If you slept in this morning then you missed the start of a busy day. Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, his coaching staff, the recruiting staff, and the support staff – as well as academics, Orange Power Studios, coachgundy.com, Atherton Hotel staff, Student Union, and anybody on campus or in Stillwater that comes in contact with Cowboy football recruits and their families – are involved this weekend with the biggest official visit weekend for this recruiting season.
Texans like Lakeview Centennial wide receiver LC Greenwood, Arlington Bowie wide receiver Braydon Johnson, Dallas Christian safety Kris McCune, Denton Guyer safety Thabo Mwaniki, Sunnyvale safety Trey Sterling, and the athletically gifted Fort Worth South Hills twins Tracin Wallace and Tylan Wallace came with their families by either car or they could have used that new direct flight from DFW into Stillwater Regional.
Canadian running back Chuba Hubbard, Fitzgerald, Ga., running back J.D. King, Snow C.C. defensive tackle Fua Leilua, and Tennessee kicker/punter Jake McClure likely flew and made connections at DFW to fly into Stillwater.
That is something new and really advantageous to Oklahoma State football recruiting to have the prospects flying in go directly into Stillwater and with that situation they all arrive on the 2:30 p.m. arrival. Some might have to still fly into Tulsa or Oklahoma City and be picked up, but the flights into Stillwater make a big difference. Prospects or their family members with a window seat get to see an aerial layout of campus and the athletic facilities like never seen before on recruiting visits.
Friday is kind of leisurely with recruits and their families checking into the Atherton Hotel.
As you read the rest of this let's give you a fictitious name and background. The following material is based off knowledge of having been a parent with a son on an official visit and with talking to a number of prospects over the years and recently about their official visits to Oklahoma State.
You are John Makeslotsoftackles, a linebacker from Kalamazoo, Michigan and you and your parents are on an official visit with the other 14 Cowboy commitments and their families this weekend.
John flies into Stillwater Regional Airport and you climb on the Oklahoma State "Pete" bus and ride over to The Atherton Hotel, where refreshments are available in the lobby. You get your keys and drop off your stuff in the room. The party of visitors gets a quick tour of the Student Union and may check out the bookstore.
Another activity that some prospects, even John, may be involved in on Friday or will do sometime during a break on Saturday is go to Orange Power Studios. This is where those pictures are taken in OSU game jerseys, helmets, gloves, and each prospect may be interviewed for Oklahoma State use later in presenting their recruiting class on signing day. The visitors often have pictures taken of themselves or with others and family on their phones and these are often the pictures you see on Twitter and Instagram.
Friday night, John and his family will join the other prospects and their families for a welcome address from head coach Mike Gundy and a presentation on Oklahoma State football. In past years dinner might be at Karsten Creek or in the Student Union, but now the Friday dinner with the prospects and the staff is in the training table in Boone Pickens Stadium. The stadium is lit up and Orange Power Studios has constant video and messaging going on the video boards and the east end zone ribbon board throughout the meal and the evening.
After dinner the recruits meet up with their player hosts. This decision is usually made by position with the recruiting staff and the recruiting coach picking out a suitable personality for the host. For John Makesalotoftackles, Devante Averette would have been a good choice being from Michigan, but Devante is gone and working out for the NFL and Pro Day, so Justin Phillips has a personality similar to John and he serves as his host.
The prospect and player hosts will generally head out to the apartments and hang out with other Cowboy football players. If there is a party or other social gathering going on they might do that. It is a chance for the recruit to see what the players on the team are like and what Friday nights out of season are like for football players. If there is an on campus sporting event then that is also an option.
The parents will meet with the coaches, including Gundy in the West End Zone.
Saturday starts early as we said with breakfast at the training table. When my son, Zach, was on his visit this was my favorite time drinking coffee with the coaches, and the breakfast was classic, eggs, anyway you want them, bacon, sausage, ham, pancakes, waffles, lots of fresh fruit, fruit juices, you name it as it was an all-world breakfast.
At this point the prospects and the families may split up into a couple of groups as the tours commence. You will be shown Stillwater as a community, the campus, the player living accommodations at the apartments, Gallagher-Iba Arena and the academic center, and now the Sherman Smith indoor training facility.
Prospects and the parents and families split for Saturday lunch as the players will generally go off campus to Buffalo Wild Wings, Freddie Paul's Steakhouse or some other establishment. The parents will usually have lunch with staff in the O-Club in Gallagher-Iba or maybe in the stadium in either of the North or South Club levels.
Saturday afternoon is still pretty hectic from a pace standpoint as at some time the players and parents will meet with the academic staff and the recruiting staff. There is also a significant presentation and meeting with Rob Glass and his strength and conditioning staff with a tour of the weight room and facility in the West End Zone. Nutritionist Charles Hewitt has been added to the presentations and this is usually a highlight for moms to hear how well their sons will be fed and fed correctly.
A highlight for you, John, will be the locker room and Matt "Chief" Davis showing you all the gear Cowboys players get and the uniforms you will wear. If you believe you have to look good to play good, then this is your favorite presentation.
Another highlight for moms is the presentation in the training room to see how your son will be taken care of on a daily basis and the attention and facilities available if John gets hurt making so many tackles.
There may also be a meeting on Saturday with your position coach where you will look at some tape and look at the general requirements on a daily basis to play your position. For John that is linebacker, and being coached by defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Glenn Spencer.
There is free time built in to late Saturday afternoon with the recruits going out to Gundy's house for some games or watching some sports on TV. If there is an afternoon Cowboy basketball game then that is also an option, but this weekend there are no home basketball games. Parents get a break at The Atherton.
Saturday night the prospects get a special presentation before dinner of Boone Pickens Stadium at night and how it might sound and feel on a game night.
Dinner for everybody is back in the training table with generally a steak dinner with all the trimmings, including either chicken or seafood or both. Prospects and their families get a really good idea of what Cowboy Dining is all about and how well the athletes at Oklahoma State are fed.
After dinner the parents are taken to Gundy's home for coffee and dessert, while the prospects like John get back together with their player hosts like Justin Phillips.
Sunday morning the players and their families check out of The Atherton and meet up at the training table for another round of all-world breakfast.
Sometime before departing the visit, the prospect and the parents meet with Gundy, the recruiting/position coach, and with strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass.
At that time then it's driving home, riding the Pistol Pete bus back to Stillwater Regional Airport, or a few may need a ride and will be driven to Oklahoma City or Tulsa to catch a flight.
That is a fairly close example of what goes on during an official visit weekend. The next question is, are you going to be a Cowboy?