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Oklahoma State football: Houston pipeline keeps producing

Kennen Brown and Chris Hardeman from Alief Taylor High School are the latest Houston products committed to the Cowboys who could become top stars.
By Gina Mizell Published: February 4, 2014

— Houston Alief Taylor coach Jody D. Jordan calls it “Michael Jordan Syndrome.”

Kennen Brown, a 6-4 receiver, wanted to haul in the football.

Teammate Chris Hardeman, a speedy and athletic defensive back, wanted to prevent Brown from catching it.

“They help other guys around them get better,” Jordan said.

And those practice battles will continue at the next level, as both Brown and Hardeman will sign with Oklahoma State on Wednesday and headline a strong group of Houston-area players that will join the Cowboys for the 2014 season.

The others: Aldine Eisenhower's Trevion Roberts, a three-star “athlete” projected to play defensive back; Clear Lake's Matthew Mucha, a 6-6 offensive lineman rated a three-star prospect; and a pair of three-star linebackers in Pearland's Justin Phillips and Spring Klein Oak's Josh Mabin.

Houston has traditionally been rich recruiting ground for OSU during Mike Gundy's tenure, particularly when longtime assistant Joe DeForest was on staff. Now, it's often the territory of cornerbacks coach Van Malone, who is from the area and began his coaching career at the high school level there.

“I don't know about other (high) schools,” Jordan said, “but (OSU brings) coaches in and they come and visit with the kids. They come in the spring. Just a high visibility in building a relationship with those kids that goes a long way.

“In this day and age, with the technology and everything, I don't think it's a big deal to say, ‘Hey, I'll just go.' It's not a big deal to go out of state or another part of the country.”

In Hardeman (5-9, 178 pounds), the Cowboys get the son of an Alief Taylor assistant coach who has track speed. He qualified for regionals in the 100-meter dash as a freshman, then became a football starter the following fall.

Big-time programs such as LSU, Arkansas, Baylor, Georgia, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA quickly took notice of that supreme athleticism and offered. LSU earned an early commitment. But following a visit, Hardeman determined that school wasn't the right fit.

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