When Tulsa (OK) Union lineman Dalton Rodriguez decommitted from Oklahoma on December 13th, the Oklahoma Sooners didn't have a single offensive lineman or defensive tackle pledged for the 2013 class after numerous high-profile misses, including losing out on OU legacy to surging Texas A&M.
Things looked absolutely bleak and coaches were starting to come under fire from the fanbase. After all, defensive tackle is a position of massive need for the Sooners in the 2013 class with five of the six players on the depth chart there set to exhaust their eligibility after this season. On offense, the needs aren't quite as pressing, as head coach Bob Stoops will lose only left tackle Lane Johnson, but there are five juniors who will need to be replaced after the 2013 season.
Less than 10 days after Rodriguez flipped to Tulsa, things look substantially different. Or, more accurately, things look substantially better after Sooners secured commitments from three junior-college prospects and one of the top high school defensive tackles in the state.
The first domino to fall in favor of Oklahoma was former Texas A&M commit Kerrick Huggins of Dallas (TX) Skyline, who had been committed to the Aggies since February. With a class full to the point of bursting, there was speculation in the immediate aftermath that head coach Kevin Sumlin had pulled Huggins' scholarship offer, but it turned out that the decision had been mutual, with concerns about his ability to qualify likely playing into the decision. Due to need, Oklahoma was willing to take the chance that Huggins doesn't manage to qualify out of high school.
While Huggins is a solid athlete, he doesn't have the off-the-ball disruptive quickness of Manning, projecting instead as a player capable of using his mass and solid pad level to squat in gaps and play the run game effectively. But again, given how difficult it is to find 6-4, 280-pound defensive tackles with the athleticism to contribute at the highest level of college football, the decision to take the Skyline product was a good one from the Oklahoma standpoint.
It wasn't until Junior College Signing Day that the fireworks really started to go off for the Sooners, as Stoops and company added three big commitments on Wednesday -- Trinity Valley CC defensive tackle Quincy Russell, who is now signed, sealed, and delivered, Russell's Trinity Valley Josiah St. John, a massive offensive tackle, and Houston (TX) Stratford offensive tackle Christian Daimler.
Landing all three was hugely important for Oklahoma, but securing Russell, a former Texas signee and US Army All-American, may have been the biggest get. Rated as a four-star prospect by 247Sports and the top junior college prospect in the state of Texas for 2013, Russell chose the Sooners over the Cornhuskers.
At 6-3 and 305 pounds, he has remarkable overall quickness and feet for a player his size. Raw coming out of Sam Houston High School in San Antonio, Russell more than doubled his production between his freshman and sophomore seasons, racking up 75 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, and a forced fumble, and fumble recovery.
The Sooners will need him to contribute immediately.
Along the offensive line, St. John is a 6-6, 280-pound offensive tackle ranked fifth nationally by 247Sports among junior college prospects at his position. Prior to his commitment, he held 15 other offers, including invitations to play at Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and others. Blessed with the athleticism to pass protect at left tackle for Oklahoma against Big 12 speed rushers, St. John needs to add some polish to his game, but has all the tools offensive line coaches look for in prospects.
The other high school prospect to add his name to the list of Oklahoma pledges is the 6-7, 260-pound Daimler, a consensus three-star recruit who flew a little bit under the radar. A former Arizona State commit who also had offers from Colorado and Washington State, among others, he decommitted from the Sun Devils early on Wednesday after receiving his Oklahoma offer the night before.
Crimson and Cream Machine recruiting analyst Jordan Esco provides his assessment of what Daimler will bring to the table at Oklahoma:
Daimler is another very athletic offensive lineman with the agility and footwork to maneuver through traffic. At 6'6" 270 pounds, he still has some growing to do but appears to have the frame capable of supporting it fairly easily. He has a big wing span which should help him keep blockers at a distance at the next level. Will likely need a redshirt year to bulk up and refine his technique, but that shouldn't be an issue given the depth Oklahoma has returning at offensive tackle.
So, in the span of five days, Oklahoma went from having zero defensive tackle and offensive line commits to having four. Not a bad few days of work on the recruiting trail for the maligned staff in Norman.
The Sooners aren't done yet either, as they continue to pursue several defensive tackles and offensive lineman. At the top of the board defensively is South Garland (TX)'s Charles Walker. At offensive tackle, the Sooners are considered to be in the top two for Desmond Harrison, a tall, athletic offensive tackle from Contra Costa CC in California and are also actively pursuing Atwater (CA) Buhach Colony's Aaron Cochran and Fallbrook (CA)'s Sean Dowling, who recently decommitted from UCLA.
Land one or two of the targets left on the board, and all of those concerns that were at the forefront of every Oklahoma recruitnik's mind will seem like a thing of the distant past.