Can the Texas Bowl Help Oklahoma State Get their Foothold Back in H-Town?
STILLWATER – Oklahoma State is heading to Houston to play in the Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl. The last time the Cowboys played in a big event in Houston it was the preseason version of the Texas Bowl with the Advocare Texas Kickoff Classic in NRG Stadium against Mississippi State.
For that season opener, the Cowboys traveled with approximately 11 players from the Houston area. Some played quite a bit like Emmanuel Ogbah at defensive end and Paul Lewis on the offensive line. Then freshman linebacker Justin Phillips from Pearland would end up playing a lot, but the majority of the Houstonians from that team played little and the majority did not finish their careers at Oklahoma State or did not finish playing college football period.
Fast forward to 2019 and the Cowboys' upcoming trip to Houston for the bowl meeting with Texas A&M. You might be surprised to find out that the Cowboys have just one player on their two-deep from the Houston area and that is transfer from Texas A&M Kemah Siverand. The back-up cornerback was not an original Oklahoma State signee in recruiting.
In fact, the Cowboys will carry just five Houston-area players on the roster and the most prominent are freshmen running back Deondrick Glass and offensive tackle Cole Birmingham, both out of Katy.
The Mike Gundy boo birds like to come out and usually use recruiting as their ammo. They like to say Gundy doesn’t work hard enough and the Cowboys don’t recruit well enough. They use the stars as part of their argument, but the stars can just as easily screw a school’s recruiting up as much as it can help it. Best do like your grade school teacher taught you an do your own work than to let somebody that has never coaches, evaluated, or recruited for real a day in their life make your decision for you on which players to go after.
Whether it is who his staff has recruited or how they have developed them, Oklahoma State has done pretty well with the results that count during Gundy’s tenure and that is wins and losses. Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve on things and maybe this bowl trip to Houston can re-engage the Cowboys with the H-town football prospects.
Oklahoma State and Big 12 schools, in general, hit bigger licks in Houston back in the earlier part of the millennium before Texas A&M departed the conference after the 2011 season to join the Southeastern Conference. The Aggies were part of the exit of Nebraska (Big Ten) and Missouri (also SEC) as schools that couldn’t stomach the political meandering of the University of Texas when it came to Big 12 Conference affairs.
When that happened, the dichotomy of recruiting in Texas changed and while LSU and Arkansas had always gone in and recruited players in Texas, and specifically in Houston, now it was open to the entire SEC. Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Auburn all came in looking to cherry pick good players. It changed things immediately.
“Well, we've had a great tradition down there. We don't have as many as we used to based on A&M's departure to the SEC,” Gundy said of the changes at that time. “That changed recruiting down there a little bit. That drew more SEC teams into that part of Texas. We don't go down there as much, but we still get really quality players from there and when we get to a level of interest from a young man, we jump all over it.”
We did the research and this season, as of the final week of the regular season, the SEC had 71 players from the Houston vicinity and 40 of those were on the two-deep of schools in the Southeastern Conference. That compares to 91 players on Big 12 rosters and 46 on the two-deep of schools in the Big 12. However, there are four Big 12 schools in the state of Texas and just one in the SEC.
Here is a complete rundown of the numbers, by conference and by school.
Southeastern Conference Big 12 Conference
School Houston Players on 2-deep/total School Houston Players on 2-deep /total
Texas A&M 16 / 39 University of Texas 17 / 31
LSU 5 / 8 TCU 8 / 19
University of Missouri 4 / 5 Texas Tech University 7 / 19
University of Arkansas 3 / 4 Baylor University 7 / 13
University of Alabama 3 / 3 University of Oklahoma 4 / 9
University of Florida 3 / 3 Oklahoma State University 1 / 5
Univ. of Mississippi 2 / 2 University of Kansas 2 / 2
Auburn University 2 / 2 Kansas State University 0 / 2
South Carolina 0 / 2 Iowa State University 0 / 1
Vanderbilt University 1 / 1 West Virginia University 0 / 0
Mississippi State 1 / 1
University of Georgia 0 / 1
University of Tennessee 0 / 0
University of Kentucky 0 / 0
SEC Total 40 / 71 Big 12 Total 46 / 91
With the split of Texas and Texas A&M, Houston is as much an SEC town, especially with LSU just to the east, as it is a Big 12 town. The oil and gas industry that is so predominant in Houston brings alums from a lot of different schools into the community.
Some Texas A&M fans seemed down about the bowl assignment and not going anywhere far away to play some sexy opponent and instead staying close to play an opponent they have played many times back in the old Big 12 days. The Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher isn’t thinking that way at all.
“We have so many Texas kids. That's very easy to travel down to Houston and be able to come see their kids play, because sometimes when you play those Bowl games they have to go across the country and that's tough on families having to pay all those travel fees and all the hotels to get to see their children play,” Fishers said leading into the recruiting aspect. “But it's a great opportunity for us also to keep building our brand in Houston. It's very important. Houston has become one of the top cities in all of America as far as football players and recruiting and everybody in the world is down there recruiting. It's very important for us to play well and always recruit there and always have a great presence there.”
Former Oklahoma State assistant coach Joe DeForest used to kick tail recruiting in Houston, but like A&M from the Big 12, DeForest has been gone from Gundy and Oklahoma State the same amount of time. The Cowboys have 42 Texans on their team, but 37 of them are from somewhere other than the Houston area.
The 17 commitments in the incoming 2020 recruiting class currently has just four Texans, offensive lineman Trent Pullen and corner Korie Black from Waco Connally, defensive tackle Grant Mahon from Denton Guyer, and corner Jabbar Muhammad from DeSoto. Gundy was into visit the Texas kids this week. There was this evidence from Muhammad.
Maybe with the media attention from the trip and with a win, Oklahoma State can catch some fire in the Greater Houston area because I know there are some good players there. The Cowboys had visits from North Shore linebacker Corey Flagg and Pearland Shadow Creek linebacker Jeremiah Harris, but they chose Miami (Flagg) and Kansas State (Harris).
They also looked hard at receiver Demond Demas of Tomball and he picked Texas A&M. There’s one way to make his think about his decision: beat the Aggies.