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The Rundown: Mike Gundy Talks about His 2022 Signing Class

Gundy breaks down his 2022 class.

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[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — Mike Gundy signed what could end up being the best recruiting class of his historic tenure.

Oklahoma State added 17 signees on Wednesday morning before heading to Boone Pickens Stadium and discussing the incoming class with reporters. Here is what he had to say. The video of his news conference is at the bottom of this post.

On his overall thoughts on the class

“Six (four-stars)? That’s good. Quite honestly, I don’t even pay attention to four-stars, that’s why I didn’t even know. I’m leading you in a wrong direction, I don’t have a clue how many four stars we had. What we’re looking for is young men that fit our culture. Ones that we know will come in here, work hard, do all the things that I talk about, I don’t need to repeat all that, and stay here, unless they have a good reason to jump in the portal and go somewhere else, okay. We think that’s very important with the trend and the way things are moving. Geographically, we want to stay as local as possible, because we think that helps us keep young men that are here to push through times when maybe it’s not as fun to stay here and then it pays off in the end, like Devin Harper.”

On some of the schools Oklahoma State beat in recruiting battles

“Yeah, so we had, as I scan here, one, two, three, four and a half, I don’t know, could be five that were offered at some point, pursued heavily, or even late by what people would call the blue bloods, that we have on this list. That doesn’t make them a good player, but it kind of comes back to what I said two weeks ago, we have a chance right now at Oklahoma State if it’s handled correctly, to move to the top. If we do it right. Now, I can’t control that. I’m not in charge of the overall concept of what we’re doing here, but we have a real chance if we’re willing to move forward, and take that step right now. And this is a good example that you brought up. I don’t know that we’ve ever signed — you know better than me, you study it, four or five players that had traditional offers from schools that we don’t beat.

On the three defensive linemen that Oklahoma State signed

“So, we took three defensive line, ends, D-linemen that it’s going to be interesting to see how they develop. They’re Collin Oliver, Trace Ford-ish, a little bigger. So, they might push to 280 (pounds). We don’t know. But, the ones we got, we really like and I think it’s pretty evident that our evaluation of that particular position over the last few years has been as good as anybody in the country.”

On defensive lineman Landon Dean switching from tight end to offensive line for his senior season

“Yeah, they have, not as big a school. I had a nice visit with him and his family and his coach a week ago, up there in Frontenac, Kansas. Had a little trouble getting downtown through Main Street because everybody was getting off work and going to, I think it was the bootlegger club, is what they were going to. So I had to go around a couple cars, but anyway, he’s one of those players, 6-4-ish, I think he was 248 the other day. Might be 280 in a year, I don’t know. Athletic, used to be a basketball player, can play both sides of the ball. Really good family, he’s a good culture for us, I’ll put it that way.”

On how much the coaching staff stresses the stability Oklahoma State football has when communicating with recruits

“This is the most movement and fly-by-night operation there’s ever been in college football, in my opinion, I’ve been in it for 35 years. So, before then, I don’t know. But, with the availability of the portal, which I’ve said before, there’s good reasons for the portal. Like we’ll have, you know, we could have two or three or four players even here that are very happy, but they might get in the portal because they want to go somewhere and start, which, we don’t want to lose them, but we also understand. But the way the portal is operating right now, you’re saying starters— like they bring it into me and I scan it, young men that are starters at places are still leaving. So, because of that, the instability in this game is growing year by year. What direction is that gonna go? I don’t know. But, again, I go back to here, we have a chance, if we take that step and decide this is what we want to do here at Oklahoma State in football, we can take the lead, because we have as much stability as anybody in the country, maybe other than Iowa, would be my guess, I could be wrong. Am I pretty close to that? He’s been there —  I’m 18 (years), he’s been there 21 or something. And I think most of their staff’s been there. Other than that, it’s us in stability. So that depends on what they’re looking for. You come here, you want to be a part of the team, you want to get an education, you want to be in our culture, want to make friends for life, you want to develop this young man, want to learn how to be a better husband, a better father, contribute to society, you come to school here. You want all the other stuff? You don’t come here. It’s not who we are. That’s okay. No hard feelings. Either way.”

On the level of in-state recruiting in Oklahoma

“So, we self-scout. We do it in everything we do around here, right, and our production level per capita, for lack of a better term, in the state of Oklahoma has been through the roof. So, we feel like there’s players here that people overlook based on we don’t have real athletic hours in the state like Texas. Our state schools aren’t funded like — I’m just using Texas, because everybody knows about Texas — coaches aren’t funded like Texas. So, people kind of bypass this area. I think that the coaches and the development of the players in the state of Oklahoma in the last four to six years has increased dramatically. So, I’m going to guess we probably missed a couple of kids in the state. There’s been a couple three kids every year that go somewhere else and play good, because recruiting is not perfect science. But, if you’re in the state of Oklahoma, you’re certainly going to get the first option here, based on geographical region, it’s easy for them to get here. Things get a little tough, I can go home and talk to mom and dad, drive two hours back, okay, it’s going to be okay, compared to, I’m from, wherever I’m from. So we’ve had a lot of success with them.”

On the offensive weapons Oklahoma State signed in the class

“Yeah, so with your running backs, you’ve got a nice mixture. You’ve got a powerful guy, that’s going to be — Ollie (Gordon) is going to be at 230 (pounds) someday, would be my guess. He was 208 last week. Once he starts training and eating, I want to guess he’ll play at 230. (CJ Brown) is 177 (pounds) last week, I’m going to guess he’s going to be 190-ish, 195-ish. So we have a nice mixture of style of play with those guys. Give you a little variety there as they progress and then we’ve got some reach and some length at the wideout. (Mason) Gilkey is a non-recruited player for the most part from right up the road here. Valedictorian, 4.0 (GPA) student, basketball player, great football player, probably can do anything he wanted. And a local kid that really wants to be here. We’ve allotted three scholarships either four or five years ago to defense, we’re still that way. You know, that’s part of the — offensively we’re down three, we’ll improve and get better. We need to score more points and do better based on, as we continue to improve here, but when you take three away from offense it’s going to change a little bit, that’s just, it’s a numbers game. But it’s still worth it for us to build up our defense numbers wise and our special teams.”

On the process of identifying Pawhuska receiver Mason Gilkey

“So, our recruiting office finds guys like that and they bring them in and we watch them, and we make a decision on what we see, what his measurables are. We found out he’s a Valedictorian, we found out he’s a 4.0 (GPA) student, found out from the coaches and the principal and the people in his facility that he’s a fantastic person. So he becomes a marquee guy for us. It doesn’t make a difference who recruits him.”

On what it is like recruiting prospects that played against his sons in high school

“Some of these guys, you know, I know more about Gabe Brown than anybody because I’ve watched him for four years. I’ve watched him in practice and seen him in games, the Shettron brothers. I knew a lot about Collin Oliver, I watched him play against my kids for several years, okay. DeSean Brown, the same thing. So that is an advantage for coach (Jason) McEndoo, myself and coach (Joe Bob) Clements to be able to go watch these guys and see them live. So we know more about them than everybody else because we get to see them more, particularly Stillwater kids.”

On comparing Bixby receiver Braylin Presley to Brennan Presley

“Same type of player, more right to left, tougher to two below in a phone booth, would be my guess. I don’t know who’s faster, I mean, they argue over it all the time. We’ll race them this summer, we’ll find out who’s faster. I’m gonna guess there’s not gonna be that much difference in either one of them. Highly-competitive, tough, loves to play football, comes from a good family, very athletic family. They understand right from wrong, mom doesn’t put up with any BS. They’re gonna do what you tell them, they’re gonna love the team. Both of them could run a 40-yard dash under that table and not hit their head. I mean, that’s what you get.”

On Braylin Presley’s role on offense

“He’ll be a slot. He’s a slot receiver, you know, he gets quick passes, you dump it to him, throw it in the flat, throw it to him right now, he’ll catch it, you got to come catch him, tackle him in space. That’s what his role will be, punt return, kick return.”

On junior college signees Xavier Benson and Tyrone Webber

“So, we’re losing the two guys inside on defense, you know, [Malcolm Rodriguez] and [Devin Harper] have been worth, you know, I don’t know if there’s any pair of linebackers in the country that just showed up and have been as valuable as what those guys have been for us. You know, Malcolm Rodriguez should have been first team All-American, but regardless, he was the second team All-American. Devin Harper has been fantastic, so we know we have good young guys behind them, okay, there’s several guys, but we needed one mature player to come in because, you know this, we don’t play two guys, we want to play four. So we needed one guy to come in as mature, and [Benson] has had a bunch of reps. He’s older, he gets it, he’s 230-something pounds. He’s physically mature. He’s excited about being here. So he comes in and gives us some maturity to let us develop some of those younger guys at that position. Tyrone is playing for the national championship here soon. Canadian, we’ve had success with Canadian kids. Mature, really good base, uses his hands, uses his feet well, punches, is able to get a nice blow with the coil punch, doesn’t cross his feet a lot on tape, very athletic. We feel like that once he gets here and gets with coach (Rob) Glass for six months that he’s going to completely change his body and his strength levels, just like with what we did with [Jaylen Warren] that came in.”

On how many signees will be early enrollees

“Right now, I think we’re looking at 11. Now, I could be wrong, I don’t know. All these number things mess with me, but I think 11. How many did we sign, 23? I think 11.”

On if he could name the early enrollees

“Well, I’m not sure, because, you know, they say they’re coming in. Some of them say they are, some of them say they aren’t, I don’t know, it just depends. I hate to do it. It’s not going to be a big deal anyway. You’ll know in the middle of January. They either show up or they won’t, but I think I heard the number is at 11.” 

On what Oklahoma State did differently recruiting during the extended dead period for COVID

“I think most everybody used the resources they had with Zoom, virtual tours, on-campus visits, but what he alluded to was the reason why is because we have structure and continuity. Most of our staff’s been together forever, I’ve been here for 35 years other than five years of my life. And so that makes a huge impact on an organization in my opinion. People recognize us with our structure, our culture and the consistency we have here. That’s how we were able to get that done.”

On quarterback signee Garret Rangel

“Nice size, 6-2. Gonna develop his body. He’s thin right now, which most high school quarterbacks are. He should push up to around 190 in a year or so. Throws a nice ball, competitive, got a good demeanor. Mom and daddy raised him right. Wants to be here. Understands our culture. Understands being unselfish. He’s not into being all that BS that goes on now. Just wants to come play football and get an education.”

On Rangel starting three years of high school football

“Most of those schools down there, they’re pretty far along scheme-wise. Then they play that high-level 7-on-7. They travel around and play. Those guys get a lot of reps. You’re going back to Texas high school football. They have a 90-minute period in the mornings where they come and do football pretty much year round if they want to. Then they go to practice after school. Those guys are a little further along.”

On the Shettron brothers

“We’ve been fortunate that we’ve had guys come in here … obviously the wide receiver [Talyn] is a marquee national guy. And then we like Tabry. He’s 227 pounds right now. I think he’s gonna be 255 in 18 months, and he’ll develop into being a good football player for what we aske him to do. I think it’s important we don’t try to make him something he’s not. We have to be patient with him. He played Cowboy back at Edmond Santa Fe. They split him out some and did some different things, but playing that position here is much different. So, we need to give him some time and all that as his body develops, but I’m gonna say 250 in 18 months. Should run under 4.8. Kind of fits the role. Comparison, Tracy Moore type of body.”

On the possibility of being the flagship program in the Big 12

“We’ve got a chance if we step up, if we step up and roll. We’re gonna do our part over here in this building, and everybody else has to decide to step up if we want to be at the top. We’ve got a chance right now. You’re recruiting at a high level. I don’t know what we’re ranked. Is there any rankings anymore that are even worth talking about? So, we’re at 22. That’s pretty high for us. We usually float around in the 40s somewhere. That’s back when I used to say either we’re really good recruiters or really good coaches, one or the other. I’m gonna guess that we’re 20 something now, we won 11 games, we’re ninth in the country, we’re in the Fiesta Bowl, lot of good things going right now. If you keep momentum going, you make good decisions in all the important areas, you got a chance.”

On not losing commits when Jim Knowles left for Ohio State

“Our recruiting staff has been fabulous. They guide our defensive staff, and those guys do a good job. Here’s the deal, there’s continuity and structure over here because I’ve been here 18 years. When you have that, you have continuity and you have structure. You have what you call consistency. Parents understand that. The recruits understand that. Coach Knowles was a fabulous coach, and we’d have liked to keep him here for 100 years. He’s not going to be here anymore. Nothing’s gonna change. We won’t miss a beat. We’ll hire another coordinator. I’ve done there for years and years and years. It’s my job to find a smart, loyal, hard-working person who’s gonna come in here and work with them, whether I hire from inside or I hire from outside. Gotta hire somebody. That’s not going to be a problem because they’ll come in this culture. If they don’t want to come into this culture, it doesn’t make a difference to me who it is or how good he is, they’re not coming. We’re not changing what we do. Consistency is the most important thing in building a big-time college football program, in my opinion. Now, I’ve never been at some of these schools where as people say you wake up on third base and you think you hit a triple. I’ve never been there, so I don’t know what it’s like to coach at a school like that. Coach Knowles will know.”

On Talyn Shettron flipping from OU to OSU

“Really good young men, humble, unselfish, raised right, want to do things for the right reasons, those are the type of players that we get. Those are the type of young men that we get – good students, work hard, committed to themselves, willing to play hard for the guy next to them. They like our culture. They like what we have. As I said, not every recruit likes what we have, but they do. So it was a good fit for us.”

On if this class has a Collin Oliver who can contribute in his first season

“Sure is. Yep.”

On who that guy is

“Well, I’m not gonna say, but there’s three of them there. We have to call it like it is, right? We want to be honest in here with each other. We’ve been pretty good at evaluating that position, right? We like what we have in a big way.”

On what he thinks they’ll do with their remaining scholarships

“For the most part you’re looking at transfers either way because 98% of high school players have signed, would be my guess. But we don’t know what our numbers are because we don’t know where we’re at on the portal. If the portal guys go out, you can portal guys in. We won’t know that until the first week in January, second week in January because we could have – I said the other day I would guess we would have three or four players that would jump in the portal because they want to be somewhere and start. I respect that. I think that’s awesome. In fact, we’ve had a couple that are in now that have come in and talked about it and told me the reasons why and it’s all positive. It’s just the way the world works. We might have a couple others. If so, four will go out and four will come in. Two go out, two come in. That’s generally gonna take place in the spring or up until about Juneish.”

On super senior scholarships

“I think we’ll have nine super seniors next year, so we have to play that numbers game also.”

On corner signee Cameron Epps

“Unusual body. He’s 6-2ish, 6-3ish, 190ish, long, rangy, looks like Justin Gilbert body-wise. When I was up there at St. Louis Chaminade a week ago, that’s a heck of a school, too now. Pretty cool, 150-year old school that I’d never have been there, but that’s a heck of an operation. Anyway, Justin Gilbert-looking body – little taller. I think that he might be 210 in 18 months, really. I think he’s got a lot of growth. Real rangy, very athletic. I don’t know what his stars were. It’s hard for me to project anything, but when I saw his body, projected his size, saw his athleticism – you know he played quarterback for them the latter part of the year because their quarterback got hurt and they needed some way to score points, and he made a lot of plays at quarterback. Just like Justin Gilbert did. Highly intelligent. Chaminade St. Louis is a private school that is very, very highly rated academically. Those guys that come there to play sports still have to achieve academically. Some private schools are different – not there. Looking forward to getting him here.”

On if they need to move the early signing period

“Some of your bigger schools are trying to move it so they can get back in late and cheat. Right where it is is where it needs to be right now because there’s not much cheating going on that I’m seeing. I saw a little bit of NIL stuff here in the last week to two weeks that might have factored in with us. I don’t have any evidence to bring to the table to say that, just in my history of it, I see a little bit of it, but it needs to stay right where it is. People are complaining about firing head coaches. That’s the reason why they’re wanting to adjust this signing day, is that right? OK, well don’t fire a head coach during the season. That solves that problem. The ADs can do it. They’re grown men. They can do what they want. I don’t care. Just giving you my opinion. It’s good where it is, and quite honestly, they should have a July signing day. How many players did we have committed by July? Sign them. You want to save money? Sign those guys and communicate with them via phone, text all that, and then you don’t have to get in a plane, get in a car, fly somewhere, draw per diem, pay for a hotel, pay for a rental car, pay for a flight trip. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense to me, but I don’t make those decisions. I’m a pretty reasonable and rational person. Usually that doesn’t work when you’re dealing with administration. 

“So, sign them in July, sign them in December and do what’s left over in February. I wouldn’t use firing coaches as a crutch. How many times have I had to replace coaches or coordinators in the last 18 years? Like what, six or eight? Well I just wait until after January to either bump a guy up or replace him. Why can’t everybody else do that?”

On offensive line signee Calvin Harvey

“He’s a big man and he’s every bit of that [6-8, 320 pounds]. When he came in, he came to a game this year on a visit. He came in and we were over there at the indoor doing our walkthrough on a Friday, I believe a Friday, and he walked through the door. He’s a big man. He had a minor, not major, but minor, knee. They fixed it. He’s rehabbed. He’s back and rolling right now, but he missed a month or so or six weeks, I’m not sure. He has a great future. When you’re that size, if you’ll develop some toughness over a period of time and you’ll learn to train hard and get some grit, you have a real chance. You and I don’t have that chance. We were out from Day 1. He has that chance.”

On getting a guy from the Houston area, which has been SEC country

“We’ll always recruit down in that part of the country based on how long Texas stays in this league. If they jump within a year or so, it could get more difficult down there. I don’t know that for sure. Hypothetically, I’m just saying it could bring more people this way with Texas being in the league and A&M’s in the league. So, some of the schools in the southeast can come over here now and say, ‘Hey, we play here twice a year.’ See what I’m saying? That’s just kind of the way it works in recruiting. Could be more difficult. We don’t go very far from home anyway, so it’s not like we’re losing a lot of ground. We’re gonna blanket the state of Texas, but then we just have to make good business decisions based on what’s available and what we think our chances are of signing those guys at some particular point.”

On not adding a guy from Louisiana

“We tried. We tried. I think he got NIL’d, but I’m not sure. I think we got it but I’m not sure, but we tried. We’ve had a lot of success in what would be north and northwest Louisiana, through that area. Those people, in my history, are a lot like east Texas people – that family, salt-of-the-earth background like what we’re built on here. We’d like to get some out of there, but we just didn’t do it this year.”

On how NIL changed recruiting

“Didn’t really factor in as much with us this year. I think next year it’s gonna be a … I don’t know what it’s gonna be, but I think it’s gonna be there.

“I don’t know what the rules are yet. I honestly don’t know what the NIL rules are. I don’t know what the parameters are, and I don’t think anybody else knows either. I think people are doing it because I don’t think there’s repercussions because there’s not a governing body at this particular time. It’s like going down Highway 51 if there was nobody ever there that checked your speed, nobody’s driving 45. Everybody’s gonna be driving 70. I don’t drive much past 52 because somebody might give me a ticket. I don’t think there’s any tickets being handed out right now for this. I think it’s out of control. That’s just my opinion. I don’t know what direction it’s going. I think this time next year, it’ll be really interesting to see what’s going on. It’d be nice for somebody to predict it. I don’t know anybody in here that can predict it. It’s gonna be going on though.

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