Mike Gundy On Recruiting: Part 2

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy called the Cowboys' 2007 recruiting class "as good as a class as we've ever signed. It's not even close." Gundy visited with Go Pokes Executive Editor Robert Allen on the Triple Play Sports Radio network on Wednesday after 20 high school players faxed to OSU their letters of intent. Here are excerpts from that interview.

You only signed one true running back in Kendall Hunter from Tyler (John Tyler), Texas. Does he remind you of Dantrell Savage?
Gundy: They are very similar. The first time I saw Kendall was last spring when I went to visit with the coaches down there at John Tyler. The one thing they said is that when you see him you're not going to be impressed because he's so small. But every coach on that staff said he's the toughest guy out there. If you try to take him out of the game, he wants back in. He's very competitive. Then I went and watched (their) spring game and I saw a very slashy-style runner that had quick feet, and durability for not being a very big guy. I'm not so sure at times now there's not an advantage to being 5-9 or 5-10, as compared to your taller backs, unless you're just extremely powerful. It's OK to be small if you're tough. If you're not tough, chances are you can't make it at this level if you're small. But he's very durable, very quick and very tough.

You also wanted to get a young tight end and you filled that void with Wilson Youman.
Gundy: The tight end position had a rough start and because we didn't take one last year we had to get one this year. Tight ends have been huge for us. Everybody knows what Brandon (Pettigrew) has done for us in our offense. Wilson is a simliar style of player. We were concerned that LSU may come in and try to get him at the end. He lives right down the road from them. Coach Meacham did a very nice job on him. It's tough to go into south Lousiana and get a young man to come up here because they're so entrenched in roots and where they're from. That's why Southern Miss always has a good football team because they get a lot of good football players from down there that just don't want to go far from home. He's 240 now, he's going to be 265. We'd like to be able to redshirt him. We have some guys here who can carry us through. I would expect him to be a 6-4, 265-pound guy who can really plays for us at tight end.

You got three offensive linemen, and mentioned that you would have liked a fourth. Do you expect to redshirt all three – Grant Garner, Nick Martinez and Jonathan Rush?
Gundy: That's our goal. That's the one position we anticipate bringing them in, sending them down there with Coach Glass for 18 months and say we'll see you later, and then be ready to play for four years. I'm not sure we can do that with Jonathan Rush. Jonathan Rush may be far enough along to play. It just depends on how things go. It's a good group. Grant Garner is a quality individual. He should be a center for us. He's 6-3, and said today he was 268. He'll get up around 285. He's very intelligent, (and) be able to make our calls just like David Washington does. Nick Martinez is a bigger guy. He's going to be a guard, or maybe a tackle, depending upon how he develops with his body. He's a powerful guy. The interesting thing is he was not real highly recruited but we're fired up about the guy. For some reason he was not highly recruited. Coach Wick liked him from the start. Then Jonathan Rush is down from Killeen, and he's going to be a tackle for us. He's going to be a giant. He's going to be 320 some day.

You signed several linebackers a year ago but reinforced that position with some good ones like Jared Glover and Marcus Richardson.
Gundy: In a lot of times in recruiting we get caught up on size and speed, but ultimately what it comes down to is can that guy make a play. You try to find the perfect mixture there of someone who will be durable and big enough to play in this league but also he has to make plays. At that position we were able to accomplish a lot this year with Jared Glover from Bixby. Jared is going to be huge. He plays hard. He's got a great attitude. He's going to be tremendous for us. Marcus Richardson is an undersized guy. He's only about 5-11, 220 but those games that he played in this year where he had 18 tackles... if he walked in here and you saw him you'd just think he was a short guy who was thick, but he can really run well from side to side and takes great angles and makes a lot of plays.

Up on the front on the defense everyone is going to be talking about Richetti Jones, but you got some other players you're excited about, didn't you?
Gundy: Richetti's hip injury is coming along very well now. If he gets released in June, there's a chance of that for 100 percent participation, than there's a good chance he'll be rushing the passer when we play Georgia (in the season opener on Sept. 1). If not, then we may have to bring him along slow because he has such great potential, and because we always take the young man first. We'll be very delicate in how we bring him along depending upon what the doctors say. But what a great talent. Jamie Blatnick is a guy that again I think is flying under the radar. This guy has tremendous grades, and the ability to (want to be a doctor one day). He can pursue that and achieve that one day if he really stays with it. He may grow up to be a three-technique. Inside, Ahmad Jones is one of my favorites. I was down there a couple weeks ago in Silsbee (Texas) eating with him at Chili's. He's got a great smile, (and) comes from a great family. He's a 310-pounder and plays basketball. I joked with him about knocking guys out of the lane. I tell him that if you're 6-1 and 310, you ought to be able to get a rebound, and he laughs. He's going to be a good player for us. Quinton Prince from down here in Oklahoma City is going to be an interesting player for us because he played at a private school (Heritage Hall) where recruiters, people who don't know what they're doing, question the level of competition he plays against. He was recruited by some Big 12 schools but wasn't recruited by your bigger schools across the country. But we had him in camp and he moved around really well. He had good feet. He's one of those players who can show up in three years and everybody in the country will want to know where he came from because of his feet and his strength.

It's not often that you give a full scholarship to a deep snapper but that's what you did with Marc Yerry from North Carolina. Why?
Gundy: We needed to bring a guy in here for a redshirt year, and to back Zach (Allen) up and learn from him. There were debates at time in our staff meetings whether we wanted to do that or not but I got concerned because ... if something would have happened to Zach this season we don't really have anybody that can throw it back there. I remember a few years ago when we were playing OU out here, our deep snapper got hurt and had to be the second-team guy in and the ball rolled back (to the punter) and we barely got it off. It just shows the importance of that position. We have to have more than one person in our program, and the reason why is because teams now spend so much time on the special teams. You're get-off time, your snap, everything has to be perfect.

You have now put together back-to-back top 25 classes. Who do you credit for having such success in attracting the type of student-athletes you want at Oklahoma State?
Gundy: If you look at why we're having success in recruiting, first off the players on our team are doing a tremendous job of recruiting for us because they believe in what we are trying to get accomplished, and they trust the coaches. That's important because at time coaches can sound like and look like (other coaches), but when those student-athletes come to our campus and talk to the players on your team, that's what makes a difference. Secondly, everybody is aware of the tremendous academic support we have here, and what Marilyn Middlebrook and her staff do. Our players are graduating – they go to class and they're on track to graduate. Parents like that. Parents of student-athletes now are much more into that then they have ever been, and justifiably so. The coaches are geniune people, they're very personable, they have great relationships with the high school coaches in this state and in the state of Texas where we make most of our living in recruiting. And because of that the coaches and the people trust them. One thing people forget about is the fans and the people of Stillwater. When we have parents, which we have about 40 percent of the parents of the student-athletes who come in here on a visit... when these people and these student-athletes come visit our campus they get a feel for Stillwater, and the commitment to Oklahoma State. They know that the players here are going to go to school, they're going to get an education, they're going to play ball. There's not a lot if distractions here.

Does this class keep the program heading in the direction you want to be going?
Gundy: We're very close to being balanced right now. For example, we want to have 11 wide outs here, and we want to have four running backs, we want to have four quarterbacks, we want to have 19 offensive linemen... We're probably a year away from balancing, but we were a long way off a year ago, but we're getting closer to doing it. There will always be a little bit of give and take but you have to stay pretty much in the same area because if you get a couple of injuries you want to be able to back those guys up with high school players because we're not doing as much junior college recruiting now as we used to do.

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