That's pretty much the short and skinny of it. They are very rarely a good thing and when it's the currently highest rated player in your class that tends to add that extra little sting. If you're not already familiar with what we're talking about, this is exactly what happened Monday night when Delray Beach (Fl.) running back Greg Bryant officially decommitted from the Sooners.
It absolutely warrants mentioning (and I wanted to do so before the jump) that Oklahoma has another very talented running back in this 2013 class. Keith Ford (VIDEO) is rated just as high, if not higher, as Bryant by several of the recruiting services. Bryant had (and still has) more of a public presence mainly because he had attended several highly regarded camps (and for his Twitter account), while Ford did not. However, do not take that to mean Ford is any less talented. He's the top back in the football rich state of Texas and if he had made the same camps Bryant did, he'd very likely be spoken of just as highly and just as frequently. So don't let it be forgotten that the Sooners still have a very, very talented back in the fold. And if you can see the bigger picture right now, Bryant's decommitment very likely only further secured Ford's.
Before we get too far into this, just wanted to take a minute and give a player of Ford's abilities the respect he deserves.
There had been rumblings of this possibility for the last couple weeks, but truthfully it was something that actually been discussed since the day he gave his verbal commitment. Even after committing, Bryant was very open about his desire to continue to visit other schools. Which is typically something Oklahoma and Bob Stoops generally discourage frown upon once a recruit verbally commits. The general perception with why OU initially signed off on Bryant continuing to take visits is two fold. (1) Bryant was a significant talent and perhaps more importantly (2) this (taking additional visits) appears to be somewhat of a common practice amongst recruits in "SEC country" and if Oklahoma is going to heavily recruit that part of the country it was something they were just going to have to get used to. Obviously, at least in this instance, it burned them.
However, as many here and elsewhere have said, at least it happened in July as opposed to January. With another six plus months to go until National Signing Day, the Sooners have plenty of time to find a replacement for Bryant. That is, if they even want to replace him with another running back. And that's where things could get interesting.
After Monday night's development, there are three possible scenarios for how Oklahoma could handle this. (1) They continue to recruit Bryant and re-secure his commitment. We're assuming based on the quotes attributed to his father (a desire to play in the SEC/closer to home) as well as several other factors, this isn't a realistic scenario. So for the purposes of this discussion, we'll disregard it as one of the actual options. So, moving on. (2) The Sooners move onto another 2013 running back to replace Bryant in this year's class. (3) OU decides they are fine with taking Ford as the only back in this class and will move on to 2014 at the running back position.
Scenario #2 - If Oklahoma chooses to go this route, there are two players at the moment who stand out as the most likely targets, Richmond (Va.) back Derrick Green (VIDEO) and Katy (Tx.) back Adam Taylor (VIDEO). Taylor is actually the teammate of current Sooners verbal, defensive end Matt Dimon, and was a player they were strongly considering prior to the unexpected commitment of Bryant. Green is a bigger, power type of back who has mentioned in interviews his interest in the Sooners. Of the two, if one was to get a theoretical phone call before the other my money would be on Taylor. No disrespect to Green, I just think the relationship between OU and Taylor is just farther along.
Taylor had reportedly committed to LSU back in May, but according to some may have done so with what is becoming an all to common practice of kids holding "uncommittable offers." Which basically means a school offers a kid, he commits, but they don't really accept it. Makes no sense, right? Anyway, I'd be very surprised if Cale Gundy didn't keep the lines of communication open with Taylor even when OU seemed quite secure with Ford and Bryant.
Scenario #3 -In my opinion, for several reasons, this is the more likely of the two possible scenarios. One reason being the Sooners signed four running backs in last year's class and while one of those was a JUCO transfer, that is still a considerable number for a single recruiting class. Reports on the three participating in summer workouts (the fourth, Daniel Brooks is recovering from knee surgery and will redshirt this season) have been very positive.
So factoring that into the equation, along with the obvious fact that they are very excited about the running back they still hold a verbal commitment from, Keith Ford, they may not feel a need to replace Bryant in this 2013 class.
Even further factoring into their potential decision, Oklahoma already has their eye on, and are the believed early favorites, for what could eventually prove to be two of the top running backs in the 2014 class. Those backs are Broken Arrow (Ok.) Devon Thomas (VIDEO) and Las Vegas (Nv.) Nathan Starks (VIDEO).
Obviously Thomas is a local product and a player Oklahoma is very familiar with. He already holds an offer from the Sooners, who made a clear effort to show him how interested they were by offering him as early as they did.
Starks, on the other hand, isn't local being in Vegas of course but there is a connection between him and the Sooners. He attends Bishop Gorman high school, which is a school that routinely produces D-I talent and a school Oklahoma has recruiting frequently in the past (former Sooners Ryan Reynolds and Demarco Murray are both products of Bishop Gorman).
Clearly, we'll just have to wait and see how Cale Gundy approaches things following the loss of Bryant. Our guess is he'll put out some feelers to Taylor (and possibly Green) to gauge whether or not the interest is still there. If it's mutual, they may try to get him on campus and his teammate, Matt Dimon, could even try to work on him as well. My best guess is it's either Taylor or they just roll with Ford in 2013 and make Thomas/Starks the priority for 2014 (for whatever it's worth, I don't believe they're getting both of them).
Practices for the 2012 season haven't even started yet and we're talking about 2013 decommits and 2014 running backs. Recruiting is fun stuff, right?