Oklahoma State's 2005 football results are summed up pretty easily - the Cowboys underachieved on the field and overachieved in recruiting.
The Cowboys need to flip the script on the field in 2006 and then match or better last year's haul with the Class of 2007.
And they'll have to do that in a small package.
With retention rating excellent over the last year and a small senior class, the numbers for 2007 are currently very low. With what is known at the present, the class has approximately 14-16 available spots. That, of course, can change in the next eight months due to attrition, early NFL departures and academic issues. Even with a few unexpected departures, it is safe to assume that OSU's numbers on signing day will be well below the maximum of 25.
Every recruiting class has priority position groups. Interior defensive linemen have long been at the top of the list for OSU. In 2007, the ever-present need for finding high-end d-linemen is combined with a strong need for numbers. The Cowboys experienced trio of Ryan McBean, Larry Brown and Xavier Lawson-Kennedy all will see their eligibilty run out at the end of the 2006 season. That leaves junior Josh Pinaire, sophomore Jeray Chatham and a handful of true freshmen returning in 2007. To replace the three seniors listed and inside-outside combo guy Darnell Smith, Mike Gundy and co. will be searching for defensive linemen across the country. A top junior college interior lineman or two will definitely be on the priority list. The Pokes have already secured the verbal commitment of one high schooler - Schertz (TX) Clemens' Tyrell Higgins.
Elsewhere, there are no real desperate need areas for the class. There are some strong "want" areas, however.
Those start with the running back position.
OSU wanted to land a big-name, difference-making running back in the 2006 class. They did that with Dantrell Savage, but the junior college transfer only has two seasons to play in Stillwater. The Cowboys came close with top prep backs like Michael Goodson and James Aldridge, but close has never counted for much in recruiting. They'll look to close the deal with at least one top high school back in the 2007 class and currently have strong interest from some of the top running backs in the nation like Lennon Creer, Jonathan Dwyer and athlete Gerald Jones. None of those are OSU locks by any stretch, so the OSU staff continues to put out feelers with the country's top ballcarriers.
In addition to Higgins, the remainder of the OSU verbal commitment list remains in the trenches. Offensive linemen Jason Hannan, Nick Martinez and Jonathan Rush form a solid core of an o-line class that is getting close to complete.
Over the next couple of days, we will examine OSU's likely numbers and needs on both sides of the ball in detail, so be sure to check the O-StateIllustrated.com home page each morning this week. On Thursday, we'll examine the offensive needs, with the defense following on Friday or Monday.