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National Signing Day: Ford, Byrd lead Sooners' 2013 recruiting class

Keith Ford

Another National Signing Day in the books, another one that came and went with relatively little drama for Oklahoma.

The Sooners nabbed a late pledge from L.J. Moore, a four-star defensive back out of California, according to the Rivals recruiting service. Otherwise, it was pretty quiet around the war room in Norman.

Overall, the 2013 class certainly won't go down as one of Bob Stoops' best efforts.

How the recruitniks view OU's 2013 class

Recruiting Service National Ranking (Big 12)
Rivals 15 (1)
ESPN 16 (2)
Scout 15 (1)
247Sports 13 (1)

For sure, there are plenty of strong prospects in the group. Glaring holes in the roster were filled. Yet, in terms of superstar power, the class seems a little lacking.

Let's take a deeper look at the 2013 crop:

Crown Jewel: Keith Ford

The consensus highest-rated player in the 2013 class, Ford may be the best running back recruit to land at OU since Demarco Murray. The Houston product runs with authority when he has the ball in his hands. When he doesn't, his physical style of play should make him an asset as a blocker and, potentially, on special teams.

Ford faces a logjam at running back in the short term. In the long run, however, he should grow into an elite running back on the national level and possible first-round draft selection.

Charles WalkerDiamond in the Rough: Charles Walker

In a year in which the Sooner coaching staff had to make up some ground late in the recruiting cycle, Jackie Shipp mined himself a gem in Walker, a 6-4, 280 defensive tackle out of Garland, Texas.

Injuries early in his high school career apparently kept Walker off the radar of the country's top programs. However, he looks dominant in the middle of line in the film from his senior year. If he stays healthy, Walker will work his way into the rotation on the defensive line very quickly.

Quarterback of the Future (?): Cody Thomas

Thomas may be the most talented among a super-talented bunch of signal callers on campus this fall. He will redshirt in '13. However, if Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson stumble in the spotlight come fall, Thomas could find himself squarely in the mix for the starting job the following spring.

An important caveat with Thomas: He's also considered a top-flight baseball prospect, so who knows how strongly the diamond will compete for his attention in the offseason?

Couldn't Miss: Defensive Tackle

Of all the flaws in OU's 2012 squad, none hurt the Sooners more than the subpar play from the defensive line. Jackie Shipp's DTs, in particular, have foundered since all-star Gerald McCoy headed out for the fame and fortune of the NFL.

Junior college transfer Quincy Russell, a one-time Texas commitment, will have the opportunity to step in and play almost immediately following the departures of Stacy McGee, Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland. (Of course, given that he's a JUCO, would it surprise you to know he might not qualify?) Looking to the future, Walker and Kerrick Huggins (another grade risk) stand to create a formidable combo.

Obviously, OU is rolling the dice with a few members of the DT group. All in all, though, Shipp appears to have come through with enough late additions to salvage the position.

Swing and a Miss: Offensive Tackle

A year after signing a grand total of one prep tackle in 2012 – who quit school as soon as fall practices began – position coach Bruce Kittle landed a single high school prospect in 2013, Christian Daimler, a Rivals three-star recruit. JUCO transfer Josiah St. John should provide depth right off the bat. The future looks awfully thin, though.

Stoops needs to light a fire under Kittle, who's undoubtedly getting torn to shreds by competitors on the recruiting trail for his lack of coaching experience.

Hatari ByrdSudden Impact: Hatari Byrd

A phsyical, do-everything safety out of California who has a chance to start from the jump. Sound familiar?

Ironically, Byrd is a strong contender to replace fellow Golden Stater Tony Jefferson after he declared early for the NFL. With Jefferson's running mate Javon Harris having used up his eligibility as well, the Sooners are re-working the safey corps. Byrd will have a chance to make his mark early.

Top Recruiter: Mike Stoops

In his first run as Oklahoma's defensive coordinator, the book on Mike was that he was great in the film room and below average in the living room. In his first full year back from his sojourn to the desert, Mike looks like he added some polish to his pitch.

In addition to Byrd, Mike reeled in four-star cornerback Stanvon Taylor out of Tulsa and Floridian Ahmad Thomas, a three-star safety who may see time in the fall. Mike capped off his rock-solid class with a signature from four-star safety L.J. Moore, who the Sooners had to recruit all the way up to Signing Day.

In the pass-happy Big 12, Mike's improved ability to land quality DBs will hopefully pay big dividends for the Sooners.