By most measures, Oklahoma signed a recruiting class this year that is pretty much par for the course.
Rivals ranked the group 15th in the nation, tying the previous year's class. Yet, the rankings might be the same, but this cycle feels a hell of a lot different.
Bob Stoops' ship was taking on serious water 12 months ago, and the OU coaches were scrambling just to keep players from abandoning ship. The program never looked more stale than when the Sooners were taking a humiliating beating from Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. The five weeks between the bowl game and national signing day became a war of attrition for the coaching staff.
Consider the script flipped.
Since OU's big Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, the Sooners:
- Landed a five-star prep running back;
- Persuaded the state's best high-school player to sign with the home team;
- Nabbed a top 100 talent out of California; and
- Secured reinforcements on both sides of the line.
I could keep going, but aside from apparently losing out on Oklahoma City area prospect Deondre Clark, OU couldn't have done much better.
On to the 2014 class superlatives...
No. 1 Stunner: Joe Mixon
Mixon is arguably the most hyped tailback signed by the Sooners since Adrian Peterson. A better comparison for his game: Demarco Murray. The top all-around back in the nation will give OU a multidimensional offensive threat who can tax defenses both running and catching the ball. Mixon will likely see the field plenty this fall.
Sudden Impact: Devante Bond
Consider Bond's recruitment a pretty good indication of Mike Stoops' commitment to the 3-4 defense. Given that he's already on campus, Bond has the inside track on a spot in the starting lineup as a big, run-stopping linebacker.
Top Position Group: Receiver
So what else is new? Jay Norvell has established himself as one of the top recruiters in the country – not to mention the best receivers coach in college football. It comes as no surprise that he lured three four-star wideouts to Norman. Also, watch out for Jeffrey Mead, a three-star prospect out of Tulsa Union with loads of potential.
Signing Day Must: Kenyon Frison
Bob Stoops got plenty of good news on Wednesday, but Frison's pledge might have been the most welcome. OU absolutely had to get a quality offensive tackle to join up this year to shore up depth at the position, but Frison should offer more than just that. He should see the field for OU sooner than later.
Signing Day Bust: Deondre Clark
The tug of war for Clark's signature was apparently won by LSU. Whatever your opinion of Clark's potential as a speed rusher, the bottom line is that it stings to miss out on a hometown guy.
Don't Sleep On: Jordan Thomas
It's tough to question Mike Stoops' eye for talent at defensive back, and Thomas looks like a potential steal. The one-time Northwestern commitment has great size and the range needed to play multiple positions for the OU defense. Smart money says the Sooners will get a couple years from Thomas as a starter.
Newcomers of the Year: Jerry Montgomery, Bill Bedenbaugh and Jay Boulware
This time a year ago, nobody in Sooner Land had any idea who these three cats were. They've clearly injected some new life into the program since being hired in 2013 to replace Jackie Shipp, James Patton and Bruce Kittle. Indications are that they have pounded the pavement on the recruiting trail, and their efforts appear to be paying dividends with this class and in laying the groundwork for 2015.