Not one Oklahoma fan wants to hear it. Not one OU fan wants to believe it. But it will be the truth for 2017 recruiting where the Sooners won’t always control their own destiny.
When push comes to shove, the success of SoonerSquad17 will be as influenced as much by what Texas and Charlie Strong do on the field as it will be what OU is able to produce on the gridiron.
Don’t believe it? Remember recruits like Omar Manning and Taquon Graham stressing how badly they wanted to make their decision before their senior season started. Well, the season starts this weekend and nary a peep out of those guys.
It’s understandable. Nobody is blaming the recruit or talking bad on what they’re choosing to do. However, it’s pretty clear it will be the case.
For some, it’s to see if Texas is still No. 1. For others, it will be to see if the Longhorns can overtake what seems to be perceived OU favorites.
Texas won’t win them all. OU won’t win them all. If you want to go ahead and circle that second Saturday in October at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, do so. It might mean more in recruiting than recent battles in the Red River Rivalry.
So who’s on the fence? Sooners Illustrated collaborated with Horns Digest publisher Taylor Estes to try to figure it all out.
Lake Dallas (Texas) High CB Kobe Boyce (committed to Texas)
The easiest one for the Horns since he’s already committed. OU defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks has maintained contact, but if Texas is good on the field, this won’t be a real contest. Boyce is open, though, announcing an official visit to OU for Ohio State weekend.
Galena Park (Texas) North Shore DE K’Lavon Chaisson
OU appears to be the leader in the clubhouse in this one. But Chaisson was back in Austin a few weeks ago. OU has worked hard to fill out its outside linebacker class, but it’s incredibly difficult to see the Sooners bypassing a talent as good as Chaisson.
La Grange (Texas) High RB J.K. Dobbins (committed to Ohio State)
This one could get interesting. Two weeks ago would have said Texas is clear leader. But when you factor what’s going on with Rodney Anderson (and you do have to factor that in), then things change. How much of a press with Jay Boulware and SoonerSquad17 put on Dobbins?
Aledo (Texas) High OT Chuck Filiaga
This is one of those cases where OU and Texas both might not matter. After since moving from California to Texas this summer, all the talk has been about TCU. He has visited all three schools and all three are definitely in the hunt.
Temple (Texas) High DE Taquon Graham
OK, this is a case of OU making up ground in a hurry. Texas was the easy leader until the #ChampUBBQ. Now the Sooners didn’t turn the full corner with Graham, but they’re in the conversation. And any talk of him committing anywhere has been shelved until sees the product on the field.
Plano (Texas) East ILB Anthony Hines
Actually believe this might be an open-and-shut case for the Sooners. Think Texas has sort of moved on at linebacker and believes Hines would just be stringing them along if stayed interested. Barring a complete OU collapse on the field, Sooners should net another five-star linebacker.
Lancaster (Texas) High WR Omar Manning
Now we’re coming to the tough ones. The three major targets for both schools and trying to separate what’s fact from fiction regarding the trio. Manning? Well, OU has done everything it possibly can. And it has done that for a long time. So what’s the holdup? Have to believe it’s because he wouldn’t mind playing in Austin but wants to see what that offense looks like this season for the Horns.
South Grand Prairie (Texas) High ATH Jeffrey Okudah
Texas isn’t really in the picture, but the belief is things would change in a second if Strong and company could beat teams like Notre Dame and Cal in the first month of the season. It is still an OU-Ohio State battle at the moment, but the Horns can close like nobody else, especially with Strong leading the charge.
Houston Bellaire Episcopal DT Marvin Wilson
This is the tough one for OU because truly believe Texas holds all the cards here like it’s a case of Wilson waiting for the Horns to give him a reason to come to Austin. Other schools are in play, and OU has ground to make up, but it absolutely might mean nothing if Texas gets it going in 2016.
The $64,000 question looming remains the same. How much improvement will recruits need to see with Texas to know Strong is safe the future is bright? Not sure anybody can answer that one right now. Is a bowl game enough? Or does it have to be contending again for a conference championship? Is there a magic number?