Welcome to recruiting, Mr. Reynolds

A lot has changed in recruiting since 2001 and Diron Reynolds is learning that in Norman.

When Diron Reynolds was hired as Oklahoma’s defensive line coach in February, there were a number of things to look at with his resume.

The first was the incredible wealth of knowledge he had accumulated after more than a decade coaching in the NFL, including a Super Bowl ring with the Indianapolis Colts.

So it’s clear Reynolds has the pedigree as far as coaching. The college game, however, is quite different. Coaching is only half the battle. You can coach your butt off, but if you don’t have the talent on campus, it might not matter.

In other words, if you can’t recruit, it could be a short stay. The only time Reynolds was a full-time recruiter was back in 2001 when he was an assistant at Indiana. Even last year when he was at Stanford, he wasn’t allowed to do any recruiting off campus.

You think recruiting has changed just a bit since 2001? Yea, no kidding.

“The Twitter-verse is amazing,” said Reynolds following spring practice. “I think it allows guys to believe their own hype, which is kind of sad at that age. It becomes more about the whole bravado and the whole making themselves this big ol’ thing instead of focusing in on what kind of decision you need to make to go to school.”

Whether or not you agree with that sentiment, it’s clear that in order to prosper in recruiting, you have to show the love. Early and often.

It’s one thing former defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery did so well. It wasn’t just that he connected or could relate to today’s high school kids although he could. It was what a tremendous job Montgomery did of recognizing the talent early and then beginning to recruit the kid, the parent, the coach, the mentor and anybody else who needed to be wooed over.

Montgomery had tact, too. He didn’t just go all-in with kids that didn’t have character or had some issues. He was arguably perfect recruiter for the Sooners going forward.

But now he’s gone. And so, too, seems to be any shot OU had at 2016 recruits that Montgomery had worked so hard to build the bond with.

One-by-one the targets are disappearing. Hope (Ark.) High defensive lineman McTelvin Agim, who camped last year at OU because he wanted to work with Montgomery, doesn’t have OU in his top four.

Neville (La.) High five-star defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence seemed like a great shot for OU because of Montgomery. By March it was clear he had moved on from the Sooners.

The biggest example, though, was last week. A double gut-punch for the Sooners and their defensive line recruiting for 2016.

It happened first with Wichita (Kan.) East defensive lineman Xavier Kelly. Despite what sounded like a great OU visit and clearly being Reynolds’ No. 1 target at defensive end, the Sooners didn’t make Kelly’s top eight.

And Friday saw one more Montgomery recruit go away. Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints defensive lineman Mike Williams had nothing but great things to say about Reynolds following his visit to OU for junior day in March.

As April turned into May and into June, though, it became clear OU was falling out of favor and cemented with the fact he committed to Stanford last weekend.

Now in July, and it’s really hard to pinpoint the prospect where the Sooners are in great standing at defensive line. OU is certainly in the conversation with guys like Brandon Bowen and Chris Daniels but not the clear favorite.

The ace in the hole for Reynolds remains coaching. If Reynolds can have success with OU’s line on the field, the success will start to trickle in on the trail.

Perhaps Twitter isn’t the avenue where Reynolds is going to shine. He doesn’t tweet nearly as much at recruits like Montgomery nor show the creativity in the tweets. But listen to Reynolds and watch him work, and it’s absolutely not time to panic on this hire.

“I try to tell all the guys, you come to Oklahoma, it’s not a four-year decision,” Reynolds said. “It’s a 40-year decision. We’re talking about relationships you’re going to build and not just the football aspect. You might be sitting in the classroom with the next guy who’s going to invent a Facebook or something like that.

“So build those relationships because you never know. If you come into it for one thing, you’ll only get one thing out of it. And you might not get that.”


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