STILLWATER — Sione Palelei watched the reaction from LSU fans unfold via social media when he announced he had decommited from the school and pledged to Oklahoma State.
Tiger Nation was, in a word, displeased.
“Bad, negative things,” Palelei recently recalled. “It kind of calmed down after a while, but the first few weeks, it was hard.”
It was a flip-flop from SEC country to the Big 12 for the three-star all-purpose back from Gonzales East Ascension High located between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. But Palelei is part of a larger, subtle-but-intriguing recruiting development for the Cowboys — a sudden, newfound presence in Louisiana.
OSU had zero players from its 2013 roster from the state. But the Cowboys currently have three high school commits from Louisiana in Palelei and New Orleans Edna Karr teammates Juwan Offray, a three-star cornerback, and Joyan Williams, a three-star defensive lineman. Junior college transfer D'Nerius Antoine, an unrated linebacker, played his high school ball at New Iberia Westgate near Lafayette.
Additionally, the Cowboys' top remaining target, four-star linebacker Kenny Young, is from River Ridge John Curtis. OSU is also making a late push on two-star offensive lineman Joseph Paul, an Oklahoma commit from New Orleans St. Augustine.
“Our kids are traditionally SEC kids,” Edna Karr coach Nathaniel Jones said. “But I think what happens is guys understand if (college coaches) come in and they do a good job recruiting our guys, (they'll consider all their options). Just like anything else, you've got to believe in yourself and sell your program.
“And I think Oklahoma State has a lot to offer … I think it's an easy sell once you get the guys on campus.”
OSU has had pull in another Southeast state, Georgia, for several years because of defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer's roots and relationships there.