It wasn’t ideal conditions at the Houston Opening regional two weeks. It was cold, not nearly as nice as the same event in April 2016.
But Houston Cypress Falls cornerback Starrland Baldwin couldn’t worry about that. An under the radar name at the time, he had to just go out and perform.
Perform he did in earning the fastest shuttle time of any participant that weekend and then earning an offer from Oklahoma last Sunday during his visit for OU’s junior day.
Baldwin, listed at 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, said the first time he heard from OU defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks was last Monday. Again, that’s just how fast things can happen in recruiting. A trip to OU six days later, an offer in person, and Baldwin is officially a sleeper no more.
“It has been crazy,” Baldwin said. “All the coaches getting in touch with me. All the camps going on. It has been a busy, busy couple of weeks.”
A productive one, too. Baldwin was hoping to get his name out there with his performance at the Houston Opening regional so mission accomplished there. However, he was also hoping for some offers.
It can be tough when you believe deep down you’re as good if not better than some of the other prospects in the area getting offers. Baldwin had to fight through that and an OU offer, in a way, is validation for the work he has put in.
“I was, not going to lie,” said Baldwin about being discouraged. “I’m seeing a lot of my friends getting big offers, and I’m happy for them. But I also know what I’m capable of.”
Cooks recognized that potential and asked if Baldwin would come up for junior day. Baldwin didn’t want to get too far ahead of himself in expecting an offer, but the pieces were starting to come together.
There weren’t a lot of defensive backs in Norman last weekend. And almost all of them that were there already had an offer from the Sooners.
It was time for Baldwin to be among that group.
“I had expectations, but it still caught me by surprise,” Baldwin said. “I kind of figured he was interested in me, and he wanted me to come down there so he could see my size and my length.
“I was on the tour. During the second half of the tour, Coach Cooks pulled me to the side. He said he talked to Coach (Bob) Stoops and they wanted to welcome us to the Sooner family with an offer and gave it to us.”
Baldwin was almost at a loss for words, he said. For somebody who was trying so hard to reach that point, this is the moment he had been waiting for.
He said he considered committing right there on the spot, adding anybody would when you think about how amazing a place OU is. Not one to make an impulsive decision, Baldwin has elected to play out the process.
“It’s a blessing, for sure, but I’m just a junior,” Baldwin said. “I want to make sure I go on some visits, and I want to wait and see how the relationships go between me and the coaches in the next year.”
Baldwin is viewed as a cornerback, but he said his biggest strength as a player is the fact he can player anywhere you want him. A pure athlete, Baldwin is a playmaker, first and foremost.
Looking ahead, Baldwin knows where he wants to make the most improvement.
“I want to make more interceptions,” Baldwin said. “I had like 15 pass deflections last year. I want more INTs this time.”
Baldwin added an offer from TCU earlier this week and has seen his stock soar at a high rate since his performance in Houston.