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OSU's signing class judged as best of Mike Gundy era

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Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy announced the signing of 23 student-athletes to national letters of intent today, the first day of the early signing period. According to Rivals, this is the highest-ranked recruiting class Gundy has attracted to Stillwater since taking over as head coach in 2005.

The class features 12 defensive players and 11 offensive players, with the Cowboys addressing a specific area of need by signing five offensive linemen. The two most well-represented states in the class are Texas, with 13 signees and Oklahoma, with seven signees. There are 20 high school players in the class and three junior college products.

Included in the class are quarterback Spencer Sanders (Denton, TX/Ryan), receiver C.J. Moore (Tulsa, OK/Union) and defensive back Sean Michael Flanagan (Charleston, AR/Charleston).

A highly-regarded quarterback with the ability to do damage as both a passer and a runner, Sanders capped his senior season by being selected as the Gatorade Texas Player of the Year as well as Mr. Texas Football by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine. He passed for 3,845 yards and 54 touchdowns and rushed for 1,380 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior.

Considered the best wide receiver in the Oklahoma prep ranks and one of the state’s best overall players, regardless of position, Moore chose Oklahoma State over reported offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Texas and several other traditional programs.

Rivals rated Flanagan as the No. 1 overall player in Arkansas, regardless of position. The Cowboys were able to pry him away from the in-state Razorbacks late in the recruiting process.

Flanagan is one of five members of the class who are expected to enroll in January, joining offensive lineman Hunter Anthony, linebacker Blake Barron, defensive back Jarrick Bernard and tight end Jake Ross. Additionally, it should be noted that receiver Patrick McKaufman is already on campus.

The early signing period runs through Dec. 22.

2018 Oklahoma State Signees – Early Signing Period

(Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown/Previous School)

Hunter Anthony OL 6-7 320 Tuttle, OK/Tuttle

Blake Barron LB 6-0 225 Rockwall, TX/Rockwall

Jarrick Bernard DB 6-2 200 Shreveport, LA/Evangel Christian

Bryce Bray OL 6-5 310 Bixby, OK/Bixby

JayVeon Cardwell DB 6-0 175 Cibolo, TX/Steele

Braden Cassity DL 6-2 240 Austin, TX/Westlake

Jacob Farrell OL 6-6 285 Sulphur, OK/Sulphur

Sean Michael Flanagan DB 6-2 185 Charleston, AR/Charleston

Jahmyl Jeter RB 6-0 210 San Antonio, TX/Brennan

Tyler Lacy DL 6-4 240 Sachse, TX/Sachse

Gabe Lemons DB 6-2 175 Coppell, TX/Coppell

Tanner McCalister DB 5-11 180 Rockwall, TX/Rockwall-Heath

Patrick McKaufman WR 6-6 190 Oklahoma City, OK/Douglass/NEO A&M JC

C.J. Moore WR 6-5 175 Tulsa, OK/Union

Kolby Peel LB 6-0 210 College Station, TX/A&M Consolidated

Jake Ross TE 6-6 240 Coweta, OK/Coweta/NEO A&M JC

Spencer Sanders QB 6-2 195 Denton, TX/Ryan

Mike Scott DL 6-5 240 Athens, TX/Trinity Valley CC

Jonathan Shepherd WR 6-4 195 Kilgore, TX/Kilgore

Jason Taylor II DB 6-2 180 Midwest City, OK/Carl Albert

Kanion Williams DB 6-2 180 Dallas, TX/South Oak Cliff

Tyrese Williams OL 6-3 285 Houston, TX/Cy Ridge

Hunter Woodard OL 6-5 295 Tuscola, IL/Tuscola

Coach Mike Gundy met with media at Boone Pickens Stadium to discuss the signees. Some of his comments are below:

Coach Mike Gundy

Opening Statement:

“We had a great class. First off, before I'll open it up for questions, I wanted to thank, obviously, our staff; the people in our facility. There are too many of them to name. They've been fabulous at recruiting. This year we had sellout crowds at home. We had unbelievable attendance. The fans made a huge impact on recruiting. We've talked about it before, when these young men come to our games and they see our stadium full and as loud as they were. As I said earlier in the year, our Oklahoma State people are learning how to be big-time college football fans, and I appreciate them for that. That makes a big difference in recruiting. … We still have families, prospects who come on campus and then get in our building and they are just mesmerized at the architecture; the space, everything that we have. Even though it's seven-years-old, eight-years-old … people see it as brand new because the upkeep is spotless and perfect and they now travel around to other places that have new facilities, and we still get comments on how this could be the most feasible and usable facility in the country. So obviously, that goes out to Coach (Mike) Holder and Mr. Pickens for their hard work years ago to put us in a position to have success from a facilities standpoint. Academics, because we had a thousand on the APR, I don't think there is any question that's influential and/or influences parents. It tracks the right people that will fit our culture here. Marilyn Middlebrook and her staff have been unbelievable. I know that impacts our recruiting. President (Burns) Hargis, he is still somewhat amazing to me that anytime we call over and ask him to visit with a recruit and their family he always makes time and we are very appreciative of that. Sometimes that influences a young man and/or his family. Sometimes, like anything else, they don't have interest. In recruiting we get young men that come here and I don't know that they really care to talk to me, but you never know what can instigate a young man to want to come to your university. President Hargis has communicated face-to-face, taken time to visit some families. That's probably not normal protocol a president of a university. He has been tremendous for us. The staff on campus, the willingness to work together with the athletic and academic community is strong. I think the parents sense that. That helps us in recruiting. And then the people of Stillwater, the community. When we take them around and they go out to eat at restaurants over here on the east side and downtown, we get them out, and people are very willing to just be themselves, which is open arms and friendly. So there are a lot of people to thank. Oklahoma State football continues on the rise. It gets easier for us to recruit every year. It's interesting with the early signing period, we had some poachers. Not as many as in the past. We had a few poachers and the majority of them failed. I thought that was interesting.”

On the early signing period:

“The early signing period is the best thing that has ever happened to college football. It's going to create and improve the quality and parody in the game. We're seeing more and more of it as I have mentioned for three or four years now. I said it in August, if you looked at the Big 12 Conference you will see it again and the early signing period is going to balance out college football, Power Five conference schools, over a period of three or four years. We are really excited about it. What that does is forces us, in our opinion, to do our job; to go out, to evaluate, to get to know the young men, found out everything, get all the information we can about them, make a decision on them and move forward. I think that's great for college football.”

On how the early signing period changes things for him mentally:

“Well we get the poachers. The ones that come after us that get into the latter part of December and or January. I know you were speaking in reference to the bowl, but for me it's a break. It's over with. We may pick up one or two if we come up short in an area. We have six more weeks to go out and do our job and find another one. There are young men out there that have been overlooked. Recruiting is certainly not a perfect science. The NFL spends millions and millions and millions of dollars and they still fail, and we do the same thing. This allows us to say, ‘OK, we got a number here, maybe another number,’ but for the most part we don't have to continue to pull along young men that have been recruited to our program for months and months and months. Let’s get them signed up. Let's move on down the road and get rid of all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. It's going to help clean this game up, in my opinion.”

On others' complaints about the early signing period:

“If you just look at what's out there - and I don't really look at what everybody else is saying - but the main point is just to do your job. Don't ride the wave through the middle of January when you're trying to hang on to four and five-star kids and then you miss out and drop back to a list where schools have done their job to the best of their knowledge. Then they yank kids away. We had a couple of poachers hit us last night, but they failed. Traditional poachers that failed last night because of the early signing period. The only reason they're doing it is because they went after something else and they didn't get it so they're going to look at our list and say, ‘He's a pretty good prospect. Those guys bring guys in and develop them within the program and the culture and they have success.’ The reason some people don't want it is because they want to poach later in the recruiting process. What that does is cause cheating and bad feelings among other people. This signing day has forced us to do our job. Is it strenuous? Sure it is. You finish up the season and then have recruiting visits, home visits and school visits. You should've invested in a helicopter. That's what I would do. Don't tell me about the problems and just give me a solution. We're all in bowl games. Ours is the 28th and others don't have to play until January, so they have more time than we do. We had finals week in the middle of December this year, so we don't get to practice for those five days. That didn't fit our schedule either, so we could either complain about it or find a solution to it. We found a solution to it and we love our class. The best thing they've done is put in this early signing period, and the people saying it's not is because they want to poach other schools. I think this is awesome because now you say, ‘These guys are going to fit our culture and they can help us win a Big 12 championship. Let's go get them signed and let's roll.’ It's better for everybody.”

On Spencer Sanders making sure to send in his letter first:

“I got second-hand information. I have not talked to him this morning, but he said it's hard to lead when you're in the back.”

On Spencer Sanders:

“I think he's a special player. He's been raised the right way. He's got a good mommy and daddy at home, which generally is a good indication they will be quality young men who fit our culture … He's a winner. I love that he is labeled as a dual-threat quarterback. He is a pocket passer that can run, and so were excited about him being a part of our program. He's been very loyal from start to finish and had a lot of opportunities to not be loyal. I will say this, the coaching staff at Denton Ryan was as upfront, honest and strong as any as I've seen in doing things the right way. The young man said he wanted to come to school here. There's other people coming in over the last month, trust me. They said until he says he wants to look at another school, then we are going to do the best we can and hold you off and do what's right. They were tremendous. They know what's going on. They handled it the right way.”

On his advice to Sanders:

“Enjoy his high school career and to be around his friends. Once he picks football back up, he will be fine. He doesn't need to throw a football for a couple of months. He needs to rest in my opinion and just enjoy his career. Everything will get started eventually. It will move really fast, but he will be fine. He just needs to continue on with what he has done.”

On the offensive line signees:

“We got three of them from the state, which we love in-state players. We signed seven in-state players. We got quality young men. They are big. They are long. The one young man we signed from Houston, we think he’s going to be a tremendous center for us. He's 6'3 and he's going to be about 300 pounds and has great feet. The other guys are long and rangy. It's what you need in a class. You need about four to five of those big guys. Put them in the culture, let Rob Glass handle them for a couple of years, change their bodies and then they will be ready to play after they've been in the program for a couple of years.”

On Hunter Anthony:

“He's got an older brother that was at Tuttle that went to North Texas. He was injured, but now he is coming back and he's really gotten big. So we're really expecting his body to develop over the next 24 months. He stayed with us all along. Just a typical kid that's going to be completely different in two years.”

On Tyrese Williams and Bryce Bray:

“We feel good about them. We think they will develop. Again, you can't ask a whole lot of them the first two years. Sometimes they can be a little more of an impact after the first year, but it’s pretty rare. When you take a number of guys that are averaging about 305 pounds across the front, you figure in two years they would average 320. It will be nice to build that back up. Quite honestly, with this class, this is the first time we have gotten our numbers back in the offensive line in about six years. It’s difficult, but we finally built that back up.”

On C.J. Moore and other incoming skill players:

“Moore will have more of an opportunity to get on the field than a big guy. The skill players, we stress to them to come in ready to play. ... Hard to tell, but there has never been a skilled position that we have said, ‘Don’t get ready to play.’ We would prefer to play them. We need numbers with the offense we have. Six to eight receivers, two or three Cowboy Backs and three running backs. So hopefully we will have an impact from some of those freshmen and Moore could very well be one of those guys.”

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