STILLWATER OK - NOVEMBER 27: Oklahoma State Cowboy fans cheer with a cardboard cutout of Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy as the Cowboys prepare to take on the Oklahoma Soones at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 27 2010 in Stillwater Oklahoma. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Mike Gundy and his staff are suddenly cleaning up on the 2013 recruiting trail.
A fickle beast, commitments in recruiting often happen in fits and starts, with momentum seemingly begetting more momentum at times. For Oklahoma State during an 18-hour stretch on Wednesday and Thursday, momentum certainly seemed to be working in a positive feedback loop, as San Antonio (TX) Madison defensive tackle Vincent Taylor and Cibolo (TX) Steele safety Jordan Sterns pledged on Wednesday evening, while Denver (CO) Valor Christian quarterback Luke Del Rio added his name to the 2013 Poke commitment list on Thursday morning.
With those additions, head coach Mike Gundy now has eight pledges in the class that has more than doubled in size over the last several days after Mansfield (TX) offensive tackle Zachary Crabtree committed Monday, which followed a pledge from Killeen (TX) safety Deric Robertson.
Among the three most recent prospects, Taylor is the most highly rated, coming in as a four-star prospect by Rivals and Scout. After bursting onto the scene in the first game of his sophomore year in a nationally-televised match-up against future teammate Jordan Sterns and the Steele Knights, Taylor has not fully realized the potential he showed on that day:
The revelation of the game was easily the young defensive tackle for the winning team, who made his presence felt on seemingly every play -- he was around the ball more often than any of the linebackers on either team. At 6-3 and 240 pounds, Taylor still has plenty of room to grow into his frame, but looked the part of a future top prospect. Often lining up as the nose tackle, ESPN analyst Herm Edwards credited Taylor's disruptive play with forcing the Steele center to fumble several exchanges in an attempt to cut his head up quickly enough to stop the onrushing Taylor.
Taylor did look his best when matched up one-on-one, where he used good hand placement to separate from blocks to pursue plays laterally down the line of scrimmage and downfield. He experienced less success when facing double teams, as he simply doesn't have the leg strength at this time to take on two offensive linemen. However, Taylor did manage to hold his ground on most of those occasions.
If Taylor can continue to develop his strength and improve his technique, which is solid for a player of his age, he could establish himself as one of the top Texas targets in 2013 at a difficult position to fill. One thing is not in question -- his national debut was extremely impressive and with that peformance, Taylor surely put himself squarely on the radar of numerous national programs.
With offers from Baylor (which did not accept an attempted commitment from Taylor last week, for unknown reasons), Houston, Purdue, Texas Tech, and Vanderbilt, interest in Taylor never exploded as expected after that dominant showing, largely a result of mostly underwhelming junior film.
Of major concern for recruiters was his ability to actually grow into the defensive tackle position, as he hovered around 250 pounds for most of his sophomore and junior seasons before he finally broke through and got up to 280 pounds this spring.
If Taylor can continue to develop and learn to keep his motor running at a high level more consistently, he has all the upside that his four-star ratings from Rivals and Scout would suggest.
Vincent Taylor - 2013 DL SA Madison (via TexasPreps)
On the opposing side against Taylor and Madison during that Zero Week match-up in 2010, Sterns de-committed from Texas Tech last week before making the switch to Oklahoma State. A 6-0, 180-pound safety who also plays running back at times for Steele, he's unranked by 247Sports, but rates as a three-star recruit in the opinion of Rivals and Scout. He also held offers from Baylor, Memphis, and Texas State.
An above-average athlete both in terms of his straight-line speed and leaping ability, Sterns also has enough of a physical nature to punish wide receivers over the middle and come downhill in run support. Those favorable attributes also combine with the fact that Oklahoma State has done a strong job of evaluating and developing talent in the defensive backfield over the last several years.
Jordan Sterns - 2013 Athlete Cibolo Steele (via TexasPreps)
Son of former longtime Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, the younger Del Rio is a three-star prospect by Scout and 247Sports, while he remains unranked by Rivals. Holding offers from Colorado State and Oregon State, the Denver product is a 6-2, 190-pounder classified as a pro-style quarterback by the services and committed less than a week after receiving his offer from the Pokes. Known as something of a sleeper prospect, has been making the camp rounds and has impressed at Elite 11 ($):
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound quarterback was one of the most consistent passers on the day, displaying clean mechanics and spinning the football very well. His arm strength was average, but Del Rio's accuracy was pinpoint, especially throwing the deep ball. He plays like a kid who has been around the game's best growing up.
The physical attributes -- height and arm strength -- are not overwhelming, but Del Rio has clearly received good coaching and works to maximize his ability. As a result, his upside isn't spectacularly high, but the odds of him being a complete bust are relatively low considering he's a fairly lightly-regarded prospect at this point.
Just a week ago, the 2013 Oklahoma State recruiting class was something of a disappointment in terms of pure numbers -- no longer an issue at this point, as the Cowboys gain momentum heading into the summer camp season.
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