Grading a recruiting class before most players ever step on campus, let alone play a snap, is kind of like grading an NFL team's draft the day after. But it's the off season and we always look for any reason, no matter how irrelevant, to keep talking football. So why not attach some ultimately meaningless grades to the Sooners most recent recruiting class?
So now you're really excited to read this aren't ya?
To be fair, this could pretty easily tick over into the 'A' range depending on how Trevor Knight's career turns out but for now I'm putting it in the sold 'B' range. Knight was one of the top QBs out of Texas and and a fantastic senior season. He's another guy who has above average mobility, but could be described as a little raw of a passer. It will be interesting to see out of Knight, Kendal Thompson, and obviously Blake Bell how each develops and how future snaps are distributed.
Running Back: A-
Much like QB might have been a hair too low, some might label this a homer pick as being too high. I'd feel pretty confident defending that 'A-' though when you consider how good Damien Williams and Alex Ross have the potential to be. Then you add to that two speedsters in David Smith and Daniel Brooks and to me that's pretty darn solid. If you've read anything I've posted about him since signing day, you already know I expect Williams to come in this summer and make an immediate impact. Ross is the wild card in that he could be ridiculously special or he could possibly struggle to stay on the field given some issues with both grades and injuries.
Wide Receiver: A+
I mean if bringing in the #1 rated WR class by virtually every recruiting service does warrant an 'A+' then what does? Courtney Gardner has the look of a possible future first day NFL pick and former #1 overall WR Trey Metoyer has finally arrived on campus with his considerable talents. Both figure to play a prominent role in OU's offense this season. Then on top of that you add three four star WRs in Durron Neal, Sterling Shepard, and Derrick Woods.
Neal could be really special and in OU's offense, expect him to get the ball in all different kind of ways. He'll play WR, he'll get some carries, and I'd be amazed if he didn't make an impact in the return game this season.
Shepard has already drawn comparisons to Ryan Broyles and Mark Clayton and while that's incredibly unfair before he even plays a down, he does have a very similar skill set to both those guys. The main difference being that he's probably a better all around athlete than both, so the expectations are understandably high for the Sooner legacy.
To me, Woods is really more of an athlete playing wide receiver right now. I think that's something he could much easier get away with at say a position like safety (where so many would prefer to see him) as opposed to at WR, at least at the D-I level.
Tight End: B
Facing a serious black hole at the position, OU did just about everything they could to try and fill in the gap. Bringing in four guys (I know the deal with Laith Harlow, but he's adamant that he's going to make it back so I'm not writing him off yet) may look odd, but it was absolutely necessary. The upside is they didn't just bring in bodies to fill the hole, they brought in several talented players. For those of us OU fans who wanted more use of a power run game, look no farther than Brannon Green and Sam Grant. Both excel at run blocking and could be vital assets for the Sooners in their "big" sets. Add to them a very talented pass catching TE in Taylor McNamara and while very young, OU could have a nice little 1-2 combo.
Offensive Line: B+
Like what they did at tackle, really like what they did on the interior. I'm a big fan of Will Latu, the JUCO tackle, but I really thought they needed at least one more guy. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they didn't reach or someone just to take a guy but depth could be an issue if the injury bug strikes. Really think tackles needs to be a big time focus in next year's class. On the interior, Ty Darlington has the look of a future Rimington Award winner. Both Kyle Marrs and John Michael McGee could be players at guard, but will need at least a redshirt year before they're ready to contribute.
Defensive Line: C+
The key word here is upside. Chaz Nelson, another JUCO player, figures to play a role in the defensive end rotation next year but the Sooners' other two signees might not see the field for a couple years. Michael Onuoha talked about playing as a true freshman during his recruitment, but at 230 pounds it's hard to see him being ready to play this year especially since he won't arrive till the summer. Charles Tapper is the other super raw defensive end OU signed and he's at least two years away from the field IMO. Two years from now, we could be raving about what geniuses the OU coaches were for taking these two guys when they're terrorizing QBs or we could be wondering what on earth they were thinking as they've both yet to see the field. That's the risk/reward kind of situation we're looking at here.
At defensive tackle, I can understand the coaches logic behind not taking any guys this year. Now don't get me wrong, I certainly wouldn't have been upset about them signing at least one and DT better be at the top of the list for 2013 needs. But as for this year, I'm not particularly worried about the 2012 class not having any.
I'm not including Eric Striker here because I just have a feeling he winds up playing more safety than linebacker, which if true would mean OU didn't take a single LB in this class. Which, in my opinion, is a major oversight by the coaching staff. What's even more puzzling is that they didn't even really target that many guys to begin with. I have absolutely no idea what they were trying to accomplish at this position with this class. None whatsoever.
Defensive Backs: B
This is another one that could easily tick up into the 'A' range if Kass Everett wins the starting job this year (we think he will) and both Zack Sanchez and Gary Simon develop into the players I think they can. Both Sanchez and Simon (assuming he can make it to campus) will almost surely redshirt and will both benefit greatly from that year. If Striker does wind up at safety he could be a real play maker in the Mike Stoops defense, whose more simplified scheme allows athletes to make plays as opposed to over analyzing everything.