What does a 12-1 season, Bedlam victory, Big 12 Championship and Fiesta Bowl win do for an on-the-rise program?
How about some tangible evidence:
In mid-July of 2011, Oklahoma State had five commitments for its 2012 class. One was a four-star prospect.
At the same point this year, Oklahoma State has secured 14 commitments. Four are four-star prospects.
“Everyone knows the program's on the rise,” said Luke Del Rio, a three-star recruit at quarterback who committed to OSU in May. “Coach Gundy has been bringing them from bowl game to bowl game ever since he got there. But last year they really burst onto the scene and kind of climbed into a different class with everything they did.”
Oklahoma State is no longer viewed as an intriguing second-tier option, a school whose recruiters need to convince high schoolers they could one day win big.
Now the Cowboys are a known commodity, with coaches able to tell recruits they will play for conference titles and BCS bowls, then show them the trophies to prove it.
“It wasn't just that they won all those games, but the teams they beat,” Del Rio said. “A team like Boise State and Kellen Moore, they have a lot of wins, but you don't see them that much. OSU beat Texas and they beat Oklahoma and they won the Fiesta Bowl. And all those games were on national TV for everyone to see.”
So, too, was the NFL Draft, a three-day event that gets plenty of hype on ESPN.
And OSU's star-powered pass-catch combo, Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden, were center stage, both taken within the first 22 picks.
In less than a year, the Cowboys showed a nation full of recruits they could develop and win on the college level before cashing in at the professional one.
“Yeah, no doubt that gets your attention,” said Marcell Ateman, a four-star wideout who is committed to OSU. “Obviously, all of us hope to get to that level and they can get you there. Just look, when Blackmon came out, I don't think he wasn't that big of a recruit. But they developed him into a first-round pick.”
Along with Ateman, four-star receivers Fred Ross and Ra'Shaad Samples have committed to OSU.
All had offers to play at a variety of major programs, but all chose Stillwater, crediting the recent success and eye-popping numbers.
Not only do the Cowboys win (23 victories in two seasons), but they do it in style.
In the popular air-raid attack, Weeden threw for 9,004 yards and 71 touchdowns the past two seasons. During that same span, Blackmon had 3,304 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns.
“They love to throw the ball, so that obviously attracts me,” Ateman said. “I've been paying attention since they got Dez Bryant. They are fun to watch, so I'm sure they are fun to play for.”