Sooner 2013 recruiting: the stretch run

NORMAN, Okla. — With just about a week remaining before National Signing Day, the Sooner coaching staff is racing down the stretch to fill their final needs. Sooners Illustrated breaks it all down and where they stand inside.

Current rundown: The Sooners were without a defensive tackle commit for the longest time and lost out on legacy prospect Justin Manning to Texas A&M, but have since turned it around in recent days with four pledges at the position over the last 45 days. That, plus a solid collection of defensive back commits, is a large part of the reason why OU has clawed its way towards the Top 10 of the FOX Sports NEXT recruiting rankings. With their 21 pledges just eight days before National Signing Day, the Sooners, once outside the Top 25, right now sit in a 13th-place tie with Nebraska at 2,872 points. They have locked up one five-star, six four-stars and 13 three-stars.

Left on the table: In these last few days, OU will be chasing several prospects that are within its reach. The highest ranked of those is four-star cornerback L.J. Moore, the No. 269 prospect in the Scout 300. Cornerback Adrian Baker is also a likely target, a potential 50-50 decision between OU and former OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables' new spot, Clemson. OU will also be seeking out commits from offensive tackle George Adeosun and offensive guard Joshua Outlaw, both of whom visited last weekend. Don't be surprised if the Sooners pull off some sort of a shocker switch on Signing Day—they have in recent years—that puts the icing on the cake of what was once a ho-hum class.

Strong spot: Defensive backfield—It's hard to argue with what the Sooners have pulled in in their secondary even with Baker and Moore still on the table. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said he wanted to sign at least four to five defensive backs and he's not just on course to do that, but he's got four quality guys. A couple of really good in-state options in cornerback Stanvon Taylor and safety Dominique Alexander—he could move up to linebacker—are part of that group. Also included are one of the nation's top safeties in Fresno Central High East Campus's Hatari Byrd and Miami Central's Ahmad Thomas.

Weak spot: Linebacker—OU really took a hit here when longtime Sooner Jordan Mastrogiovanni de-committed shortly after the Cotton Bowl and gave his services to Texas A&M. That has left Norman North prospect Jordan Evans as the only linebacker commit in this class. And there's not much reason to believe that will change down the stretch here unless the coaching staff could force a switch. Out of their 23 linebacker offers, 21 have already verbally committed elsewhere. Only Deon Hollins and Tyrell Robinson are still on the table and they have their perspective schools in mind which exclude OU. Should OU utilize Alexander at linebacker, the Sooners have pulled in two, but otherwise Evans serves as the lone commit.

Star commit: Running back Keith Ford—This one is a no-brainer. The five-star prospect and nation's fifth best at his position is the most longstanding member of the 2013 class and isn't going anywhere. He has incredible power and vision and great ability to make defenders miss in the open field. OU has struck solid gold with this lead commit of its class.

Sleeper commit: Ahmad Thomas—With 13 three-stars, there's probably plenty of good picks here, but Thomas has some real upside at multiple positions. He is a real run-stopper at his projected safety position at the next level. Thomas could also play his high school position, weakside linebacker, where he led his team with 13 tackles in the Florida 6A State Title game over Gainesville. Thomas looks to be a player that could have a real future at OU.

Projected finish: Don't expect much variation or movement from the Sooners down the stretch. They'll sit somewhere amongst the 12-15 range, right where they are right now, and will fight Texas for the top spot in the Big 12 Conference. With graduation and attrition, roughly four spots remain open for new pledges in this class, so they'll fill that up accordingly. The Sooners aren't done, but they're certainly not far from it and will put the finishing touches on it shortly with some of the above prospects plus maybe a surprise or two.

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