Ten quick thoughts about OU’s 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes:
1. The NCAA has changed some academic rules making it much harder for players to make up poor high school academic performance post-graduation. These rules are new, and it’s unclear how it will really play out with the NCAA Clearinghouse in terms of enforcement.
It’s quite possible that late qualifiers such as Orlando Brown will not be able to qualify under this policy. OU was very cautious with this in this class. We may see some significant class attrition across college football later this summer.
2. Recruiting in Texas has become significantly more competitive, and OU will need to adjust. Three players from the most fertile recruiting territory in the area will hopefully be a one-year outlier. OU is already showing signs of improvement in 2017, attacking Texas at a high level. Ten Texas kids in 2017 is looking like a good early projection.
3. OU is going to have to develop a counter to Charlie Strong’s January blitz recruiting style. Of course that’s assuming Strong is still around running things in Austin after this season. If UT has a bad year and Strong is fired, this strategy could backfire completely on the next coach.
4. OU’s national brand has never been stronger. The Sooners landed players from established pipelines in California and Louisiana, but OU is also starting to make headway in the Mid-Atlantic region.
5. Not signing a defensive tackle in 2016 could come back to hurt OU. It’s not going to a very deep year at DL in Texas or in Louisiana at first glance. There’s no elite in-state DT prospect.
OU is off to a great start with elite 2017 DT Marvin Wilson, but it’s stretch to say OU leads in any way for top DLs right now.
6. OU’s continuing to upgrade its defensive talent. You could see it last year with the emergence of Charles Walker, Jordan Thomas, Jordan Evans and Steven Parker. The next wave hits this spring with Ricky Deberry, Neville Gallimore, Marquise Overton, Du'Vonta Lampkin, Kahlil Haughton, P.J. Mbanasor and Will Sunderland.
The wave after that was just signed: Caleb Kelly, John-Michael Terry, Jordan Parker, Amani Bledsoe, Mark Jackson and Chanse Sylvie. OU added playmakers on all three levels of the defense.
7. Lincoln Riley is going to be aggressive in QB recruiting and development. OU’s addition of Kyler Murray could be the biggest addition in the most recent class. If Murray can translate his elite play in high school into OU’s system, they could have a smooth transition from Baker Mayfield.
8. Bob Stoops is never going to be the recruiter that Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh are. However, Stoops' comfort and energy level allegedly are at all-time highs. For example, he is reportedly giving lots of personal attention to recruits on official visits. Lots of tweets/pictures from recruits to highlight their visits.
9. The Baker Mayfield Effect in recruiting is a trend to watch for 2017. He was showing up all over the pictures from OU's first junior day event. Just like A&M recruiting got an insane boost from Johnny Football, OU may see a similar bump from the Sooners' outgoing media favorite at QB.
10. OU’s fast start in 2017 recruiting shows no signs of slowing down. Last year, OU did not have five verbal commitments until the end of July. OU got its fifth verbal for '17 at the end of January.
OU already has five four-star verbals. For the '16 class, OU didn’t hit that number until Johncarlo Valentin committed in January 2016.
So, in quantity, OU’s about six months ahead of schedule. In quality, they are closer to a year ahead. It’s quite possible that by the end of July, the Sooners could be halfway home with 11 verbal commitments.