Arkansas did nothing wrong in its recruitment of Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep defensive lineman Troy James. Razorbacks didn’t treat him badly or forget about him or lose a coach or any of that stuff.
There was just this little birdie in the back of his head telling him to not close the door on Oklahoma. James, a three-star prospect, was offered by OU in the fall but never got around to seeing Norman until last week, two months after he had been committed to Hogs.
“I talked a lot to my family about it,” James said. “I was open to new things. I wasn’t canceling Arkansas out. I wasn’t planning on changing my school.”
But that’s how it went down. Even before he arrived back home in Louisiana last Thursday evening, James knew he wasn’t going to sign with the Razorbacks. Nope, he was going to sign with the Sooners.
James said talking with defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux and head coach Bob Stoops about their plans for James intrigued him and had him excited. Part of that plan is OU moving to a four-man defensive front with James being one of the two playing inside, some he is pumped about.
“When I was up there, I knew,” said James of when he realized he’d be a Sooner. “I told my mom during the trip, this is where I want to be. This is home.
“It’s not like Louisiana at all. That’s OK. My mom wants me to see new things and experience new things. My family supports me, and I’m going to be coached by one of the best. This is going to give me an opportunity to grow as a man and make better life choices.”
It was James’ first trip to Norman, but he was blown away. So much so that by Friday afternoon, the wheels were purely in motion. James called Thibodeaux to tell him James was committing to the Sooners, but he had to let the Arkansas coaches know first.
James publicly decommitted from the Hogs on Friday afternoon, and then made it official by committing to OU on Saturday and signing Wednesday.
Is life different for James now that he’s going to be a Sooner? In a word, yes.
“My mom asked me that question this morning,” James said. “Honestly? Yes, yes, it is. There’s so many things. It’s hard to explain. Knowing that you got the competition at OU and there are people going there with the same mindset. The same hunger.
“I know I have to go in there and work. Where I’m from? We turn nothing into something. I made a great choice and now I have to prove that I belong at Oklahoma and coached by Bob Stoops and Calvin Thibodeaux.”
James was a one-time two-star lineman committed to Kansas, but his senior season made him an intriguing option to a lot of schools in the fall and after the season. It was another time where persistence by Thibodeaux seemed to be a major factor in getting James to Norman.