Contrary to the opinion of some OU fans who are frantically wondering why their beloved Sooners have yet to secure a 2013 verbal commitment yet, the Oklahoma coaches are in fact still recruiting 2013 players. In fact, in the past few days reports of multiple offers have come out and will likely continue to do so. For those of us who follow recruiting closely, the trend from the Sooners and a more national approach has been a fairly substantial one. That trend continues with the Sooners early offers thus far and because of that we thought we'd put together a Top 10 list for you containing OU's top out-of-state targets.
Now in years past, we probably would have had to include Texas prospects as "in-state" because of OU's propensity to recruit the state so heavily. For reasons we may never truly know, the OU coaches seem to have shifted away from that strategy and because of that we now feel it's appropriate to include Texas prospects on a list such as this. Well, that and the fact that the state of Oklahoma just hasn't traditionally, year in and year out, produced elite level football talent. However the class of players in Oklahoma this year is quite stout, so expect plenty of in-state players to receive attention from the Sooners this year. But this is about the out-of-state prospects (if you'd like something similar for the in-state guys, just let me know), so let's get to it.
1. DT Justin Manning (Dallas, TX) - At this point, if you're an Oklahoma fan and you don't know who Manning is then you obviously don't follow recruiting. And that's perfectly fine, it's why we do stuff like this. Manning is the younger brother of former Sooner Demarcus Granger and is one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the country. DT is a major position of need in the class for OU and they have the obvious advantage no other school does in the family's connection to the school. Much to the consternation of Sooner fans, Manning has yet to actually receive an official offer but it's believed that the coaches are simply waiting to do so when he visits Norman (in an effort to make it more "special") in a couple weeks for the Sooners second Junior Day.
2. QB Max Browne (Sammamish, WA) - Browne is currently the #1 overall quarterback prospect in the country and amazingly enough some might consider him a "luxury" for the Sooners. With Blake Bell, Kendal Thompson, and the newly signed Trevor Knight either on or soon to be on campus, quarterback isn't necessarily a big need in the class for the Sooners. However, when you have a player as talented as Browne you make room in your class. At 6'5" 200+ pounds, he's a big kid with a big arm but he can also move around quite well. He'd be a perfect fit for what OU does with their quarterbacks and has frequently mentioned in interviews how well he and OC Josh Heupel get along. Browne is expected to visit Norman next month so that he can get a feel for the Sooners as they take part in spring practices.
3. S Su'a Cravens (Murietta, CA) - Cravens is an elite level safety prospect and just a ridiculously talented athlete. Safety is another position that might not necessarily qualify as a huge need in this 2013 class for Oklahoma, but with mostly upperclassmen contributors at the position currently it will be a position they need to take at least one or two prospects at in this class. Pulling Cravens away from the west coast will not be easy as most consider USC (shocking, I know) to be the leader for his services, but he's been complimentary of Oklahoma in interviews so the OU coaches will continue to work that angle.
4. OT Evan Lisle (Centerville, OH) - As of late, the OU coaches have really focused a majority of their offers in the Midwest (Ohio & Illinois) and out west (California & Arizona). Lisle was actually one of the players who initially started that trend and when you watch him on film you can see why. A big kid at 6'6" 265, he still has the athleticism to maintain his blocks out in space and finish. With kids in Ohio, the litmus test is typically whether or not they have an offer from Ohio State and while Lisle has yet to receive one, it seems like just a matter of time with some of the schools that are now focusing on him.
5. DE Demarcus Walker (Jacksonville, FL) - Walker is that edge rush DE that just terrorizes quarterbacks at the high school level. A four star prospect with offers from a number of SEC schools, he could be difficult to pry away from down south but would fill a major need not just for Oklahoma but any school with his pass rushing ability.
6. RB Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, FL) - Another Florida prospect the Sooners are very high on and that based on recent interviews appears to be very high on the Sooners. Bryant has been extremely complimentary of Oklahoma and on more than one occasion professed his excitement about his offer from the Sooners. And for a running back who could eventually earn his fifth star with a big senior season, that is no small thing for an Oklahoma team that despite taking three RBs in the 2012 class could likely take two more in this 2013 class.
7. LB Chans Cox (Lakeside, AZ) - Pronounced "Chance", the big (6'3" 220) linebacker fits the mold of what Oklahoma is expected to do with new defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. Whereas now former DC Brent Venables preferred smaller, quicker LBs, it's believed that Stoops leans more towards a little bit bigger player at the position. Cox could likely play either inside or outside for Oklahoma and it's certainly no coincidence that with Mike Stoops and Tim Kish both on staff and their ties to the state of Arizona, that we've seen a significant rise in offers to kids from that state.
8. DB Cole Luke (Chandler, AZ) - As we were just describing, yet another AZ prospect with an offer from the Sooners. Luke is again more in the mold of what Mike Stoops is looking for in his secondary, a bigger player a 6'0" who could slide somewhat easily between both corner and safety.
9. LB Deoundrei Davis (Cypress, TX) - Davis looks to be one of those guys that Oklahoma traditionally finds that is kind of off the radar of most big schools, but could be that diamond in the rough type player. He currently only holds offers from OU, OSU, and Tech, but Texas could be sniffing around as well. He's a kid who could really start to emerge as players make their way to camps and Junior Days, so Oklahoma getting in on him early could potentially pay off down the road.
10. RB Keith Ford (Cypress, TX) - This tenth spot could have gone to a lot of different players and as with anything recruiting related this will be a fluid list in the months to come, but for now we're going to give it to the talented running back out of Cypress. Ford is one of the top backs in the state of Texas and with the logjam the Horns have at the position and their recent verbal from Kyle Hicks, Ford could still receive an offer from Texas but for the reasons we just mentioned there is some question as to how appealing he might find it. Oklahoma could be the beneficiary as Ford was said to be highly complimentary of the Sooners in a recent interview with the always exceptional SoonerScoop.com.