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Gundy Discusses the Nuances of Recruiting, Developing in the Transfer Portal Era

‘Now you have to make a decision on whether you’re developing for your team or somebody else’s.’



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Mike Gundy has gained a reputation of turning three-star prospects into four-star prospects.

Although that was never a simple task — taking into account the work of scouting and developing — the task could become a little more nuanced in an NIL/transfer portal era. Whereas in the past OSU might bring in a guy like Tyler Lacy or Jason Taylor, redshirt him and develop him into an NFL Draft pick, the pressure the portal provides could lead to the microwave getting used instead of the oven.

“But you’re other thought is you get them in here, you get them ready and you play them,” Gundy told Dave Hunziker in a recent podcast. “We used to develop, and we still want to develop. But now you have to make a decision on whether you’re developing for your team or somebody else’s. That’s happening. That’s a fact whether you like it or not.

“That scenario is almost as uncertain and as volatile as trying to predict what to do with NIL money because you don’t want to put a player out there when he’s not ready, but you also don’t want to develop a guy for two years and then he never plays for you, he goes and is a good player for somebody else.”

More than a dozen Cowboys from last season’s roster transferred away this offseason. Among that group are examples of OSU’s superb ability to scout and develop.

Mason Cobb was the No. 1,249 player in his high school recruiting class. A three-star prospect with only a few Power Five offers, Cobb showed his potential as a sophomore in 2021 before bursting onto the scene as a starter in 2022. But now he transferred as a four-star to USC.

Then there’s a guy like Braylin Presley. A highly touted but undersized prospect, Presley chose the Pokes but didn’t play a ton as a true freshman before heading to Tulsa.

You can’t knock the players for doing what they think is in their best interest. Those are just examples to prove that the game has changed. Gundy told Hunziker the world where Taylor Cornelius sits behind Mason Rudolph for four seasons just to get his one season in the sun is gone.

So, how are the Cowboys adjusting?

Well, Gundy is staying true to his location-based recruiting plan — staying within driving distance to Stillwater. The Cowboys have 13 players committed in their 2024 class and all are within a six-hour drive to Stillwater.

Of those recruits, four don’t have a Power Five offer outside of Oklahoma State, according to 247Sports. The Cowboys are relying on their scouting, which has historically been great, and making sure the culture fit is also there.

“We’ve got [13] players committed for this next recruiting cycle, and over half of them are going to fall into what somebody would say is not highly recruited, but we really like them,” Gundy said. “I really like where we’re at right now. We’re not reaching for players, but we’re also bringing in players that we think fit this culture and that want to live in this college town, that want to be in this environment. And we think that they’ll stay here and do really well. Now, I’m not so naïve to think those numbers are going to diminish based on the portal. That’s just a fact.”

You can listen to Gundy’s full interview with Dave Hunziker here.

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