Peninsula power

NORMAN, Okla. — OU's presence in the Sunshine State just continues to get stronger.

After locking up four Florida commitments for the 2012 class--the Sooners signed outside linebacker Eric Striker, center Ty Darlington, cornerback Gary Simon and granted tight end Laith Harlow a medical hardship--they've quickly got back to work down there.

A pair of their first eight verbals reside from the nation's peninsula state.

Running back Greg Bryant from American Heritage School in Delray Beach became the first when he pledged to the Sooners back on March 31.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound power back ranked eighth in the country had 10 total offers before selecting OU.

Then, the other day safety Ahmad Thomas out of Miami Central HS chose the Crimson and Cream.

A 6-foot, 195-pound DB ranked 53rd by, Thomas also held offers from Auburn and North Carolina and experts believe if an enticing Miami offer doesn't sneak in, the Sooners should be safe. Even so, they have a good chance of keeping him.

So, two commitments hail from Florida, but it doesn't stop there.

OU still has seven offers out for uncommitted kids from the Sunshine State.

Wide receivers Jordan Cunningham, Travis Johnson and Stacy Coley, offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, safety Leon McQuay and cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves III and Adrian Baker all have Sooner offers.

Baker, who was set to announce the other day before receiving an OU offer, has already said he hopes to take an official to Norman sometime this upcoming fall.

The Sooners recently made Coley's top 10 list.

And Tunsil, the No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2013 class, has OU inside his top five.

McQuay is from the same high school as Striker, so that could be an advantage should his recruiting period drag out.

Hargreaves III would be a massive get should OU somehow score the top-ranked corner in the nation.

No doubt, there is a huge crop of talent still available in Florida that OU could really get in on.

And recent history suggests it's very possible at least one more player from there will choose Norman at the end of the day.

Two of the last three years, including the four signed in 2012, OU has landed at least one four-star product from Florida.

Darlington was that in the latest group, and OU signed current running back Roy Finch from Niceville back in 2010.

So, why is this presence in Florida starting to become an annual occurrence?

Well, for starts, OU is one of the most attractive programs in the country and the fact that OU has simply extended its grounds there has come into play.

A home-and-home series with Florida State helped expose the Sooner program perhaps more than it had been before.

There's some degree of luck, too, that these players simply wanted to come to the Sooners regardless of what state they're from.

Looking to the future, OU's presence in Florida looks bright, especially if the expansion rumors are true.

Florida State moving from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big 12 would further open the fertile recruiting grounds of Florida because the program could sell the fact that it now plays in the Sunshine State.

Stay tuned for that, but for now, rest assured that OU is continuing to build a new pipeline in addition to their West Coast one in California.

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