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The Top 5 Quotes from Mike Gundy’s Signing Day News Conference

Gundy discusses his 2024 class.

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[Devin Wilber/PFB]

SIGNING DAY LIVE BLOG

STILLWATER — Another crop of Cowboys put pen to paper on Wednesday.

As of writing, Oklahoma State signed 16 players to its 2024 class on the first day of the early signing period. OSU coach Mike Gundy met with reporters to discuss the class. Quarterback commit Maealiuaki Smith hadn’t signed by the time Gundy took to the podium, so Gundy was unable to talk about Smith (he is supposed to sign shortly). But here are five quotes that stood out from Gundy’s availability.

1. Jaden Allen-Hendrix Is Going to Be How Big?

Jaden Allen-Henrdix is perhaps the most intriguing signee of the day because he is a bit of a mystery.

OSU is listing him at 6-foot-2, 225-pounds, but Gundy thinks he’s going to get bigger.

“He’s a potential 245-pound back,” Gundy said. “He’s just kinda scratching the surface. He changed schools [from Gilbert to Irmo]. Originally, he was at a really smaller school, so we feel like he hasn’t developed his body anywhere near what it’s gonna be two years from now.”

In case you were wondering, Derrick Henry’s NFL Combine measurements were 6-foot-3, 247 pounds. During Ollie Gordon’s Signing Day news conference, Gundy threw out Gordon potentially getting to 230. He is listed at 211 as a sophomore.

Allen-Hendrix ran for 2,215 yards and 25 touchdowns as a high school senior in South Carolina. He moves well and was also a weapon in his high school’s passing game with four receiving TDs this year. So why did he have only one FBS offer before OSU came calling earlier this month?

“I’m gonna guess that they evaluated him as being not fast enough — that would be the reason,” Gundy said. “You asked me why — I don’t know any other reason why. Have you watched his highlights? And he’s 229 pounds, is what he weighed when he was here a week ago. So he has a really, really big lower body. When he spends 18 months in the weight room with Coach (Rob) Glass, with what he has, he’s gonna go to 240. Let’s just say that he’s a 4.65, 4.70 [40-yard dash] guy, he’s gonna drop two tenths off his 40 because of the massive body he has to develop. So I envision him being 240 [pounds] and running in the 4.5s in a couple years.”

2. Mafi Was ‘Loyal’ to Oklahoma State

For most prospects, Signing Day is more of a formality, but there were questions as to where offensive line prospect Nuku Mafi would ink his signature on Wednesday.

Out of Salt Lake City West High School, Mafi committed alongside his high school teammate Semisi Tonga, but Tonga flipped his commitment to Arizona State earlier this month. It was logical to wonder if Mafi would follow, and then reports started surfacing this week about BYU trying to pry Mafi from the Cowboys. But in the end, he stuck with his original commitment.

“He was loyal to us,” Gundy said. “His partner went to another school, so you still had that game going on out there a little bit, which is understandable. He never really acted like he was going any other direction. He was really good. But they were beating up on him pretty good there in the last couple weeks, but he stayed with us.”

3. Flipping Fields

Speaking of flips, the Cowboys pulled one off Wednesday, nabbing Del City’s LaDainian Fields from TCU.

Fields committed to TCU in August, but the in-state Cowboys offered him last week. TCU’s staff, including head coach Sonny Dykes, responded with an in-home visit last week, but the Cowboys had too much momentum. For starters, Fields is a cousin of OSU signee Rodney Fields, and the two played together at Del City. The Fields’ coach at Del City was Robert Jones, who played at OSU.

“The number of flips late has gone down consistently,” Gundy said. “I’m not sure why that is, but [TCU] pushed hard on him, which they should’ve, to keep him. They wanted him. We’re closer. We have more connections there. His home base is surrounded by Oklahoma State people.”

4. Keeping Landyn Cleveland Despite Blue Blood Pursuers

Some people in Landyn Cleveland’s position might’ve flipped.

A 6-foot, 183-pound defensive back, Cleveland committed to OSU in April. In July, he reported an offer from Oklahoma. In October, he reported an offer from Alabama. Through all of that, Cleveland stayed committed to OSU and defensive coordinator Bryan Nardo, who it seems Cleveland has rock solid relationship with.

“So Landyn is a guy that we had committed for a long time, and he didn’t get as much play early because some of the Top-10 schools won’t see his size as what they’re looking for,” Gundy said. “Once he was committed to us, then everybody starts evaluating who we have committed. Then they saw some games that he played through the first three or four games of the year, and then they realize, in their opinion, ‘We should’ve been recruiting this guy.’

“The schools that came in on him, in most cases, there’s a high percentage that we have lost those guys, but he has been very loyal and stayed with us from Day 1. Nardo recruited him and has been on him and has a really good relationship with him. We have a good relationship with his home base, and we were able to keep him for that reason.”

5. Temerrick Johnson ‘Very Similar’ to Collin Oliver

Are you ready for some name drops?

Temerrick Johnson is a 6-foot-3, 209-pound linebacker from Midlothian, Texas. He had 17.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in his senior season. His size right now puts him as a bit of an inbetweener, but there is no denying his quickness and ability. Gundy was asked Wednesday if Johnson reminded him of Collin Oliver. Gundy didn’t stop there.

“Very similar [to Oliver], yeah,” Gundy said. “Depending on how he grows, he could stand up outside. He might move inside, depending on what he does in the weight room in 18 months, but what we like about him is that he’s active, he’s a good tackler and he can run. We’ve had success taking 200-, 205-, 210-pound guys that will hit you and can run. Those guys have benefitted well — Nick Martin, (Malcolm) Rodriguez. Xavier (Benson), of course, was older when we took him, but he kinda falls into that. He’s only 215 pounds, 220 maybe, but he can run and hit. Those guys have been good for us, and we see him that way.”

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