Historically, Oklahoma State football has remained a middle-of-the-pack competitor when it comes to recruiting class rankings. Even amidst the program’s resurgence over the last decade that has seen consistent top-10 national rankings, New Year’s Six bowl games and Heisman contenders, OSU has still hovered around the mid 20’s to high 40’s range in yearly class rankings.
Despite boasting a consistently successful football program for the better part of the century, Mike Gundy and the Cowboys have failed to pull in recruiting classes comparable to teams they compete with or even beat on a regular basis.
That may be taking a turn in a different direction, however.
Taking a Turn for the Better
The recent commitment of Frisco, Texas, offensive lineman Austin Kawecki prompted me to take a look at Oklahoma State’s recent recruiting classes, as it seemed like I was constantly seeing top-tier guys visiting Stillwater on social media or including OSU in their top choices; guys that normally don’t consider the Cowboys when they hold offers from the likes of an Alabama or Ohio State.
Looking at Mike Gundy’s most recent recruiting class, 2021, the Cowboys again are behind in the overall rankings (30th according to 247Sports), but they signed four-star safety and No. 1 player in the state of Oklahoma, Kendal Daniels. Hailing from Beggs, Oklahoma, Daniels is considered the fifth-best safety in the country and held offers from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma and many others.
Basically, the kind of player Oklahoma State historically never lands.
Junior college offensive tackle Caleb Etienne also committed to the Pokes, all 6-foot-8, 310 pounds of him. Traveling from Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas, Etienne is considered the second best offensive lineman at the JUCO level. He is probably the guy I’m most excited about seeing from this year’s class, what with his freakish size and all the O-line woes Oklahoma State suffered from a season ago.
The rest of the class includes the typical three-star dudes we always see commit to OSU, but from what I’ve been hearing, a lot of these guys are severely underrated in regards to national rankings. Guys like linebacker Donovan Stevens and cornerback Raymond Gay are a couple newbies that I’ve been hearing good things about from insiders and recruiting analysts.
Plus, we’ve already seen what guys like receivers Jaden Bray and John Paul Richardson are capable of during the spring game in April, both of whom are low-ranking three-star freshmen. Who knows what we’ll see from the guys who weren’t early enrollees.
Class of 2022
Moving on to the class of 2022, this is where it is apparent that Oklahoma State is trending upward in the recruiting department. As of today, they are ranked 23rd according to 247Sports and 18th according to Rivals and right away, the two standouts are four-star running backs Ollie Gordon and CJ Brown, who each bring different running styles to the table.
Gordon is a back that uses his speed and agility to make plays. It seems almost effortless to him to get in the endzone, with any little fake or jab sending defenders flying. Gordon led Trinity High School to the Texas 6A State Quarterfinal round as a junior last season and is looking to make it back to the playoffs his final year.
The best way I could describe Brown’s running style would be furious. He runs with such tenacity and force that he looks like a raging bull with the ball in his hands. He also has blazing speed and can constantly be seen out-sprinting defenders on his highlight tapes.
Gordon is the No. 26 running back in the country and the No. 266 player overall. Brown, another Beggs, Oklahoma, native, is No. 31 among backs and No. 307 overall.
Three-star quarterback Garrett Rangel out of Frisco, Texas, secures the QB spot for the class of 2022 and 6-foot-3 cornerback commit Cameron Epps from St. Louis has recently been upgraded to a four-star grade by Rivals.
These guys along with Braylin Presley, athlete and brother of Cowboy receiver Brennan Presley, linebacker Jordan Crook, wide receiver Mason Gilkey along with others prime the class of 2022 to be one the best for Oklahoma State in recent history.
Whether it’s Mike Gundy and staff finally coming to the realization that they need to step up their recruiting efforts or just random luck, Oklahoma State football is making the strides necessary to be able to compete with programs in the upper echelons of the high school football recruiting world.
OSU has proven that they are capable of developing the talent they do get into four and five-star talent, so I can’t help but wonder how much better the Cowboys could be if they began to recruit on the levels of the top teams they compete against. If they keep going at the rate they currently are, I feel they give themselves a chance to remain competitive and perhaps even take the next step as a program.