The Riley Effect works for OU

Sooners new offensive coordinator has immediate impact on signing day

As Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator, Josh Heupel never really came to see Moore (Okla.) Westmoore wide receiver Dahu Green, a three-star with great hands who played less than 20 miles from the Oklahoma campus.

He showed up, but Green wasn’t the type of player that the Sooners were looking for in their offense. The visit was more for show than anything else. Under new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, Green became a focus – an immediate focus.

“You felt a little more wanted and needed there,” Green said of the change in recruitment after the coaching switch. “When Heupel came down in the spring last year, it was just like he came down. Coach Riley, he was coming down for a reason.”

Since Riley took over in mid-January, Oklahoma aggressively looked for a different kind of player, one that could fit his pass-first scheme.

Suddenly, players like Green were getting a second look and a second chance.

“He was a big factor,” said Green, who signed his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday. “He came in, and it’s kind of like he’s been recruiting me the whole time. We built a relationship really fast. He seemed like a good dude. I think I’m gonna have fun playing for him.”

Green isn’t the only one.

Adrian Miller, a 3-star receiver out of Bishop Dunne High School in Dallas, had developed a three-year relationship with Oklahoma running backs coach Cale Gundy but never got an offer. Oklahoma didn’t need player with his set of skills.

Wide receiver was always a position of need for the Sooners, who struggled to get any production in the passing game. Sterling Shepard, who missed three games with a quad injury, was about the only reliable target all season for a group of quarterbacks who were almost anything but reliable.

The Sooners’ read option offense didn’t need many receivers, and it seemed like Oklahoma was going to be set on taking just two receivers in this class – John Humphrey and highly ranked JuCo transfer Dede Westbrook.

Miller’s need became far more prevalent after Riley’s hiring, which came a little more than two weeks before Miller and Green committing to Oklahoma. The two are definitely related.

“The direction of what we were going to do offensively changed, so that changed,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “In the end, we wanted to get more speed and quickness in some of the inside spots. And then we had a couple of guys that could go up and get the ball outside as well.” What got put together was an eclectic group.

Humphrey is an interior receiver and a true burner with 4.4 speed. Westbrook is a dynamic and proven commodity. He had 76 receptions, 1,487 yards and 13 touchdowns in just eight games at Blinn Community College this season.

At 6-foot-3, Green, who said Riley was the main reason he chose Oklahoma, is a legitimate red-zone threat with great hands and an ability to out-jump defenders.

Miller is about as diverse as they come, and suddenly, Gundy’s long relationship made a difference.

“We went into it last year and it just wasn’t quite decided on if we were going in that direction with the type of player at his position,” Gundy said. “Obviously, that changed. The relationship that we had helped towards the end.

“I think on the other one, with Dahu, it helped . . . bringing in offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. It was very noticeable going around to schools and talking to coaches and players about what Lincoln Riley has done at East Carolina and the type of system that he was going to bring in. It definitely broke ground running. There were a lot of people that turned their heads up and were excited about it.”

When Riley took the job, he brought with him a different style of recruiting for a different style of offense.

Not only did Oklahoma have a new need for wide receivers – and two big ones with Green and Miller. Oklahoma also got a selfie-taking recruiter, the likes of which hadn’t been seen on staff yet.

Co-defensive coordinator Jerry Montgomery had taken to Twitter, and the Sooners had develop a ‘Boom’ trademark, but Riley amassed almost as many tweets in the two weeks since he became the Oklahoma offensive coordinator as the rest of the staff combined.

He has made an immediate difference for Oklahoma.

“Lincoln is a strong presence and a sharp guy that has a great background,” Stoops said. “He is impressive. Fortunately, players that got to know him see that.”


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