STILLWATER — When Oklahoma State travels to Tulsa to face the Golden Hurricane on Saturday night, more Cowboys will feel close to home than at any point in the Mike Gundy era.
The OSU roster currently features 11 players from the Tulsa area, the most during Gundy's tenure as head coach.
Yes, the Cowboys recruit Texas hard and will continue to do so. Getting players from that talent-rich state is a big reason for OSU's rise to become one of the nation's elite programs.
But the OSU coaching staff also understands the importance of recruiting one of the major cities close to campus that also happens to produce many of the state's best athletes each year.
“We've got Oklahoma broken up to our entire staff so that we make sure no stone is left unturned, and Tulsa is definitely a big factor in that,” said OSU running backs coach Jemal Singleton, who is assigned to recruit 10 Tulsa area schools, including Tulsa Kelley and Cascia Hall. “The coaches that do have a piece of the Tulsa area, we recruit it just as hard as we recruit our Texas responsibilities.”
Gaining a bigger recruiting presence in Tulsa has been a process, however.
The Cowboys had seven players from the Tulsa area in 2005, Gundy's first year, before that number dipped to four each season from 2006-08. But during the past three seasons, the roster has featured nine, seven and 11 Tulsa area players, respectively.
Part of that is because of a recent bump in talent, especially in 2009 and 2010, coming out of schools like Tulsa Union, which has won three consecutive Class 6A state titles. But the Cowboys' recent success has also allowed them to start snagging some of the best players from the area.
Gundy's first four recruiting classes featured just one player from the Tulsa area who was a three-star recruit or better, according to Rivals — Jared Glover from Bixby.