Trail to OU: Cameron Rising

How did 2018 quarterback Cameron Rising commit to OU? The road to Norman.

There’s never a more fascinating recruiting position than quarterback, and it was no different for the 2018 class when it comes to Oklahoma.

The Sooners landed a major one last week in Newbury Park (Calif.) High’s Cameron Rising, ranked No. 48 in the initial Scout 100 for 2018.

How we got there, well, that was a bit of a journey. One that Sooners Illustrated has been tracking since the beginning.

It all got started basically on June 28, 2015. Once Mesquite (Texas) Horn quarterback Chris Robison committed to OU on June 27 for the 2017 class, it was time to go to work for 2018.

The obvious name was Moore (Okla.) Southmoore’s Casey Thompson. There were so many factors working in the favor of OU. Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley had developed a tremendous bond with Thompson and his family.

Playing at Southmoore obviously gave Riley the chance to check in with Thompson routinely and watch him play whenever possible.

Despite Thompson’s monster numbers as a sophomore, the offer didn’t come. Thirty-two passing touchdowns, 20 rushing scores, a slew of offers from top programs, but not the one from the Sooners.

His father, Charles, went there. His older brother, Kendal, started his college career in Norman. But something was keeping OU from pulling the trigger.

Riley went national in his initial search for the 2018 class, offering Joey Gatewood and Trevor Lawrence. Most believe Lawrence is not only a five-star prospect, but also the top recruit in the entire 2018 class.

You can’t win the race if you’re not in it. OU offered Lawrence in February but never made a real dent. Lawrence seems destined to stay in the SEC, which is fine.

Gatewood has been committed to Auburn since December 2015, and it’s hard to see anything changing in that regard.

So now it was time for Riley to expand his search, and two names came to the forefront. Yes, Thompson was one of them. Rising was the other.

Thompson’s story was well known. Rising’s? Not quite, and especially not within the state of Oklahoma where all eyes were firmly fixated on Thompson.

Rising’s brother plays at Arizona State so when the Sun Devils offered Cameron in December, there was a feeling he might head to Tempe.

(The Rising boys together at Arizona State)

Once it became clear he wasn’t, though, it was game-on in a major way. And Riley and the Sooners were going to throw their hat in the ring.

Riley made that official April 19 with the offer. While the state was waiting for the Thompson offer, Riley offered Rising on April 19 and 2019 quarterback Spencer Rattler later that week.

Not only was the offer made, but Riley did everything you’re legally allowed to do during the spring when it came to the recruitment of Rising.

Riley visited Rising the very next week and then did so again in May. This was not just a hope-and-a-prayer offer. He was serious about Rising, and Rising was about the Sooners.

Things got complicated in mid-May. Riley had already visited Rising twice and took the plunge with Thompson on May 18 and made the offer.

Thompson was offered by Ohio State the day before as his recruiting went to another level during the spring.

The way Thompson has always described his relationship with Riley has been honest. Not afraid to ask the tough question and no fear to be asked those same tough questions.

You might be able to infer now that it could have meant Thompson knew Riley’s No. 1 guy was Rising because it wouldn’t get much more honest than that.

The hiccup was Rising in California with so many major offers to consider. LSU, Nebraska, TCU, and then UCLA came into play June 22.

This was viewed as the game-changer, except it really didn’t. Gave him a chance to play much closer to home, but outside of the initial surge, the momentum died down with the Bruins.

Ole Miss came into the mix in July, and Rising went on a huge tour that included LSU, TCU, and others, and finally, OU with TCU becoming a major player in his recruitment.

The visit that sealed the deal. Despite the fact Bob Stoops wasn’t around as he was at ESPN in Bristol, Conn., Riley closed the show with Rising.

Thompson returned to OU a week later for the #ChampUBBQ where you have to envision a strong heart-to-heart was had about where everything stood.

Rising committed to Riley last Tuesday before going public with the move Sunday morning. Following a sophomore season of 40 touchdowns and just one interception, expectations are high for Rising as a junior.

With Ohio State and OU both selecting their quarterbacks for 2018, Thompson will seek elsewhere. He has plenty of options and will no doubt find a great fit.

Riley has stressed being in an attack mode mentality on the trail. He has stressed it’s about the product they’re selling at OU and no reason to take a step back.

That attitude, that passion won over Rising and the family. And landed OU another incredibly highly-ranked quarterback.

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