Let's start with the part nobody wants to hear or accept. Recruiting classes are taken with the most prominent and impactual season in the eyes of the recruits being the season that played out in the fall of their junior year. The recruiting cycle for 2016 really started with those players making unofficial visits for games at Boone Pickens Stadium during that 2014 season.
Later in January 2015, those juniors may have made Oklahoma State's Junior Day, also known as Cowboy Day. They may have made it to the spring game, one of the program's camps in Stillwater or one of the Mary-Hardin Baylor camps throughout Texas that the OSU staff served as guest coaches for. All of those exposures, including any direct mail, social messaging, permissible phone calls, led to 14 commitments before the 2015 season kicked off.
Oddly enough, three of those commitments (quarterback Nick Starkel, Argyle Liberty Christian, Texas; offensive lineman Ryan McCollum, Klein Oak, Texas, and defensive end Jonathan Marshall, Shepherd, Texas) de-committed after the bulk or all of a 10-3 Sugar Bowl season played out in 2015.
First, Starkel is a youngster who really loved going through the recruiting process and never let it completely quiet down. Those kind of recruits are always dangerous because they are looking for action.
McCollum was underdressed for the Bedlam game. I'm serious, he got cold that night and on top of that watched Oklahoma State get beat while freezing. Again, a bad combination. He also had no strong allegiance to Oklahoma State and when the Texas A&M offer came he was ready to switch.
Marshall is the most distressing and, in my opinion, it is because he is the most talented. I think he was way underrated and may be a star at the Division I college level and go on to a long career in the NFL. Oklahoma State lost him on the last weekend. Arkansas came calling and mom reportedly really wanted to make the trip. One of his high school teachers tagged along and give Arkansas credit as they emphasized academics a little more with the teacher present. I heard that was a clinching deal.
Notice, I did not even list Tramal Ivy. He came out and de-committed, but the Muskogee native and Butler County C.C. standout is still at Butler and may not make it out this summer. Oklahoma State cut him loose because the Cowboys could not count on him completing his academic work and getting out of junior college.
All of that laid out, Texas became a more difficult place to recruit the last two recruiting seasons as Baylor and TCU are playing so well and with shiny new facilities too. Those two schools are surrounded by good prospects, the type that Oklahoma State has normally plucked out of Texas.
The SEC is into Texas more than they ever have been thanks to Texas A&M entering its fourth season in the league. A&M may have thought they were helping themselves with the move to the SEC but they really did more to help the rest of the SEC into Texas. Look at the Aggies recruiting class.
Gundy and Company were also breaking in several new coaches into recruiting in Texas with offensive line coach Greg Adkins, a former Georgia, Tennessee, and Syracuse assistant that came to OSU from the NFL, and Tampa Bay Bucs play caller and now OSU running backs coach Marcus Arroyo, who had not recruited much previously in the Lone Star State. That also has an impact as each are excellent recruiters and with a year entrenched in building relationships will now be able to hit the ground running with the 2017 class, already have with 47 scholarship offers already out.
All of the previous circumstances relayed, I give Gundy and his staff a solid B- in the recruiting of the 2016 class.
B- Overall Recruiting Grade - Why?
Start with the most critical need on the offensive line. The lack of a potent running game and the quarterback hits and sacks allowed against the better defenses in the league were a major concern. Also, the lack of competition within the offensive line for starting positions and backup places on the depth chart all contributed to the issues.
Larry Williams, the All-American from Hutchinson Community College, should be an immediate competitor for an offensive tackle position. Teven Jenkins, Tyler Brown, Dylan Galloway, Matt Kegel and Tramonda Moore are all high school linemen that are very promising to me. They have size, strength and attitude.
You also needed to add running backs and while I would have liked to seen Alabama signee Joshua Jacobs out of Tulsa McLain in the Cowboys class, I think that Booker T. Washington running back Justice Hill is special. Hill will be really good. La'Darren Brown out of DeSoto, Texas is very fast and will need to bulk up and get very strong.
Every class needs a quarterback and with Starkel out the Cowboys went into Louisiana and signed Keondre Wudtee of Parkway High School in Bossier City. Wudtee is a move up, maybe a huge move up, from Starkel as he has a strong arm and the athletic ability to rescue plays from diasaster and turn them into something special. Wudtee could be the backup next season.
The Cowboys addressed the cornerback position with the four signees. Give defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer props as he out-recruited Oregon, Arizona, Arkansas and Oklahoma for the signature for Edmond Santa Fe hybrid defender Calvin Bundage. There are bonus points when you call your shot and identify a player as your top target over a year in advance and he signs with your school. Spencer identified Bundage three years ago as a top target.
OSU Recruiter of the Year: (tie) Glenn Spencer (he got Bundage and also two sleeper linebackers in Amen Ogbongbemiga and Devin Harper) and Greg Adkins (he recruited all seven offensive linemen that have an average size of 6-5 1/2, and 311 pounds).
Players that Should Help Immediately: Larry Williams, OL; Dillon Stoner, WR/Sp.Teams; Malik Kearse, CB/Sp.Teams; Madre Harper, CB/Sp.Teams
Biggest Disappointments: Joshua Jacobs, RB; Jonathan Marshall, DE; Amani Bledsoe, DE.
Player I Will Stake My Reputation On: Amen Ogboingbemiga, LB. I just think the cousin of Emmnauel Ogbah is a stud and will way over play his prognosis from the recruiting evaluators. Oklahoma State found a real gem in Ogbongbemiga and I can't wait to watch him develop.