Was the sky about to fall on Oklahoma? Just hours after a racial chant video went viral from a former OU fraternity, the Sooners lost their top-ranked commitment for the 2016 class.
OU fans wondered if North Mesquite (Texas) High offensive tackle Jean Delance would end up being the exception or the trendsetter as it pertained to the video.
Not even a month removed from the video, but it seems like it’s safe to say Delance’s reaction, though understandable, will be the exception going forward. The stance and actions taken by the university, by the players, by the coaches has resonated well with OU in recruiting.
And the players want all recruits and their families to know OU is not defined by the racial video. Instead, it’s going to be defined by the awareness and response the university has taken since.
“This place, don’t let a group of people ruin it for the whole university,” cornerback Zack Sanchez said. “I love this university. It doesn’t just happen on this university. It happens everywhere. But this is a close-knit university.
“It’s something that happened, and I don’t think anyone should question coming here or think that this is going to happen to them because obviously we’re changing that. We want to change that culture.
“We can be more interactive with the frats and sororities and the regular students so they can get to know us, and we’re not just guys on the field on Saturdays.”
Sanchez has been among one of several OU players who have been vocal about the entire situation. Linebacker Eric Striker said after the incident that he wasn’t sure if he could endorse any recruit to coming toward OU.
But time can clear things up. Center Ty Darlington has made it clear in his rallying cry that this divisive issue of racism and discrimination has only brought the team closer together. The end game is to hope it brings the entire university closer together, not just the football team.
The racial chant hit a nerve, obviously, but defensive end Charles Tapper is one of several players imploring recruits that they, too, can be a part of changing the culture.
“I don’t think they should shy away at all,” Tapper said. “I think recruits should really look into this and see the culture here is really trying to be built up – the family-hood, the brotherhood – how the community has supported us is really big.
“I think all the recruits who decommitted or shied away from us should look into it and really do their homework on what is going on. That’s what I would tell recruits.”
Things are back to normal for OU as the Sooners have been hosting top recruits once again, and it’s clear OU is doing all it can to move forward.
No telling how OU’s recruiting class turns out for 2016 since we’re still 10 months away from signing day, but the Sooners have made sure what could have been a class killer in the racial video and turned into a positive about promoting awareness and changing the culture in Norman.