Dallis Todd came to Oklahoma as a four-star receiver in the Sooners’ 2014 recruiting class. Like a number of other pass catchers to blow through Norman lately, he left the program without leaving much of a mark on the field.
OU’s five recruiting classes from 2010 to 2014 included a total of 20 receivers. The news of Todd’s departure means that more than half of those prospects, 11, left the program before using up all of their eligibility – transferred, dismissed, etc. A handful more ended up switching positions.
Such significant attrition illustrates the ease with which recruiting at a position can turn into a negative feedback loop for a program:
- Players leave;
- Programs develop gaps to fill at that position;
- That position requires more scholarships in upcoming classes;
- Programs reach on borderline prospects to get an adequate number of bodies at that position;
- Reaches flame out;
As squads are viciously cycling through players at a weak spot, it detracts from the ability of other coaches to build depth in their units. Scholarships originally intended for offensive linemen get diverted to receivers, for instance, based on immediate need. Consequently, as problem positions siphon off resources from the rest of the team, the cumulative effect is an overall watering down of the roster.
During the five-year period mentioned above, Bob Stoops had little choice but to continue giving receivers coach Jay Norvell more spots to fill out his depleted group of wideouts. Having lots of potential contributors at WR is kind of a must when a team uses of three- and four-wide offensive sets so often.
Norvell kept reeling in well-regarded prospects. Rivals.com even named him the top recruiter in the Big 12 in 2012. Yet, for every Kenny Stills or Sterling Shepard, there was a Courtney Gardner or two.
Norvell and the rest of OU’s staff actually did yeoman’s work finding stopgap solutions by way of transfers such as Jalen Saunders and Justin Brown. (There was also the unsuccessful Dorial Green-Beckham gambit, which had the added benefit of earning the side eye from the rest of the country.) Even so, the shortcomings at receiver hit the squad hard in 2014 as the team struggled to generate a competent passing attack with Sterling Shepard on the sidelines. Unfortunately, that season didn’t end well for Norvell, either.
Frankly, the Sooners as still feeling the effects today as position coaches Cale Gundy and Dennis Simmons search for replacements for Shepard and Durron Neal. The lack of upperclassmen at linebacker probably has something to do with the number of scholarships dedicated to shoring up the receiving corps, too. Taken as a whole, OU’s missteps at receiver should serve as a lesson about the interconnectivity of a college football roster and the importance of addressing budding recruiting problems before they fester.