They all heard it. Even if they didn’t listen, they at least heard it. Oklahoma’s Class of 2015 wasn’t exactly coming to Norman on a high note.
This wasn’t coming in following a conference championship. This wasn’t coming in following winning a BCS bowl game. This wasn’t coming in after any sort of win at all.
It was coming in following a season where OU was 4-0 and finished 8-5, losing three home games in one season for the first time in the Bob Stoops era.
It’s not like these players didn’t have other options. Neville Gaillmore was down to OU, Ohio State and Florida State. Two teams in the 2014 college football playoff and the eventual national champion.
His pick? The Sooners.
“It’s funny because during the U.S. Army game, guys committed to other teams knew where I wanted to go but didn’t understand it,” Gallimore said. “They didn’t the see the opportunity or the tight-knit group that I was looking for.”
Gallimore announced for OU during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and never looked back. The belief was things would get turned around.
Bob Stoops believed it. He made a rash of coaching changes with the firm belief things were going to go back to how they used to be in Norman. That meant championships.
It didn’t look probable after the shocking loss to Texas, but the Sooners bounced back with seven straight wins and claimed their ninth Big 12 championship and became the first team from the conference to make the four-team college football playoff.
“Yea, it did feel good, especially after losing to Texas,” defensive lineman Du’Vonta Lampkin said. “I didn’t see anybody in my (Twitter) mentions talking about stuff now like they did after Texas.”
Lampkin, of course, is a unique situation all on his own. Committed to OU, then flipping to Texas. Signing with the Longhorns before being released of his letter of intent because he didn’t meet the foreign language requirement and eventually landing in Norman.
He wasn’t the only kid from the state of Texas hearing that noise, though. Despite losing to two teams from the state in the 2014 season, guys like Lampkin, P.J. Mbanasor and John Humphrey were able to look beyond that.
“Man, I had so many people me that,” said Humphrey about his OU choice. “I wanted to play for Bob Stoops and wanted to be a part of the OU tradition. I think it’s worked out great.”
The 2015 season on the field sort of became a revenge tour for the Sooners as OU defeated the four schools in the regular season that were able to get the best of them in 2014.
It’s a little boisterous to say order is restored in the conference and OU is exactly where it should always stand, but you get the feeling that’s exactly how the players feel.
You get the feeling they want to say I told you so even if they won’t just yet.
“I don’t want to say that, but I’m hoping to continue the tradition and certainly happy to be a part of it,” Gallimore said.
Nobody heard it more than Ricky DeBerry. OU’s lone five-star signee for the 2015 class and from Virginia, it made zero sense to pick the Sooners. Zero, but it’s what he did. He didn’t regret it the day he made the decision, the day he signed and sure as heck not now.
“A lot of people were wondering why OU,” DeBerry said. “I heard all that stuff, but it never got to me. I knew this was the right place for me.
“You can just look at the past year. An 8-5 season is very good for some schools but not OU. I knew we were going to bounce back. Now it’s up to us to keep it going.”
Indeed. The foundation has been laid out by the leaders from the 2012 class. The program is back in the top echelon of the sport. The road has been paved. Now it’s up to the 2015 class as well as the other groups still there to keep the Sooners on top.