Last year you could see it coming for Oklahoma. That positive momentum from a great ending to the season was spilling over into recruiting.
But what do you do, what do you build off of when you’re 8-5 and considered among most media as easily one of the most disappointing teams in the country?
That was the dilemma the Sooners faced in January, the final month of the recruiting season. In the end, OU hit a few key target spots and walked away satisfied with 24 signees.
“It’s a really exceptional group of athletes,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “We have players at every position we needed. I felt we hit our target in numbers, really, to start camp next year at the right numbers really at every position.”
OU finished No. 14 in the Scout rankings and No. 2 in the Big 12, trailing Texas. A positive trend continued for the Sooners as OU once again had a clean sweep with its final weekend of visitors.
The Sooners brought in four official visitors for the final weekend, and one-by-one, all of them became Sooners. It started with wide receivers Adrian Miller and Dahu Green, continued with the late late Monday night commitment of linebacker Arthur McGinnis and closed with the flipping of safety Prentice McKinney on signing day.
Not coincidentally, three of those four are from the backbone of OU’s class – either in-state products or recruits from the Dallas Metroplex.
“A little more than half of the group is from Oklahoma and Texas,” Stoops said. “We’re always trying to do our best in the state of Oklahoma. Then we consider branching down through obviously the Texas, Dallas-Fort Worth area, only being two and a half hours away. We consider that our home base, and we want to scour those areas before we branch out anywhere else.”
Of OU’s 24 signees, 15 are either from Oklahoma or Texas area. Or in other words, 62.5 percent.
And five of OU’s six defensive back signees are from the two states. Only junior college signee Will Johnson isn’t, originally being from Baltimore.
Going to be tough to evaluate this defensive back group for 2015, but Stoops has already put the expectation out there.
“Three corners and three safeties that I believe is probably the best secondary class that I have been a part of signing,” Stoops said. “It’s a group that is really athletic, has great size and range to them.”
There are always going to be misses and names like Scout 300 prospects Anthony Wheeler (Texas) and Josh Wariboko (UCLA) are going to be brought up for this class, but OU did a solid job in landing two Scout 100 prospects from areas OU never attacks.
Five-star linebacker Ricky DeBerry ends up as OU’s highest rated prospect at No. 25 in the country, while defensive lineman Neville Gallimore is next at No. 88. DeBerry from Virginia and Gallimore is from Canada.
OU didn’t close with the high-star ranking kids in the final week so the final rankings don’t reflect what OU felt it was able to do. And Stoops said the 8-5 record on the field didn’t really make too much of a difference on the trail.
“No, it’s never easy, never tougher,” Stoops said. “It’s always about the same. You look around the country, win or lose, it’s always a battle. I don’t remember it any other way. Some years better than other, but it’s always a battle.”
A battle OU fared well with for the 2015 class and has gotten off to a good start in 2016 with the commitment of North Mesquite (Texas) offensive tackle Jean Delance.