Baylor emerging as recruiting threat

The Sooners still win their fair share of recruiting battles, but Baylor is inching its way into the mix.

You don’t have to go too far back to the days of when Baylor was the doormat of the Big 12 conference. To the days of when a recruit was offered by Oklahoma and Baylor, you just laughed because you knew he was headed to Norman.

But under Art Briles and with consistent success on the field developing, those days are a thing of the past. OU isn’t a slam dunk over the Bears.

It has happened quite a few times in last two recruiting classes with defensive players like Raaquan Davis, Travon Blanchard and Andrew Billings. All offered by OU but sticking with the Bears when signing day came around.

One criticism of OU’s offense has been its lack of production at wide receiver. No school has hurt the Sooners more on the trail than Briles’ bunch.

“The more success they have, the more interest kids will have in their school,” OU wide receivers coach Jay Norvell said.

And Baylor is starting to have that success on the field against OU. Though the Sooners are 22-2 overall and haven’t lost at home to the Bears, it’s Baylor that has actually won two of the last three games.

OU players recalled last year’s loss embarrassing. Losing to Baylor is not embarrassing, but going down to Waco and being beat 41-12 on a national stage on a Thursday night isn’t something Sooner fans want to remember.

“Try to play one year at a time,” Norvell said. “Last season was last season. This season, obviously, is a new year. It’s an important game for this season.”

And it will be a look at what might have been for the Sooners. For the Class of 2012, Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman was committed to the Bears when OU made the offer in fall 2011.

However, OU was hoping to turn the four-star prospect from Richardson (Texas) Pearce into a defensive back. Coleman has stayed at receiver, and it has worked. He has 29 catches for 572 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns.

No class felt the impact more than 2014 with two highly touted receivers sticking with the Bears. Davion Hall, rated as a five-star prospect, not blinking when a who’s who in college football tried to get him away from Waco.

At OU’s summer camp in 2012, the morning session of the second day, saw Hall and an unknown receiver named K.D. Cannon tear it up on the intramural fields in Norman.

Cannon was offered soon after, and the race was on. But somewhere along the way, it was Baylor who took the lead with Cannon. Committed to the Bears, not even an official visit to OU during the season was enough to change things.

In the end, the Bears ended up with two of the top five-ranked receivers in the class. Cannon has lived up to his billing with 36 catches for 714 yards and six touchdowns. Hall has 15 receptions for 210 yards and a touchdown.

Combined between Coleman, Cannon and Hall, the trio has 80 catches for 1,496 yards and 14 touchdowns. That’s an average of 18.7 yards per catch. OU, as a team, only has 13 receiving touchdowns.

The Sooners can’t lament about what could have been with those three guys, and that’s been the mentality. With a big recruiting weekend on tap and a major wide receiver target coming in with Aledo (Texas) High four-star receiver Ryan Newsome, it’s another opportunity.

“Anytime a team has success that gains momentum with recruiting,” Norvell said. “We have a lot of tradition to sell and still think it’s appealing to kids. We don’t try to worry about other programs. We’re Oklahoma.”

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