Robert Allen's Recruiting Analysis

Okay, so it's not a class ranked at the top of the Big 12. In some eyes new Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy and his staff brought in a class that ranks near the bottom of the Big 12. Gundy says he never looks at ratings, and that's a good thing. If he did the so called "gurus" of recruiting might convince him that he and his staff wasted their time.

There are no five-star recruits in the class of 21 new Cowboys. There are plenty of useful players for the future. However, for this class to be a success there just needs to be five or six players really come through and pay dividends next fall.

If the Cowboys gets some answers at defensive tackle and cornerback then this class will go down as a success. How important are those answers? One-third of the class -- seven of the 21 players -- could man those positions. For that reason Gundy already has a higher opinion of his class than the experts.

"I think it's a very good class," said Gundy. "What we needed to address was the immaturity and the lack of depth at the defensive line position and we were able to pick up Larry Brown late, which helped us a bunch. He's a mature player, a 300-pounder with two years of experience. With (Josh) Pinaire and (Ryan) McBean that gives us some maturity.

"In the latter part of the season we needed that depth and maturity to get a pass rush. That is important. That made me feel confident when we brought in Brown that we would have three guys with that experience that could come in and get started right away."

Defensive line is the most pressing need. A lack of pass rush and the inability to control the line of scrimmage crushed the Cowboys in late season games with some of their toughest opponents in the Big 12 South. That combined with soft, and sometimes undersized corners, really hurt the Cowboys.

"We needed cornerbacks, not safeties, but cornerbacks that could come in, line up, and cover," added Gundy. "Coach Bedford is going to have a different system than we've had in the past. We've got good young cornerbacks who have good feet and potential to cover man and be flexible with what we do on defense.

"At the corner position we picked up (Calvin) Mickens late with coach Bedford's connection in Beaumont. He's a legit 6-2. We had Ricky Price from Houston; that is a six-foot corner. Jacob Lacey is a former quarterback that is an aggressive player, and then we had T. J. Bell that is listed at 5-11 but he may be even a little taller. He could be a 200-pounder in a few years."

You don't want to say the other 14 new signees don't matter, but initially they don't. Some like Houston Touchdown Club Defensive Player of the Year Andre Sexton will help. Zac Robinson looks like a future talent at quarterback. The four young and tall offensive linemen should develop into a nice group for the future.

This class, however, will be able to be graded a lot sooner than the usual four years it takes to determine how good a recruiting class is. One key is if Ryan McBean, Josh Pinaire and Larry Brown form a good portion of a solid productive rotation at defensive tackle. If Calvin Mickens, T.J. Bell, Jacob Lacey or Ricky Price develop into shutdown corners for defensive coordinator Vance Bedford then this class will get a grade much higher than any closet coach at or any other recruiting service sticks on it today.

No pressure, just immediate results in those two areas and Gundy and company will look back on Feb. 2, 2005, as one of the best days of their coaching and recruiting careers. If this class takes four years to prove their worth then some of the waiting may be painful.

One other note on this recruiting class. Hopefully, Texas Tech and even Texas and Texas A&M had their fun jumping some of the Cowboys commitments when the coaching change took place. This group of assistants, hired by Gundy, are strong, aggressive recruiters, all with experience recruiting Texas, not to mention Florida, Louisiana and Georgia. With a full year to get set up and out on the recruiting trail they will not lose many battles. Here's hoping the vultures got plenty of roadkill off the O-State coaching change because the future may see them getting picked clean more often than not by the Oklahoma State staff.

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