Things are starting to work themselves out on the recruiting trail. It’s time to start looking more intently on Oklahoma’s “wish list” for the Class of 2017.
Here is an idea of where OU stands here heading into July. The number in parentheses indicates the number of recruits OU is looking to sign at the position for the Class of 2017. The names do not necessarily reflect OU’s official board but are the best guesstimate of who OU is targeting.
Defensive end (2-3)
Committed (1): Tulsa (Okla.) Memorial’s Isaiah Thomas. The debate is going to be whether or not he’s a defensive end or linebacker, but that’s for another day. What we know for now is he is the initial commit for first-year defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux and a great way for Thibs to get the ball rolling. Thomas has a great frame and a lot of versatility, and OU did everything right in this one. He has become a vital member to the class in terms of recruiting other prospects.
Favorite: Galena Park (Texas) North Shore’s K’Lavon Chaisson. Early offers sometimes can get thrown away and forgotten about, which is what thought had happened here. It was obvious following a trip to Norman last month how much work OU had done with Chaisson, but nobody had any clue until OU was No. 1 in his top 11 released last week. Again, defensive end or outside linebacker, irrelevant, this is the type of talent OU wants and needs for its defense going forward.
Hampton (Va.) High’s Elijah Conliffe. He definitely woke up some OU fans with saying he wanted to release his top schools ‘sooner’ than expected. OU is in this race a lot more than you would think following a spring evaluation offer. The key, as it is with all major out of region prospects, will be to get him to Norman and to see the campus. SoonerSquad17 hasn’t sunk its claws in him just yet so we’ll see how things develop.
Next in line: Perkinston (Miss.) Gulf Coast CC’s Isaiah Buggs. At one point it seemed like OU was in the driver’s seat. It’s not anymore and most likely he’ll be off this list heading into the next month. SEC seems to be his destination with the leader in the clubhouse being LSU. OU could just never get Buggs to make the trip to Norman.
Olney (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel’s Joshua Paschal. Let’s call it the Charles Tapper effect. OU can go into Maryland, especially at defensive end, and sort of preach about becoming the next Tapper. That’s OU’s calling card right now with Paschal. It’s working for now, but the key will be to foster that relationship and obviously get him to Norman for an official visit.
Sacramento (Calif.) Burbank’s Deonte Johnson. OU is in his top four, but what does that really mean? Legitimate interest? Or token finalist? Remains to be seen because there hasn’t been a lot of chatter on Johnson one way or another for a couple of months now. See what he does instead of listening to what he is saying is a good motto here.
Hutto (Texas) High’s Ondario Robinson. The Sooners looked primed to make a run here, but it hasn’t happened just yet. Robinson is getting very familiar with schools like Texas and Texas A&M with OU on the outside looking in at the moment. A visit could change things obviously, but as of now, it’s tough to envision the Sooners becoming a major player.
Defensive tackle (2)
Favorite: Plano (Texas) East’s Deiontae Watts. OU is going after the top three defensive tackles in the country, according to Scout. But the one the Sooners are definitely in the best position with is Watts, no slouch himself as a four-star prospect. He visited during the spring and was born in Chickasha, Okla., not being bashful one bit to mention how big the Sooners offer was when it came. With the way OU is so focused on the top guns, starting to wonder where Watts stands with OU and Calvin Thibodeaux.
Next in line: Las Vegas Arbor View’s Greg Rogers. Las Vegas has two of the top three tackles in the entire country, and OU is hot in pursuit of Rogers. Although all eyes will continue to be on Marvin Wilson, the Sooners seem to be making up the most ground with Rogers. Subtle social media hints have OU becoming a major player in his recruitment, and The Opening will be a great chance for the commits to try to play recruiter.
Houston Episcopal’s Marvin Wilson. OU keeps trying to make up ground, and that’s really all it can do at this point. This recruitment is an example of everything OU is doing right for the 2017 class because it was dead in the water back in February. Now the Sooners aren’t the favorite by any means, but they’re a legit player and building more steam with each passing month and were finally able to nab that unofficial visit last month.
On the radar: Las Vegas Bishop Gorman’s Haskell Garrett. Committed to Ohio State, but at the time, it felt like the Sooners were the No. 2 option. Since his pledge to the Buckeyes, will be interesting to see if things have changed. OU has certainly not backed off in recruiting Garrett, but there’s nothing to suggest, at least as of right now, that Garrett is looking at any other schools outside of Ohio State.
Katy (Texas) High’s Corey Bethley. A curious offer back when it was made during the spring evaluation period. Seems like a clear backup plan option if some of the big dogs don’t pan out in OU’s favor. Bethley has other options so don’t be surprised if nothing materializes here.
Committed (1): Collinsville (Okla.) High’s Levi Draper. The first in-state commit for the Sooners in the class and a huge one at that. Once pledged to Oklahoma State, the Sooners went all-in with Draper during the summer and fall and flipped him to the crimson and cream in December. No issues since that time and none expected throughout the rest of his recruitment despite the incredible list of offers. One of the driving forces of SoonerSquad17 and No. 1-ranked player in the state and the class.
Favorite: Plano (Texas) East’s Anthony Hines. This is the dream. Draper and Hines playing together as linebackers for the Sooners. We’ll see if it happens. Hines continues to make trip after trip to Norman so there’s really nothing else OU can do at this point except wait and see how things shake out. Expected to be a mid-year enrollee, Hines said a top 10 is coming at The Opening. OU has done everything right, but it will continue to be a marathon race.
Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Elkins’ Kenneth Murray. When someone tweets “childhood favorite” when describing the offer, that usually means good things. Murray is someone who has benefited greatly from the spring evaluation period, including the OU offer. His size seems to be right in line with what the Sooners are looking for at outside linebacker going forward. He has his Aug. decision date locked up so no trip to Norman will mean nothing to see here.
Nashville (Tenn.) East Nashville’s Jacob Phillips. The Sooners made the best possible impression on Phillips when he made his visit in the spring so now it’s a waiting game. Will Phillips use his five official visits? Or will he decide before the summer is over? If it’s the latter, expect OU to get the nod. Everything is trending OU’s direction right now. Following incredible camp outings, the sooner Phillips announces, the better for OU’s chances to lock him up.
Next in line: Hayward (Calif.) Stellar Prep’s Addison Gumbs. OU made Gumbs a clear priority during the spring evaluation period with multiple visits to one of the top outside linebackers in the country. The difficulty will be, as always, trying to lure Gumbs away from the west coast with USC the most notable school connecting well with Gumbs. The initial plan was for Gumbs to make the call during June, but he has pushed that back to July. OU is in good standing, that much is clear.
Buford (Ga.) Lanier’s Tyler Taylor. OK, the question is how in the world did OU become a player for one of the best linebackers in Georgia? Because it certainly has. Taylor released a top six two weeks ago with OU looking like No. 2 but perhaps the most realistic No. 2 you’re going to find. A lot of chatter out east about Taylor seeming to be OU’s to lose as the Sooners continue to make an imprint in areas they haven’t been a factor before.
On the radar: Kennedale (Texas) High’s Baron Browning. Feels like a slippage here lately. Although it’s obvious how badly SoonerSquad17 wants Browning in the fold, doesn’t seem to be reciprocated as of now. That could change, of course, but right now, outside looking in. When it comes to Browning, watch what he does instead of what he’s saying. He has to visit OU since he hasn’t done so since November. No visit, sorry, no chance.
Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy’s Jordan Anthony. He has talked about OU more than it ever looked like he would, but it’s hard to see OU making a real dent heading into June. The Sooners are getting more and more involved at IMG, but not sure Anthony will be the one to get the ball rolling.
Norman (Okla.) North’s Cade Mashburn. He has done everything he can to get an offer. And in previous years, he probably would have that OU offer. But with SoonerSquad17, it’s a waiting game. A stressful, intense waiting game. Mashburn has accepted that position, but there’s no guarantee OU looks his way if things pan out with some of the names above him in this list.
Committed (3): Miami Columbus’ Trajan Bandy. You could credit Bandy with getting the second wave of SoonerSquad17 commits rolling. Once he was on board in late February, a slew of recruits followed his lead, especially in the secondary. A great visit to OU for the spring game seemed to erase any doubts as to his feelings on OU. Most of the secondary is confusing in terms of CB/NB/S, and Bandy falls right in line with that. No matter what spot, he’s a nice addition to the Killer B’s and solid to OU despite trips to Miami.
OKC John Marshall’s Justin Broiles. At this time last year, it sure looked like Oklahoma State was going to be the winner. But ever since pledging to OU in early March, he has been as all-in with OU as any recruit in recent memory. His versatility should help him get on the field and his swagger/confidence off the field is absolutely rubbing off all the SoonerSquad17 commits and a number of the top targets as Broiles is separating himself as the best recruiter of the bunch. Recruits gravitate toward his personality.
Tulsa (Okla.) Union’s Tre Brown. Even before Broiles’ commitment, most pegged Brown as a Sooner. The fact OU has both of them is just an added bonus. Brown has speed for days but has added a lot of physicality to his game as well. Offered by OU in person back in February, it felt like a countdown as to when he would make the call. Brown is a lot more reserved than some of the other commits, but he has been a man of his word. A trip to Alabama, and that’s it. He’s been to Norman multiple times since then.
Favorite: None. Simply have to see how this position breaks down and whether or not OU wants one more at the spot. Or if one of the committed ones turns into a safety.
Next in line: Fresno (Calif.) Central East’s Jaylon Johnson. We’re rolling with no favorites, but it’s really tough to determine how the OU coaches are viewing the rest of the secondary class. Johnson was offered in February but that was before the commitments of Brown and Broiles. OU has been a constant in his top five, for what it’s worth, and it would continue to build on that Fresno pipeline the Sooners have established in recent years.
On the radar: None. Ready to say there are no more real targets unless something were to occur with the current commits.
Committed (1): Southlake (Texas) Carroll’s Robert Barnes. The first defensive commitment of the class and an OU legacy as well. Barnes seems to be absolutely locked in with the Sooners and now his goal is simply to recruit the best of the best on defense in the Dallas area to come join him in Norman. Barnes has filled out into a great frame for a safety and has performed well in camps this spring and summer to go with making constant trips to Norman.
Next in line: South Grand Prairie (Texas) High’s Jeffrey Okudah. Again, there’s just no favorite right now at safety although some names are worth monitoring. Okudah is definitely one of them with the caveat being Ohio State just seems to be the “it” school for him. OU has been able to get Okudah to Norman multiple times (including last week), but it’s still seems like it’s quite an uphill trek right now to land Okudah. The friendship of Barnes means a lot, and OU has played its cards right in this situation.
On the radar: Loganville (Ga.) Grayson’s DeAngelo Gibbs. The biggest longshot on the board, but Gibbs has family in the area and keeps making the occasional trip to Norman. Nobody sees him going outside of SEC country in the end, but the longer the Sooners lurk around and continue to have success on the field and recruiting trail, the more OU is keeping the door open.
Midwest City (Okla.) High’s Evan Fields. Nobody likes to be called a backup plan, but you could do a lot worse than Fields if things start to fall apart. The next in line for the Bombers at safety, Fields has seen his stock grow considerably during the spring evaluation period. Had Fields camped at OU’s elite event, things might be viewed another way because he’s a very different player than he was last year. He has options, just not sure OU will be one.
Committed (1): New Braunfels (Texas) Canyon punter Reeves Mundschau. Not sure anybody expected the Sooners to hit special teams this class, but they did. Perhaps wanting to save Austin Seibert’s legs in the future, Mundschau is the guy as punter. Known for his hang time, Mundschau has developed a quick bond with Jay Boulware and wasted zero time in committing when the offer was officially extended.