Generally this time of year isn't the most active when it comes to recruiting seeing as how OU is obviously in the middle of their season and high school seniors are also in the middle of their final season. Many kids don't want to deal with the distraction of choosing a school while they are trying to close out their high school career with as successful a season as possible. I know we get some questions here occasionally about kids OU is targeting, so I wanted to take this kind of slow period to break down the 2012 class and how things stand currently for our Sooners.
Honestly, I was planning on doing this last week but then Saturday night happened and I wasn't much in the mood for writing anything. I'm still in utter disbelief about what transpired that night, but much like you all I'm sure it's time to move on. I'm hoping that focusing on how bright the future appears to be with this 2012 class, it will help take some of the sting out. As it stands today, the Sooners currently have 14 verbal commitments for the Class of 2012. What was originally expected to be a very small class for the Sooners, likely 15-17 when 25 is a more 'typical' class, mainly due to scholarship limitations. However, with the transfers we've suffered we're currently at 80 scholarships out of an allowed 85. Between that and the graduating class of 13 seniors, the simple math would tell you the 2012 class could be as many as 18 just based on the pure number of things. Now you need to take into account the scholarship Dom Whaley is sure to get, so that's 17, but also the possibility of a guy or two leaving early for the NFL, a serious injury or two that forces a kid to give up the game, and of course the possibility of additional transfers. So it's expected that the 2012 class could include as many as 21 signees. An unthinkable number just a couple months ago.
First we'll go over the 14 current commits, then we'll get into the current targets who could possibly fill out this class in a separate post. Originally I wanted to make this one story, but it kind of got out of control so I had to break it up into two. Here is part one.
Daniel Brooks 5'10" 170 lbs, ATH - Brooks is listed as an athlete and OU was recruiting him as a RB/DB. He's apparently been assured a chance to earn a spot at RB, but many believe his future is at corner. For some time there was speculation as to just how committed he was, but all his comments as of late give every indication that he's very solid to OU. Texas is lurking, but Brooks and his family have shown no interest in switching.
Ty Darlington 6'3" 275 lbs, C - Darlington is the #1 ranked center by Rivals and is out of Apopka, Florida. He has is very similar to for Sooner Jon Cooper and current center Ben Habern in that he's athletic for his size and will have the ability to get to that second level. Always a good sign when we can go into a state like FL and pull not just one of the state's top prospects, but the country's top center as well.
Laith Harlow 6'5" 240 lbs, TE - Another prospect from the state of FL, Harlow is a four star prospect and the #9 overall TE. Harlow has displayed good hands and is an above average blocker for a h.s. TE. With the recent transfer of Austin Haywood, his chances for playing time as a true frosh just went up.
DeVante Harris 5'11" 160 lbs, CB - Harris might be the most vocal OU commit, routinely outspoken in interviews about how excited he is about his commitment. He's been well known to recruit other kids for OU, which is always a good thing, and has been a stand out at all-star type camps. He'll need to hit the weight room hard, but he has shown the skills of a possible shut down corner. Honestly, if he were bigger his skills would warrant considerable national attention.
Trevor Knight 6'3" 190 lbs, QB - Once Gunner Kiel committed to Indiana (which he's now reneged on), the Sooners quickly offered Knight who at the time was committed to Texas A&M. It didn't take Knight long to switch to OU and Coach Heupel. Knight doesn't have a cannon for an arm, but he's capable of making pretty much all the throws. He's also an athletic kid who does a considerable amount of running with the ball for his h.s. team. Much like Blake Bell, he'll likely need a year or two under Heupel before he's ready to play but has the look of a kid who can make plays with both his feet and arm.
Polo Manukainiu 6'6" 256 lbs, DE - Polo is a former teammate of current Sooner Nila Kasitati where they played together at Euless Trinity (TX). He is a big DE at 6'6" which seems to be a trend with OU and their somewhat new approach to recruiting DEs. He doesn't have the most explosive first step, but his motor more than makes up for it. He's a perfect fit for the multiple formations OU is using and what they ask their DEs to do.
Kyle Marrs 6'6" 302 lbs, OL - Marrs was the first commit of the 2012 class, actually committing the day after 2011 signing day. Clearly he knew OU was the school for him and has remained as firm as ever despite committing so early. Marrs is a three star prospect per Rivals and projects as a right tackle.
John Michael McGee 6'3" 275 lbs, OG - Despite growing up a big Longhorn fan, McGee chose to head north to Norman. He plays tackle for his h.s. team, but projects as a guard at the D-I level. Very athletic for his size, he'll definitely be able to get out and pull on run plays.
Trey Metoyer 6'2" 195 lbs, WR - Doubtful that Sooner fans need a reminder on Metoyer. He was a five star recruit originally a member of the 2011 class, but due to academic issues was forced to delay his enrollment and will now arrive this January. Jaz Reynolds has been very good for our Sooners, but given what we know now it's hard not to believe Metoyer would have played his way onto the field.
Durron Neal 6'1" 195 lbs, WR - Neal was a huge steal out of the state of MO, who was long believed to be a sure thing for the Tigers. Like most h.s. kids who are as athletically gifted as he is, he's asked to be a "do it all" kind of player for his team. However, he is a dynamic pass catcher and truly special with the ball in his hands. He's the #6 overall WR and the only reason he isn't the top rated prospect from his state is because #1 overall prospect Dorial Green-Beckham is also from MO. Neal has mentioned on more than one occasion that he and DGB are friendly and have talked about playing together (yeah, I just typed that!!!).
Alex Ross 6'1" 205 lbs, RB - Ross plays for in-state powerhouse Jenks and has unfortunately dealt with multiple injuries that have severely limited him in his senior season. He has a special combination of size and speed and already appears to have a D-I type body to hold up to the grind of a CFB season. The injuries are a bit concerning, but they were not that serious or to his legs so that is a positive. If he lives up to his potential he could be very special.
Sterling Shepard 5'10" 175 lbs, WR - It wouldn't be fair to compare Shepard to Ryan Broyles, but when you watch him play you just can't help it. He is absolutely sick in space, with moves on top of moves. He is a perhaps the perfect replacement for #85 once he graduates and looks to have a very bright future in the slot.
Eric Striker 6'1" 190 lbs, LB - Striker is the third verbal commit from the state of FL and has the look of a hybrid LB/S type player that the OU coaches love so much. He gets after the QB for his h.s. team, but will have to learn to play with more discipline at the D-I level. He could be an ideal replacement for Tony Jefferson if say he redshirts for a year and Jefferson possibly leaves early (but I don't even want to think about that happening).
Charles Tapper 6'4" 245 lbs, DE - Tapper is a kid who has only being playing football for a year. He previously spent most of his time on the basketball court, but started playing football and attended some summer camps which is when he burst onto the recruiting scene. He gets away with a lot at the h.s. level because he is so much more talented than the guys he's going up against, but you can see through his rawness to a special athletic ability.
Part two, focusing on the current targets that could fill out this 2012 class, coming soon.