STILLWATER — Mike Gundy’s goal of competing for a Big 12 South football title cannot be accomplished without future NFL talent on the field. Recruiting is the foundation of success, and Oklahoma State will add a talented class on Feb. 3. The Cowboys’ class is ranked No. 12 nationally by Scout.com, No. 21 nationally by Rivals.com and is unranked by ESPN.com. Quarterback recruits Nate Sorenson of Texarkana, Texas, and Johnny Deaton of Sand Springs have received plenty of attention. They are expected to compete for the Cowboys’ starting quarterback spot as freshmen. Here’s a closer look at OSU’s class and other members of the group that should excite Cowboy fans as much as Deaton and Sorenson:
Potential immediate impacts→Defensive tackle Calvin Barnett, Tulsa Washington. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Army All-American is orally committed to the Cowboys but visited Arkansas last weekend. He told GoPokes.com he expects to visit OSU this weekend. The latter is a good sign for the Cowboys since securing his signature is likely their biggest concern with recruiting winding down. Barnett’s physical ability is unquestioned — he proved it in the Army All-American game — and he’ll likely play right away. →Linebacker Shaun Lewis, Fort Bend (Texas) Hightower: The 6-1, 205-pound UnderArmour All-American is an explosive playmaker. He has the physical skills to step in at the linebacker position manned by Andre Sexton the past few seasons. A sideline-to-sideline playmaker who could have an impact on special teams also. →Cornerback Malcolm Murray, Mt. San Antonio (Calif.) C.C.. The 6-2, 205-pounder comes in with great size and athleticism at a position of dire need for the Cowboys. Expect Murray — a junior college transfer with three years of eligibility — to play early and often in 2010.
Keep an eye on...→Running back Joseph Randle, Wichita (Kan.) Southeast. The 6-0, 180-pounder is the type of versatile offensive playmaker who can prosper in Dana Holgorsen’s system. Houston had back-to-back Conference USA freshmen of the year at running back, and both players, Bryce Beall and Charles Sims, were versatile runners. They made teams pay with catches out of the backfield, leaving them one-on-one with defenders.
Overlooked gem→Defensive back Zack Craig, Spring Branch (Texas) Smithson Valley: The 6-2, 172-pounder doesn’t have a great offer list and doesn’t receive daily praise from the recruiting experts, but he’s a playmaker with enthusiasm. An underrated athlete, Craig is very fluid and quick for his size.
Long term prospect→Defensive end Joseph Okafor, Houston (Texas) Bellaire: The 6-6, 231-pounder will need some time to add some pounds and absorb Bill Young’s coaching. But he has excellent athleticism and would provide tons of potential to become a big-time defensive end in the Big 12.