Brian McLaughlin covers recruiting for Sporting News and runs The Recruitnik, SportingNews.com's recruiting blog. With National Signing Day just hours away, Homerism caught up with him to get his take on the incoming crop of Oklahoma Sooners and the year that was in recruiting for coach Bob Stoops and his staff.
Blatant Homerism: When you talk to OU recruits, are there common themes that come up
regarding what drew them to the Sooners?
Brian McLaughlin: Absolutely. There's been a common theme for all three years that I've talked to OU recruits – and it's that they like Coach Stoops and his staff.
When you think about how the Sooners have been able to draw top kids from as far away as the hotbeds of California and Florida, you have to be impressed. It's one thing for them to get a top kid out of Texas – since it's Big 12 territory and kids want to play against Texas if they can't play for Texas, but it's a whole other story to pluck kids out of USC's backyard like they did last year (Brennan Clay, Kenny Stills, etc) and Florida (Roy Finch).
Obviously, the coaching staff has done a great job impressing the recruits and their families.
BH: Which position group in OU's 2011 class is strongest?
McLaughlin: The defensive line looks the most impressive.
This is a smaller than average class right now, which is common in a year after a big class – 29 kids last year – but the D-line group is impressive. I really like Nathan Hughes, first and foremost as a quality, quality kid, but obviously also for what he can do at defensive end. Marquis Anderson, Jordan Phillips and Jordan Wade, I'll admit, are a couple of other D-linemen I've enjoyed talking with at times.
These are quality players and quality kids.
BH: Give us the name of a guy in this class who will surprise people?
McLaughlin: I'll go with TE/DE Dan Tapko. He's not getting as much love from the recruiting services as I think he deserves.
Tapko's one of those dirt-dobber types of players, a plugger. I'll always remember this quote he gave me: "Coach Stoops threw a statistic at me that really stuck in my mind. Over the past 10 years, every Oklahoma recruiting class averaged three conference championship appearances and one national championship appearance. I think it's safe to say we all like to play in big games."
There's just something about this kid that I like.
BH: I can't remember the last time the Sooners lost a recruit to TCU, but Brandon Carter recently de-committed in favor of the Horned Frogs. How big of a force do you think Gary Patterson's program will be in the battleground state of Texas going forward?
McLaughlin: Well, its hard to ignore TCU's momentum – and when you figure that there's a decent chance they could have won the Big 12, well, now you know recruiters are going to have to pay attention to the Horned Frogs. The days of them only beating out Rice and SMU for three-star kids are over. They can go toe-to-toe with the big boys AND they will be in a BCS conference soon, the Big East.
Their days of not being able to automatically qualify for a BCS bowl are over, and that will help recruiting. Texas, Oklahoma, you name it – they'd better watch out.
BH: When all is said and done, which player in this class will have the biggest impact for OU?
McLaughlin: Trey Metoyer is everybody's big guy when it comes to Oklahoma's class.
I'd love to point out somebody else to be unique, but it's hard to ignore this receiver. He just has a knack for the position, and he's going to a school that loves to toss it around a lot. To me, that spells nearly instant success.
Kenny Stills had a lot of balls thrown his way as a true freshman. Don't be surprised if it happens with Trey, too.