Oklahoma State stands firm in its recruiting approach

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Mike Gundy sees no reason to change course even as the recruiting world changes around him.

Oklahoma State’s head coach insists his program will always recruit regionally no matter how many other programs continue to gain a foothold in the fertile Big 12 recruiting landscape.

"We don't have any desire to go across the country unless we feel like there's a reason for us to do so," he said.

Since Texas A&M’s move to the SEC in 2012, recruiting in the state of Texas has gotten more competitive. SEC programs have become the norm on elite Texas recruits priority lists and other schools from coast-to-coast including Stanford, UCLA, Ohio State and Florida State have ventured into the Lone Star state in recent years.

Gundy remains unyielding in his belief the Cowboys can build a championship contender comprised of recruits from Oklahoma, Texas and the remainder of the Big 12 region. And a closer look at the numbers backs up the veteran coach.

Total number of recruits in Texas with offers since 2012

  • Class of 2012: 525 recruits with Division I offers

  • Class of 2013: 512 recruits with Division I offers

  • Class of 2014: 518 recruits with Division I offers

  • Class of 2015: 518 recruits with Division I offers

  • Class of 2016: 458 recruits with Division I offers

  • Class of 2017: 166 recruits with Division I offers

Not only is Texas full of Division I prospects, the state also consistently produces under-the-radar prospects who excel at the next level, often passing four- or five-star prospects in the process. Each season since 2012, Gundy’s program has secured a hidden gem in each class with Emmanuel Ogbah, Jordan Sterns and James Washington standing as shining examples of how quality evaluation can make the increased competition an overstated problem for the Cowboys. A closer look at some of the recruits who were three-stars or lower yet have become impact players in the Big 12 reaffirms Gundy’s stance.

Three stars or below from Texas who thrived in the Big 12 since 2012

In simple terms, Texas will always feature recruits to build a program around, no matter how saturated it may seem. And for Gundy it is a simple business decision. Not only is Texas overloaded with talent, it is more cost-effective for a Oklahoma State program that does have some national reach but can’t really count on winning national battles year in and year out to build a title contender.

"It needs to be more strategic," Gundy said. "If you’re selling vacuum cleaners for a living you have to go somewhere where you think you can sell the most vacuum cleaners with the least amount of overhead expense."

For Oklahoma State, that place is Texas. The Cowboys have established relationships in place and recruits in the Big 12 region are familiar with the program in ways a recruit from Florida, California or Ohio may not be.

"We continue to push hard where we can get young men that know a lot about our program," Gundy said. "The percentage in Texas is higher, with young men who know your program, than if you go far away. At some point (it comes down to), what’s the money, time spent and hours for what you’re getting back?"

Ogbah, Washington and Sterns are signees in the past four years who have gone from under-the-radar recruits to All-Big 12 honors with Pistol Pete on their uniform. Those players played critical roles as Oklahoma State put itself in Big 12 title contention in 2015 while showing the Cowboys have no reason to make significant changes to their recruiting approach.

"It is more difficult, but that’s not going to change our approach," Gundy said. "There are enough young men that can compete at this level that we can bring in. We don’t have to change our format."