Mike Gundy and staff just pulled off one of the best recruiting classes in recent memory. Now, before you jump on me for saying that, I'm aware it's not the highest rated class we've had the last few years. In fact, in overall rankings it's kind of low compared to years past, but that's in large part due to the overall size of the class. The Cowboys have a lot of talent returning, and therefore, fewer spots to fill.
Before we get into specifics of the class though, let's look at how the class ranks now that the hoopla of Signing Day is over.
OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS
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- ESPN bumped the Cowboys up three spots in their rankings to 34th, and incredibly, that was enough to push the Pokes up from the 7th spot to the 4th best class in the Big 12. Not too bad at all considering Texas and Oklahoma will always get theirs.
- Now that the dust has settled, Rivals also moved the Cowboys up their rankings, from 41st to 38th. The move up edged Texas Tech out, but it wasn't enough to overcome TCU and West Virginia, placing the Pokes 5th best in the conference.
- Scout wasn't as impressed as the first two. They've bumped the Pokes down from 37th to 39th. In all reality though, two spots in recruiting class rankings doesn't mean a hill of beans.
- 247Sports also knocked the Pokes down in the aftermath, dropping them from 36th to 39th in their rankings.
Overall, the rankings could be better. I actually think they should be. It doesn't matter what the ranking services think though. What matters is the Cowboys accomplished exactly what they wanted to on the recruiting trail, and for that reason it's a fantastic class.
"We addressed needs better than any time I've been head coach here." Coach Gundy said during his Signing Day press conference.
If Oklahoma State is to make a run at the Big 12 title next season, and possibly more, there are a few holes to fill. This past season it was painfully clear the Pokes needed some depth on the offensive line, and with only two running backs returning next season, the Cowboys need to find a third playmaker. Well, mission accomplished, and that's what makes this such a great class.
In just three games last season Mason Rudolph has shown himself to be the QB of the future for Oklahoma State. J.W. Walsh and Daxx Garman also return to give the Pokes some depth at the position.
John Kolar - A 4-star QB out of Norman, OK, Kolar was committed to the Cowboys from very early on, and never wavered. He's Oklahoma State's only QB in the class, but he's their highest ranked recruit according to ESPN. He's got a cannon of an arm, and possess all the traits of a high caliber QB. I would be shocked if he didn't redshirt this year, but after that, things could get real interesting between him and Rudolph. Check out his film analysis here.
"Could be one of our biggest impact players. We're really excited about his future. He's done very well so far.", Gundy said yesterday. "He's 6'4" and runs a 40 in under 4'6."
There's a lot of promise around the Cowboys returning as a contender next season, but there's one glaring hole on the roster. Running back depth. Desmond Roland is out of eligibility, and an unfortunate off-the-field incident abruptly ended Tyreek Hill's future as a Cowboy. Combine that with some bone head decisions by promising young talent, Devon Thomas and Herschel Sims, and the Pokes are left with just two backs on the roster. Rennie Childs will get most of the work load with Sophomore Sione Palelei behind him, but the Pokes could use a third back to pick up some of the work load.
Chris Carson - A 4-star workhorse from El Dorado, KS is the highlight of the class. Originally committed to Georgia, Gundy grabbed the Heisman out of the trophy case and flipped him just days before Signing Day.
"Coach Singleton did a great job staying with him. He wants to play in the NFL someday and he saw an opportunity here.", said Gundy
As JUCO transfer, Carson will be able to provide immediate carriers for the Cowboys, and could move up the depth chart before all is said and done. He's a power guy that likes to run downhill.
Jeff Carr - A speedster out of Temple, TX, Carr has been labeled the sleeper of the class. He didn't get a lot of D-1 interest, but Gundy has a history of finding diamonds in the rough. Most likely Carr will redshirt this season, but he could be a guy to keep an eye on in the future.
"I'm as excited as I've ever been about a running back.", Gundy said on Carr. "After watching the tape on him, they could've told me he was 5'5" and I would've been ok with it...after talking to his coaches and hearing from the community about the person he is."
Todd Mayes - Another JUCO transfer will give the Cowboys some depth at the position. A 3-star guy out of Scooba, MS, Todd has the ability to do a few different things for the Cowboys, and may have gotten the single most interesting quote out of Gundy yesterday
"He's going to get a lot of carries at running back, he'll play the slot, and quarterback." Gundy said.
Quarterback? Todd has that in his wheelhouse, but given the depth at the QB position it seems unlikely he would be under center on a regular basis. Could Gundy be considering some more wildcat? Maybe the Cactus Bowl was a preview of things to come.
The Cowboys are loaded at the receiver position, and when I say loaded, I mean absolutely stacked. With Marcell Ateman, David Glidden, Austin Hays, Chris Lacy, Caleb Muncrief, Ra'Shaad Samples, Jhajuan Seales, James Washington, Blake Webb, and Brandon Sheperd returning - and a host of other guys in the wings - it's no surprise the Cowboys only signed one receiver to this class.
"Truth is, we have 10 guys coming back at that position' it's just not an area we needed to address." Gundy admitted at his presser.
Jalen McCleskey - A 3-star receiver out of Covington, LA, Jalen fits the Josh Stewart / David Glidden mold. He's a slot receiver with good hands, and a quickness to him. More than likely, he'll redshirt this season.
"He has great speed, like Stewart in his ability to move and make guys miss, but faster straightaway. He can really roll. He's a guy that can take the top off a defense." Gundy said.
Last season was painful. Injuries and graduations left the Cowboy coaches trying to plug holes up front. Daxx Garman was hit more than Floyd Mayweather's punching bag after filling in for injured J.W. Walsh. The Cowboys need help up front, and they got it!
"We need guys to be ready for the 2-deep as soon as spring ball. We won't know on Kellerman, Pertile and Selako until April when they go through spring ball. The good news is they can all jump right into the 2-deep. We'll have 17-18 linemen competing." Gundy said addressing the issues the line.
Matt Kellerman - A 3-star JUCO transfer out of Centerville, KS, Kellerman will bring some immediate size to the depth chart. He's a 6'5", 295 lb hogmolly that's balanced in both run and pass protection.
Brandon Pertile - At 6'5" and 295 lbs, Pertile continues a theme with this recruiting class; size. Also a 3-star JUCO transfer, Brandon hails from Clearwater, FL. He's a physical player known to be aggressive on the field. He's got good strength, and should be a big part of the Pokes rotation.
Johnny Wilson - A 6'4", 295 lb, 4-star guy out of Midland, TX, Johnny is another guy with good size. He's a forced to be reckoned from the tackle position with solid pass protection, and monster run blocking ability. If he isn't redshirted, he could have an impact as early as this next season on the field. Check out his film analysis here.
Vaimoe Sekona - The Cowboys lone signee out of California, Sekona is a 3-star guard with decent size. He's listed at 6"4" and 289 lbs. He's a good run blocker, but needs a little bit of work with pass block mechanics. He has the potential to become a solid starter before his time ends in Stillwater.
Marcus Keyes - The 3-star tackle was a last minute pick up for the Pokes. Keyes had been committed to UL-Lafayette before the Cowboys offered him earlier in the week. He's yet another guy with size at 6'5" and 295 lbs.
"He's a very productive player with great range, athleticism. He has a very good bend, feet are always in the ground. He has a great, flat back in his stance, very flexible, strong with a big upside. Marcus has really impressed us on screen plays with his ability to run down and get to safeties and corners, which is not an easy task for offensive linemen.", said Gundy via OKState.com
The Cowboys lose some key playmakers on the defensive line this season in Ofa Hautau, Sam Wren, and the Cactus Bowl hero, James Castleman. so it was important for the Cowboys to pick up some depth with this class.
Louis Brown - As a 4-star athlete from Burton, TX, Brown is another big get for Gundy. ESPN ranks him 267th in their Top 300. Brown will most likely play defensive end. However, tight end isn't out of the question either. He's got a massive wingspan, and explosive acceleration for a guy his size.
Darrion Daniels - A 4-star tackle, Daniels is a youngster out of Dallas, TX. He had offers from at least 25 other schools, and is another highlight of Oklahoma State's 2015 class. He's stands 6'4" and weighs 290 lbs. He possesses pass rushing skills, and displays exceptional gap discipline against the run.
"He's already a 300-pounder. He's physical, quick feet. More than that, he's a good kid. He's a ‘yes sir/no sir' guy. He'll come in ready to play. He's only 17!" Gundy pointed out yesterday.
Motekiai Maile - A 3-star JUCO transfer from Tyler, TX, Maile is a monster at 6'4", and 300 lbs. He'll be looking to make an immediate impact on the field, and has good strength with bull rush ability.
Taaj Bakari - At 6'1 and 265 lbs, Bakari is the runt of the liter. Which is incredible in it's own right. He's a 3-star tackle from Mansfield, TX, with the tools to be a well-rounded player. Once Strength and Conditioning Coach, Rob Glass, gets a hold of him for a couple of years, he could become a real force in the trenches. Check out his film analysis here.
Going into last season there was concern over the depth of the secondary. Kevin Peterson is the real deal, but after that there was a lot of unknown. Josh Furman was as good as we could have hoped for coming from Michigan for his senior year, but he's gone now. Ramon Richards got some crucial on the job training, but the Cowboys could use some help. The Cowboys picked up quite a few safeties, but they could be developed to fill corner and linebacker positions as well.
Kevin Henry - Listed by ESPN as a 4-star prospect, Henry has all the makings of a future star at safety. At 6'2", and 217 lbs, Henry is a well balanced playmaker out of Baton Rouge, LA. He'd originally committed to LSU, but the Cowboy coaches were able to convince him to come to Stillwater. He has excellent coverage range, and is an absolute ball-hawk. Check out his film analysis here.
Kenneth McGruder - Another 4-star safety, McGruder comes from Alief, TX. He stands 6'1" tall, and weighs in at 209 lbs. He has solid coverage skills, with good instincts. He's aggressive, and seems to enjoy contact. Given his size, if he were to bulk up a little, the Cowboys could look to move him to linebacker.
Jordan Burton - A 6'3", 208 lbs, 3-star JUCO safety out of Longview, TX, Burton has top end speed, and is good in pursuit. He could use a little development, specifically in man coverage, but he attacks the ball well and has sideline-to-sideline coverage ability.
Bryce Balous - A 3-star safety, Balous will most likely be redshirted this upcoming season. He's listed at 5'11" and 185 lb, and comes to the Cowboys from McKinney, TX. He's a hard-hitter with unbridled speed. Not a bad combination. With a little bit of polishing, he could develop into a real playmaker for Oklahoma State. Check out his film analysis here.
Za'Carrius Green - Adding another safety to the class, Green is a 6'0", 190 lb, 3-star recruit from Duncanville, TX. Green is a Top 100 player out of the state of Texas, and plays with great instinct. Green has speed and size, allowing him to possibly move around as the Cowboys need him. Check out his film analysis here.
Overall it was exactly the class the Cowboys needed. Gundy and staff identified their issues on the roster, and executed a plan to get those spots filled.
"Overall we're looking at guys ending up at 315-325 (lbs) on the offensive line. Excited about 300 lb defensive linemen. We made some real strides up front. We've added depth at running back and added a young quarterback we're really excited about. So, I'm really excited, as you can tell." Gundy said about the class Wednesday.
As we wrap up the Tulsa World created this Google map showing where the 2015 class comes from. The Cowboys continue to raid the cupboards of the Lone Star State as 10 of 22 signees hail from Texas. The boot of Louisiana, and the plains of Kansas were also hotbeds for this class.