OU's actions resonating with recruits

OU's foundation was rocked with the racial chant video, but the Sooners' response has helped keep things on track on the recruiting trail.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, when it’s all said and done, is going to be remembered for a lot of things as OU’s coach.

The national championships, the conference championships, the bowl wins. The numerous players who have went on to play in the NFL. The charitable work he does behind the scenes that he doesn’t like to talk about.

But last week might have earned him as much good will as anything and something that will only cement his legacy further. The entire university was hit hard after the racial chant video went viral last Sunday featuring a former OU fraternity.

The university took its action by disbanding the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and expelling the two students featured prominently in the video.

Stoops and his players decided to not practice the entire week. OU had two practices scheduled but opted to hold silent demonstrations instead.

The team walked arm-in-arm, dressed in all black, prayed together and left as a team. The message a clear one – OU isn’t going to tolerate racial discrimination anymore. No more sweeping it under the rug.

“This is a very genuine act and concern on their part and they are doing an excellent job demonstrating that peace and love around the country, for all races, religions and inclusion for everybody and they’re doing a great job demonstrating that.”

Initially, it looked the video was going to be a huge hindrance to OU on the recruiting trail. Within hours of the video going viral, the Sooners lost their top-ranked commit when North Mesquite (Texas) High offensive tackle Jean Delance decommitted that Monday morning.

Delance said point blank the video was the reason he decommitted. It seemed as though he had soured on the Sooners. At the Opening regional camp at Arlington (Texas) Lamar on Sunday, you could tell what OU’s reaction has been has struck a chord with recruits, including Delance.

“No, I won’t say OU is out of the picture,” Delance said. “Those coaches are great people, it’s just what happened at the school. It does mean a lot with what they’ve done, it’s a pretty positive aspect to the situation.”

Delance said nearly every single OU coach has had some sort of contact with him in the last week, and their efforts have been appreciated.

The video came out just as OU was wrapping up a major recruiting weekend. The Sooners had around 50 recruits in town that Saturday and Sunday for what turned into a two-day junior day event.

For a lot of the recruits, the racial video that condoned lynching and said there would “never be a n----r” in SAE came just hours after a great visit to the campus.

Will it play a role?

“No, not at all,” said Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints defensive lineman Mike Williams. “Racism is going to be there everywhere you go. It shouldn’t reflect on the whole school.”

Williams, a Scout 100 prospect, was contacted by defensive line coach Diron Reynolds and Stoops last weekend. He visited OU the day before the video was released.

“They told me they’re a tight community and won’t tolerate that anymore,” Williams said. “I like how they handled it. It came quick and fast and came heavy, too.”

As damaging as the video was and as explosive as the negative reactions were to the video, it seems what the Sooners have done since then has had the same positive feelings.

“What they’re doing right now to try to stop that means a lot,” said Waco (Texas) La Vega cornerback Parrish Cob. “Knocking out that fraternity and then protesting with peace shows real character.”

Cobb, a top OU cornerback target, was also on campus just a day before the video was released. Houston MacArthur defensive lineman Isaiah Chambers said the response might actually trump the video when it’s all said and done because it might initiate real change.

It remains to be seen how OU’s recruiting class shapes up going forward. The Sooners stand right now with two commits and got one of them, Spring (Texas) Dekaney’s Adrian Hardy, last week, but it feels like once again Stoops has righted the ship.

Plano (Texas) East linebacker Anthony Hines, one of the top prospects for the 2017 class who has more than 60 offers right now, has made multiple trips to OU in the last calendar year. His view? Sooners still in the hunt.

“You can’t control the actions of everybody,” Hines said. “It doesn’t change my mind at all regarding OU.”

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