It's hard to knock a recruiting class ranked in the top 15 of every major service. Considering how few scholarships Oklahoma has to give, it's even more impressive. Scout has the Sooners at 13th overall, but when you adjust for class size, they move to fifth. Rivals has Oklahoma at 12th overall, but, again, adjusting for class size, they move up to third. ESPN.com has the Sooners as sixth. What's more is that between walk-ons Brandon Wegher and Londell Taylor, Oklahoma has a couple of very serious athletes not taking up any scholarship room. Wegher will probably get his scholarship with the 2012 class, but Taylor is paid for thanks to his minor league contract.The only thing separating Oklahoma from an A+ is the group at offensive line. Overall Class Rating: A
Best of the Best
1) Brandon Williams: Think Demarco Murray circa 2007. Some guys have great acceleration, but just good top speed (Quentin Griffin). Some have elite top speed, but just good acceleration (DJ Monroe). Williams is the rare player who has both.
2) Jordan Phillips: Has the highest ceiling of any lineman, offense or defense, in the Class of 2011. I'm including guys like Christian Westerman and Jadeveon Clowney. At 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, this guy can do a backflip flat-footed. The guy is a freak of an athlete. Put him at a top flight school in Texas, California or Florida, and he's probably ranked as one of the top five players on all the services.
3) Trey Metoyer: If he gets a qualifying ACT score, he's going to challenge for a starting spot in fall camp. He's not fast like Stills, and he's not as precise of a route runner. But he's bigger, more physical, and is going to be much more adept at coming down with the ball on vertical and deep routes.
4) Archie Bradley: He put on a very serious performance at the Elite 11 camp, finishing in the top 3, despite having the disadvantage of being committed full-time to playing baseball during the summer and offseason. If Oklahoma can get him on campus and committed to playing football full-time, he's Sam Bradford redux. Unfortunately, the odds of this happening are next to zero. He's a projected top 20 pick in the MLB draft, as he's ranked as one of the top pitching prospects in America. Londell Taylor got picked in the 14th round, and he's coming back 3 years later on a full ride paid for by MLB. Bradley can go get a $1.5 million signing bonus, and come back if he wants to play on MLB's dime.
Most Likely Early Contributors
1) Brandon Williams: Taking a play out of the Kenny Stills playbook, Williams enrolled for the spring to get a leg up on the competition in fall camp. I think this will be the difference between spending the year on special teams and getting 10-to-15 carries a game from the jump. Coaches have been extremely impressed with his athleticism after just two weeks of testing.
2) Londell Taylor: Also arriving in the spring, he was an early commit recruited in the same 2007 class as Travis Lewis and Ryan Broyles. Unlike those two, he got drafted in baseball and tried his hand there. I see him contributing early because he's already on campus, and he's already making a very serious impression on the coaches and the team with his maturity and leadership.
Danzel Williams: You know how you watch tape of a player, and you can just tell you've got something special even though you can't quite put your finger on why? That's Danzel Williams. Whether it's on returns or at cornerback, he's going to make an impact.
The One Who Got Away
Brandon Carter: His future at defensive back would've been extremely bright under Willie Martinez, but I just can't knock the kid for going to TCU. His heart was on offense, and they gave him a chance to play his position of choice for a great program. Looking forward to seeing him in 2012 when OU heads to Amon Carter Field.
Garrett Greenlea and Sedrick Flowers are the only two guys OU offered that I really hoped we would land. Both need to improve in pass protect, which we teach quite well, but both bring in great frames and use their hands well. With the way our OL has been, all the talent we could get there wouldn't hurt.
Strongest Position Group
Athletes. Guys like Jordan Phillips, Brandon Williams, Nathan Hughes, Danzel Williams, and others like them exemplify what appears to be OU's new attitude in recruiting. Phillips could be an outstanding DT, but he could also be an NFL left tackle and even play some tight end. Hughes has the speed and ability to be a run stopping DE, but he could also put on 30-40 pounds and play inside if he needed to. Danzel Williams could play RB, CB, and should definitely get a shot at KR/PR.
Weakest Position Group
Offensive tackle: For the reasons I discussed above. But LB is a close 2nd. PL Lindley seems like a bit of a reach, and while Londell Taylor's leadership and maturity are impressive, I'm curious to see if that translates into results on the field.
In Closing ...
Instead of rehashing analysis you can figure out yourself, let's look at what's really important about this Sooners class and about what Oklahoma has been doing.
1) Spring forward! Oklahoma is encouraging freshmen to graduate early and get involved in spring drills as a way to get a leg up on fall competition. Ask Kenny Stills and Tony Jefferson if that worked for them. Then ask them if trying to use things like logic and reason with the Norman PD worked. But I digress. Take a look at the OU roster for winter conditioning, and already three of the six high school All Americans are working out on campus with the team. Kenny Stills' ability to be a threat from day 1 is in large part attributable to his work with Landry Jones and the offense for the 8 months prior to fall camp.
We're seeing Stoops go after freshmen who are going to be athletically ready to go from jump street. We're also seeing high schools producing more players who are physically and mentally ready to play. Marshall Musil was a damned terror in the spring game at FB, but he still lost his job to Trey Millard (and for good cause) in fall camp. Roy Finch would've been getting carries against Utah State if he hadn't hurt his foot. Geneo Grissom and Torrea Peterson were both going to be getting into the 4 man rotation at DE and DT respectively, but both got injured before they got their shot. True frosh Daniel Noble did get into the DT rotation before he went down with a brutal concussion. Corey Nelson saw playing time despite his position being filled by Travis Lewis.
2) The Door is ALWAYS Open: Guys who are considered "risky" by Texas and other programs (Trey Metoyer -grades, Brandon Williams-personal issues, Brandon Wegher-personal issues) are going to OU to get a fair chance to be treated like everyone else at a top level program. OU has proven that if you're willing to keep your damned nose clean, it will give you a chance to prove yourself. Screw up, and they'll show you the door. Lynn McGruder came to OU after getting the boot from Tennessee for marijuana possession. He left OU a hero after helping Mark Bradley pull a family (OSU fans, no less) out of their overturned van on the side of I-35. Can you imagine the courage? Just to be willing to touch an OSU fan? That's like cuddling an opossum. It's just going above and beyond the call.
It's a calculated risk, but it's not something Bob Stoops takes lightly. This is a guy who spends his free weekends visiting sick kids at OU Medical Center. It's about more than winning games to Stoops. As a completely not-seamless segue, keep an eye on Brandon Wegher. He's going to have to sit out 2011, but he'll have two years of eligibility left for 2012 and 2013. He was a damned good RB at Iowa, and I think he'll give us a Chris Brown type power back presence when he does hit the field.
Last but not least, it appears OU is convinced that we'll be losing some scholarship players this spring (cough cough KICKERS cough cough). I say that because we just brought in Notre Dame commit Bennett Okotcha for an official visit where he received a scholarship offer, and we're also going after Baylor TE commit Nila Kasitati. Kasitati looks like a TE in the Gabe Ikard, Brody Eldridge and Eric Mensik vein.