Five-star ranking? Doesn’t matter. Scout 100 prospect? Doesn’t matter. You hear it all the time. Once you sign with the school, those rankings go out the door.
You hear it, but for some of Oklahoma’s Class of 2015, they have now lived it. Guys were always the top dogs in high school had to accept it’s a learning process in college. You don’t just show up and become the man as a freshman.
For some, it was easy. For some, it took some work. In the end, they all came together and figured it out and made OU that much better for it in 2015.
“I knew I had to mature a whole lot,” wide receiver John Humphrey said. “I knew my job was to get the team ready for the opposition. I had to put my personal goals to the side. They didn’t matter.”
Humphrey was a mid-year enrollee for 2015 and no doubt hoped he was going to be able to find a home in OU’s receiver rotation. Instead, what he was known for was playing the role of Corey Coleman during Baylor week, and cornerback Jordan Thomas gave him a huge tip of the hat following the game.
Humphrey was good, but you could see where he might need some seasoning. The same wasn’t being said about safety Will Sunderland. Ranked No. 1 in the state for 2015, he actually did see some time as a freshman, but it was mostly on special teams.
“This year of waiting was eating me alive, but I got through it,” Sunderland said. “It hard. I love football and want to be out there making plays. When you have to wait on the sideline, it hurts. But I’m ready.”
OU had two Scout 100 defensive prospects for the 2015 class and neither four-star defensive lineman Neville Gallimore nor five-star linebacker Ricky DeBerry saw the field.
It’s a credit to the ability already on campus the Sooners were able to redshirt two dynamic players such as Gallimore and DeBerry. And it’s a credit to their maturity that they 100 percent took the news in stride.
“To be honest, looking back, I’m really happy I made the decision I did,” Gallimore said. “I knew I was a bit out of shape, and it gave me an opportunity to improve as a player. I’m in a lot better shape now. I’ve learned a lot with my fundamentals and gained a lot of knowledge.”
The initial disappointment is always going to be there. Heck, if the player wasn’t disappointed, you might start wondering if you found the right guy. But it’s how they respond after the initial moment that says more about them than anything else, including being around strength coach Jerry Schmidt.
“Being around Schmitty, I used to hate it,” DeBerry said. “But everything we’ve done has paid off this season, and I’m glad I have the teammates and coaches I have.
“I always started wherever I went so it was a process. But I had to learn a lot before I could get on the field. Once I sat down and talked to Striker, Dom – I saw it was a year to develop. I won’t be a deer in the headlights. I’ll be prepared.”