The early signing period for high school athletes opened on Wednesday and all but one of Oklahoma State’s commits sent in their National Letter of Intent. DeSoto (TX) cornerback Jabbar Muhammad will wait for the February signing period to officially sign with the Cowboys.
Even assuming his signature, the class ranks No. 41 in the nation according to the 247sports composite rankings, which is good for fifth in the Big 12. It boasts one four-star recruit in California quarterback Shane Illingworth, who ranks No. 156 in the nation and as the fifth-best pro style quarterback in his class.
OSU had 18 players sign letters of intent on Wednesday, with 10 of those ranked in the top 1,000 nationally. Seven of the remaining eight are unranked, with JUCO signee Tyren Irby being the exception.
Oklahoma State is a young team in 2019. The loss of two starters on the offensive line will be tough to replace, but the only other graduating starter is cornerback AJ Green. Of course, Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace are fairly likely to enter the NFL Draft, but most of the talent on the 2019 squad will be returning, especially on defense.
Because of the talent currently on the roster and the lack of playing time at many positions, the staff attacked positions of need. This class is made up of mostly offensive lineman, defensive backs and defensive lineman. Eleven of OSU’s 19 commits plays one of those position groups. The rest of the class is rounded out with some options at wide receiver, a potential quarterback of the future, a cowboy back, and more.
Again, we can debate all day about the importance of recruiting rankings. It’s been proven that team recruiting rankings is tied to on-field success to a degree, but it isn’t the end-all-be-all. Gundy and the coaching staff have continually show an ability to find recruits who far outperform their rankings. Brennan Presley is the prime candidate for that honor in this recruiting cycle.
In 12 games, Presley had 82 catches for 1,398 yards and 23 scores, and he added seven interceptions as a defensive back. He started the season with a 77-44 win against Mansfield Timberview (TX), racking up 237 yards and six touchdowns on 17 catches. Those numbers led Bixby to a state championship as Presley won Gatorade Player-of-the-Year in Oklahoma. Somehow, all that amounts to not being ranked in the top 1,000 recruits in America.
The most important position group is the offensive line. With two reliable long-time starters graduating, depth on the line will be important. There are a few candidates on the current roster ready to step up and fill those spots, but it doesn’t hurt to have options in the incoming freshman class. Bryce Bray played an important role on the offensive line this season as a redshirt freshman.
Bray was ranked No. 617 in his class, and OSU has two offensive lineman signed ranked higher than that in the class of 2020. Trent Pullen and Eli Russ are ranked as the second and third best players in OSU’s class at No. 453 and 472 in the nation respectively.
Outside of the offensive line, the staff focused in on defense. Fourteen of the 19 signees come from the defense or the offensive line. In total, there are 10 defensive commits, with Muhammad currently unsigned.
The top players to watch will be QB Illingworth, WR Presley, OL Pullen, OL Russ and CB Korie Black. Other prospects to keep an eye on will be ATH Rashod Owens, LB Mason Cobb, DL Grant Mahon, S Nicolas Session and CB Muhammad.
Illingworth will have a chance to be the quarterback of the future. Assuming he redshirts during Spencer Sanders sophomore season, he will have two or three years to lead the offense. He is already the seventeenth-highest ranked recruit to commit to OSU since recruiting services began in 2003.
Presley, as mentioned, had a stellar senior season in which he won the de-facto “best player in Oklahoma” award as Gatorade POTY. Pullen, Russ and Black all play positions of need and are among the highest ranked commits in this class for OSU. Cobb and Owens are intriguing signing day commits.
Overall, OSU is a young team on both sides of the ball. Without much immediate playing time to offer, it wasn’t a paramount need to bring in a bunch of talented skill players. The staff accomplished it’s two biggest goals with this class: Fill out a now semi-depleted offensive line and add depth on defense.
There are plenty of good players who could make an impact early, or later on when the depth chart clears up. I would look for Pullen and Russ to get opportunities, and the Muhammad, Black and Jordan Reagan could get a chance to fill AJ Green’s open spot. Because of the current depth, not many players in this class will likely see significant time next season, but that doesn’t mean the staff didn’t accomplish it’s needs with this class.