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On Dax Hill, Emojis and Being in the Mix



The entire college football and basketball recruiting industry is built upon a single emoji. It has always been this way. Before emojis even existed, Rivals, Scout and 247 Sports were predicated upon basic human and cultural tenants like information, attention and the desire to be known (and make known).

In other words: ?

That silly, all-encompassing emoji can mean myriad things. When Mike Boynton uses it, it means one thing. When Mason Rudolph uses it, it means another thing. When we use it on our Twitter account, it means something else. And of course when Dax Hill uses it, it means yet another thing. Maybe. Or it might mean nothing.

Following the Mother’s Day Mayhem of 2018, I started to think about whether we’re ready for another seven months of breathlessly following the social media whims of a famous high schooler and his famous brother (in our world anyway).

And I think I’ve arrived at the answer: Yes, yes I am here for whatever the Brothers Hill want to dream up and tweet out. I’m here for whatever is going to unfold in the next seven months and a recruitment that will likely end with Lincoln Riley tweeting another ? that means something completely, entirely different than the other ones I mentioned.

I’m here for it because, for once, Oklahoma State is in the mix for a game-changing freshman. Is this how it feels to be you, Alabama and USC and Ohio State?! Because I cannot comprehend the possibility of roping in a handful of Dax Hills every single year. A thing that was said when Dax released his final six of Clemson, OU, Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama and the Pokes: “One of these thing is definitely not anything like the other ones. Thank you, Justice.”

Following and covering recruiting at Oklahoma State can become a rote task. You find the three-star with a chip on his shoulder, you recruit him, he commits, he says three-star things like “I’m here to prove to the world that I’m a big time player,” and then OSU wins 8-10 games in each of his four years in Stillwater.

That’s not to disparage the three-star players of the world. Mike Gundy has unearthed a great formula, and it works for OSU. But the coverage and consumption of three stars is, well, it’s just different than the coverage and consumption of the best 30-35 players in a given football or basketball class. The amount of news that surrounds the top-ranked defensive back in a given class is on a different level.

Part of this is self-serving, of course, because when top-15 players in the country are eye emoji-ing Stillwater, USA, PFB gets more traffic than when they’re not. But I think it’s fair to say that it’s equal parts exciting for everyone.

And this isn’t even about whether Dax Hill pans out in college or becomes what many people think he can become. This is about an elevation in fervor and excitement within a niche part (albeit a very important niche!) of Oklahoma State’s athletics program that is foreign to both those on the inside and those on the outside.

So while Dax will likely eventually end up in some color of red — Bama, OU or the wrong OSU — I’m here for the entire thing. You don’t hop on rides like this one because you necessarily know how they’re going to end. You do so because of the thrill along the way. So keep the Mother’s Day tweets coming, and stock up on ?. You never know when you’ll need to unload every last one of them.

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