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Oklahoma State Football Recruiting: Expectations vs. Reality

Oklahoma State Football Recruiting: Expectations vs. Reality based on statistics and analysis from The Athletic

During Mike Gundy's tenure as head football coach at Oklahoma State, there have many gripes from fans, the media, and even some within the program. 

One of the bigger and most brought up though is that of recruiting, more specifically the recruiting rankings that Gundy is responsible for each year. 

Most comments you will hear on the issue is that they are "too low" or "not high enough to compete for championships". You will also hear questions from the media and fans such as "Why does Gundy not go after 4 and 5 stars like everyone else?" and "Why does Gundy settle for lesser talent every year?" 

Well, I pose this question to you.

Is he settling for lesser talent? Because in my opinion, he is not. 

I believe the product he puts on the field year in and year out should prove that. Since Gundy has been head coach, have we not seen some of college footballs most explosive offenses residing in Stillwater, OK? Have they not had a consistent number of NFL prospects on the offensive side of the ball which is now evolving into both sides of the ball? Have we also not seen Oklahoma State responsible for the 16th most wins in the nation since Gundy took over in 2005?

The Athletic has written an article on Big 12 football recruiting and its expectations of each team matched with its reality we have seen for the last decade. 

In the article it takes a look at each of the teams recruiting rankings over the last 5 and 10 years, the data of what they have put on the field, and a reasonable outlook on how the program is doing. 

In terms of Oklahoma State, here is the data:

Oklahoma State Recruiting Rankings

The Athetic

5-Year FBS10-Year FBSBest Worst5-Year B1210-Year B12



25 (2011)

45 (‘16, ’20)



“Oklahoma State’s recruiting has become quite consistent over the course of the past decade. The Pokes have been hanging out in the 35-45 range of the national rankings with each of their past six classes. Mike Gundy and his staff have a blueprint and don’t stray from it much. Their reputation on offense and the NFL talent they’ve produced gives them a chance to sign four-star skill players and QBs. They develop three-star defenders from Oklahoma, Texas and their surrounding states. They’ll add good transfers to fill needs.”

“The last time the program inked a top-25 class was 2011. That’s never seemed to be a big concern to Gundy, who values fit over hype and knows exactly what he’s looking for to be successful.”

The Outlook: “Well, there’s room for some debate here. “I would approach recruiting a little differently than he does because I would want to finish up higher in those recruiting rankings than we consistently do,” Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder said in 2018. Those remarks, as unproductive as they were, are a reflection of their recruiting ceiling. Oklahoma State wants to contend for Big 12 titles and CFP bids. The best programs in college football have a Blue-Chip Ratio of 50 percent or better. Oklahoma State is at 9 percent this year. Six 10-plus win seasons since 2010 haven’t brought them a lot closer to signing classes on par with Oklahoma and Texas.”

“But they’ll keep discovering and developing three-stars such as Chuba Hubbard into superstars, and they’ll keep winning. If you want to argue top-25 classes are a reasonable ask for a program that’s been this successful, there’s some merit to that. But when your recruiting results become this consistent, you’re probably doing about as well as you possibly could.”

Pokes Reports Robert Allen has his own thoughts on the situation. 

“If you can get four-star players that you are convinced can play and fit Stillwater and the Cowboy culture then go get them, but spend your recruiting time and budget efficiently. I can see more high profile players being recruited but never at the expense of the backbone of well evaluated and blue collar developing players that have built the program to its current state.”

I am also of this mindset. In my opinion do not fix something that isn’t broken. Gundy and his staff routinely find diamonds in the rough and turn them into stars. Some prime examples currently on the roster would Teven Jenkins, a first round hopeful in this years draft, Kolby Harvell-Peel, who received votes to earn Big 12 DPOY, and Trace Ford, who some view may become the best player in the Big 12.

All were previously ranked as three stars or even below but Gundy saw them as real talent he wanted in his locker room. 

Oklahoma State also has a significantly smaller recruiting budget than the “blue bloods” that fans and national media want Gundy to compete with in recruiting. 

When you look at it such as The Athletic has, you can see that these recruiting rankings are not an accurate depiction of what will happen on the field. Oklahoma State is around 5th ranked in the Big 12 for recruiting but 2nd in wins the last decade, behind only Oklahoma.

This may be just be Robert and I but I think if we are winning and competing for Big 12 championships, whatever Gundy and his staff are doing in the West Endzone, it must be working.