Among spring football ending, the basketball transfer portal going berserk and the myriad spring sports in the middle of their respective seasons, it’s been a busy past week or so in the Oklahoma State sports world — and I missed most of it.
I got married the weekend before last and went on my honeymoon directly after. So, as I get caught up on all that I’ve missed, here are some takeaways on the ongoings of OSU Athletics.
1. Football Recruiting Picks Up
Without fail, recruiting news tends to break when I’m away.
Within the past nine days, the Cowboy football team has seen four players pledge their services to the cause — three class of 2024 prospects and a junior college transfer filling the spot of Caleb Etienne (who we’ll get to).
It seems to be a good haul. The three high school commits make up three of the top four players in OSU’s now seven-man class, according to 247Sports.
OSU beat out some stiff competition for safety Landyn Cleveland, who committed Sunday night. He had reported offers from Michigan, Texas, Arkansas, Baylor, Ole Miss, TCU, Penn State, Nebraska, Auburn and Colorado — just to name a few.
Then there is linebacker Jaylen Boardley, who started this commitment train on April 14. He also had an impressive offer list turning down scholarships to LSU, Arkansas, Auburn, Texas Tech, Baylor and others to come to Stillwater. He also continues a legacy of Pleasant Grove High School (Texas) linebackers to wear orange and black with current Cowboys Xavier Benson and Nicolas Martin also coming from the school.
Boardley was shortly thereafter joined by high school teammate Caleb Hackleman, a 6-foot-6, 275-pound offensive lineman, as OSU commits. Hackleman turned down Big 12 schools Texas Tech and Baylor to choose OSU.
Lastly there’s Jarrett Henry out of Trinity Valley Community College who committed to OSU quickly after Etienne hopped in the portal. He is listed at 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, which is hard to teach.
The Cowboys’ 2024 class ranks 24th nationally, which feels a lot better than the 2023 class ranking 42nd nationally. There is still a long way to go, sure, but with it being April, this is a solid start.
2. Etienne Leaving Could Sting
He started every game for an OSU offensive line that struggled in 2022. OSU brought in Texas State transfer Dalton Cooper who is expected to compete for a starting tackle spot next fall, and — though Gundy didn’t mention Cooper by name — OSU’s coach said Etienne felt he had been beaten out.
“Caleb just felt like he got beat out, so he left,” Gundy said. “… He didn’t feel like he was going to start here and that he was going to lose his job, so he wanted to go somewhere else.”
Whether Etienne was going to start in 2023 or not, the blow could come in depth. OSU’s offensive line has been ravaged by injuries for the past three seasons (at least), so it would have been nice for OSU to have more depth there. If a tackle goes down in 2023 the dreaded game of musical chairs could return, whereas Etienne would’ve been a plug-and-play guy if he were a backup.
OSU did bring in Henry, as mentioned above, but he’ll enter 2023 without a spring ball to learn the offense or get in the type of shape OSU likes to have its players in. So, he’ll have to learn at lightspeed this summer and fall to be ready.
3. Let’s Be Patient in the Basketball Portal
Let’s learn from our mistakes.
When the football transfer portal opened in December, it seemed as if this house was on fire. People were leaving at an alarming rate and the returns weren’t immediate. But then as OSU started filling positions of need, things started to feel better. De’Zhaun Stribling, Arland Bruce IV, Justin Kirkland, Justin Wright, Anthony Goodlow — all those guys feel like great fits for 2023.
So, even with the high amount of outgoing transfers in the basketball portal, let’s learn to be patient as needs get filled throughout the coming weeks. It’s OK to be cautious, but the panic button doesn’t need to be pressed in mid-April.
Gone are Kalib Boone, Avery Anderson, Tyreek Smith, Moussa Cisse and Woody Newton. In comes Javon Small, who should supply a playmaking void OSU lacked last season. Mike Boynton still has three scholarships to use (maybe only two if he elects to eat the final NCAA sanction), so let’s just wait and see.
4. Softball, You Good?
What once seemed inconceivable, the Cowgirl softball team is on a five-game losing streak.
Now, four of those loses have to against ranked foes, but that’s still well below the standard OSU coach Kenny Gajewski has set over the past few seasons.
The bats have simply gone cold. During that five-game stretch, OSU has averaged a grody 1.4 runs a game while hitting .221 and leaving 41 runners on base. There are ebbs and flows to any sport, but diamond sports especially. But what once felt like a Bedlam collision course for a Big 12 and national title doesn’t feel as sure any more. The Cowgirls still have work to do.
5. Cowgirl Golf Wins Big 12 Tournament
The Cowgirl golf team finished eighth (of nine teams) at the Big 12 match play event at the beginning of April just to turn around and win the Big 12 Championship by seven strokes this past weekend to secure the program’s 11th Big 12 title.
Junior Maddison Hinson-Tolchard won the individual title with a 4-under 212. Sophomore Clemence Martin finished three strokes back in a tie for third.
Regionals start next week with the NCAA Championships scheduled for May 19-24 in Arizona.