STILLWATER — While carpooling to Oklahoma State's spring finale two weeks ago, Gyasi Akem had a bit of news for Broken Arrow teammate Devon Thomas.
Akem was going to join Thomas and commit to the Cowboys that day.
Thomas wasn't at all surprised.
“I knew it was going to happen,” Thomas said.
In what's expected to be a banner year for Oklahoma's high school recruiting class, OSU has already landed two top in-state targets. Thomas and Akem, who are both rated four-star prospects by Rivals, make up two of the Cowboys' three total commitments so far, joining three-star linebacker Justin Phillips of Pearland, Texas.
“Both of the kids, they look the part,” said Broken Arrow offensive coordinator coach Jay Wilkinson. “When they walk in, they look like Division I, Big 12-type athletes. They don't look like tweeners by any means.
“Obviously, both of them have the physical tools that Division I schools are looking for. Both of them have great size, great speed, move very well and obviously make plays on the field.”
The duo will join fellow Broken Arrow product Zac Veatch at OSU. But Thomas, at 5-11 and 210 pounds, was the first to be noticed by recruiters because of his combination of strength, speed and home-run ability as a running back.
Offers steadily came in, including ones from OSU and Oklahoma. The Sooners originally held Thomas' commitment, but he flipped to the Cowboys in December. Wilkinson cited OSU's offensive system being similar to Broken Arrow's as a key reason for the change, and Thomas added Cowboy running backs coach Jemal Singleton won his family over.
“He was real straightforward with me,” Thomas said of Singleton. “So we just felt like that was the best decision.”
It took longer for Akem to get recruiting attention, primarily because of a knee injury sustained a week before the season opener of his sophomore season that required surgery.
By the following spring, Akem had healed. And though recruiters may have originally rolled through Broken Arrow to see other prospects, Akem's athletic ability as an outside linebacker and speed rusher at 6-1 and 210 pounds was prominently on display. Wilkinson said he even considered playing him at receiver before the injury.
“You see linebackers and you expect them to be huge,” Akem said. “I'm not particularly huge. I'm athletic and I have a running motor. I can go for a while and I'm a little bit faster than most linebackers.”
Akem took unofficial visits to TCU, Baylor and OU. He also attended the same OSU Junior Day as Thomas. After discussions with his mother, Akem decided to pledge to the Cowboys.
“I just really, really like it down in Stillwater,” Akem said. “It's a good environment with good people, good coaches. All the players seem to love it, and I know I probably will too.”
Moving forward, Thomas wants to become a better pass-catcher and a better pass-blocker in his senior season before graduating early and coming to Stillwater for spring practice next year. And Wilkinson raved about Akem's potential, especially once he gets in OSU's full offseason program.
“He's just a real tall, rangy kid that will really pack on some weight when he gets there,” he said. “It gives them a lot of options as far as what positions he could play.”
Things can change between now and Signing Day, of course. But Thomas and Akem are happy the recruiting process is essentially over.
“We don't have to go through all the camps to get an extra offer,” Thomas said. “We don't have to be at Texas then Arkansas then Alabama then Missouri then Louisiana, just every single weekend.
“Instead, we already know we have our offer. We already have where we're going. We have that pretty much sealed to go. All I have to do is focus on football now.”