STILLWATER — Recruiting has been a high priority for Oklahoma State since Mike Gundy took over as head coach in January 2005.
The Cowboys' recruiting classes have consistently improved under Gundy and are a big reason for OSU's rise on the college football landscape.
Here's a year-by-year look at the ascent of OSU recruiting under Gundy, beginning with 2006, the first class his coaching staff had a full year to evaluate and pursue.
2006 (National Rank: No. 22 on Rivals.com, No. 16 on Scout.com)
Headliner: CB Perrish Cox. The Waco, Texas, native arrived with top billing and lived up to the hype, especially as a senior. Off-the-field troubles overshadowed his on-the-field exploits, but Cox was a difference maker at cornerback.
Surprise: OT Russell Okung. Broke his way into the starting lineup as a freshman and became a top-five NFL pick. He had plenty of suitors out of high school, but nobody could have anticipated his excellence during his four years in Stillwater.
Disappointment: QB Alex Cate. He was highly regarded out of Utah but made just one start at OSU before transferring Central Washington before his senior season.
Analysis: This group was the foundation of the 2009 senior class, which is among the most successful groups in OSU history. Cox, Okung, Orie Lemon and Keith Toston became all-conference players. Patrick Lavine, Dantrell Savage, Terrance Anderson, Shane Jarka and Derek Burton were contributors.
Grade: B+. Three NFL players in one class? That's pretty good.
2007 (National Rank: No. 30 on Rivals.com, No. 24 on Scout.com)
Headliner: Receiver Dez Bryant. He turned out to be pretty good before lying to NCAA officials cost him his final season in Stillwater. An All-American as a sophomore.
Surprise: Running back Kendall Hunter. A two-time All-American who was largely overlooked out of Tyler, Texas. An example of terrific evaluation by offensive line coach Joe Wickline.
Disappointment: Athlete William Cole. A four-star signee who never made an impact at OSU.
Analysis: OSU's ability to evaluate talent really showed with Hunter, Jamie Blatnick, Grant Garner, Jonathan Rush and Josh Cooper becoming multiyear starters. All were three-star prospects.
Grade: A-. Some disappointments but Bryant and Hunter push the class to an A.
2008 (National Rank: No. 26 on Rivals.com, No. 40 on Scout.com)
Headliner: Running back Kye Staley. A devastating knee injury appeared career-ending, but the former Guthrie High star fought back to have a solid spring. Could see some carries this fall.