Analysis: A Class That Changes Everything

The crowd around the fax machine on the second floor of the Oklahoma State football office was enough to raise the temperature in the room, periodically there were as many as 10 to 12 people hovering over the silent machine. There were several others standing out in the hall. That's what waiting on the fax of a signature from a high school All-American will do, especially late in the afternoon on National Signing Day.

Finally, the machine kicked into gear and out came the two necessary pages, a scholarship agreement and a letter of intent, both with the signature of Perrish Cox and his father. That is how signing day ended for the Cowboys staff with plenty of smiles and high fives over beating a national power in LSU for the signature of one of the top high school corners in the country.

It's yet another sign of how things are changing for Oklahoma State football.

"It's an exciting finish for a great recruiting class," said head coach Mike Gundy, who waited until hearing about Cox decision before going out to watch the current squad work out for strength and conditioning coach Rob Glass. "To get a skill player of his caliber that can play corner, wide receiver and can handle return duties. He can do whatever we decide to do with him."

"Definitely the cherry on top of the class," said tight ends coach Doug Meacham, who battled former OSU assistant Larry Porter that left with Les Miles for LSU in order to get Cox. "He can help us in many ways. Not only is he a good player, but he has a big heart. He loves to play the game and is interested in getting a degree and that is what we are all about."

Cox was so dominant that in his senior season opposing teams refused to throw the ball on his side of the field after his nine interceptions as a junior. When he lined up on offense he was a great decoy with other teams stacking their coverage his direction. On punts and kickoffs the opposition would sacrifice yards to kick out of bounds and away from him. His stats went down, but he was still voted All-State by the Associated Press, Central Texas Player of the Year, District 16-4A Most Valuable Player, and was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Game.

How close was it? Pretty close, according to Cox.

The 6-1, 180-pound standout said he didn't know who he was going to sign with when he took the stage for the afternoon signing ceremony. That was after pushing back the official signing that was originally scheduled to take place at 8 a.m. Cox said he had to get away from everybody and think to himself, no other opinions. When it came down to it another look at the two schools depth charts may have been the difference maker.

"I just want to get on the field as soon as possible," Cox said after choosing Oklahoma State. "I felt Oklahoma State was the best place to do that. I feel good about it."

Cox is a difference-maker for the Cowboys, and it really doesn't matter why he decided on Oklahoma State because his commitment - and those of other recruits that chose OSU over the likes of Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, Miami, Michigan, Arizona State, Texas A&M and others - prove that it is a time of change in Oklahoma State football. Recruiting is a part of it.

In the final analysis the Cowboy recruiting class, ranked 16th nationally by, includes a U.S. Army All-American, Five SuperPrep All-Americans, two junior college All-Americans, 12 Top 100 Texas players, and numerous All-Staters. But, most importantly, every player that signed came off the Cowboys' "A" list. Gundy hired this staff with recruiting - and especially recruiting in Texas - in mind. However, Gundy said with a full year to work they outperformed his expectations.

"I didn't know what I had in a staff of recruiters," Gundy said of his assistants. "I have not been around a bunch of guys like this that can recruit. I've been around staffs where there have been two or three guys that recruited extremely hard, but the guys on this staff do a great job and have developed relationships.

"I didn't know what I had. If you remember last year I said each guy I hired I wanted to be a quality person and to have a recruiting tie to the state of Texas," Gundy continued. "Our staff worked hard and was way ahead of the timetable because we know how important it is. That is going to be the future of what Oklahoma State football is all about in putting together back-to-back classes of quality people that want to do what they are supposed to do and go out there on Saturdays and play hard."

Just what do the Cowboys have? They have five potential wide receivers, including juco talent Anthony Parks already on campus, that will help supply talent and depth in the final transition to a spread offense that uses three and four wide receiver sets.

"Parks is mature enough to help us out," said Gundy. "He'll give us a guy at that slot receiver that we haven't had that can catch the ball underneath coverage and make you miss. He is also a good punt returner in junior college that can help us out there. With what we do offensively we needed to have some more depth there. We had some positions that we were short in last season. We felt like we needed to get in the system (last season) and give ourselves the opportunity to recruit the position.

"A lot of people don't realize that if you stay in a system and then change when you get the people, but if you don't make the adjustment then you are not going to get the people. It's a double-edged sword and you have to decide how deep are you going to jump in. If you want players to fill those positions then you better have tape to show them what you need. With the addition of Bowman (transfer Adarius Bowman) and Parks you get two mature players that can help you next year."

The Cowboys signed six linebackers with two of those players, Chris Collins and Donnell Williams, already on campus as they rebuild a linebacker corps that lost four seniors.

"Justin Gent is a little different than most high school players in that he is physically close to playing at this level," Gundy said of one of the Texas Top 100 signees. "He is 240 pounds and looks like a player that has been in our program for two years. He may have an opportunity to help out. I think Chris Collins, because he is here on campus, might be able to help us out, but that is a solid group, as a whole, of future linebackers here."

The have five offensive and five defensive linemen that will infuse talent and depth in two areas that go a long way in determining a program's upward mobility in the Big 12.

"We'll do the same thing next year," Gundy said of the recruiting of linemen. "We'll never turn a defensive lineman down. There was a chance this year we would have got six, and if we could have secured that sixth we would have taken him. It's extremely hard to find guys that are 6-2 or taller and weigh 250-260 pounds and have good feet and can move. You just can't find them. Most of them are playing basketball. We talk about it all the time in our staff meeting that if you can get seven of them then you take seven of them, and maybe next year take one or two because you just can't get them.

"Derek Burton is a great take for us," added Gundy. "He is a very squared-away young man that does a good job in the classroom, is tough, loves to play football and has Oklahoma State in his bloodlines. He is proud to be here. When he came on his visit he weighed 252 pounds."

"Ugo Chinasa is a 6-6 guy that weighs 222 pounds and when he gets with coach Glass for two years he's going to weigh 260 pounds," said Gundy. "If you have a guy that is 6-6, 260 and can run a 4.8 (in the 40) then you really have a chance to put pressure on people from the end. His wingspan is a lot longer than what they should be for his height and he should really be special."

In the secondary, besides Cox, Gundy expects junior college All-American Scott Broughton to challenge for playing time the minute he arrives on campus.

"Scott Broughton is expected to come in and help us right away," Gundy explained. "That is a position where we need some help and don't have much depth at all. He is a 200-pounder and we're excited about him, and I think will give us help right away."

They also added a quarterback in nationally lauded Utah product Alex Cate, also already on campus, and a junior college running back Dantrell Savage who will add speed to the backfield.

"I compare Cate a lot to Josh Fields," Gundy said speaking of the former OSU quarterback. "He is a little more mobile than Josh, but doesn't have quite as strong an arm as Josh did at this point in his career. He is very heady and very savvy. He gets up at six a.m. and runs and trains. Football is very important to him, and he has been an accurate passer at the high school level."

"Savage has a lot of ability to make players miss in space," Gundy said of the Mississippi Gulf Coast product. "Dantrell gives us something that we haven't had here since Vernand (Morency) left. Michael Hamilton is going to have a better year next year because he has adjusted to playing at this level and will give us more, but I know people were a little concerned with his ability to make people miss and that's not Michael's strength. Dantrell has some of that. I'm looking forward to this summer when he gets here (and) seeing how fast he is. He has that ability to make people miss in space and he will be a good mix up for us."

It's a banner class, a class that has the talent to change the way Oklahoma State football is regarded. It won't happen overnight, but if this is truly an indication of how Gundy and his staff can evaluate and recruit talent then Boone Pickens may soon be able to walk around, and along with admiring the new stadium and football facilities also look at the scoreboard on Saturdays and believe he got his money's worth.

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