class, Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich went to head coach Mike Gundy to pitch Liberty Christian quarterback Nick Starkel from Argyle, Texas as his selection of the quarterback he wanted to be the centerpiece in the 2016 recruiting class. A few days later the Cowboys offered Starkel a scholarship.

Starkel had an offer from Yale, and coming soon would be offers from the likes of Old Dominion, Indiana State, and Tulane. Then as Starkel began impressing recruiting reporters like me and, even more important, the staff of the Elite 11 including Trent Dilfer and Brian Stumpf the offers came in from Texas A&M.

Now, Starkel has passed further tests against top-flight, hand-picked quarterbacks in the first ever Elite 11 Semifinals in Los Angeles, and he is one of the final 18 quarterbacks that will compete in Beaverton, Ore., in Nike's The Opening and the Elite 11 Finals.

Since then one recruiting site has looked into a "crystal ball" and projected he will wind up at Notre Dame. Cowboys fans are worried that somebody such as Texas A&M will put the hard press on and steal him off the Cowboys commitment list. You never quit recruiting, but if you could have seen Starkel in Stillwater last Sunday participating in the Oklahoma State half-day minicamp for high school seniors and juniors you might see something different in a crystal ball and you might not be as worried that Starkel would change his mind on Oklahoma State.

"I want to go down there and throw to some of the receivers and maybe I can talk to some players and recruit some guys to join in and be part of the class,": Starkel had said when he revealed he was making the effort to come to Stillwater last Sunday on the heels of making it the Elite 11 Finals.

Starkel was in Stillwater and did participate in between being introduced to several people on the sidelines in the Sherman Smith Training Center and spending time with Gundy and his middle son Gunnar.

When he was throwing Starkel was putting zip on the ball and it was obvious to see he was in rhythm and polished from the competition in LA the week before.

"It was fun to work with Coach Yurcich and throw to guys like L.D. Brown," Starkel said. "There were some talented guys there and Brown can really run."

If he is going to do some recruiting and he wants speed, then you have to give Starkel credit. He commented on the fastest player that was in the building on Sunday in Brown out of DeSoto, Texas. Brown ran a hand-timed 4.35 in the forty.

Starkel also got to know some of his future teammates. Except one needed no introduction. As a junior, Starkel started the first seven games for Liberty Christian before an left arm injury ended his season. I walked past Starkel on the sidelines talking and laughing it up with several of the incoming Oklahoma State freshmen, and one was defensive tackle Darrion Daniels of Dallas Bishop Dunne.

I stopped to listen and learned that it was Daniels that sacked Starkel hitting the quarterback on his right side and driving him into the turf where he landed on his left arm, breaking it. The two players are laughing and hugging while telling the story.

"You kind of celebrated that sack, didn't you? You were celebrating while I was down," said Starkel (shown above with Daniels), who laughed while accusing Daniels.

"I never celebrate sacks," Daniels shot back. "I was almost to the sidelines and looked back before I knew you were still down and hurt. I'm not going to celebrate a guy being down."

The two players really seem to have developed a bond over that sack and season-ending experience for Starkel.

"Yes sir," Starkel said when asked if it was better to play with Daniels than to play against him. "It was good to see him and talk about it. After the camp was over I hung around and spent time with John Kolar (freshman quarterback) and Johnny Wilson (freshman center from Midland Christian). It was great to get to know those guys and spend time together."

Starkel is not finished making noise. He will head to Oregon for the start of the competition from July 5-11. The Opening and the seven-on-seven will be televised on ESPNU. There will be an Elite 11 show coming up later. Elite 11 veteran coach Yogi Roth said the staff feels like Starkel is one of the strong candidates to be the MVP in Oregon.

Will other schools offer as a result? Yes, but not until Starkel has spent a lot of time with Mike Yurcich, Mike Gundy, a bunch of Oklahoma State players including Darrion Daniels, John Kolar, and Johnny Wilson and even recruited some fellow high school seniors. I don't have a crystal ball, but if I were asked to predict this future, I would say I see Starkel wearing bright orange in college.

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