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On 3-Star Recruits and How I View Oklahoma State’s Philosophy

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If you want to win a national championship in football, you’d better be landing four- and five-star recruits. I get that. It’s a valid point backed up by statistical evidence.

I, too, wish Oklahoma State was able to land more four- and five-star recruits. I’m not greedy. Just a five-star every now and then and a couple of four stars on each side of the ball each year is all I’m asking for. Heck, I think it’s all most Oklahoma State fans are asking for.

All that being said, what really grinds my gears is when I see fans complaining about a three-star recruit who is interested in playing at Oklahoma State.


Landing players is hard. Five-star quarterbacks are committing to schools with ingrained starters thinking they can beat them out, over going to a less-talented program that has an immediately available job opening. That’s insane and should tell you a lot about how players think these days.

These kids all want to go to the same places. Remember when we were young? Unless you were raised to love one team and one team only, you loved whoever was good. Why would you expect an 18-year-old to be any different?

We love OSU and don’t understand why 18-year-old recruits don’t see what we see. But it’s different for a top player, surrounded by numerous influences pushing and pulling them in multiple directions, and being sold by some of the best in the business at the most successful schools in the country. Plus, they’re 18. Were you good at making major, life changing decisions at that age? Probably not. I certainly wasn’t.

So how do you get top recruits to Stillwater?

I’ve interviewed a lot of recruits and commits over the past few years. I always ask them the same question: why did you choose to play at Oklahoma State?

Not one has ever said, “because they win 10 games a year.”

What they do mention is the environment, the family atmosphere, and the relationships they’ve formed with the school and the coaches.

Relationships matter. Fit matters.

Getting players in the NFL matters. Getting to the playoff and national championship matters. After that? It’s about relationships and fit. And that goes both ways. For OSU, the 3-star philosophy has mostly worked. Here’s OSU’s win-loss record since 2009.

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I think Mike Gundy and the coaching staff go after the four- and five-star guys they think they have the best chance of landing. It’s not a lot. And even of those, few rarely choose Oklahoma State. Why? It could be any number of reasons. Mostly though, because they’re often going to Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, LSU, Florida, etc…

Look at Dax Hill. He’s the best opportunity in a while for Oklahoma State to land a potentially program-changing five-star recruit. Why? His older brother Justice is playing for OSU, thus there is a good relationship. But that doesn’t mean he won’t get sold by Oklahoma, which has an exciting and energetic new head coach and just went to the playoff, or Ohio State which seems to crank out defensive backs to the NFL a regular basis.

Or take lineman Marcus Alexander for instance. He committed to Oklahoma a couple of days ago. Many pegged the 2019 offensive lineman as an Oklahoma State commit. He spoke highly of his visit to Stillwater and OSU, and seemed to have built a good relationship with the coaching staff, especially offensive line coach Josh Henson who has proven he can recruit. But when OU made an offer in late May, it wasn’t long before Alexander was quickly swayed to commit to Crimson and Cream.

Alexander, like Hill, was one of the Cowboy staff’s top targets, so you know they did everything legal permissable to get him to commit. It didn’t matter.

And if you think that frustrates you, think about how the coaching staff, which invested the time, energy, and hope into a recruit that spurned them — like others before him —  because the other in-state school suddenly became interested, feels.


Yes, all Oklahoma State football fans (and coaches) are frustrated with OSU not landing more five-star (or even four-star) athletes players. It’s fine to feel that way, but we shouldn’t turn unhappiness that a five-star didn’t pick OSU into complaining about a three-star that does.

Next time you hop in the comments section and complain because Oklahoma State is in the running for a three-star defensive end, remember that comment when the kid flips to Alabama on signing day because the Tide missed out on a top recruit they wanted so they snatched that kid you didn’t think was worthy of your excitement or appreciation.

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