OSU's Sean Gleeson is approaching recruiting with a new weapon: scholarships
STILLWATER — Sean Gleeson calls it the golden ticket.
It’s not something Oklahoma State football fans — or fans of any FBS program — spend time thinking about when they read about their team’s recruiting.
But for the first time in his coaching career, Gleeson, the Cowboys’ new offensive coordinator, can look a prospect in the eyes and hand him that golden ticket.
He’s talking about a full scholarship. Nothing unusual. OSU and every other major program in the country offer dozens of them per year.
But the 34-year-old Gleeson, whose college coaching career has been at Division III Fairleigh Dickinson and in the Ivy League at Princeton — two of several entities that do not offer athletic scholarships — is getting his first taste of recruiting without any significant concerns about family finances.
Gleeson has handed out a few offers of golden tickets to OSU, most recently to four-star quarterback recruit Shane Illingworth, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound product of Norco, California.
Gleeson is quickly getting a handle on his new recruiting life, where the job is about building a relationship and proving to a kid and his family that your school is the right fit.
“Without scholarships, you do your best to sell your program, but there’s always a conversation that relates to how much they might have to pay,” Gleeson said. “Mom’s a lawyer, and dad’s a pilot for American Airlines, or something like that.
“There’s gonna be a pretty steep price to pay, regardless of how much you like that kid and how good a job you’ve done in recruiting him. Because need-based financial aid is exactly that. Do you need it?”
With those conversations off the table, Gleeson is going to learn what type of recruiter he can be.
“When you go into a room with the golden ticket, you’re sitting more on the merits of your own salesmanship and the success of your own program,” Gleeson said.
Of the quarterbacks Gleeson appears to be focusing on now, Illingworth is the most highly recruited, with offers already from Washington State, Missouri, Louisville, Arkansas, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and others.
Griffin Brewster from Rome, Georgia, also has an OSU offer, to go with those from Louisville and Bowling Green. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Brewster is a three-star prospect.
While J.D. Head doesn’t yet have an offer, the Pearland, Texas, quarterback seems to be coming into the Cowboys’ focus, based on a report by GoPokes.com in which Head — who began his high school career at Jones — says OSU coaches are set to visit him next week.
Illingworth showed some excitement on Twitter when he announced his OSU offer.
“Wow… I am so excited to announce that I have received an offer to play at Oklahoma State University!!” he wrote.
And that’s exactly the type of enthusiasm Gleeson hopes his recruiting pitch can generate — just like OSU coach Mike Gundy did for Gleeson when he was being pursued by multiple programs last offseason.
“I felt like a recruit for a couple months there, just watching this whole hiring cycle,” Gleeson said. “I’m a quarterback guy, I’m an offensive guy, and there’s no better place in the country to be an offensive coach than here. That’s what excited me.
“I’m hoping quarterbacks feel the same way.”