Robert's Viewpoint: Analyzing The Class

Get set for a nice little read here. First, there is a lot to say about this 2007 Oklahoma State football recruiting class, and second, as recruiting closes down for the 2007 class, I have some opinions on the process. I can only hope officials from some schools and from the NCAA administration will see this editorial.

We'll start with the only true surprise of the day. And to be honest, it wasn't that surprising that Norman's Ryan Broyles ended up signing the dotted line on the Letter of Intent provided by Oklahoma. Broyles is a very talented player that I do believe would be a better cornerback in college than wide receiver.

At Oklahoma State he would have manned the corner, and at Oklahoma, which only uses a slot receiver 40 percent of the time, he could get lost in the shuffle. All that said, even as talented as Broyles is, his value in public perception was greater to the Cowboys than his value as a player. Had Broyles stayed with his first and third commitment, instead of going with his second and fourth commitmen, he would have underlined the fact that Oklahoma State is making powerful gains on its in-state rival. To pull a player out of Norman that was raised in the shadow of Owen Field would have been a severe blow to Oklahoma's image and a huge inflation to the image of Oklahoma State. As it played out, Oklahoma had to pull out virtually every stop in order to keep Broyles from leaving the Norman city limits.

"No surprises," Broyles said on the phone last night when we tried to set up a signing day interview with him. Maybe it wasn't a surprise in the end. It's a good bet here that the Oklahoma State coaches weren't knocked over when they heard the news. Mike Gundy and Gunter Brewer had looked into Broyles' eyes. By the way in recruiting the eyes will give it away.

"It's not the recruits you lose that defeat you," Gundy said on signing day. "It's the recruits that you sign and they can't play that get you beat."

Read that over a couple of times. It is very prophetic for a third-year head coach. It is also true, which is why we will quickly move on to the players Oklahoma State signed.

Defensive tackle, safety, wide receiver, and tight end are the positions that had to be addressed in this class. If you are wondering who the most important signee in this class is immediately it is Tonga Tea. The All-American from Snow Community College, and originally out of the forzen tundra of Alaska, is already on campus and already designated to play Sept. 1 between the hedges at Georgia. He has to play! The Cowboys have only veterans Jeray Chatham and Maurice Cummings to play inside. All others, including fellow 2007 signees Ahmad Jones and Quinton Prince, are very wet behind the ears. Gundy feels Jones and Prince will be players in time. He even thinks people will look at Prince in a couple of years and wonder where he came from (the answer is Heritage Hall, a private school in Oklahoma City).

Everybody including Uga, the live Georgia Bulldog mascot, needs to know where Tonga is from. They best be wishing he'd stayed home in Anchorage by the fourth quarter of next season's opener. Tea is 6-0, 315 pounds, extremely strong, passionately devoted, and, according to Gundy, very enthusiastic in the off-season workouts. If Tonga proves to be the real deal and an immediate help at defensive tackle then this recruiting class jumps to an above average grade quickly.

Safety wasn't in quite as dire a straights, but La Marque, Texas, state champion James Thomas, Arkansas surprise Adrian Moore, and gray-shirt Deron Fontenot, the first commitment in the 2006 class, need to provide depth. The numbers need infusion at safety with Donovan Woods and Andre Sexton starting and the adversity plagued Clint Coe and wide receiver convert Ricky Price backing up.

I sincerely hope Fontenot, who has recovered from shoulder surgery, and Thomas, who has great stats in both tackles and interceptions, can shine. If they do then I can perhaps see what I really want to see out of the once-hidden Moore. I think he is a stone cold runner. I think he may be better than the in-state quarterback that Oklahoma State had hoped to make into a running back in Millwood's Gerald Jones, who signed with Tennessee. With or without Moore if the safety depth is solidified then the class moves up another grade.

Another Texas state champion in Cedar Hill's William Cole will also be in the secondary, taking his athleticism (think Prentiss Elliott without the gang members) to the cornerback position. Cole is also a natural -- along with no fewer than six of his teammates -- to compete with Perrish Cox and Tommy Devereaux for punt and kickoff return duty. Jacolby Reed needs to qualify academically, and may be the longest shot of the four signees in the class that has yet to achieve that status.

With the Cowboys spread offense and prospective All-American Adarius Bowman just a year away from departing for the NFL the need to reload at wide receiver was also there. All-American Desmond "Dez" Bryant (Parade, SuperPrep, and O-D All-American Game participant) will really help. Bryant was one of the three best players on the field in the Offense-Defense All-American Game. He was a difference maker in a tough district for standout Lufkin High School in Texas. Even Gundy compared Bryant to his former target as a player, Hart Lee Dykes, saying that Bryant could take over a game like Dykes once did as a Cowboy.

The other three receivers -- Hubert Anyiam, Josh Cooper, and Damian Davis -- can all play. Anyiam is a speed receiver that shows on the basketball court he has explosion. Cooper was unsung at Mustang, maybe underrated. He played receiver, defensive back, kicked, and returned punts and kicks. He really reminds one of another former Oklahoma prep product that was underrated and now plays in the NFL in Wes Welker. Davis is 6-5, 190 pounds and Gundy said he saw him jump over and do a split in slam dunking on a defender trying to take a charge in a basketball game. In a year Davis will weigh somewhere around 210 pounds and could be really difficult for opposing defensive backs to deal with. If those three develop, and Bryant proves to be as good as advertised, then bump the class up another grade.

The other absolute need in this class was a tight end. Brandon Pettigrew and Justin Waller will both be juniors and third tight end Paschal Smith will be a senior. Tight ends coach Doug Meacham in a self-sufficient move went to Louisiana and pulled out a strong prospect for the future at the position in 6-5, 240-pound Wilson Youman. As a senior Youman played more defensive end than defensive end, but he did catch seven passes at tight end and five went for touchdowns, and four covered more than 35 yards. Just think if Youman played tight end full time. At OSU he will and that could bump up the class another grade.

Meeting the needs is where this class will get its greatest glory, but you add a home run threat at running back in Kendall Hunter; a solid trio of future offensive linemen in center prospect Grant Garner, guard prospect Nick Martinez, and tackle prospect Jonathan Rush; linebackers Jared Glover, Marcus Richardson and Kenny Alexander will add depth to a position that was really boosted with the 2006 class; Jamie Blatnick is a good defensive end prospect that could grow into another defensive tackle (and you never have enough of those), and finally, defections at deep snapper caused Oklahoma State to sign one in this class for the future.

One recruit we failed to mention is Richetti Jones, the All-American early commitment two is the flagship and most heralded of the names on the list. The Dallas Lincoln pass rushing defensive end had 53 sacks in his high school career. He may be as significant a signee on the defensive side of the ball as quarterback Bobby Reid was to the offense. Jones is a huge talent and just needs to be half as good as predicted to be appreciated.

The last two paragraphs are full of bonuses because if the needs are met then this class will grade out as high as its rated today by Scout in the team rankings, which after the Broyles defection is 23rd. The good thing is you won't have to wait that long to start the grading process. It will begin on March 5 in spring practice when we start seeing big Tonga Tea at defensive tackle.

Now for some parting shots to recruiting and Signing Day '07. I have no problem with Broyles going to Oklahoma. He needs to go where he feels most comfortable. If he really wanted to be a Sooner then he likely would have been a lousy Cowboy. The recruting landscape has gone crazy.

Sometimes team rankings, the race to get news and a juicy scoop on the Internet, the wishes of fans and the pride in a big commitment for good old Alma Mater U. has taken the precedence over the purpose of the process. The purpose is for prospects and their families to make the best decision on which college the young man should attend. Whether you graduate, what job you will have, where you will live, even who you will marry are often impacted by that decision. The other purpose is for coaches, who really earn those salaries by recruiting, to fill their needs and get the best players they can for their program.

Maybe I'm alone, and maybe I'll be very unpopular for saying it, but making it all out into a competition -- a competition that has fictional results until these players mature and have a chance to impact their schools -- might not be the best atmosphere to foster the real reason for recruiting. The problem is this crazed recruiting fanaticism, which I understand that I profit from, is out of control. All but five of Oklahoma State's signees changed cell phones during recruiting. I didn't survey each of them, but it was likely from the cost of the overabundance of calls and text messages, much of which they cannot control. Mike Gundy spoke of one recruit that was getting as many as 4,000 text messages a day.I really hope the NCAA will ban the text message.

I would also like to see an early siigning period. It would allow recruits that know where they want to go to get off the roller coaster before it speeds up. The move would also save schools money and coaches time, both of which are spent protecting early commitments from poachers. Those poachers should be penalized for not being on the ball early in recruiting anyway. There are schools that make up a lot of their recruiting class by simply picking off players other schools identified in evaluation. There are no rewards for copying off fellow students in the class room; there should be no rewards for copying off opposing coaches in recruiting.

Pandora's box is open with full-fledged Internet coverage of the recruiting process. You can't stop it, but maybe you can contain it. I urge the NCAA to consider having seminars on recruiting and the rules for media interested. Would all attend? No, but if the NCAA offered a promise of endorsing or accrediting media members, newspapers, web sites, and radio or television entities that participated it might be enough to get some education out there and calm the craziness down just a notch. It also might eliminate some of the rule violators out there (and you all know who I am talking about). It's just an idea.
Congratulations to Mike Gundy and his staff on a strong recruiting effort, and let the grading period begin.

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