One for twenty one.
If this were baseball, that would equate to a .047 batting average. By just about every quantifiable metric, that's, um, not very good. And yet, that's exactly where new Oklahoma linebackers coach, Tim Kish, sits with respect to commitments vs. offers in the class of 2013.
Now before we get any farther down the rabbit hole, I feel it necessary to put a couple qualifiers on this just for clarity's sake. First, this is not a "Tim Kish was the wrong hire!!!" referendum. It's way too early to be writing any coach off this early into his tenure. That said, when all but one of your top targets are no longer on the board you should expect some questions. But we'll get more into that in a minute. Second, this is in no way meant to reflect negatively on the one linebacker commitment the Sooners currently hold in the form of Jordan Mastrogiovanni. He's definitely a quality recruit who projects very well in Mike Stoops' system with his athleticism and size.
Okay now that we got that out of the way, let's continue.
Back to that 1 for 21 stat, man I'd be lying if I said that doesn't sting quite a bit. To be fair, Oklahoma often offers elite national prospects that they really have very, very little chance of ever landing. I never really understood the strategy behind, but they clearly have their reasons so it's just something I've come to accept.
As a guy who follows recruiting closely and also obviously an OU fan, it's seems odd just to type that given the prestige and national presence of this program but it's simply the reality of the situation. No school, not even one the quality of Oklahoma, routinely goes into football rich areas like SEC (SEC! SEC!) country or California and pulls the top players out on a consistent basis. Oklahoma has had more than their fair share of success to be sure, but success in those parts of the country for the Sooners is typically defined as landing one or two guys.
Technically speaking, there are still two 2013 linebackers who have yet to commit elsewhere that hold offers from Oklahoma. Those guys are Mike Mitchell (Plano, TX) who pretty much destroyed the competition at ESPN's The Opening recently and Matthew Thomas (Miami, FL). Neither player has mentioned Oklahoma in recent interviews and few believe the Sooners are being seriously considered at this point.
Since Tim Kimbrough's commitment to Georgia several weeks ago, marking the final OU outstanding linebacker offer (with the two exceptions above), the Sooners have made no new known offers at the position.
So, naturally, the question that comes to mind is - Where do the Sooners go from here?
To be perfectly honest, it's somewhat difficult to answer because at this point I'm not entirely sure that even Kish himself knows what the plan is right now. There has been so little activity, you can't help but get the sense that all of his focus is currently being paid to the upcoming season and preparation for his first season on the hallowed OU sideline. Which is great and all, don't get me wrong, but linebacker is easily one of OU's biggest needs in this 2013 class and right now you're looking at one guy in the fold and then you're basically starting over with respective targets.
Any kind of prediction as to where they could look next would be, at best, a crapshoot which I suppose on some level is pretty fitting since that's how many see recruiting in general. Here are our best guesses. (I should note, it's impossible to predict decommits, so for the purposes of this discussion I'm only listing players who have yet to give a verbal commitment.)
Devante Bond (Sierra C.C., Ca.) - This guy is a freaking monster! How you like that for some analysis? Seriously though, wow. His physicality and speed around the edge really stand out on film, though you always have to take into account the competition (and of course that it's a "highlight reel" for a reason). Bond has a ton of fans on OU message boards and for good reason. Bond is also a former teammate and a good friend (his words) of Courtney Gardner, so if Gardner can quality that could help OU should they choose to offer. Kish visited him this spring and stated that he wanted to watch Bond during the season then kind of play it from there.
He seems like he'd be an absolute perfect for Kish and Mike Stoops, but as OU fans are currently experiencing there is always a risk with JUCO guys. For every Lance Mitchell, there are usually a lot more Mike Reed's or J.R. Bryant's. That said, with that kind of film he's worth the risk in my opinion.
Kahlee Woods (Sherman H.S., Tx.) - Did you see him at the point of attack? Um, wow! Unfortunately, I can't post it here but if you have a Rivals account check out the film they have. At the 0:34 second mark, he DESTROYS a guy pulling down the line. I mean he literally knocks him three yards backwards. It was impressive.
As you can see above, he is absolutely dominant against the run. Definitely has some work to do when it comes to defending the pass, but that can be said about a lot of high school linebackers. For a team that is reportedly going through a bit of a philosophy switch at the position (i.e. bigger, more physical players vs. the undersized guys previously employed), he sure seems like a pretty darn good fit to me.
Jimmie Gilbert (A&M Consolidated H.S., Tx.) - He plays in College Station and yet does not have an A&M offer, which I find to be a little odd, but his measurables alone (6'4" 200 lbs) making him intriguing. Really big frame for a linebacker, could easily add another twenty pounds while maintaining his speed and athleticism. Reminds me of Michael Onuoha, who was in last year's OU class, in that he'd be pretty raw but possesses a big upside.
That is just a couple of guys who Kish and OU could look at (or are looking at in the case of Bond) in the coming months. Again, it's still too early to hit that panic button but how and where Kish takes this position for 2013 will definitely be of interest all the way up to signing day.