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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Cowboys are becoming more of a player in the Texas recruiting wars that are shaping Big 12 programs.
And coach Mike Gundy will need another big recruiting effort, capitalizing on a 9-4 season capped by a berth in the Holiday Bowl -- even as expectations are soaring for a potential challenge for the Cowboys' first Big 12 South title in school history.
The most pressing concern is in the secondary where only cornerback Perrish Cox returns. And with only one other underclassman in the two-deep roster the needs are pressing in this class for immediate talent.
The departure of senior defensive tackles Tonga Tea and Jeray Chatham makes finding two new starters a pressing concern inside. And the Cowboys could use additional depth at linebacker where all three starters will be seniors in 2009.
The Cowboys' offense should be explosive again next season after losing only three starters -- center David Washington, guard Steve Denning and tight end Brandon Pettigrew.
Oklahoma State's balanced offense should be stacked with young key players. Quarterback Zac Robinson will be a senior next year, but an orderly transition is in place with Alex Cate and Brandon Weeden in relief. Leading Big 12 rusher Kendall Hunter will be a junior in 2009 and should be energized after struggling with injuries late in the season.
Dez Bryant is poised to claim the classification as the Big 12's top receiver after Michael Crabtree's declaration for the NFL draft. But as was seen after Bryant's injury in the Holiday Bowl, additional receiving talent needs to be developed around him or the Cowboys' offense becomes stagnant.
Such an across-the-board upgrade of talent will be important if the Cowboys can continue their continued growth into a potential challenger for the school's first BCS bowl.