Recruiting is obviously an inexact science. Coming toward this time of year, you have to take a lot of calculated gambles.
Some pay off. Some don’t. For Oklahoma, things couldn’t have gone any better last Friday when the Sooners picked up two major commitments in a span of six hours.
It started at 9 a.m. CST when Mechanicsburg (Va.) Atlee five-star linebacker Ricky DeBerry chose OU over a host of others. The No. 1 reason for his commitment is the relationship defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery built with the family.
In the two weeks the OU coaches had to make in-home visits before the dead period started last week, the Sooners visited a lot of recruits. But none more than DeBerry and Haughton.
DeBerry had made it known his decision was coming Dec. 19 so everybody was just in a wait-and-see mode for where he would end up. Haughton never picked a date, but it felt like he would do it once he had a chance to talk everything out with his family.
Haughton certainly noticed the frequency of OU coming to town. The Sooners visited Haughton and his family three times in those two weeks.
“I did notice how many times they visited,” Haughton said. “They kept telling me how much of a priority I was, and I got to see it with how many times they showed up.”
Montgomery built his relationship with DeBerry long before he was even coaching at OU. A June 2013 trip to OU for DeBerry and his father after Montgomery arrived only served to put OU in the hunt for the long run.
DeBerry’s father has not had any issues at all in saying how much he respects Montgomery and how it was Montgomery who helped bring his son to Norman.
The Sooners also got creative with their trips to Haughton and DeBerry. Last Sunday, the final day before the dead period, OU brought along some props.
“I had no idea that was coming,” Haughton said. “It was pretty cool because that’s such a unique part of the history between OU and Texas.”
DeBerry, who was visited by Montgomery, Bob Stoops and Tim Kish earlier in the week, received one final visit from Kish. The linebackers coach didn’t come alone, though, bringing the Nagurski Award to DeBerry’s house.
The award, won by former OU greats Roy Williams and Derrick Strait, is given to the nation’s best defensive player. The message was simple – this is possible in Norman.
Despite a disappointing season on the field at 8-4, the OU coaches absolutely brought nothing but positive energy in the visits.
Of course it wasn’t just those final visits. Bob Stoops has always preached a patient approach to recruiting, never asking for a recruit’s commitment before they’re ready.
Haughton was on OU’s campus five times since February. DeBerry returned to OU for an official visit in September. No rush, do it when ready has always been Stoops’ way.
It worked Friday and has set up a potential crazy-good close for the Sooners on the recruiting trail heading to signing day Feb. 4.