Riley hitting the ground running

It didn't take long, and it can't take long. Lincoln Riley is hitting the ground running on the recruiting trail for OU.

It was Monday afternoon and Lincoln Riley hadn’t yet been confirmed by Oklahoma as its new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, but the cat was out of the bag that the East Carolina offensive coordinator was heading to Norman.

Sources had confirmed earlier during the day, and Riley sort of let the whole world know without saying one word.

It was obvious based on one thing: Twitter. You can’t hide from social media, and the last six people Riley has followed are all among the top OU targets remaining for the 2015 class.

It started with Allen (Texas) High quarterback Kyler Murray and then the beat went on with four top wide receivers in DaMarkus Lodge, Adrian Miller, Dominique Reed and Van Jefferson. Few minutes later, Oklahoma City Casady four-star offensive guard Josh Wariboko was added.

Oh yea, Riley was coming to Norman, and he was ready to hit the ground running on the recruiting trail with just three weeks left before national signing day.

“Lincoln is also a talented recruiter who I’m confident will help attract top-flight talent to the University of Oklahoma,” said OU coach Bob Stoops in a press release Monday evening. “Our student-athletes and our staff will benefit from his skills and passion for the game. We are excited that Lincoln and his family are joining the Sooners.”

The bulk of Riley’s recruiting has been done in the Carolinas, and that’s not a huge shock. However, Riley has been able to nab some recruits from Texas and California to join him at East Carolina.

Riley continues a youth movement in recruiting for OU. The Sooners have seen great success with it in co-defensive coordinator Jerry Montgomery and graduate assistant Courtney Viney.

But it’s not all about being young. Riley is 31, and he’s going to have to show he can recruit with the big boys, that he can relate with the top-tier athletes, and he’s going to have to show he can be a closer.

Riley did a great job of landing three-star prospects for the Pirates, and it was a cause for celebration. Getting three stars to OU is viewed as a failure often by OU fans. They don’t want to be so close but so far with the top names anymore.

“I know the high expectations that come along with this position, and I’m ready to embrace the challenge,” said Riley in the press release. “I’m excited to arrive in Norman to build relationships with our student-athletes and get to work with the rest of the coaching staff.”

Although Stoops said he was in no rush to make the hire last week, it was obvious it had to be done this week. The recruiting dead period is over this week and coaches can hit the road again Thursday. It would have been a bad look if OU didn’t have an offensive coordinator hitting the trail.

Riley brought explosiveness to the ECU offense, no doubt about that. ECU had 74 passing plays of at least 20 yards last season. OU, in comparison, had 34. The Sooners had 33 runs of at least 20 yards, while ECU had 19. In total, ECU had a 93-67 edge in chunk plays.

He has the Texas ties after seven years at Texas Tech, and he’s the experience after five seasons at ECU. The pieces seem like they all fit together for Riley to be successful on the recruiting trail.

With OU having a monster visit weekend coming up, it’s going to be the first indicator of how the future could be in Norman.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories