OU's top two 2012 targets, WR Dorial Green-Beckham and QB Gunner Kiel.
Without any form of football actively being played and/or practiced, this time of year can tend to be pretty miserable for football junkies such as myself. So with all the extra time on my hands, typically I'll immerse myself in recruiting and all the young prospects our Sooners have targeted. Now I know there are a lot of mixed feelings on recruiting out there and we don't need to get into all that, but I've found it to be an entertaining topic assuming of course you keep in mind these are 16-18 year old kids and it is nowhere near the life or death situation many message board fans like to make it out to be.
So with that said, even recruiting this year has come to an almost grinding halt. What I mean by that is because of the NCAA scholarship limitations, OU has a very limited number of spots available within the 2012 class and thus has been forced to be even more selective with their offers than in years past. In a "normal" recruiting class, a school will typically take 25 kids (unless of course you're Houston Nutt or Nick
SatanSaban and you oversign, then force kids to greyshirt) even sometimes up to 30. It all just depends on how many scholarships you have available under that 85 man limit. So knowing that 25 is your typical full class, the Sooners are only expected to have a 2012 class of likely 12-15.
So very small by any standard and understandably because of the limited spots, they are being very choosy with who they even extend an offer to. We've seen schools like Texas (though they always fill up early so no real shock there) get 16 early verbals and Texas A&M has a shocking 23 early commits. Several of which could have possibly been Sooners in a normal year, but OU was forced to withhold their offer thus allowing the kids to commit elsewhere. Such is the game of recruiting, however that certainly does not mean our Sooners are without hope. In fact, as we'll discuss after the jump, OU is in on several nationally regarded recruits and will still very likely land a quality 2012 class.
So, we'll get into some of the guys I was eluding to above but right now let's quickly go over the current commits OU has for 2012. The Sooners have a very small number to verbal commitments right now, just five, but as we discussed this class will be much more about quality than quantity.
OL Kyle Marrs was the first commit for 2012, giving his verbal just a day after 2011 signing day. Marrs projects to be a right tackle with some chance that he moves inside to guard. Despite his early commitment, he had offers from Michigan, Missouri, Notre Dame, and Stanford.
CB Devante Harris is the most recent OU verbal commit and believed to be a possible rising star. He's exactly the same kind of kid Aaron Colvin was, not necessarily highly regarded but has the potential to be an absolute baller. At a slight 160 pounds, he'll obviously need to bulk up to play at this level but by all accounts he has the frame to do so pretty easily.
CB Daniel Brooks is regarded in some recruiting circles as more of an "athlete" which is a tag they apply to kids who could play a number of different positions once they reach the college level. However, OU has been open that they see Brooks as a CB despite the fact he's been open about his desire to play offense. Hopefully this won't be another Brandon Carter situation like last year, though Texas has been snooping around as of late and could anybody else see Macky making a promise to let the kid play offense to steal a commit (yeah, me too). Oh and Brooks just won the 100m state title over the weekend, you can watch here.
WR Sterling Shepard the first of two local star products, has the look of another Ryan Broyles/Mark Clayton type WR. He's played QB, RB, and WR for Heritage Hall and could play a number of different positions for OU but will very likely be a force at WR. He is a freak in the open field and could do some special things for the Crimson and Cream once he gets to Norman.
RB Alex Ross is the second local product and has all the makings of another in the long line of stand out OU RBs. I know for a fact he has several members of his fan club here (myself included) and could be scary good, especially when you take into account last year was really the first time he played RB full time. He has a unique combination of size (already 6'1" 205 pounds) and speed (check out NateHeupel's post).
So as I mentioned above, the Sooners are in on a couple highly regarded 2012 recruits at both the quarterback and wide receiver positions. In fact, both are both considered the #1 prospect at their respective positions.
Trust me when I've seen much more video of this kid than the one above and this one doesn't even come close to doing him justice. Sadly most of his highlights are behind pay walls, but I'm sure there will be much more coming out soon. Mainly because he was just named the #1 overall 2012 prospect by Rivals, which considering his position is no small feat. They do not typically award WRs with such a ranking, so while the possibility certainly remains that he could eventually lose that position (remember these kids still have a senior season to play) the fact that he ever had it in the first place is a testament to his outstanding talent. As you'd imagine, Green-Beckham has offers from pretty much every prominent program in the entire country.
However his top four of the moment are believed to be (in no particular order) OU, Alabama, Missouri, and Arkansas. Texas fan would have you believe, despite being a little late to the party, they're right up there as well but that's a little wishful thinking in my opinion. Now we'd be foolish to completely dismiss any school with the resources of Texas, but let's just say at this point they're fighting an uphill battle. If you're not already familiar with how this recruiting things works, basically every team's respective fan base always believes they are really the true leader at any point in time no matter how frequently or infrequently they have been mentioned. Now some are worse than others (Bama, Arky, and of course texass), while some do a better job of keeping things in perspective (call me a homer, but I put OU in this category). If you can believe anything surrounding this young man's recruitment and the fact he does not do a lot of interviews, it is believed that OU and Bama are currently the top two favorites in securing his services.
Needless to say if OU is able to land him it would be a huge get for our Sooners. Personally, I'm not sure why he wouldn't want to come to OU, catch 100 balls a year, get double digit TDs, and perfect his craft rather than go to Alabama and spend three years (barring injury, he's a guaranteed NFL early entrant candidate) run blocking and catching the occasional pass in Saban's offense. But I might, just maybe, be a little biased.
Kiel is the #1 overall pro style QB in the country and by far and away OU's #1 target at QB for 2012. In fact, the Sooners haven't even offered another QB in the class which is certainly a high risk/high reward approach. Most schools follow the philosophy that you take at least one QB in every class, so if OU were to miss out on Kiel it could very well be too late for them to start working on another QB prospect. Now they can take some comfort in the fact that they currently have four scholarship QBs on campus, but as Missouri has just proven a stocked cabinet can turn to bare pretty quickly with transfers.
In a pretty ironic twist, Kiel has the same top three as Green-Beckham in OU, Alabama, and Missouri. However it is also considering Notre Dame (a bit of family history there), Indiana, (his brother is a QB there), and Michigan. Again taken with a grain of salt, but just like Green-Beckham his two favorites are also believed to be OU and Bama as well.There is also some thought out there that were the Sooners able to land Kiel, it could help in securing a commitment from Green-Beckham who would surely relish an opportunity to play with a QB the caliber of Kiel in a high powered offense like our Sooners run.
Harlow was recently visited by Ol/TE coach Bruce Kittle and came away with an offer that definitely made an impression. Kittle reportedly told him that he was the #1 TE target for OU in 2012 and the two seem to have formed quite a relationship during his recruitment. Now while TE isn't necessarily a position of need for OU with Austin Haywoodas well as 2011 signees Dan Tapko and Max Stevenson in the fold, it is obviously never a bad thing to get an athlete the caliber of Harlow on campus. In addition to OU, he currently has offers from Alabama, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina, and UCLA.
The Sooners are also making the offensive line a priority in the 2012 class and seem to be in good shape with several top prospects. Evan Boehm has offers from OU, Arkansas, Auburn, Iowa, Nebraska, Stanford, and Wisconsin. Ty Darlington has offers from OU, Auburn, Florida State, Iowa, LSU, Miami, and Virginia Tech. John Michael McGee has offers from OU, Arkansas, Auburn, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Stanford, and TCU. Avery Young has offers from OU, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina, and West Virginia. If OU could land two out fo the four, which is definitely realistic as it sits right now, that would be a very good OL class given how small this class will likely be.
There are plenty of other names out there and as always, many more will emerge as their senior years play out. One thing I will say about OU's approach to recruiting, they will put their fair share of early offers out there but more so than almost any other "big time" school they are patient. They routinely hold spots for kids who start to make a name for themselves during their senior years and where a lot of other schools are already full (texass, A&M this year) and won't have a spot for a late bloomer, OU typically will and that is something I really like as a fan. It just makes sense that some of these kids develop a little later than others and I think it is very smart to have that patience rather than trying to be the first school to 25 every year or being lazy and failing to really put in the hard work on the recruiting trail and simply offering kids early who you know are almost guaranteed commits (yep, that's you again whorns).
So when signing day rolls around next February, remember this article Sooner fans. The OU class of 2012 probably won't be in it's typical top 5-10 spot just simply because it will be so small. Now I reserve the right to retract that statement depending on how things play out with Kiel and Green-Beckham, because if somehow (oh holy recruiting powers, please here our prayers!) OU is able to land both I'd put that class (including the five already signed) up against any other school hands down even if it was just those seven guys.
However, as our hated rivals have proven in these last couple years it's not so much about all the starts next to their names as it is how you develop the kids that you do sign. And when it comes to that, I'll take Bob Stoops and his staff over just about anybody else.