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The Top 5 Quotes from Mike Gundy’s Tuesday News Conference

On freshman standouts, the portal and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — Spring is in full swing as it pertains to the Oklahoma State football team.

The Cowboys are in Week 3 of spring practice. OSU coach Mike Gundy met with reporters before Tuesday’s practice. Here are five things that stood out with a video of his full news conference below.

1. Nnodim, Ford Standing Out Physically

The Cowboys have gone through about a week of padded college practices, and Gundy name-dropped two freshmen who are holding their own.

The first was noted weight room freak Armstrong Nnodim. A 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive end from Mesquite, Texas, he had 16 sacks at Horn High School last season, which was a school record.

Offensively, Gundy mentioned Josh Ford. A 6-foot-6, 240-pound tight end from Stillwater, Ford was a road grader for the Pioneers’ rushing attack this past season.

Gundy was quick to mention, however, that just because those two are doing well doesn’t mean they’re destined for stardom — just like those who could be struggling through their first few weeks of college ball aren’t doomed forever.

“Armstrong, I will say, is able to hold his own on the physical side of it, defensively,” Gundy said. “Then offensively, Ford can hold his own. Now, their head’s spinning. They might go the wrong direction, but they’re further along physically. So they can kinda battle and fight through things than some other high school players would.

“We’ve had some guys that came that were two years away that ended up being All-Americans, and we had guys that came in and did it early in their career and never really pushed through it. It’s not always a tell-tale sign, but those two guys are holding their own from a physical standpoint.”

2. Recruiting Culture

Nnodim and Ford are classic examples of the types of guys Gundy’s teams are built on.

Nnodim was committed to Rice before attending a camp in Stillwater changed his fortunes. OSU ended up being his only reported Power Five offer. Ford didn’t have any listed offers aside from OSU.

Gundy was asked about the difficulties of recruiting leadership Tuesday, and he ended up giving an insightful answer on OSU’s recruiting process as a whole.

“The ones we recruit, we’re gonna start out with about 125 high school players two and a half years in advance — for the most part, rough numbers-wise,” Gundy said. “Then each one of these guys [assistant coaches] has a responsibility to do all the background work, and then we’ll weed that number down to about 50. And then those 50 will weed us out, and we’ll end up with about 20 to around 15.

“I’m not interested in them bringing a player into our culture that doesn’t fit what we believe in — not because that player’s wrong and we’re right, but because it won’t work. We’re not going to change who we are based on somebody coming in from the outside. That’s why we put a lot of time and effort into the young men we bring in here.”

3. On the Looming Portal Window

The Cowboys got through the end-of-season transfer portal window relatively unscathed, but another is ahead.

The transfer portal reopens May 1 and lasts through the 15th. Gundy said he thinks about the portal but doesn’t get too caught up with it because, to a certain extent, who goes in is out of the coach’s control. He also mentioned that he thinks it’ll be another fairly quiet window for the veteran-heavy Pokes.

“One of the terms we use in our culture is control what you can control,” Gundy said. “I’m not sure what the rhyme or reason is much anymore for why or why not young men go, or young women go, into the portal. Some of it’s justified, some of it may not, but it doesn’t matter. We ultimately have to deal with the hand we’ve been dealt, which is the end result. So, does it cross my mind? Sure. Do I concern myself with it now? No. I wait until the end of the portal and then deal with the hand I’ve been dealt. That’s the way we handle it.

“We have a lot of maturity and a really good cohesive team right now that’s probably not gonna wanna expand out. That doesn’t mean that there might not be some of them that just want an opportunity somewhere else. You’re dealing with large numbers here. There’s 124 of them out here right now, so percentages tell you that could happen to three or four of them.”

4. Paul Randolph’s Energy

If you walked into the Sherman E. Smith Training Center with your eyes closed, you’d probably be able to find the defensive line pretty quick.

If the popping of pads on sleds wasn’t enough, the echoing of new defensive line coach Paul Randolph would lead the way. Randolph is in his first season with the program after recent stints with Indiana, Texas Tech and Memphis.

Gundy spoke glowingly about Randolph to start the spring, and Gundy dived into the energy Randolph brings to practices on Tuesday.

“All these guys coach differently,” Gundy said. “They have to be who they are, and his natural coaching style, from what I’ve seen, is high energy and talking and moving. He’s my age and has got an unusually high energy level for being [57] years old, but he does coach with a lot of energy.”

5. Hylton Is Who Gundy Thought He Was

Kobe Hylton has somewhat flown under the media radar this spring, but he could end up being a big piece to the Cowboys’ success in 2024.

A journeyman defensive back, Hylton is on his fifth school after spending time at Long Island, NEO, Louisiana and UTEP. He was a two-time All-Conference USA honorable mention in his two seasons with the Miners. A 6-foot safety originally from Georgia, Hylton had 54 tackles in his 10 starts at UTEP last season.

The Cowboys were young on the backend last season, and Hylton’s experience could shore things up in 2024.

“You can tell he’s experienced,” Gundy said. “He’s played a lot. He’s gonna be mature and physical enough — he’s fast enough. Now he’s learning new terminology, new schemes, new concepts. But he’s what we thought when we brought him in here. He gives us that extra experience to help several of the young guys at that position get through another year. Because those guys, as we develop them, they can compete and play sparingly, but hopefully Kobe can carry more of a load.”

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