Transition Thursdays: Oklahoma State win affects current (and potentially) future recruits

Dan Tracy

Cliff Stokes was in the front row on the east side of Jack Trice Stadium. T.J. Mutcherson was standing on the sideline near the ISU 30-yard line. And Cory Morrissey was in a dorm room in Council Bluffs.

All three were watching the same game. All three saw the same result. All three are now members of the winning team.

When running back Jeff Woody barrelled through the defense of No. 2 Oklahoma State and across the goal line to seal Iowa State’s 37-31 double overtime victory, each of the three had their own take on the biggest win in program history.

Stokes, a junior college transfer from Trinity Valley Community College, took his official visit to Ames for the Oklahoma State game and found himself in shock as fans poured onto the field at Jack Trice Stadium.

“As soon as the last touchdown happened, it was just crazy, I was stuck,” Stokes said. “I couldn’t really say anything except we won, we won.”

The 6-foot-tall defensive back verbally committed to Iowa State a week later.

“[The Oklahoma State game] did play a big part because I’ve never been around anything like that,” Stokes said.

Mutcherson has not played football since 2009, his senior season at Freedom High in Tampa, Fla. After spending two years as a student at Hillsborough Community College (Fla.), Mutcherson finally got his academics on track and decided that to make a comeback to the gridiron.

“I actually sat down and looked in the mirror at myself, and I asked myself ‘what do I really want to do?'” Mutcherson said. “And [I] told me I really wanted to play football and go to school and get an education. … I had offers from other big schools but I actually wanted to come here and make a name for myself instead of following everybody else.”

Although he had only known Iowa for “cornfields and cold weather,” Mutcherson knew early on in the recruiting process that Rhoads and his primary recruiter, defensive line coach Shane Burnham, wanted to give him a second chance.

Mutcherson verbally committed to the Cyclones in November once he became academically eligible but visited Iowa State for the Oklahoma State game, like Stokes.

“Oklahoma State came into the game thinking that it was just going to be a walk-through, a walk in the park and everyone doubted Iowa State,” Mutcherson said.

The Tampa, Fla., native waded through the fans and players on the field after the game and made his way to the locker room where he was a part of the team’s locker room celebration.

“The thing I liked about the players in the locker room was that they all stuck together, and it’s a family-based atmosphere,” Mutcherson said.

Unlike Stokes and Mutcherson, Morrissey was 160 miles west of Ames in his dorm room at Iowa Western. The community college located in Council Bluffs, Iowa, placed nearly a dozen players in Division I programs this season and many were glued to Morrissey’s TV watching the Cyclones and Cowboys battle.

“We had kids that were already committed to other schools that were cheering on Iowa State and others that were cheering for Oklahoma State because of the BCS,” Morrissey said. “It was kind of fun with the whole hall yelling back and forth.”

This fall was an odd one for Morrissey, an Ames native, as he was unable to attend his usual three to five Iowa State home games each season. Growing up so close to Iowa State, Morrissey accepted the scholarship offer quickly when Rhoads offered it.

“Maybe the quickest commit I’ve ever been around,” Rhoads said. “Shortly after the offer he stopped me and said, ‘Can I commit now? or do I have to wait?'”

Did the OSU win have a major impact on luring players into the 2012 recruiting class? The Cyclones had already received verbal commitments from 12 of their 21 recruits prior to the Oklahoma State game.

“I know it really solidified the excitement around our program and the decision for those guys,” Rhoads said. “I would not say it was the end-all factor for the other guys after that, but the national recognition that has gone along with that and the fact that we think our program continues to arrive on the national scene that victory certainly was a shot in the arm.”

A win in November with recruits set to sign three months later may not produce an immediate boost in recruiting, but as defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said the day following the win, certain doors may open with future classes.

“I don’t think you measure how much it’s going to mean to this program not just this year but in the future,” Burnham said. “The kids probably that we’re not in on now, next year we might be in on some of those kids.”