ORANGE PRATTLE: Could Cowboys tap into Florida recruiting base?

Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma State brand have been plastered all around Orlando for the past week with the Cowboys playing in the Camping World Bowl. Could the opportunity get OSU a pipeline into the recruiting-rich state of Florida?

Bruce Waterfield

ORLANDO, Fla. — Mike Gundy is a businessman.

He’s always thinking, what will help better his business – the Oklahoma State football program. Whether it’s the media attention that was drubbed up with his mullet – or his rattlesnake hunting, or his “Big Daddy” mug, or his wrestling singlet – he always sees the dollar figures that it brings to OSU. Back in the summer he even referred to his hairstyle as a “million-dollar mullet.”

So with a flood of Oklahoma State fans, players, support staff and administrators walking around Orlando, Florida, what does this do for his business?

More importantly, what does it do for the lifeblood of his business – recruiting.

With most Big 12 Conference bowls – and obviously four of the affiliate schools – being in Texas, the Cowboys have constantly pushed the topic to Texas recruits with their brand always popping up in the state.

But now, OSU apparel and logos are all over a state that fields just as much talent as Texas. In fact, three of the top 10 recruits for 2018 hail from Florida, according to 247Sports – the top recruit from Texas comes in at No. 26 on that list.

So even though the Cowboys are only in the state of Florida for a week, how can that one week play a part in Oklahoma State – which has one Florida native on the roster in Malik Kearse, a junior college transfer from Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College and Miami native – tap into the state?

“We'll find out in the latter part of the spring how this bowl game impacted us in this part of the country. There's a lot of players around here, but there's also a lot of schools that recruit here,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said Wednesday at his final press conference before the Camping World Bowl against Virginia Tech.

“There's reasons to look at players all over the country. But then from a business standpoint, we have to make the best decisions on the young men that we're actually capable of signing and getting to our program because, as we all know, there is no second place trophy in recruiting. You either get them or you don't. And so it'll be interesting to see the impacts we have being in this bowl in a few months.”

They already are creating a small pipeline to the state just north, with four Georgia natives on the team. Most of them have even been contributors to the team this year – senior linebacker Kirk Tucker, redshirt senior safety Darius Curry and true freshman running back J.D. King. The fourth is quarterback Jelani Woods, who at 6-foot-7, 235 pounds has had his name thrown around as possibly making a position switch.

Oklahoma State nearly nabbed another top running back from Georgia a week ago, as one of the final two choices of Lyn-J Dixon – losing out to defending national champion Clemson.

Gundy stated after the Bedlam loss that donors were already clamoring to him about expanding resources for the program. He said those resources would be utilized to expand recruiting, so they could “try to get the very best young men in this program that have the most talent more than ever.”

So while many OSU fans may be disappointed in the bowl destination for the Cowboys – thinking their team had the potential to be at a more prestigious bowl – Gundy may be looking at this destination as an opportunity.

The Camping World Bowl has put Gundy on the ground in Florida, and the Oklahoma State brand on billboards and broadcasts throughout the state.

And for the businessman like Gundy, that could prove to be worth more than his million-dollar mullet.

Jason Elmquist is sports editor of The Stillwater News Press. He can be contacted at jelmquist@stwnewspress.com.

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