OSU’s Early Evaluation, Gamble on Talent Pays off Big With QB Zane Flores

April 18, 2022

If you’re a Division I-caliber gunslinger, scouts and talent evaluators in most cases know so very early on.

LSU offered Mason Rudolph, a 2014 prospect, a scholarship late in 2012.

Texas Tech offered Bryce Young, a 2020 prospect, a scholarship all the way back in 2016.

But late-rising talents are hard to come by and even harder to project. That’s what makes OSU’s gamble on Nebraska quarterback Zane Flores, who committed to OSU over the weekend as a 2023 prospect, all the more impressive.

Flores didn’t get a ton of early looks despite the talent suggesting he probably should have. There was really no indication that he’d be a high-major prospect. As The Athletic noted recently, not even local South Dakota State offered early in the process.

OSU did, though. It was the third school and second at the power level to offer him a scholarship last winter when very few schools were willing to do the same. And boy did it pay off. The commitment netted the Cowboys a quarterback over the likes of Memphis, Washington, Missouri, Indiana, K-State and others.

Oklahoma State has a lot to offer recruits — especially quarterbacks. Its system is fun, quarterbacks stretch the field, and they get tested weekly against really good defenses.

But Oklahoma State isn’t always going to win recruiting battles like this. Not when there are a dozen other really good schools vying for services, many of which were closer. Why would a kid leave Nebraska to play in Stillwater? On its face — save for the fact that OSU is winning at an elite level under Gundy — it makes sense he’d look elsewhere.

That’s why OSU’s recruiting and evaluations have to be not only spot-on, but also early. Identifying Flores in the process before the big dogs could, undeniably helped OSU’s chances here. It was a gamble on talent early that, in hindsight, wasn’t much of a gamble at all. Some school has to be first even for big names. OSU is reaping the benefits of that with Flores — and it is time and again doing so with other recruits too by scouting, evaluating and offering earlier than most. Now, in the case of Flores, it has a building block for the 2023 cycle and a quarterback of the future to boot.

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