When you start looking at potential Big 12 expansion candidates, one immediately jumps off the page in the state of Oklahoma because of a change in the way the school is handling its recruiting.
You would be foolish to say the state of Oklahoma is a hotbed for Memphis recruiting. Why in the world would the Tigers venture that far west to try to find some hidden talents? That was the mindset for most of the time.
Things started to change for the Class of 2013 when Memphis plucked two from within the state in defensive back Phillip Sumpter (Edmond Santa Fe) and DE/OLB Jackson Dillon (Ringling).
All Dillon has done is become a three-year starter heading into his senior season as that hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker.
So maybe it’s too simplistic to say the work ethic and abilities of Sumpter and Dillon helped turn the page, but it definitely didn’t hurt.
A new coaching staff after Justin Fuente moved on to Virginia Tech and a new attitude. And the Tigers have become one of the top recruiting threats in the state.
“Memphis just has a great coaching staff that I can consider as father figures,” Putnam City West wide receiver/tight end Nick Robinson said. “Memphis is just a place I can call home, and it’s not too far from my hometown.”
Robinson is current one of three recruits from the state committed to the Tigers to go with Moore Southmoore ATH Quindon Lewis and Tulsa Edison ATH Marcus Mays.
All three had plenty of other choices to pick from, including some high power five conference offers for Robinson, but the Tigers are simply doing something right.
Even if the recruits admit they didn’t know too much off the bat.
“At first, I didn’t really know anything about them,” Lewis said. “But once I met the coaching staff last year, I felt good. They made everyone seem like a family and made it a priority to give Oklahoma kids their shot because we’ve always been overlooked, but they made us a priority.”
That’s the consistent theme among a lot of OKPreps recruits. The perceived elite of the elite head to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and that’s not likely to change. But if Memphis were to gain a foothold in the Big 12 and now allow some of these recruits to play closer to home, doors open in a hurry.
Because sometimes perceived can’t-miss kids don’t measure up to those recruits who just have that “dawg” in them because they feel they’ve been disrespected. True or not, it’s the feeling that helps fuel the drive.
“I love seeing Memphis recruiting kids from Oklahoma because a lot of Oklahoma kids are not getting a lot of attention,” Robinson said.
Memphis has made numerous other offers in the state, including three-star prospects like Midwest City safety Evan Fields, Southmoore ATH Gervarrius Owens and Norman North linebacker Cade Mashburn that led to one of the most creative photo edits of the cycle.
Edits are nice, but results will be the real tell-tale of whether or not Memphis continues to hit the state hard and if state recruits continue to see the Tigers as a viable option.
Going to the Big 12 would be another step in the right direction.
“It did factor in,” said Lewis about Memphis possibly expanding into Big 12. “Because it means they’re coming up. It would just give my family and my friends a chance to come watch me play.
“I’m recruiting hard trying to get some guys on board, but I think people see that it’s a great school so they’re catching on.”