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Why Mike Yurcich is a Better Coach than you think

Is Mike Yurcich better than we give him credit for?



The offensive coordinator doesn’t have the most enviable lifestyle. Mike Yurcich, who has been the offensive coordinator for more than two years in Stillwater, has certainly felt the pressures that sometimes come with the position. He certainly felt the heat last season, when his offense averaged an abysmal 13.6 points per game during a five-game losing streak. But when he has the right tools around him, Yurcich has been a respectable coach who understands the in’s and outs of the job – which is much more than just coaching.

As with any coaching position at the collegiate level, recruiting is a major part of the job. If you don’t have talent, you won’t have a job very long. Yurcich is quickly proving that he knows how to find talent. He and Emmanuel Ogbah have one very important quality in common: they both know how to find a quarterback.

Yurcich joined the staff just after the 2013 recruiting class was finalized, so he had the benefit to recruit the entire cycle for the 2014 recruiting class to seek out the talent he wanted to bring in for the next season.

Just weeks after joining the staff, Oklahoma State extended an offer to rising junior quarterback Mason Rudolph, who already held offers from Virginia Tech, LSU, Clemson and South Carolina. A Facebook message and a phone call to go along with the appeal of the spread offense in Stillwater was enough to lure the highly ranked quarterback to Stillwater, among other factors. Rudolph was rated as a four-star prospect, and has high expectations going into his sophomore campaign.

Fast forward a few months past signing day in 2014, and Mike Yurcich’s talent as a quarterback evaluator really emerged. Oklahoma State became the first, and eventually only, Div. I offer for in-state talent John Kolar of Norman North. Kolar is a lanky dual-threat quarterback who has quite a cannon, and is exactly what OSU needed to bring in – a quarterback who needs to be developed. Kolar is a 6-foot-3 quarterback who, upon national signing day, didn’t tip the scales past 200 lbs.

Gundy, a former quarterback himself, certainly understands and appreciates the value of the quarterback. “It’s obviously important that your quarterback is a person who can lead,” Gundy said this weekend. Now with a more experienced quarterback in Rudolph, he thinks the Cowboys “should be able to play faster” now that Rudolph has a better feel for the game. Remember when OSU went throwback in the Baylor last game, and we huddled? Don’t expect much of that this season with the experience and talent in the backfield returning.

Mason Rudolph's debut against Baylor. (Credit: USATSI)

Mason Rudolph’s debut against Baylor. (Credit: USATSI)

In the 2016 recruiting cycle, Mike Yurcich approached Mike Gundy about a little-known quarterback he wanted to become the centerpiece of the 2016 class named Nick Starkel.

Starkel was offered by the Cowboys as an unranked prospect, and quickly blew up on the recruiting trail since joining the list of commitments for OSU. Starkel participated in the Elite 11 finals in Beaverton, Ore., and was hand-picked as one of the top 18 quarterbacks in the nation by the Elite 11 staff.

Starkel has moved up the recruiting rankings, and is now a four-star quarterback who also has a big-time offer from Texas A&M and growing interest from schools such as Notre Dame, who are looking to fill a spot in their 2016 class.

Nick Starkel competing in the Elite 11. (Credit: @BGI_Aivins / Twitter)

Nick Starkel competing in the Elite 11. (Credit: @BGI_Aivins / Twitter)

One of the interesting aspects of recruiting rankings, which realistically don’t mean much, are the merit behind them. It is common that the top programs in the country get the top quarterback prospects. Alabama consistently reels in the top quarterbacks in the nation, with five-star prospects fleeing to Tuscaloosa. Yet the Crimson Tide still have yet to declare a starting quarterback for this season, and it would figure that a five-star prospect would generally swoop the starting position by storm.

The same can be said for LSU; the Tigers are the most popular program in the recruiting hotbed of The Boot, and the program has signed a four-star rated prospect or above every year since 2013. Yet the Tigers passing ranked 114th in the nation, and two quarterbacks vying for playing time have yet to establish themselves as the clear No. 1.

The Cowboys situation is different in that OSU has extended scholarships to under the radar prospects by way of thorough evaluation, and both Kolar and Starkel both received major boosts in the rankings following their commitment, and it would appear the early evaluations of Yurcich and the staff have paid dividends.

If Starkel does sign with OSU, he will become the third straight quarterback who is ranked as a four-star prospect to sign with the Cowboys, one in each of the last three  years.

It’s still early to tell if Starkel or Kolar will develop into the promising quarterback that Rudolph projects to be, but if Yurcich’s evaluation stays true to recent history, the quarterback position could be a promising position for the next five years in Stillwater. And Mike Yurcich’s contribution’s as both a recruiter and coach could be one of the biggest reasons the Cowboys have high expectations going into the 2015 season.

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