OU has had a massive surge of recruiting momentum after the resignation of Bob Stoops and the promotion of Lincoln Riley. Three main reasons why:
- Negative recruiting strategy of Bob retiring is blocked.
- Negative recruiting strategy for offensive prospects that Riley would leave is blocked.
- Riley is more comfortable with the 24/7 social media aspect of recruiting than Bob.
Bob made huge strides in the third area, but already you can tell that Riley is pushing OU’s social media recruiting efforts into overdrive. Recruits are already mentioning a difference in Riley’s level of communication and involvement versus Bob’s approach.
2018 verbal commitments
*Brey Walker, OL – 6-6, 300, 5.0
Four stars, Rivals top 50.
*Jordon Austin, DB – 6-1, 180, 4.4
*Jordan Kelly, DL – 6-3, 290, 5.0
*Patrick Fields, DB – 6-0, 190, 4.5
*T.J. Pledger, RB – 5-9, 190, 4.4
Four stars, Rivals100.
*Miguel Edwards, DB – 6-0, 170, 4.5
Four stars, Rivals250.
*Starrland Baldwin, DB – 5-11, 170, 4.45
*Tanner Mordecai, QB – 6-2, 210, 4.8
*Tavion Thomas, RB – 6-2, 227, 4.6
*Ron Tatum, DL – 6-5, 265, 4.8
Four stars, Rivals top 150.
*Jalen Redmond, DE/OLB – 6-4, 230, 4.7
*Kundarrious Taylor, WR – 6-3, 200, 4.45
*Jaylon Robinson, WR – 5-11, 165, 4.4
*Jacqualyn Crawford, WR – 5-10, 180, 4.4
Four stars, Rivals250.
*Tramonda Moore, OL – 6-5, 330, 5.3 (JUCO)
*Treveon Johnson, WR 6-1, 190, 4.45
*Darrell Simpson, OL – 6-7, 330, 5.3
*The class now sits at 17 commitments, with between seven and 10 spots still available.
*Simpson became the newest member of the class on Saturday:
His commitment gives the Sooners a fantastic pair of bookend tackles.
*The wide receiver group is a fascinating blend of size, skills and talent. The highest-ranked player, Jaqaulyn Crawford, seems like a natural fit as the next small-ish elite WR for OU along the lines of Ryan Broyles, Sterling Shepard and Dede Westbrook. Crawford has legit track speed and shows the all-around skills to be a player who moves all over the formation.
Crawford might not end up at the slot position because of Jaylon Robinson, whose shuttle times are absurd.
Meanwhile, Treveon Johnson and Kundarrious Taylor are bigger WRs who are more in the mold of a bigger flanker. Taylor might blow up as a senior into some top 250 lists. His speed and agility are uncommon for a bigger WR. Johnson flashes the same skills and is lurking under the radar of the recruiting services. The Sooners must really think they got steals in those two because they took their verbals while still heavily involved with bigger, more-hyped prospects.
*Perhaps the most surprising verbal was Tavion Thomas from Ohio. When was the last time OU added a power back from Ohio? At 6-2, 225, Thomas is going to be a deadly weapon behind OU's big offensive lines of the future.
*The final addition for 2018 came at the OU ChampUBBQ event held at the end of July. OU hosted about 35 kids spread across three classes with commits and targets getting to enjoy an event that was like an enhanced junior day.
The event put OU over the top with in-state DE/rush OLB target Jalen Redmond. Redmond, who is probably a top five player in Oklahoma, is exactly what the Sooners are looking for at rush OLB. The power and speed combo off the edge are elite. Once Redmond’s trained up on technique, he could be a legit NFL prospect.
Notably, Redmond had offers from many national powers, including Alabama, Texas, Texas A&M, etc.
Players to watch
Right now, 14 of OU’s 17 verbals have a four-star ranking by at least one of the major recruiting service. The Sooners are on the fringe of a top 10 class, with some upside in the rankings of a number of prospects likely. Right now, the program is poised to reload at WR and RB, and it is bringing more elite players into a developing NFL offensive line factory under coach Bill Bedenbaugh.
Defense is where the focus needs to be this fall – adding more DLs and LBs and shaking out the makeup of the final group of DBs. Of the remaining scholarships, expect six to eight to be focused on the defensive side of the ball.
Let's break it down by remaining positions:
Bedenbaugh can be a little picky here. A second interior prospect is a possibility, but not a certainty.
*Rueben Unjie – 6-6, 310, 5.2
An IMG kid who has been talking up OU, but it's hard to tell if he’s for real or not. If he visits with fellow IMG’er T.J. Pledger, you know that things are really serious.
*Marcus Jenkins – 6-4, 325, 5.2
Four stars. Could OU go into Alabama, the heart of SEC territory, and grab an elite lineman? Jenkins keeps saying that he’s visiting OU, but it hasn't happened.
One spot or two spots left after adding Dillon Faamatua late. The early buzz on freshmen Tyreece Lott and Zacchaeus McKinney is positive. How many 4-3 DTs does OU need to add? At least one more if the player is an impact guy since 2019 DT recruiting looks weak again in Texas and locally.
*Trevor Trout – 6-4, 300, 5.0
Four-star prospect out of St. Louis.
*Calvin Avery – 6-2, 310, 5.1
Four stars, Rivals top 150. He’s chosen Illinois, but it seems like the Sooners could make a big push for him if they wanted to.
*Bobby Brown – 6-5, 275, 4.8
Four-star player from Dallas. Possibly OU’s top DL target right now. Brown has the size and athleticism to play DE in any scheme, and he could slide inside to DT on third-and-long situations. A&M and 'Bama are in this battle. Distance could help OU greatly.
*Emmitt Gooden – 6-4, 300, 4.9 (JUCO)
Four stars. Verbally committed to Arkansas, but he seems really interested in OU. Would the Sooners take a JUCO DT? Numbers would seem to indicate otherwise.
Ideally, OU adds one more piece at DE/OLB.
*Daniel Carson – 6-5, 270, 4.8
Three-star player out of Missouri. Carson has more than 20 scholarship offers, so that ranking won’t stay that low. His film is great: physical and fast with a huge frame to add weight. Does OU have room for Carson with Tatum in the fold, or do you grab both and see how things develop? Carson could easily end up a 6-5, 300 pound DT.
*Ronnie Perkins – 6-4, 250, 4.8
Four-star player from St. Louis. Arguably OU’s top target at DE right now. The Sooners have made him a huge focus, and rumors have OU out in front. Perkins is the pure 4-3 DE OU needs to add to the class.
Two or three spots remain, and OU needs a true WILL and a MIKE in this class. A year after grabbing a great LB class, OU has no commits at the inside spots. The best bet at this point, rather than reaching for some kids, is to wait out the California LB visits and any other LB verbals that they can convince to visit officially. (Alston Orji, who's committed to Vanderbilt, for instance.) Too many second-place finishes, not enough closing on players who like OU.
*Brian Asamoah – 6-1, 210, 4.6
Three stars. A big-time athlete who projects at LB and seems very interested in OU. Is it OU or Pitt? The longer the wait, the more it seems like Pitt.
*Merlin Robertson – 6-3, 220, 4.6
Four-star prospect from California. Ridiculous year for LBs out west, and USC has already grabbed three of them (likely adding Solomon Tuliaupupu any day now). Can OU stay involved with Robertson to get him to Norman for a visit? He’s an every-down LB – just put him on the field. OU has signed impact LBs in back-to-back years out of California (Addision Gumbs and Caleb Kelly).
*Raymond Scott – 6-2, 220, 4.6
Four-star Californian. Scott verbaled to USC, but he has already visited OU on his own dime and is talking a return visit. USC’s LB class is getting full. If the Trojans land Tuliapupu, does Scott make a move? A flip away looks very possible. The Sooners are working hard to make themselves the next option.
*DaShaun White – 6-0, 210, 4.6
Three-star player from Texas chose A&M over OU.
*Alston Orji – 6-2,220, 4.6
Four stars. The best LB prospect in Texas committed to Vandy, but an official visit to OU this fall would not be a huge surprise. His 2019 brother Anfernee, a safety/LB, seems very interested in the Sooners.
*Michael Harris 6-3, 210, 4.6
Four stars. Georgia prospect who is committed to Auburn. OU should go after that verbal this fall.
Depending on Jordon Austin's recovery from a knee injury, OU might have as many as three spots open. Kerry Cooks made a flurry of scholarship offers after spring ball and the transfers of P.J. Mbanasor and Antoine Stephens.
*Kalon Gervin – 6-0, 185, 4.4
Four stars, Rivals top 150. The Detroit native has moved on from ND, and it’s looking like OU versus Virginia Tech and Oregon. A visit to OU is happening this fall.
*Isaac Taylor Stuart – 6-2, 180. 4.4
Four-star target from San Diego.
*Keidron Smith – 6-2, 180, 4.4
Three stars. Brother of safety C.J. Smith. His film looks great – physical CB with excellent speed and quickness. Not sure why he’s not being recruiting by more big-time programs. Is he a package deal with his brother?
*Noah Boykin – 6-2, 170, 4.4
Three-star corner from the D.C. area. The next Parnell Motley? Boykin knows both Abdul Adams and Motley. Does seem interested in OU.
OU has one or two spots left.
*Leon O’Neal – 6-2, 190, 4.5
Four stars. Verbaled to A&M, but expect OU to keep fighting for him. Starrland Baldwin could help OU with this recruiting battle, and a coaching change by the Aggies might throw things open as well.
*Jaiden Woodbey – 6-2, 200, 4.5
Four stars, Rivals top 50. Woodbey verbaled to Ohio State and insists he’s locked in. An OU visit could easily happen.
*C.J. Smith – 6-3, 195, 4.55
Four stars. Rangy, physical safety who is talking up OU right now. Planning a visit with this brother during the Iowa State game.
*Josh Proctor 6-2, 190, 4.5
Four-star prospect from Owasso. Like Woodbey, Proctor says he is locked into Ohio St. right now. But he can come down to Norman easily, and distance could ultimately be a factor.
Class size: 26
QB (1): Tanner Mordecai
RB (2): T.J. Pledger, Tavion Thomas
WR (4): Jaqualyn Crawford, Treveon Johnson, Kundarrious Taylor, Jaylon Robinson
OL (4): Brey Walker, Darrell Simpson, Tramonda Moore, Reuben Unije
DT (3): Jordan Kelley, Bobby Brown, Trevor Trout
EDGE (4): Jalen Redmond, Ronnie Perkins, Ron Tatum, Daniel Carson
ILB (2): Raymond Scott, Merlin Robertson
CB (3): Starrland Baldwin, Kalon Gervin, Keidron Smith
S (3): Patrick Fields, Miguel Edwards, C.J. Smith