Some context behind OSU’s No. 10 recruiting class in new-look Big 12

Some context behind OSU’s No. 10 recruiting class in new-look Big 12

With traditional recruiting powers Oklahoma and Texas leaving for the SEC, there is a power vacuum in Big 12 recruiting. The Cowboys’ No. 10 ranking in the reconfigured 16-team conference in part reflects their increased focus on the transfer portal.

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

| Dec 20, 2023, 3:38pm CST

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

Dec 20, 2023, 3:38pm CST

STILLWATER — There’s a power vacuum in Big 12 high school football recruiting.

Since 2003, when services like On3 started ranking recruiting classes, Oklahoma and Texas have led the Big 12 each season. For the 2024 recruiting cycle, those traditional football brands and powers are joining the SEC. 

Wednesday marked the first early signing day in a new Big 12, with the four latest expansion members — Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah — being counting toward the 2024 class. 

With conference recruiting supremacy up for grabs, Oklahoma State did not seize the crown. This year, 247 Sports ranks OSU’s high school signing class No. 10 of 16 teams in the Big 12 and No. 56 nationally. The Cowboys have 16 players signed and one commitment, and all but one of them are three-star recruits.

The 2024 OSU signing class

Luke Webb, DL, 6-4, 276 pounds, Deer Park, Texas, three stars

Landyn Cleveland, safety, 6-0, 183 , Mansfield, Texas, three stars

Caleb Hackleman, OL, 6-6, 280, Texarkana, Texas, three stars

David Kabongo, DB, 5-11, 185, Trophy Club, Texas, three stars

Temerrick Johnson, DL, 6-3, 209, Midlothian, Texas, three stars

Chauncey Johnson, OL, 6-5, 290, Lonoke, Arkansas, three stars

Nuku Mafi, OL, 6-5, 295, Salt Lake City, Utah, three stars

Rodney Fields, RB, 5-9, 185, Del City, three stars

Tré Griffiths, WR, 6-3, 200, Keller, Texas, three stars

LaDainian Fields, DB, 6-1, 175, Del City, three stars

Willie Nelson, DB, 5-10, 170, Longview, Texas, three stars

Gunnar Wilson, LB, 6-3, 206, Melissa, Texas, three stars

Armstrong Nnodim, DL, 6-2, 257, Mesquite, three stars

Jonathan Agumadu, DL, 6-2, 215, McKinney, Texas, three stars

Josh Ford, TE, 6-6, 252, Stillwater, three stars

Maealiuaki Smith, QB, 6-4, 195, San Mateo, California, three stars.

Jaden Allen-Hendrix, athlete, 6-2, 225, Columbia, South Carolina, no stars

“Most of these guys have been committed to us a long time and I really like it,” Gundy said. “It’s balanced, it’s a good number for the direction that we’ll go as we try to manage through the changes with rosters and such.”

As of late Wednesday morning, here is how OSU’s class measures up against the Big 12, per 247 Sports’ rankings.

Big 12 2024 recruiting rankings:

No. 1 Texas Tech, 234.39 (21 commits, one five-star, four four-stars)

No. 2 UCF, 218.03 (19 commits, four four-stars)

No. 3 TCU, 214.61 (20 commits, three four-stars)

No. 4 Kansas, 198.64 (17 commits, two four-stars)

No. 5 Arizona State, 198.53 (19 commits, one four-star)

No. 6 Cincinnati, 196.06 (22 commits, one four-star)

No. 7 Arizona, 195.86 (19 commits, one four-star)

No. 8 West Virginia, 189.50 (19 commits)

No. 9 Iowa State 188.81 (22 commits)

No. 10 Oklahoma State, 184.55 (17 commits)

No. 11 BYU, 180.88 (20 commits, one four-star)

No. 12 Utah, 178.54 (14 commits, two four-stars)

No. 13 Kansas State, 178.13 (13 commits, two four-stars)

No. 14 Colorado, 174.18 (Nine commits, one five-star, three four-stars)

No. 15 Baylor, 169.17 (14 commits)

No. 16 Houston, 155.71 (14 commits)

The Cowboys were No. 3 in 2021 and 2022, No. 4 in 2017 and 2014. But in the last cycle, the 2023 recruits, OSU was No. 11. This is the second consecutive year OSU is near the bottom half of Big 12 high school recruiting, which may show a shifted emphasis on building through the transfer portal. 

After a 48-0 loss to Kansas State and 37-16 loss to Kansas last season, Gundy downplayed how much he valued the transfer portal saying he was “Never going to be a big portal guy.” 

Even if Gundy doesn’t like the portal, he used it. OSU brought in 13 transfers for this season,  the No. 22 transfer portal haul in the nation and fourth in the Big 12, as listed by 247 Sports. 

That class featured senior quarterback Alan Bowman, tackle Dalton Cooper and receiver Leon Johnson III, all seniors who led the Cowboys to the Big 12 Championship game. It proved sometimes recruiting 23-year-olds, like Bowman, is just as effective as the nation’s top high school talent. 

“We did it again in the portal this year, which we’ve talked about that,” Gundy said. “I think we did as good of a job as anybody in the country taking players that we felt like could fit and really helped us in offense or defense.”

Gundy said Wednesday, about 15 early signees was where the team needed to be. After running back LaDainian Fields (the cousin of 2024 OSU commit Rodney Fields Jr.) flipped from TCU to OSU on Wednesday morning, OSU settled at 16. OSU will likely add a handful of players on National Signing Day on February 7, and continue building through the portal.

Gundy said his recruiting staff, led by Todd Bradford, will be working three-hour mornings evaluating tape from transfer portal entrants in Houston while the team prepares for the Texas Bowl against Texas A&M on Dec. 27.

“The way the portal is moving, I think is going to be beneficial,” Gundy said in March. “It’s gonna be somewhat hazardous and uncertain. We’re gonna find out where we’re at with the swap of players. We’ll try to get our numbers balanced.”

OSU’s recruiting rank in Big 12 by year

2024: No. 10 

2023: No. 11 

2022: No. 3

2021: No. 3 

2020: No. 5 

2019: No. 5 

2018: No. 5 

2017: No. 4

2016: No. 7

2015: No. 7

2014: No. 4

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Ben Hutchens and his twin brother Sam cover Oklahoma State for the Sellout Crowd. After a decade of living in the state, Ben finally feels justified in calling himself an Oklahoman. You can reach him at [email protected] and continue the dialogue @Ben_ Hutchens_ on social media.

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