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February 4, 2014

How do the Cowboys finish strong with '14 class?

Less than 24 hours out from the time that faxes start rolling in to the Oklahoma State football offices, the Cowboys' class of 2014 is largely in the barn so to speak.

The Cowboys currently have 22 verbal commitments, three mid-term high school early enrollees that are already on campus and two mid-term junior college signees on the commitment list. They picked up two solid additions in three star prospects Jarrell Owens and Kirk Tucker in the last two official visit weekends.

So, what do the Cowboy coaches need to do to finish out the 2014 class strongly?

The first - and probably most important - component is to simply not lose any current commitments over the last day of the recruiting cycle, and receive signed a National Letter of Intent from each of the 22 prospects that are not yet locked in to OSU (the three early enrollees, Mason Rudolph, Devon Thomas and Jordan Frazier are locked in by virtue of attending classes, though they will also formally sign a NLI on Wednesday). Though it may not rank in the top 10 or 15 nationally, the class as it stands is built on a solid base with some offensive star power and wide range of quality defensive prospects. The good news for Cowboy fans is there are no known current verbals who are believed to be in the mix for a last-minute flip. In fact, unless one of them pulled off an official visit somewhere over the last two weeks that nobody knows about, none of the current commitments visited another school after committing to OSU. Assuming that is true, it's a very good sign for OSU hitting goal number one for signing day.

As for last minute flips or decisions in OSU's direction, the pool of candidates is fairly limited. Only four targets who are not currently on the OSU commitment list took official visits to Stillwater. One of those - JUCO defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter - was a long-time verbal commitment to OSU, but the program recently stopped recruiting him.

That likely leaves the other three prospects who visited OSU officially as the only possible additions over the last 24 hours of the recruiting cycle. Here's a look at that trio and why the Cowboys might - and might not - land them.

Kenny Young, LB, River Ridge (LA) Curtis: The most highly-regarded prospect OSU was in on late in the recruiting process, the Rivals100 linebacker visited Stillwater officially two weekends ago. Young is down to LSU, UCLA Arkansas and Texas A&M, along with OSU. He will announce his decision on signing day.

Why OSU might land Young: Glenn Spencer and Eric Henderson. Henderson, a graduate assistant, has done a tremendous job at increasing OSU's footprint in Louisiana and appears to have an excellent relationship with Young, despite not being able to recruit off-campus. Spencer has arguably been OSU's best overall recruiter the last few years and would be Young's position coach. That relationship also appears to be strong. If Young wants to leave home, but decides L.A. is too far, OSU might well be his choice.

Why OSU might not land Young: It is always difficult to pull Louisiana kids with LSU offers out of the state. UCLA also appears to be a major player in Young's recruitment. He visited the Bruins officially last weekend with three River Ridge Curtis teammates and it is a good bet that one of them ends up there. A&M and OSU are the darkhorses here.

Joseph Paul, OL, New Orleans (LA) St. Augustine: Another product of Henderson's efforts, Paul committed to Oklahoma on January 8th. He then visited OSU officially on the 24th. OSU head coach Mike Gundy was believed to be getting the final in-home visit with Paul last Friday evening.

Why OSU might flip Paul: Because they need to. If there's one glaring criticism of the Cowboy class of 2014 as it stands right now, it's on the offensive line. OSU ideally needed four signees in the class, three at a minimum. A Paul flip would get them to that minimum. That need has certainly been pointed out to the 6-4, 340-pounder. Assuming Gundy got the chance for the final sales pitch, you have to think there is some kind of a chance for a last-minute change of commitment.

Why OSU might not flip Paul: The Cowboys currently have no offensive line coach in place. While the candidates - or possibly even the actual hire - have surely been addressed with Paul, that's still a tough spot to recruit from. Add in that last-minute flips are fairly rare as a general rule, and OSU may be a long shot.

Sione Teuhema: The Texas commitment slipped in to Stillwater two weekends ago without almost anyone knowing. Up to that point, OSU never seemed to be on his radar. He also visited LSU officially last weekend.

Why OSU might flip Teuhema: The Cowboys have made a concerted - and successful - effort to recruit Tongan athletes, particularly in the DFW area. Teuhema has a cousin at OSU already (Vili Leveni. His commitment status to Texas certainly seems up in the air, given official visits elsewhere the last two weekends.

Why OSU might not flip Teuhema: His visit to Stillwater was solo. No family - including younger brother and top 2015 prospect Maea Teuhema - or his guardian that has been handling his recruitment accompanied him.



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