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Kasey Dunn: The Man Behind the Hands

You all know about Oklahoma State’s formidable group of wide receivers, but how well do you know their coach?

OSU wide receivers coach Kasey Dunn at a 2016 spring practice
okstate.com

Kasey Dunn was hired as the running backs coach at Oklahoma State in 2011. Only a month later, he was moved to wide receivers coach to make room for Jemal Singleton. Moving jobs a month after being hired wouldn’t sit well with most people, but Dunn wasn’t fazed. He embraced the new role with open arms. See his quote below from an interview in The Oklahoman when asked if he was excited for the change:

“I think it's great we got the opportunity to hire Jemal. Coach (Mike Gundy) thinks highly of him, so to get him on the staff and get him a part of the offense is a great thing. If it means me sliding over to receivers so be it. We just want to put together the best staff we can.”

And on if he’s comfortable coaching the receivers:

“…I played receiver, so it was a bunch of years, out there with cleats on. As a coach, it's a little easier to coach something if you've played it, but I've spent a lot of time coaching running backs, so either one for me, no problem.”

As Dunn mentions, he spent his college years playing wide receiver at Idaho from 1987-91. He had an outstanding career and finished as a three-time All American, and held school records in receptions, receiving yards and was second in touchdowns. His 268 career receptions were second in FCS history, behind only the GOAT, Jerry Rice.

Dunn then went on to spend time playing in the CFL and NFL before embarking on his coaching career. His coaching journey led him back to Idaho and then onto New Mexico, Washington State, TCU, Arizona, Baylor, Southern Miss and then into the NFL with the San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks before making his way to Oklahoma State. He primarily worked as a running backs, wide receivers and cornerbacks coach.

As I mentioned above, Dunn has been with the Cowboys since 2011. In four of the five seasons he’s been with OSU, they have ranked among the top eight in school history in total offense, scoring offense, passing offense and passing touchdowns. In his inaugural season at OSU, they ranked second nationally in passing yards per game and were third overall in total offense.

Although, a lot of those 2011 numbers can be attributed to #81:

Under Dunn, Justin Blackmon set an OSU record for receptions in a season (122) and won his second Biletnikoff award, given to college football’s best receiver. Then after this remarkable season, Blackmon was selected 5th overall in the NFL draft (I know, I know, it hasn’t turned out so well, but that’s another topic).

But the individual success hasn’t been limited to Blackmon. There have been a couple other receivers to haul in over 1,000 receptions during Dunn’s tenure. Along with Blackmon, there was Josh Stewart in 2012 and James Washington in 2015.

And speaking of the 2015 season, the Cowboys ranked 10th nationally in passing touchdowns per game, seventh nationally in passing yards per game and 23rd nationally in offensive yards per game. In addition, they ranked second in the Big 12 in both passing yards per game and total passing yards behind only Texas Tech. In the five years before Dunn arrived in Stillwater, OSU only cracked the top 40 in passing offense once, and that was in 2010, the season before he arrived (um... but they still had Justin Blackmon).

Alright, alright, I’ll stop boring you with stats, but as you can see, the Cowboy passing game has flourished since Dunn took over as leader of the wideouts.

Along with the superb statistics to back up his coaching ability; the players also seem to respect him for his competitiveness. Here’s a quote from Blackmon about Dunn in 2011 from The Oklahoman:

“I like him a lot,” Blackmon said. “His main goal is to compete and that's what I like to do, so it looks like we will have a good time.”

Or another quote from recent walk-on, turned scholarship athlete Keegan Metcalf via okstate.com; when he was asked what advice he would give to other walk-ons:

“I like coming out here and competing like Coach (Kasey) Dunn talks about every day; making the man across from you as best you can every day. You've just got to love it, and if you have a passion for it, I think it becomes easy.”

Dunn’s obvious coaching prowess and compatibility with his players has been leading to not only wins on the field, but also off the field in recruiting. The most recent success being the additions of former 5-star LSU transfer wide receiver Tyron Johnson, and the highest-rated wide receiver recruit since Dez Bryant, Tylan Wallace.

And these recruiting accomplishments haven’t just been this year. The Cowboys’ six highest rated receiver recruits since 2000 have all come under Coach Dunn, according to 247sports.com.

What’s crazy to think about is, along with incoming recruits Tyron Johnson and Tylan Wallace, the receiving corps in 2017 will include James Washington, Jalen McCleskey, Dillon Stoner, Chris Lacy and Tyrell Alexander.

I feel like this will be every Big 12 defensive coordinator when they see that list of OSU receivers:

All things considered, I realize that Coach Dunn is not the only cog in the machine that is the Oklahoma State passing game. Coach Gundy, Coach Yurcich and Mason Rudolph play major roles in making the passing game tick. But, with all the lights shining on this highly talented 2016 group of Cowboy wide receivers, we wanted to highlight the man on the sideline, working hard and coaching them every day throughout the summer and into the season.