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2012 Recruiting Class Rewind: Where are they now?

Justin Brown
Remember his signing day ceremony? No?

With so many changes to Oklahoma's 2012 recruiting class, let's re-evaluate the newcomers based on the info gleaned from August camp. To do so, we'll compare grades from National Signing Day in February in terms of quality and quantity with how the class would grade out now.

Quarterback

Trevor Knight – 6-3, 200, 4.7

Quality (Feb): A; Quantity (Feb): A

The buzz on Knight is maybe just a little higher than signing day. The main reason is that he is already a leader on campus and for his class. He's the scout team QB this fall and will challenge for backup duties next spring.

*Quality (Aug): A; Quanity (Aug): A

Alex RossRunning Back

Damien Williams – 6-1, 210, 4.45

David Smith – 6-0, 200, 4.5

Alex Ross – 6-2, 205, 4.4

Daniel Brooks – 5-10, 180, 4.4

Quality (Feb): A-; Quantity (Feb): A+

OU badly needed to replenish the RB position, and all signs from August are "mission: accomplished." Williams is going to challenge Dom Whaley for starter-type carries. Ross looks like he could be a great power back in the mold of Mike Gaddis. Finally, position coach Cale Gundy's raving about David Smith, a big back with home run speed. Daniel Brooks is redshirting and rehabbing his knee injury.

*Quality (Aug): A; Quantity (Aug): A+

Tight End

Connor Knight – 6-5, 215, 4.7 (walk-on)

Taylor McNamara – 6-5, 235. 4.7

Brannon Green – 6-4, 260, 4.8

Sam Grant – 6-7, 235, 4.7

Quality (Feb): B+; Quantity (Feb): A+

McNamara and Green are providing depth this fall, but they have been a bit overshadowed by former defensive end Geneo Grissom. McNamara is making some plays in the passing game; he just isn't quite big enough for every down blocking. Green is showing his blocking skills, but struggling in receiving. Grant is redshirting.

*Quality (Aug): B-; Quantity (Aug): A

Offensive Line

Ty Darlington – 6-3, 285, 5.0

Kyle Marrs – 6-6, 310, 5.2

Quality (Feb): B+; Quantity (Feb): B+

No position has suffered more since signing day than offensive line. Darlington looks like he will be OU's next all-conference center. He's everything that was projected. As expected, Marrs needs to redshirt and develop. The loss of JUCO transfer Will Latu seemed manageable with OU's depth at tackle, until Tyler Evans and Ben Habern got hurt. Even if he couldn't crack the OT rotation, Latu could have been a player inside to provide depth. The loss of John Michael McGee really hurts, too, as he was the best lineman signed in the last two years. With Dylan Dismuke being forced to quit, the lack of athletic OT prospects becomes even more of an issue unless Nathan Hughes' move to OT takes off completely.

*Quality (Aug): B-; Quantity (Aug): C-

Sterling Shepard
Beat the rush...

Wide Receiver

Sterling Shepard – 5-10, 180, 4.4

Durron Neal – 6-1, 190, 4.4

Lacoltan Bester – 6-3, 205, 4.5

Justin Brown – 6-3, 210, 4.5 (Penn State transfer)

Derrick Woods – 6-1, 185, 4.45

Quality (Feb): A+; Quantity (Feb): A+

Considering that OU lost three wideouts after signing day, these five new receivers have taken on even more importance. I'm counting Justin Brown in the class, since he's basically taking Courtney Gardner's spot. I'm not counting Jalen Saunders from Fresno State for now. All in all, the WR class looks great. All three high school kids are as advertised, with Shepard the best best for a big role this fall. Bester is the JUCO addition out of nowhere who will provide depth at the outside WR spots. Justin Brown brings a veteran presence to go with Stills and Metoyer in the starting rotation.

*Quality (Aug): A+; Quantity (Aug): A+

Defensive Tackle

N/A

Quantity (Feb): F - 55%; Quality (Feb): Inc./F

The best thing that can be said about the DT class is that it looks like Jordan Wade will redshirt to basically become a DT from the 2012 class. Right now, the inability to add any talent and depth at DT from the 2012 class is a concern. A JUCO DT to provide more depth would have been a great addition in retrospect. The pressure on Jackie Shipp to hit some home runs with the 2013 class is intense. I'm giving the quantity grades a percentage to reflect how much a JUCO DT would have helped.

*Quantity (Aug): F - 25%; Quality (Aug): Inc./F

Linebacker

Eric Striker – 6-0, 200, 4.6

Quantity (Feb): Inc./F; Quality (Feb): Inc./F

Okay, the coaches say Striker is going to be an OLB/WILL in the OU scheme and are raving about his potential to be a difference-maker. Once Javon Harris graduates, could Striker find himself at strong safety? Let's call him a LB for now. The linebacking corps only has two underclassmen right now in Aaron Franklin and Franklin Shannon. There's very little depth. Another high school LB or two would have been ideal in hindsight.

*Quantity (Aug): F - 50%; Quality (Aug): B+ for Striker

Charles TapperDefensive End

Michael Onuoha – 6-7, 235 4.6

Charles Tapper – 6-4, 255, 4.6

Chaz Nelson – 6-3, 240, 4.7

Quantity (Feb): A; Quality (Feb): B+ (A+ potential, but bust potential is high as well)

I left the description in there for a reason. The potential is already showing up in Norman. Tapper and Onuoha are not going to redshirt. Tapper, in fact, could play a lot. Both kids are elite-looking DEs. Tapper could be a bigger, faster Frank Alexander. Onuoha looks like he could be an Aldon Smith-type pass rusher. Chaz Nelson is hurt right now; it could be a wasted year for him.

*Quantity (Aug): A; Quality (Aug): A+ (OU may have signed two five-star kids at DE)

Defensive Back

Gary Simon – 6-2, 180, 4.5

Zack Sanchez – 6-1, 170, 4.5

Kass Everett – 5-11, 185, 4.5

Quantity (Feb): B; Quality (Feb): B

Simon and Sanchez are already making noise on the depth chart. Simon is basically the backup CB at one spot. Both kids will play this year to get ready to provide more depth next year. Simon could easily start opposite Colvin at CB next year. Everett is off to a slow start, but he should provide depth. With all the defections, this class really needed a safety. If Derrick Woods does eventually move there, it will fill a big gap in terms of numbers and likely changes the letter grade to an A. That's three potential secondary starters from one class.

*Quantity (Aug): B; Quality (Aug): A

Final Thoughts/Grades

Quantity (Feb): A-; Quality (Feb): B

So, after six months is this class still as good as it was on signing day?

Overall on signing day, I'd have given this class a B+ for quality and an A- for need/quantity. In some areas, it's better or the same – QB, WR, DE, DB, RB. In some areas, it's worse – LB, DT. And in one area, it's really taken a big hit – OL.

In addition, while OU suffered some academic setbacks JUCO-wise, the prep kids all enrolled, including a number of kids who did have some issues (Tapper and Simon). The benefit of getting them on campus cannot be understated.

The overall quality of the kids that enrollled is much better than initially projected by the services, especially Tapper, Simon, Sanchez, Onuoha, Smith, Damien Williams, Bester, Striker. In other words, the bulk of the three-star kids in the class. OU again has done a great job of scouting and evaluating kids.

The number of kids who will play this year speaks to the overall talent. Now, I think I'd give the class an A- for quality and a B for need/quantity. Why the big quantity drop? The class is missing two or three offensive linemen. In particular, there's no left tackle prospect in either of the last two classes (and then factor in the injuries at OL in general). There isn't a high school or JUCO DT or a MIKE LB to help with depth in the future. It's really concerning, given that OL, DT and LB are also the areas where the 2013 class are currently weakest in terms of numbers.

*Quantity (Aug): B; Quality (Aug): A