USA TODAY Sports
National recruiting rankings aren't always what they're hyped up to be, and it can work both ways.
On Wednesday, several thousand aspiring prospects will sign national letters of intent, making official their verbal commitments and the schools where they will be playing their college football. For the better half of the daylight hours, all eyes will be squarely focused on who the top recruits are at the various positions and, most importantly, where they are going.
The University of Oklahoma will be high in the mix, as it has been every year since Bob Stoops became head coach, now for 15 annual recruiting cycles. But after an up-and-down 2012 season, and what on the eve of National Signing Day appears to be somewhere in the vicinity of a No. 14 team ranking, according to the national rating services Rivals.com and Scout.com, some Sooner fans are concerned that the Sooners' stock, as well as their talent stockpile for the future, may be slipping.
This pessimisim seems to stem from what is being perceived as a lower team ranking than has become more typical of the Sooners annual football recruiting class. I can tell you it does seem like Oklahoma is very much in the media conversation every year and is one of the teams that always pops up on the radar screen on National Signing Day.
One reason why OU is one of the top teams followed closely on Signing Day and throughout the recruiting cycle - a good six-month process, and sometimes longer - is because of the national success they've experienced during the Stoops' era, including seven Big 12 championships, one National Championship and playing in four BCS National Championship games.
As of Wednesday, the Sooners were reporting verbal commitments from 23 recruits. One of the recruits is rated by Scout.com as a five-star prospect and six are four-star prospects. Thirteen are defensive players, nine play offense and one is a special-teams recruit.
Although there is a correlation to be made between the teams that are projected to have the best recruiting classes every year and the success those teams have on the field, sometimes immediately or in ensuing years, it does not rule out the prospects for a school ranked outside of the top 10 to be just as competitive and enjoy as much success, or possibly more, than the teams believed to have reaped the best of the annual talent crop.
A lot, of course depends on a school's existing talent base and the blending in and maturation of the incoming recruits. No question, coaching also plays a heavy role in the process.
There is nothing to say that a five- or four-star prospect out of high school is going to live up to those expectations playing at the college level. And conversely, there is nothing to say that a three-star prospect won't turn out to be a superstar in college. There are plenty of examples bearing out both of these unexpected outcomes.
All this to say that anyone who is harboring concerns because the Sooners may produce a projected top 20 recruiting class this year instead of a top-10 class needs to trust Stoops and his coaching staff, most of whom have been heavily engaged, as they are every year, in the recruiting practice, put any concerns on hold and let the process fully play out.
And now for a reality check: For those of you who think a ranking outside of the top 10 is atypical of a Bob Stoops-coached Sooner team, you might be surprised to learn that OU has had only one recruiting class ranked higher that No. 10 in the last five years, according to Scout.com. Over the same period of time, the Sooners' Red River archrivals, Texas, fielded four recruiting classes ranked in the top 10 and three in the top five in the country.
A year ago, Rivals rated Texas' recruiting class No. 1 in the country; Oklahoma's recruits were ranked the 10th best. Texas finished third in the conference this past season, one place behind the Sooners. In 2011, the Texas recruiting class was ranked No. 3 by Rivals; OU's was rated 15th. That same fall, Texas finished three places behind the Sooners, in sixth place in the conference.
And everyone in the Sooner Nation will certainly recall the 2010 football season: Texas finished with two conference wins and in dead last in the South Division that year, won by Oklahoma. The Longhorn recruiting class that same year was ranked as the third best in the country by Rivals.com.
So before anyone is tempted to raise the white flag on the Sooners 2013 recruiting class, let's not overlook what recent history has shown us.
For more information on Texas Longhorns football and the 2013 recruiting effort be sure to visit BurntOrangeNation.com, another SB Nation website.
Find more news about Oklahoma football and the 2013 recruiting class at SoonerSports.com