How will new facilities help Oklahoma State's recruiting? What are some new areas of explosive growth in terms of recruiting?
Is there a chance that linebacker prospect LaDarius Owens gets a bump up in the next rankings?
We answer those questions in this week's recruiting mailbag.
Money well spent?
Do recruits have a different perception of Oklahoma State now that some consider the Cowboys an up-and-coming program and now that the school has new football facilities?
-- Brad from Alva, Okla.
Certainly, the great arms race in terms of facilities upgrades has helped Oklahoma State recruiting. When things are complete in Stillwater, the Cowboys will have facilities that will be unmatched in college football.
Next week, the coaches will move into their new offices. There will be a new locker room (with iPod and phone docking stations in every locker), a 200-seat theatre-style team meeting room, position meeting rooms and a dining hall that overlooks the stadium. One of the end zones of the stadium has been bowled in, there are new skyboxes, four in-stadium jumbotrons and an enormous new weight room.
The school hasn't finished with its upgrades. Soon, work will begin on a new indoor practice facility. (To read about – and see – the upgrades, go to coachgundy.com and click on the "facilities" link.)
All of these enhancements certainly will provide a big boost to the Cowboys' recruiting efforts. Reception from recruits has been phenomenal, and the key for the Cowboys is to get prospects on campus to show off their facilities. Oklahoma State should be highly ranked this fall and the program has had success of late. Now the Cowboys need to say, "Come check out our new facilities. They are the best in the country."
It seems states such as Arizona and Utah are starting to produce more top-level prospects each year. Granted, regional talent fluctuates year to year, but with general population shifts, can you imagine any new parts of the country becoming a relevant recruiting hot spot?
-- Todd from Mission Viejo, Calif.
We have seen a recruiting "boom" in Arizona and Utah. The explosive population growth, specifically in the Phoenix area, explains the reason as to why we have seen it in Arizona, especially the first half of this decade. In 2005, the population of Arizona was a shade less than 6 million, with a 15.8 percent growth rate from 2000 through '05.
There are more prospects from the state now than ever; in fact, in two of the past three recruiting classes, the state of Arizona has produced the top defensive end prospects in the nation – Everson Griffen and Devon Kennard in 2007 and '09, respectively.
I always have thought the state of Utah was a little underrated when it came to producing talent. BYU and Utah are quality programs that recruit their state with a vengeance, and it's tough for even top-tier programs to go into Utah and "steal" recruits. UCLA signing Xavier Su'a Filo from Provo and USC signing John Martinez from Salt Lake City in February give out-of-state coaches some hope, though.
Two other Western areas that have blossomed over the years have been Las Vegas and the so-called "Inland Empire" in California.
The Inland Empire is the suburban area east of Los Angeles, encompassing Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Some of the cities in the area include Corona, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga and Moreno Valley. Las Vegas, meanwhile, has been one the fastest-growing area in the country for some time now, which explains why we have seen more recruits from that area.
Could LaDarius Owens be upgraded to a four-star prospect? Also, what position do you think he will play in college?
-- Callahan from Anniston, Ala.
Rivals.com analyst Barton Simmons watched Owens – a 6-foot-2, 225-pounder from Bessemer (Ala.) Lanier – in his spring game last week and came away impressed. Owens plays defensive end at Lanier, but he projects as an outside linebacker at the next level. I anticipate that he will be bumped up to four-star status when we revisit the rankings this summer.