Oklahoma State quarterback Bobby Reid looks for a receiver during the first quarter against Arkansas State on Sept. 9 in Little Rock, Ark. Reid is one of 22 current Cowboys from the Houston metro area who will head home when OSU travels to Houston for an 8 p.m. game with the Cougars on Saturday.

AP, Muskogee, OK

STILLWATER (AP) — A few days before the 2002 Houston Bowl, quarterback Bobby Reid was walking through a Houston mall when a couple football players wearing OSU warmups caught his eye.

“I was like, ‘Who is OSU? The only OSU I know is Ohio State,”’ Reid said Monday.

As it turns out, the players ended up winning more than a bowl game in Houston — they also attracted Oklahoma State’s quarterback of the future.

Oklahoma State’s win against Southern Miss in the Houston Bowl sparked Reid’s curiosity in the Cowboys, and he’d sign with the team just over a year later. Now, Reid is preparing to return to his hometown as a visitor, and he’s not alone. The game at Houston (3-0) this Saturday is a homecoming for 22 players on the Oklahoma State (3-0) roster.

“Everybody’s excited to go back home, and hopefully that will help us raise our level of play just a tad bit,” said safety Andre Sexton, from Cypress Falls High School in Houston. “But also, it’s another game and we’re trying to become 4-0 so we’ve got to go out there and stay focused, even if we are playing in front of our families and friends.”

The Houston Bowl created an opportunity for Oklahoma State in Texas’ largest city, and the Cowboys credit associate head coach Joe DeForest, a former assistant at Houston’s Rice University, for capitalizing on it.

“Joe opened all the doors down there,” offensive coordinator Larry Fedora said. “He’s gotten some great players up here from Houston, and that is incredible to get kids all the way up here. But he’s shown it can be done. The kids are doing well here.

“It’s kind of like a pipeline. Kids see that other guys from Houston are doing well at Oklahoma State.”

Gundy said it only makes sense to target Houston because of its sheer size. The population is about 5 million, more than the entire state of Oklahoma. While on vacation back home, Reid said he noticed Oklahoma State signs and gatherings popping up.

“We put a lot of time and effort into recruiting those specific areas,” Gundy said.

Reid’s presence has also helped. The quarterback was a recognizable name after leading North Shore High School to Texas’ Class 5A state title in 2003.

“I think it was big,” Gundy said. “When you’re able to sign a big-name player from any geographical area, it’s just human instinct for other players to look and see why that happened.”

Reid said he didn’t know if he was the “main reason” other Houston-area players followed him to Oklahoma State, but he did have conversations with receiver Terrance Anderson, linebacker Orie Lemon and others during the recruiting process.

“Bringing me in, I was well-known coming out of high school. I think that gave them a boost of confidence to use me as a marquee guy down there,” Reid said. “It’s been helping. A lot of guys from the Houston area have been coming up here, which is good.”

Another win in Houston would only help draw more players to Stillwater.

“We’re having so much success in recruiting. I’m not going to say that I don’t want to go down there and play really well for recruiting, but I want to play really well to win the game for this team,” Gundy said. “But we’re having a lot of success in recruiting. We’re getting a lot of interest from people in the Houston and Texas areas just because of everything that’s going on here right now.

“We’d love to go down there and play well. ... We have a lot of players that are interested in our school and players from there that are committed and are going to come to school here.”

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