STILLWATER, Okla. - Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy visited with members of the media Wednesday in Boone Pickens Stadium to talk about the Cowboys' signing class.
"Today's been a really good day for Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma State football. We were able to sign a really balanced class with the exception of a couple positions. We have a number of young players on our team that we feel like will develop and we'll pick up those positions next year. We obviously had tremendous success in the state of Texas. We were able to pick up a couple players in the Atlanta area again. I feel like we addressed some needs at positions with some two-year players that should be a little more mature and a little more physical and give us a chance to help out those positions right away. I would like to thank our staff, recruiting office, media, the young ladies that help us in recruiting who are students here and our players, who have been our best recruiters. Our current players love being a part of Oklahoma state football and they were our biggest recruiters during the recruiting season. I also want to thank Coach Holder for allowing us private air use. We have a number of donors and Oklahoma State supporters who donate private planes and allow us to get from one city to another. Without everyone pulling together and without the use of airplanes it would be difficult to put a class like this together. It's a good day for Oklahoma State football. I'm looking forward to getting these guys in here this summer and letting them get started being a part of our team."
On landing two highly rated wide receivers:
"We are able to recruit wide receivers from a much larger area than we do in some of the other positions. We have a number of young men that show a lot of interest in us and at some point it can work against you but for the most part it works for us."
On Marcell Ateman and Ra'Shaad Samples:
"One of them is six-foot-four and he gives us a lot. He's very athletic and very physical. He's 190 pounds now so he's going to play at 210. He's every bit of six-four and he might be taller than that, in Marcell [Ateman]. [Ra'Shaad] Samples isn't as tall but he's really fast, has great side-to-side movement and he'll be a really good outside receiver for us. His body type is a lot like Josh Stewart's, but he brings enough to the table that he'll play on the outside for us. Both of these guys will fit in and have an opportunity to play in the first game."
On Dawson Bassett and what he brings to the team:
"He'll be a defensive player. Dawson has earned everything he's gotten up to this point. He was a little bit of a tweener for us because the positions that we needed him at and the positions he played, we weren't going to take them in this class. From a talent standpoint and his attitude and his love of the game, we would have taken him months ago, but we really didn't need him at outside linebacker because we have so many young players at that position. We were able to find a way to get him in our class. He's going to be 245-250 pounds within 18 months. He's more active side-to side than Cooper [Bassett]. If he's anything of a player and has the loyalty that Cooper had for our program, then he's a great take for us. From a talent standpoint, we liked him from day one, we just didn't know that he fit in this class. Unfortunately, sometimes that happens, but we're thrilled that he's a part of a great family and great Oklahoma State people."
On having a tradition of getting brothers and coaches sons to the team:
"If you grow up in a coaching family, you have a good chance of having a feel for what it's like - the everyday environment of athletics and the pressure and the challenges involved. We've been very fortunate that we've had some brothers that have come through here that have done very well. That's a sign that we're handling them the right way and they're happy here at Oklahoma State. If they weren't happy, their brothers wouldn't want to come here. We've been very fortunate because the guys that are coming through here are good players and their brothers were good players. I feel like Oklahoma State is starting to build a football tradition and that's the foundation of where it starts. The former players have to come back and be a part of our alumni weekend. A number of our players have come back on their open weekend in the NFL and they are on the sidelines. They do that on their own. They come back and they want to be here and they want to be a part of our team. We're starting to build some of that tradition that over years and years will begin to pay off for our football team.
On replacing Quinn Sharp and Joseph Randle:
"We've brought Ben Grogan in as our kicker and we feel really good about his future. When I watch tape of these players, if he makes a field goal then he's good and if not we move to the next guy. He kicked a lot of them that went between the goal posts and he has a strong leg. He has the capability of kicking a 50-yarder right now. His work habits are really good. Special teams players at our level--snappers, holders, kickers--have to be willing to do it on their own. We have people responsible for them, but the number of teams that have kicking and or punting coaches would be very minimal so they have to have great work habits. We think that he's a guy who's willing to work really hard to make himself a better player. At the running back position we were just going to take one and we had Corion Webster committed to us for months. Coach Singleton did a really good job of communicating with others. We didn't have that extra scholarship slot until Joseph Randle made himself available for the draft. Then we were able to pick up Rennie Childs. We liked him from the start, but Webster committed first. We're excited about both of them and we think they fit our style of play. We've been very successful on offense with those types of running backs.
On the type of players he looks to recruit in an on-the-field and off-the-field sense:
"We try to get young men who fit our system, who have values, who want to be a part of our team and football is really important to them. Each year we come across three or four guys who are really talented, but in our opinion they won't be a team player, or they won't fit Stillwater, or they won't fit what we need here, so we pass on them. Now, there's a lot of players who pass on Oklahoma State, don't get me wrong. Sometimes we see young men that may not be rated very high. I could throw the names out there all day. I think Justin Blackmon was a two or three star, Kendall Hunter came down to us and TCU, with Pettigrew it came down to us and one other school--the list goes on and on. We have to decide whether they fit our program and we fit their needs here. For example, if you just go take a running back who may be really good in someone's eyes, but doesn't fit our system, so he's not successful here and not happy, then that didn't work. Even though he may be really good, if he doesn't fit us and what we're looking for, then it doesn't help us. In return, it doesn't help him, and he won't be a good recruiter for us. So what we do, is we try to find the right guys who fit our system so they'll be happy here. I've said this for a few years, and I'm not trying to pump up my own tires, but we take a two-star and make him a three, a three and make him a four and a four and make him a five. We really believe that is what we do."
On recruiting players who played in Oklahoma high schools:
"We took one from Oklahoma this year and that bothers me. We offered a number of them--we didn't get them. I think it's important that the people in Oklahoma know, if there's a player who we think in any case can help us, we're going to offer him. We want to take care of all the Oklahoma people, then we want to take care of Texas. We offered a number of players this year and we didn't get them. We have fallen back on players, whether it's Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas or Arkansas, late in the recruiting game. For instance, if you have a recruit jump ship on you, we would just go out there and try to grab another one. That doesn't work. There's pressure at times to fill a roster on signing day, or take guys who are close, just because you think you have to make certain people happy. There's no perfect world there. One thing we started years ago, and I think it's been good for us, is if there's anyone close to here that can play and fits our system, we're going to offer him. We may not get him, but we're going to move forward on him because, in my opinion, a geographical tie to a university and a football team, makes him a better player. If you just parachuted me out in the state of Washington, I'm not going to be as comfortable as if you dropped me over on the other side of Tulsa. It's the same for kids. That's why we don't recruit nationally as much here - we've had so much success with players who are within a six or seven-hour drive of our school."
On how Oklahoma State has done well despite losing coaches to promotions at other schools:
"It makes it difficult. When you lose three coaches in the middle of recruiting, it can affect the relationships that have been established with recruits. Sometimes it can be difficult to mend and move forward. At the end of the day, we have to have values and know what we are on offense, defense and special teams, and how we want to handle our team - our substance and what we stand for. There are going to be coaches who come and go, but if that doesn't change, then the players understand the importance of who we are. We haven't changed those general principles. The last and probably biggest factor is Rob Glass. I've joked around and said this, but he's older than me - a lot older than me. If he ever retires, I'm in trouble. He takes our guys, and the NCAA allows him to have them year-round to teach and discipline them, and he's the best there is. He instills that discipline in them from the time they step on this campus, and when they get to us, they're already somewhat trained. He's the best there is, so he is a huge factor in the stability of this program. Even though he doesn't draw up plays, the discipline and structure he instills in them may be more important than any plays we draw up."