With about 10 days to go, prepare yourself, Sooner fans, for a wild ride. Sometimes signing day has no real drama to it, but this is not that year.
OU could realistically be tracking six to eight decisions. Keep in mind that the coaching staff could send paperwork to a number of kids, including some back-up plans. (Past examples Orlando Brown and Prentice McKinney come to mind.)
The dead period starts on Jan. 31, so no more in-person contact. With the ability to avoid coaches, decisions get made Tuesday night before signing day. Parents really start to weigh in since most LOIs are going to need a guardian signature. Distance can often become a bigger factor. Coaches will be making phone calls and texts like mad to keep verbal commitments, and the battle to be the final voice for undecided kids will get intense. Leads will appear and disappear in a matter of hours. Twitter will be an all out madhouse Tuesday night and all day Wednesday.
This update is as accurate as I could make it, but rest assured that in 24 hours something new will have happened.
OU stands at 16 verbals (6 to 8 spots are likely depending upon the kids wanting to be Sooners)
Amani Bledsoe, DL – 6-5, 275, 4.8 (Kansas)
Four stars. Huge pickup for OU. Everyone had presumed KU was going to win out because of distance.
Kapri Doucet, LB – 6-3, 235, 4.65 (JUCO)
Three stars. Got snowed in by the East Coast blizzard and never visited. Did not matter; he verbaled without even seeing OU. Will provide depth at LB and could potentially fit inside or outside depending upon where OU needs him.
Emmanuel Beal, LB – 6-2, 215, 4.6 (JUCO)
Two stars. From the same junior college as Doucet, Beal was offered this week, visited and committed on Sunday. He's more of an OLB prospect. It will be interesting to see what impact he has this fall. Has a redshirt year available. The offer sent the Sooner message boards into a panic.
Players Who Have Dropped Off
Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB
Clifford Chatman, LB
2016 Remaining Targets
Let’s talk about the remaining targets for OU.
1. Uncommitted Targets Where OU May Hold a Lead
This group could easily make or break OU’s recruiting class. On the eve of signing day, OU could go from a top 25 class into the top 15 if these five kids choose the Sooners.
Marcel Southall, DL – 6-3, 275, 4.8 (Texas)
Four stars. Visited in the fall for the TCU game, but he has visits scheduled to Ole Miss and Miami through signing day. I’m not sure whatever lead OU had will stand up against these visits.
Caleb Kelly, LB – 6-3, 215, 4.6 (California)
Five stars. The crown jewel of the Sooners' recruiting class. His visits are done: It’s down to Oregon, OU and Notre Dame in a decision on signing day. Hold on, Sooner fans, it’s going to be a long wait on signing day.
Tramonda Moore, OL – 6-6, 340, 5.2 (OKC)
Four stars. Might be a top 100 national player if grades were not a lingering issue. OU grabbed a big lead on his official visit to Norman. He just visited OSU and might have one more official left. Another signing day decision.
Jared Mayden, DB – 6-1, 185, 4.5 (Texas)
Four stars. OU has an elite class of CBs. Mayden is so good of a prospect that OU cannot ignore the chance of a verbal commitment. A difference-maker, and in the Big 12, you can never have enough elite DBs. Mayden’s parents are both OU alums/ex-athletes. Mayden’s down to OU and 'Bama, with a decision coming signing day morning.
Brandon Bowen, OLB – 6-5, 230, 4.55 (Texas)
Four stars. Baylor commit who visited OU this weekend along with Mayden – they appear to be friends. Again, OU seems to have had a great visit with Bowen, putting OU firmly in play as an option. You have to figure Baylor is going to throw everything at Bowen this week to keep the coaching staff's prize defensive commitment. If he were to switch to OU, I think a signing day decision would be the scenario.
2. Last Wave of Visitors
Some of these visits could be cancelled by the recruits or, conversely, by OU.
Mark Jackson, OLB – 6-4, 230, 4.6 (Texas)
Four stars. Texas A&M verbal commitment who is supposed to visit OU at the end of the month. OU appears to have made up serious ground on A&M. He just visited College Station, but now is heading to Norman for a last visit. This could be another signing day decision between OU, Texas and A&M.
Erick Fowler, OLB – 6-3, 230, 4.65 (Texas)
Five stars. Seems locked into LSU, but OU and UT are trying to make it a race. Will this visit even happen?
Jauan Williams, OL – 6-6, 310, 5.2 (Maryland)
Four stars. I think this visit is happening this final weekend. OU has gone all out on Williams, and it appears to be making a difference.
Maxs Tupai, LB – 6-2, 245, 4.7 (Utah)
Four stars. OU is trying to get a visit for the end of the month. Tupai would be an ideal OLB for the OU defense. Do the JUCO LBs preclude the Sooners from bringing in Tupai?
Michael Onwenu, OL/DL – 6-3, 360, 5.5 (Michigan)
Four stars. A new name out of nowhere from Michigan powerhouse Detroit Cass High School. Was committed to Michigan State. His level of interest or connection to OU is unclear. Based on his film, I could see pitching a role as NG in OU's 3-4 defense. Onwenu would make an awesome anchor in the middle of the D after dropping some bad weight. He could be another mauling OG for Bill Bedenbaugh. This could be nothing or another signing day decision to track.
3. Decommits to Watch on Signing Day
OU is/was/might still be in play for these signatures.
Chris Daniels, DT – 6-4, 300, 5.0 (Texas)
Four stars. Daniels has decommitted from OU, but he says OU is still in this race. He has visited Texas, which is the presumed new favorite for his signature, but he did not commit to the 'Horns.
Velus Jones, WR – 6-0, 180, 4.35 (Alabama)
Four stars. Jones devastated the OU fan base over the weekend with his commitment to OU and crushing flip back to USC. OU seems resigned to Jones going with USC, but the Trojans have four WR commitments, so you have to wonder if this thing is really over? Or, could a late call on Tuesday by OU flip this thing again?
Ryan Parker, WR – 6-2, 185. 4.4 (JUCO)
Four stars. Jones' decommitment was doubly crushing because OU has backed off Parker due to grade concerns. More than likely, he won’t be signing with OU on Feb. 3. Now, Parker could sign with someone else, or if Parker makes enough academic progress in the late spring, OU could offer him again if there's a spot.
*Could OU lose Parrish Cobb to Texas?
4. New Offers
OU needs at least one more prep WR and could offer a player as an athlete. There are late gems out there, but does OU have room?
Zach Farrar, WR – 6-4, 210, 4.5 (Texas)
This big wideout from Southlake Carroll just committed to Mississippi State for football and baseball. However, he received an OU offer on Sunday and was all over Twitter with the announcement. He has friends heading to OU in 2017 safety Robert Barnes, and a visit this final weekend is entirely possible.
Joshua Jacobs, RB/ATH – 5-11, 195, 4.4 (Tulsa)
Three stars. Jones might be the best player in the state after an awesome senior year playing option QB for Tulsa McClain. His highlight reel shows home run speed, power and acceleration. I don’t understand why he doesn’t have a dozen offers at RB. Considering OSU’s RB woes last year, why he’s not already an OSU commit is beyond me. Depending on numbers, OU might bring him for a visit and make an offer. At a minimum, he would be a weapon on special teams and provide some depth at RB. Maybe he makes the successful transition to slot WR like Brandon Daniels and becomes real weapon.