When Ohio State’s Playoff run ends—probably on January 9, if you ask me—linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell will leave the program to run the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Fickell has been coaching at tOSU for 14 years, and there was concern in Buckeye nation that he might be taking cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs with him—until Coombs squashed those rumors on Twitter a few days ago.
The whole episode had OU’s attention because Coombs’s departure might have been OU’s last, best chance to land one of its top targets of the 2017 class: five-star South Grand Prairie cornerback Jeffrey Okudah.
Ohio State is recruiting Okudah primarily with offensive coordinator Tim Beck, who happens to handle Texas recruits for the Buckeyes. But knowing your actual position coach is gone might change any player’s calculus.
Okudah was one of the many high-profile recruits to come through Norman for the Ohio State game, back when the two programs were thought to be at the top of his list. But any hope OU had of landing him, most felt, died with OU’s Playoff hopes that night. When your first option steamrolls your second option, it’s hard for that second option to reenter the picture.
Okudah visited Ohio State for the instant-classic Michigan game, and while the Buckeyes coaching staff shakeup made things interesting, it looks like things ended up pretty status quo.
I'll be announcing my decision on January 7th at the U.S. Army All-American Game! pic.twitter.com/IDxPP58TEt— Jeffrey Okudah III (@TheJeffOkudah) December 4, 2016
Nothing is impossible, but Kerry Cooks would have to work some serious magic to change Okudah’s mind at this point.
Oklahoma’s 2017 class is excellent, but landing a five-star talent would take it to the next level. Right now, though, that seems unlikely. Defensive tackle Marvin Wilson is looking at lots of great programs including Ohio State, LSU, Florida State and even Tom Herman’s Texas. And L.A. receiver Joseph Lewis will be tough to pry away from home school USC.
Sooners fans might instead hope for guys like Aledo O-lineman Chuck Filiaga or Florida receiver James Robinson. There probably won’t be any major headlines in the final month of recruiting, but OU got a great class early and convinced most of it to stick around and sign. That will be good enough for a top-8 class in Norman and should vault future Sooners teams right back into Playoff contention.