Oklahoma held it's first Junior Day almost one week ago and is scheduled to be hosting a second the first weekend in March. As you've likely surmised, the college football recruiting cycle never really ends. Heck, it only even slows down during NCAA mandated silent periods. So as we close out the 2012 recruiting calendar, we simultaneously turn the first page of 2013. The Sooners took a full class of 25 commits in 2012, so this 2013 class projects to be a little smaller. Probably more in the 17-22 range depending of course on possible transfers or NFL early entrants. It's also a class that should feature many more players on the defensive side of the ball after a very heavy offensive class in 2012.
With that, we're going to give you a ridiculously early breakdown of some early targets on OU's 2013 radar as well as some projections as to how many players at each position the Sooners could be looking to take.
Targets: Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright, TX), Kelly Hilinski (Sherman Oaks, CA), Max Browne (Sammamish, WA), Brayden Scott (Tahlequah, OK)
Breakdown: Honestly, with Drew Allen, Blake Bell, Kendal Thompson, and Trevor Knight the Sooners could probably afford not to take a quarterback in this 2013 class. But the general rule for most schools and one that Bob Stoops has adopted is that you generally take at least one QB in every class. Oklahoma has yet to make an offer to a quarterback and based on the early names being mentioned as possible candidates for said offer, the Sooners are setting their sights pretty high. Browne and Swoopes are #8 & #11 respectively in the recently released Rivals Top 100 for 2013, while Hilinski is also highly regarded. Scott is the wild card in the sense that if OU offers, based on some of his recent comments, seems like a commitment waiting to happen.
With the expectation of the Sooners only taking one quarterback, it's highly likely they take their time and are very selective with who they choose to offer at the position. Especially with what looks like it could be a sure thing with Brayden Scott.
Running Back: 1-2
Targets: Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, FL), Cameron Wrenn (Broken Arrow, OK), Darius Graham (Lawton, OK)
Breakdown: This is a position that is really tough to project at the moment. Oklahoma just signed four running backs in their 2012 class if you count Daniel Brooks and only expect to lost Dom Whaley after this coming season. So at the moment it's fair to say the Sooners are considerably stocked at the position. However, we only have to think back to next year and remember many OU fans were saying the same thing only to see the position's depth ravaged by both transfers and injuries.
For that reason alone, you can expect Oklahoma to take at least one running back in 2013 but more likely two. At this point, they've only made a handful of offers and mostly to more national recruits. Greg Bryant is an early four star RB out of Florida, a state OU has faired quite well in as of late, and currently the #23 overall player in Rivals Top 100. In a recent interview, Bryant's father admitted his son is very high on the Sooners right now.
"My son is really loving Oklahoma," said Greg Bryant Sr., Bryant's father. "I talk to him a lot about different schools, and he doesn't know where he wants to go, but he definitely likes Oklahoma. A lot of people would like to see him go other places, but he's stuck on Oklahoma."
Running backs coach Cale Gundy has made an early impression on the Bryant family. "I think the reason he likes Oklahoma is Oklahoma's recruiting [approach] is very humble," Bryant Sr., said. "Coach [Gundy] has done a good job in not overwhelming him."
"We were riding in the truck one day and he was like, everybody is sleeping on Oklahoma," Bryant Sr. said. "They just don't know, they don't know the history, everybody is talking about other schools. "He hasn't mentioned another college in that manner."
The Sooners are fortunate to have in-state backs like Wrenn and Graham (among some others) so they may have the luxury of slow playing them a bit as they explore their options outside the state. However, hopefully they learned you can't wait too long or you risk losing out on a player you could have landed had you shown serious interest earlier (see Donovan Roberts).
Wide Receiver: 2-3
Targets: Jake Oliver (Dallas, TX), Jacorey Warrick (Houston, TX), Eldridge Massington (Mesquite, TX), Marcell Ateman (Wylie, TX), Vequan Jones (Wylie, TX)
Breakdown: Again, much like running back this is a position that will have to play some things out before we really know where things stand. Oklahoma just brought in a huge WR class (#1 in the county by the way), so they'll need some time to see how things shake out at the position. Especially when you consider there won't be a senior on the roster at wide receiver that's considered a contributor.
Oliver is likely the top target at the moment and was in attendance for Oklahoma's first Junior Day. He and his father came away from it speaking very highly of the Sooners and their laid back approach, but there is likely a long way to go before Oliver would be close to making a decision. Warrick is a smaller (5'11" 165), speed guy while Massington is a bigger receiver (6'3") but also has some top end speed. Ateman and Jones are teammates and two players who have been on OU's radar for some time.
You can also expect Oklahoma to take a more national approach as they've done these last couple years, so expect them to target some receivers in either California or Florida as well.
Tight End: 1-2
Targets: Standish Dobard (New Orleans, LA), Christian Morgan (Plano, TX)
Breakdown: The goal here has to be finding an explosive athlete at the TE position who can also be that dynamic pass catching threat over the middle and down the seam. The problem with that theory is those kind of players just don't come along all that often and when they do, they can basically choose any school in the country to attend.
Oklahoma brought in three (potentially four if Laith Harlow can make his way back) tight ends in the 2012 class, so spots could be limited in 2013. Both Dobard and Morgan could be that pass catching threat, but they are also both in high demand. Pulling recruits out of Louisiana and away from LSU is almost impossible and with Morgan nobody really knows where things stand at the moment though he and Josh Heupel have developed a pretty solid relationship.
Offensive Line: 2-3
Targets: Rob Boyd (Vian, OK), Heath Newland (Edmond, OK), Evan Lisle (Centerville, OH), J.J. Gustafson (Dallas, TX)
Breakdown: Oklahoma is pretty well stocked when it comes to the interior o-line positions, so I'd expect them to take at most 1-2 guys at either guard or center. That said, Boyd is one of those guys you take. He's the #3 overall rated player in the state according to Rivals and would be a very solid addition were OU able to land him. The early talk is with an offer, he could be one of Oklahoma's first commitments. He's scheduled to attend the Sooners' upcoming second Junior Day.
Offensive tackle should be one of the primary positions of focus for the Oklahoma coaches in this 2013 class. They've already made two early offers first to Lisle and Gustafson more recently who received his offer at OU's first Junior Day. The Sooners may not be able to rely on nearby Texas to fill this position as the Longhorns seem poised to snag the state's top tackle prospects. Oklahoma and position coach Bruce Kittle may be forced to take a more national approach to try and fill their needs.
'OU Football Recruiting - Crunching the 2013 Numbers On Defense' coming soon