For years Oklahoma fans had wondered why the Sooners didn’t have some sort of fun, end of the summer event for recruits.
OU has always had camps in Norman first week of June, followed by satellite camps in Dallas and Houston before calling it a day and focusing on the upcoming season.
But there are a lot of different things about OU recruiting in 2016 and the 2017 class, known as SoonerSquad17, is a game-changer in a lot of ways.
OU hosted its first-ever, invite-only #ChampUBBQ on Friday evening. An event like this only works when everybody is all-in on making it a success.
You need organizers willing to put in the time and effort to make sure it’s more than just the usual meet-and-greet.
You need coaches willing to set aside the rare Friday night of summer where could be getting away from football to focus all their energy into making recruits want to be there.
You need a head coach willing to be as silly and goofy as all of the other recruits, family members and assistant coaches and have that same type of fun.
And obviously you need recruits willing to make the trek on their own dime to spend the evening in Norman.
Sure does help when you have the fifth-ranked class in Scout doing the heavy lifting. SoonerSquad17 was a huge reason for the success of the event.
OU enters month of August with 16 commits and 12 ranked in the Scout 300. Eleven of those 12 and 14 of the overall 16 were in Norman. Talking trips from Texas, Missouri, Georgia, North Carolina, California – it didn’t matter.
When you’ve got that kind of unity, that kind of bond, it’s infectious. It showed Friday evening. This easily could have gone off the rails as there were multiple recruits that either had to cancel at the last minute or turned out couldn’t make it.
It was a nice list, too:
*Lake Dallas (Texas) High DB Kobe Boyce (committed to Texas)
*De Soto (Texas) High OL Xavier Newman (committed to Texas)
*South Grand Prairie (Texas) High ATH Jeffrey Okudah
*Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab OT Adrian Ealy
That quartet would have meant a lot to the event. Newman and Boyce couldn’t get transportation, and Ealy has already re-scheduled for a trip to OU this weekend as Sooners begin practice.
So the legitimate possibility of any commits happening basically went right out the window but that doesn’t mean everybody didn’t put their best foot forward.
Here is a pretty strong collection of the consensus on the event from recruits, parents, coaches who were in attendance.
· “That was easily the best time I’ve ever had at a recruiting event. It was non-stop fun.” – said a coach who attended with a recruit
· “I had no idea I was going to go there and be in a pie-eating contest. I kept wondering what was next?” – a top 2018 recruit
· “Bob Stoops was a pitcher. I mean seriously. I’ll never look at him the same way.” – 2017 recruit with OU offer
· “That was the most fun we’ve had. From beginning to end, it just kept going.” – parent of commit
· “I’d love to do it again.” – parent of commit
· “SoonerSquad17 is just so – it’s like – how can you not want to be a part of that?” – 2018 OU offer
Because everybody put their best foot forward. The usual was there. The trophies and championships. The photos wearing the jerseys. That’s all become commonplace.
It’s what happened after that took it to the next level. There was a water balloon fight. There was a pie-eating contest that saw multiple commits get pied in the face. There was cornhole. There was baseball. It was a lively environment in every way possible.
OU had to fight a stigma about two or three years ago. Stoops was losing his touch. Recruiting was passing him by. He couldn’t keep up. The program (facilities) couldn’t keep up.
Nobody’s saying that now. Not with the talent on campus. Not with the talent coming to campus. Not with the renovations to the stadium almost complete. And not with how quickly OU is evaluating talent nowadays.
It’s a whole new ballgame in Norman. And a #ChampUBBQ sounds like a tradition worth keeping going forward.