With the 2017 class set to sign the dotted line next week, another year of OU’s future will come more clearly into focus — and boy, is that future bright.
A lot of the enthusiasm for this class is centered on the defensive side of the ball, and for good reason. OU’s defensive commits are not only talented, but a vast improvement over the school’s last several classes. They have the potential to become a dominant force in the Big 12.
But OU’s offensive future remains bright as well, and it all starts with the quarterback. OU has another year of Baker Mayfield, who will get his final shot at a Heisman, a championship and immortality. But then what?
In 2018, the best quarterbacks on campus will be Kyler Murray, Austin Kendall and Chris Robison. Murray, a former five-star, probably hasn’t had the college career he envisioned so far (at least he has baseball, I guess). Murray wanted to be the guy this season, but will instead become the Big 12’s best backup and X factor.
If Vegas had odds on it, I suspect that Murray would be favored to start for OU in ‘18. But there are those who think his diminutive size — even Baker has a few inches on him — will keep him from ever starting at Oklahoma, and that he’ll continue in his supplementary role under Kendall.
Personally, though, I think Murray will probably earn the starting role. His presence would bring an element of continuity to the OU offense and allow (hopefully) Lincoln Riley to run a similar scheme to the one that’s been successful so far. Murray’s mobility will open up the playbook even more, and his passing skills, while not Mayfield-level, probably haven’t fallen off much since high school, when they were prodigious. Kendall and Robison aren’t so much taller than him that his height should be the deciding factor.
So if Murray starts in 2018, expect another high-powered offense with the benefit of extra seasoning for this excellent recruiting class coming in, much of which will be starting by that time.
Then there’s 2020. Murray will probably serve two years as the full-time QB at Oklahoma, leaving the program in the hands of Kendall, Robison or 2018 commit Cameron Rising. While either Kendall or Robison may redshirt this season, OU may opt for Rising over both those guys anyway to give the program more stability. If Murray wins the QB battle in fall 2018, I’d be shocked to see both Kendall and Robison stick around to watch their eligibility waste away. Kendall is obviously the only known commodity right now, but Rising will have multiple offseasons to make his own case by that point.
The latest development in Oklahoma’s quarterback future came this week, when they offered dual-threat talent Roschon Johnson from Port Neches, Texas. He’s going to be hard to land (Texas offered him today, and who knows? They might not suck by then) but word is he’s Oklahoma’s main man right now, and he would re-introduce a dual-threat element to the offense after years of pocket passers.
But I mean, who knows what the program will look like at that point? It’s impossible to say what defense it will be running, how well it will recruit or even who the head coach will be. Point is, the Sooners have laid the groundwork for years and years of great quarterback play. And even if a few of these guys are a bust, the depth they’ve amassed at the position is truly impressive.
Just ask Texas: If you don’t take care of the quarterback, the rest of your class won’t really matter. It’s great to see that OU will have so many options for so long, and that it’s already laying the groundwork for 2020 and beyond.