Whenever a team loses a coach, let alone this close to National Signing Day, one of the first questions many fans ask is "How will this affect recruiting?" Brent Venables was one of the most dynamic recruiters on the Oklahoma staff so you would expect his departure to have a negative impact on the Sooners 2012 class, but surprisingly that does not appear to be the case. Things can change very quickly in the world of recruiting, but it appears at the moment that Venables leaving to become the defensive coordinator at Clemson will have little to no impact on Oklahoma's 2012 class. For now.
We talked a couple days ago about the lack of defensive recruits currently in OU's 2012 class and that obviously helps to negate some of the potential damage caused by Venables leaving. If you count DT Jordan Wade, who was originally a member of the 2011 class but just recently enrolled this month, Oklahoma has 20 total commitments for their 2012 class. Again, counting Wade and Daniel Brooks whose future could be at DB but has been told he'll get a shot at RB, the Sooners actually have seven defensive commitments. Of those seven, three are already enrolled and on campus (Kass Everett, Chaz Nelson, and Wade). Brooks, Charles Tapper, Eric Striker, and Kevin Peterson are the remaining four from that group and only Striker and Brooks had developed a relationship with Venables during their recruitment.
Both Bob and Mike Stoops have been out making the rounds to get Mike familiar with the committed players as well as scouting some new ones. So they are clearly making the needed effort to retain who they have as well as try and secure a couple more as signing day quickly approaches. After the jump, we'll address each of the four players mentioned above and what if any reason there is to worry about their commitment to the Sooners.
As you would expect, all the recruiting services have reached out to these players to get their take on Venables no longer being a part of the Oklahoma staff. Tapper, who is a DE out of Baltimore, put any doubt to rest when the confirmed in interviews that he's firm in his commitment to the Sooners. He said his dealings have been primarily with his future position coach, Bobby Jack Wright, and head coach Bob Stoops and that Venables leaving had no effect on his commitment.
Brooks, through his father, said much the same thing in proclaiming that they were "Boomer Sooner all the way." There has been speculation since the day Brooks committed to OU as to just how firm his commitment may be, but he and his family have been adamant that he'll be a Sooner come signing day.
It was believed the Striker was the biggest concern once Venables leaving became official, both because Venables was his lead recruiter and because Striker had been quoted as saying he spoke with Venables on Monday of this week and that the now former OU DC had assured him that he wasn't going anywhere. However in very recent interviews Striker has squashed any doubt as to where he stands saying that he committed to the school, not the coach and that he understood that Venables had to do what he thought was right and that he (Striker) had to do the same. Which was come to Oklahoma.
It might not be fair to say there was no worrying about one of the Sooners most recent commitments in DB Kevin Peterson, mainly because he is an in-state product who is a huge OU fan and didn't have a real long term relationship with Venables. He was a guy who was eagerly waiting an offer from Oklahoma and quickly accepted once the offer came. And then along comes little brother. The
Pukes Pokes ironically offered Peterson the day after he committed to Oklahoma and now there is news that Peterson will be in Stoolwater Stillwater this weekend for an official visit. It remains to be seen just how serious a threat they are, but you can guarantee they'll be negative recruiting the heck out of Oklahoma and their "instability" within the current coaching staff. I'm obviously biased in thinking any kid would be insane to turn down OU for OSU, but these kids can be easily impressed by shiny things and OSU has plenty of those. I mean those 2010 South Co-Champs rings can be really impressive, right?
So overall, pretty good news all things considered. You don't typically lose a well known and extremely popular coordinator like Oklahoma has done with Venables and not suffer on the recruiting trail. It looks like the Sooners are set up well to avoid any major defections assuming they can keep Peterson after his visit this weekend. All this said, it will be interesting to see with the addition of Mike Stoops and the minimal time remaining before signing day if the Sooners can close out strong with a couple more defensive recruits.