It’s easy to say Oklahoma is off to a terrific recruiting start for the 2017 class. You don’t have to be a genius to figure that one out.
Six commitments. Six pledges in the Scout 300. Coming off a class ranked No. 20 for the 2016 group, a look at the why this is happening is perhaps the most intriguing thing about it.
Pointing out the obvious – winning the Big 12 championship and advancing to the four-team college football playoff certainly didn’t hurt.
“I think it’s the success we’ve had, and I think it’s also just reaching more of them,” said OU coach Bob Stoops last week. “And or, maybe, too, you get the right ones that are looking for something to do earlier. Every year is a little different.”
That last sentence might be the understatement of all understatements when it comes to recruiting because it’s tough to find patterns and trends because of how each year is its own separate entity.
Sometimes it’s because of the recruits. Sometimes it’s because of coaching changes. You never quite know how things are going to shake out.
This year’s group of coaches seems like a well-oiled machine with few having any worries Calvin Thibodeaux won’t knock it out of the park with the defensive line.
Other than the addition of Thibodeaux, the coaches know each other. They know their strengths. They know how to work together as a unit, and it shows.
“And everybody helps everybody,” Stoops said. “Everybody attaches, ‘Oh, that’s his recruiter.’ We don’t even want one position coach talking to him. We’ll have others.”
It’s clear the pitch is working, and that’s something that is considerably different so far. OU has been known for the patient approach, of letting recruits take their time to make the right choice.
The attitude is changing. “Reserve your spot” has become a go-to phrase right now for OU recruiting. In other words, think about it but don’t think too long or else you won’t have a spot for OU’s 2017 class.
The Sooners old way of thinking always led to a furious close because kids had gone through the process and finally realized Norman is where they want to call home.
But the advantage of having kids already in the fold cannot be pushed under the rug. OU is No. 5 right now in Scout’s 2017 rankings but tied at No. 1 with Alabama at a 4.0 average rating per commit. That’s crazy territory compared to where the Sooners have been at the last five years.
Having a bunch of commits allows them to do just as much recruiting for you as the coaches need to. There are no better recruiters than commits in a class because they’re giving you passion without anybody wondering about their motives.
First started covering recruiting toward the mid-point of the 2012 class so can’t give real insight before that period. But in looking at the next four classes, it puts into perspective just exactly what OU has been able to do in the first couple of months.
OU has never had six commits this early in a cycle and really have never even been close to that mark. And obviously OU has never had a 6-for-6 start in terms of one four-star recruit after another.
Here is a breakdown of who and when OU reached that No. 6 mark in the last four classes.
Keith Ford (junior day)
D.J. Ward (spring game)
Ahmad Thomas (late May)
Vontre McQuinnie (junior day)
Samaje Perine (spring break)
Justice Hansen (spring game)
Dallis Todd (after spring game)
Marcus Green (Mother’s Day)
Alex Dalton (mid-May)
Bobby Evans (July 2013)
Marquise Overton (after Sugar Bowl)
Rodney Anderson (OU camp)
Dominique Hearne (after OU camp)
Jon-Michael Terry (junior day)
Adrian Hardy (after junior day)
Logan Roberson (OU camp)
Bryce Youngquist (July 31)
So you can see May and June has usually been the point when the Sooners have started to find their groove and started making their imprint.
Full disclosure here is OU also has had several notable decommitments from these classes, but it still wouldn’t have made that big of a difference. A bit of one but not a major one in grand scheme of things.
Greg Bryant (2013), Armanti Foreman (2014), Josh Wariboko (2015), Jean Delance (2016) and Maurice Chandler (2016) are names that were once early Sooners before finding homes elsewhere.
The key, of course, is for OU to continue to build on the momentum. The Sooners have done very well in terms of getting top recruits to campus in the last six weeks.
Getting them to campus is good, but getting the signature is no doubt the end goal. If you can get a group of commits who all want to play together, all want to build something special, half the battle is over with.
OU will be bringing in a lot of recruits for practices and will bring the house as always for the spring game. The goal this time isn’t to sit on the sidelines and wait to see who wants to be a Sooner when it’s all said and done.
Make the call now, or it might be too late as OU’s recruiting direction has never been better as the #SoonerSquad17 class comes together.