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Oklahoma State Lagging in Recruiting Rankings, but What About its *Rating*

OSU looks a lot better from this angle.



It’s May, which means that the 2021 football recruiting rankings don’t mean a whole lot given that the first signing day is more than seven months away and the second one another six weeks after that.

However, it is disconcerting that OSU is last in the Big 12 rankings for a couple of reasons. 1. Because they’re last in the Big 12. And 2. Because it’s not OSU’s M.O. to trail early and close late. If anything, they do the opposite where they’ll jump out to a big lead in the recruiting rankings with a lot of early commitments before fading when the big dogs land big names late in the cycle.

This could mean OSU is adopting more of a big-dog mindset where they’re eschewing lesser-starred players for bigger fish later on, but that’s the most optimistic view (which I hope is true). What’s more likely the case is that the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted recruiting for everyone, and OSU maybe missed on one or two guys early so their 10th-place ranking in the Big 12 is more of an oddity or an outlier than anything else.

I did want to look a little closer at this though because I think we all see 10th place and start running around like the folks in that amazing Office scene.

But the reality of recruiting rankings is that they’re based on both quantity and quality. We talked a little about this around OSU hoops, where — while OSU’s 2020 class is excellent — it maybe looks slightly better than it actually is because there are five guys in it, which helps bump you up a little (although not a ton) in the rankings.

The opposite is true of OSU football. OSU has landed three pretty quality three-star players, but this is the fewest total any team in the Big 12 has reeled in so far, therefore OSU is last in the Big 12 in recruiting. Even if all three of those guys were five-star guys, OSU might not even be first. It might be third or fourth or something like that just because of how few players Mike Gundy has committed at this point.

So the more interesting indicator for me right now is average player rating. That is, what’s the actual quality of the ranking for the guys you’re bringing in. This hurts teams like Kansas, which have a lot of players committed but at a lower level of quality than an OSU would bring in.

So let’s re-rank the 2021 Big 12 recruiting classes by average player rating (quality) instead of overall ranking (quantity plus quality) and see where OSU nets out.

1. Texas (1st in rankings)
2. OU (7th)
3. West Virginia (6th)
4. Kansas State (8th)
5. Texas Tech (5th)
6. Baylor (2nd)
7. Oklahoma State (10th)
8. TCU (9th)
9. Kansas (4th)
10. Iowa State (3rd)

Even though Kansas (10 commits) and Iowa State (11 commits) have more players in the fold than TCU (4 commits) and OSU (3 commits), the average player rating is not comparable. OSU and TCU are outpacing them.

The surprises here are West Virginia (two four-star guys!) and Kansas State (probably more four-star guys than in Bill Snyder’s entire tenure!). Iowa State, for example, is ranked 3rd in the Big 12 and 22nd nationally in this cycle of rankings, which is not even in the universe of where it will end up once everything is over.

OSU’s current average player rating is almost exactly what it was in 2020, when OSU finished fifth in the Big 12 in recruiting and is slightly lower than in 2018 and 2019 when it also finished fifth in the Big 12 in recruiting.

So while OSU still has to fill out its roster with this class and this sample size is quite small, it’s still worth noting that the variance in overall ranking is due to how few players Gundy has landed for the cycle (which might still be mildly problematic) than it is anything else.

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