Gundy touts OSU's new defensive signees
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Thursday, February 07, 2013
2/07/13 at 8:57 AM
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STILLWATER - The Oklahoma State football program, during the days of Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders, was referred to as Tailback U.
Now a more fitting name for the program is Wide Receiver U. That reputation perhaps was furthered when the Cowboys landed two of the nation's top 40 receiver prospects - Marcell Ateman and Ra'Shaad Samples - on signing day.
But what was made clear, if you're keeping track of the positions played by OSU signees, is this: Mike Gundy is serious about upgrading the defense.
"We are going to make some adjustments in recruiting on that side of the ball, which we already have, from a numbers standpoint, to try to get a little better on defense each year," he said.
OSU signed six defensive linemen in the recruiting class of 2012. The Cowboys added six more this year, including Naim Mustafaa (who committed to Georgia before enrolling at OSU for the spring semester) and junior college transplants Ofa Hautau and Sam Wren. Hautau didn't show up on pre-signing day commitment lists, but his letter of intent arrived Wednesday from Utah.
Gundy identified defensive line as a position of need. And, in addressing the need, he said the Cowboys signed their best group of defensive linemen ("because we have some meat in it") in his time as head coach.
"We have got guys that are coming in that are big and physical," the coach said, adding that he expects them to get bigger once they start working with strength coach Rob Glass.
"And then we have some (ends) that are on the edge that have some height and some range," Gundy said, describing Wren as explosive. "And we needed some help at the end position because we lost (three seniors)."
Gundy then referred back to his "best-yet" statement, saying "I will be very surprised if 18 months from now that we all don't agree that this is the best group of defensive linemen that we have signed since I have been the head coach here."
In landing pass-catchers Ateman and Samples, the rich got richer. An OSU receiver has been selected in the first round of two of the past three NFL drafts. Recruits can see big-as-life full-body photos of Dez Bryant and two-time Biletnikoff Award winner Justin Blackmon on a hallway wall outside the coaches' offices.
Ateman referred to OSU as "WR University" in one of his Twitter posts. Did the Cowboys' track record with receivers aid in the recruiting process?
"We were able to attract wide receivers from a much larger area than we do some of the other positions," Gundy said. "We have a number of young men that showed a lot of interest in us. At some point, in the end, it can work against you a little bit because somebody may say 'I don't know if I want to go there. You have already got 12 or 15 guys that can play.' For the most part it works for us and there's a little part of it that scares some guys away in the end."
Parade All-America receiver Fred Ross became OSU's first class of 2013 commitment last February, but he switched to Mississippi State on the eve of signing day, in part because he has two cousins in Starkville, Miss.
Minus Ross, the signing list included 23 players. The class was ranked 24th by Scout.com, 27th by ESPN.com and 34th by Rivals.com.
Original Print Headline: Gundy touts new signees on defense
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
Alpharetta defensive lineman Naim Mustafaa (99, right) celebrates after he sacked Chattahoochee quarterback Travis Marhsall in the first half of their game at Alpharetta High School Friday night. JASON GETZ/Courtesy