When Oklahoma’s 2013 class came together, the names Jordan Evans and Ahmad Thomas didn’t exactly immediately come to mind.
There were higher ranked recruits. There were more vocal recruits on the trail. Fans are pumped for all signees, but truth be told, nobody knew what to make of a three-star safety from Miami Central High and a three-star hybrid defensive end/linebacker from the hometown, Norman (Okla.) North.
They’re yet another example of recruiting being an inexact science as nobody batted an eye earlier this week when head coach Bob Stoops named Evans and Thomas as two of the team’s four captains for the 2016 season to go with quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Samaje Perine.
“Not going to lie to you, when they named me, I kind of gave a little smile up there,” Evans said. “It just means a lot because the team voted for me. So I respect and I appreciate them voting for me. It means a lot when the guys can trust me to do it, I believe I can do it.
“There’s a little more to it as well. My dad went here and he was a two-year captain here. I guess I did follow in his footsteps by being a captain as well.”
Evans’ recruitment was all sunshine and rainbows. Yes, his father, Scott, was a two-year captain but that didn’t mean Jordan was destined to be a Sooner.
Far from it. Entering his senior season at Norman North, the big-time offers that flooded Evans simply weren’t there. He had some quality mid-major offers but nothing that screamed being a team captain four years later.
It wasn’t until after a stellar senior season that Evans was even offered. He took less than 72 hours to commit to the Sooners after it was made. And the rest was history.
The quiet, reserved kid in high school has, in his words, been molded by the university to desire the captain role.
“You can call my high school coach right now and he’ll tell you I told him personally I didn’t want to be a captain,” Evans said. “It depends on who you are. Here at OU, they kind of molded me into that. When it came down to it, yeah I wanted to be.”
If Evans was an unlikely candidate, then it’s tough to even find a word to accurately express what Thomas would have been.
Thomas still holds that distinction of being one of those recruits to commit without having initially seeing the campus. It wasn’t until nearly four months later when he saw Norman for the first time.
You never know how it’s going to pan out with kids halfway across the country. Some thrive in a new environment. Some crave going back home. For Thomas, it has certainly been more of the former than the latter.
“It means a lot,” Thomas said. “I can represent my team in the right way and represent the other players in the right way. It means a lot for my teammates to see me as a captain.”
He had to bide his time, though. With so many elder statesmen in front of him, his opportunity would only come through perseverance, which is sort of a nice parallel to his career in Norman.
A major player since his sophomore season, Thomas has slowly but surely become a more reliable safety who can also make some pretty big plays.
He learned from others, and now he’s the guy who is mentoring the younger players.
“There were a lot of big roles played by other players when I got here,” Thomas said. “It was a long time coming for it.”