At this point, all Oklahoma fans on social media know what #SoonerSquad17 means. It’s the hashtag for all of OU’s commits for the 2017 class.
It continues the trend of the Sooners doing things a little bit differently in recruiting the last couple of years. The graphic design department has taken a major step toward becoming one of the best in the nation.
And where OU had never done a class-specific hashtag before, it’s clear SoonerSquad17 is working and has laid the foundation for the future.
So how did it all come together? Southlake (Texas) Carroll safety Robert Barnes said it all started with one man, assistant coach Courtney “Chip” Viney.
“It was the idea of Coach Viney,” Barnes said. “We were getting mad because there was #GigEmGang17 and Baylor has its DreamSquad thing (#17SuperTeam). We wanted to make a hashtag. We were brainstorming, and Coach Viney came up with SoonerSquad17. We all liked it.”
It's a lot more than a trendy hashtag to use on social media, though. SoonerSquad17 has evolved into a major group message between OU’s commits and perhaps some future Sooners as well as OU’s No. 2-ranked Scout class continues to put in as much work as the coaches.
OU has nine commits right now and has gone a perfect 8-for-8 with high school recruits being ranked in the Scout 300.
They weren’t afraid to tweet it last week that it was actually 9-for-9, and they weren’t backing down from that claim.
“The group message right now? There’s nine of us,” Barnes said. “There’s eight commits and then one more. You’re just going to have to wait. Shout out to him, you know you who you are.”
Speculation will run rampant about who it actually is, and that’s the type of excitement OU is trying to build. The Sooners have been known for years to be slow starters and strong closers on the recruiting trail.
With OU taking a different approach and going all-in early in the class, it’s leading to a lot of excitement, a lot of national recognition and relationships already being formed.
“It’s super exciting right now,” Barnes said. “We’re all close, like a family already. We’ll have another year of building that bond. Then when we all get up there, it’s just going to take off.”
OU was able to use that influence last week at the Opening regional in the Dallas area. Guys like Barnes, like Collinsville (Okla.) High linebacker Levi Draper, like OKC John Marshall defensive back Justin Broiles worked hard on the field and maybe just as hard off the field in trying to recruit more to SoonerSquad17.
“It’s huge to keep building on this,” said Draper before the event started Sunday morning. “Yea, I think you can say I might talk to a few kids today.”