As National Signing Day looms, the Sooners are hoping to add to a potent wide receiver class that features a pair of four-star prospects out of Texas — Cedarian (CeeDee) Lamb and Charleston Rambo — still holding strong to their commitments, along with the highly touted JUCO standout Marquise Brown already on campus. Despite Jalen Reagor flipping his commitment to TCU last October, a few major undeclared targets still have Oklahoma on their short lists, which could make a loaded class downright lethal. The two main names to still keep an eye on are four-star prospects James Robinson IV (ESPN’s No. 11 at the position, Rivals No. 16), out of Lakeland, Fla., and the versatile UNC decommit Ryan Jones from Charlotte.
Picking up just one of these two studs (and providing no one committed flips), could set up the 2017 wide receiver class as the best ever assembled at Oklahoma. The program has featured spectacular record-setters and award-winners at the position through the pass-heavy Bob Stoops era, and the promising prospects in this class could lead to the same over the next few years. The classes of 2005, 2008 and 2012 featured at least three wide receivers rated four stars or higher. Before getting back to #SoonerSquad17, here’s a quick look back at those classes.
Malcolm Kelly was the prized recruit of this class, the first big-bodied, jump-ball type receiver for Bob Stoops after years of success behind slot types Antwone Savage, Curtis Fagan and Mark Clayton. His counterpart from Conway, South Carolina, Eric Huggins, would never play a down in Norman after redshirting then transferring back to his home state. Luckily, the sure-handed Juaquin Iglesias and Manny Johnson made up for his absence and became a big part of the Sooners’ passing game through their four-year careers. If Kelly had stuck around his senior season, he’d have surely lit up college football with Sammy B in 2008, possibly to the tune of a national title. At least he gave us this sick freestyle, which never gets old.
Speaking of, the 2008 class was the only one with multiple Rivals100 receivers — Jameel Owens and Josh Jarboe — who were also colossal disappointments. Owens, the highest-ranked overall player in Oklahoma that season, was expected to succeed Malcolm Kelly as the big target on the outside of a Sam-Bradford-led attack. But the Muskogee star never did much in Norman, catching only a handful of passes as a freshman before transferring to Tulsa.
If Owens wasn’t disappointing enough, Jarboe tops that list every time. Other than that strange attempt at rap fame, Jarboe was also arrested on gun charges during his senior season and never made it Norman. While DeJuan Miller wasn’t anywhere near the disappointments of Owens or Jarboe, his injury-plagued career in Norman never took off, either. Nevertheless, for a class with such hype, the Sooners proved they needed none of these young wide receivers to make the National Championship run of 2008.
The 2012 class was a surprisingly promising one on paper. Led by Missouri’s top-ranked player Durron Neal, it was Sterling Shepard who of course took the reigns as premier pass catcher from this group. Derrick Woods was never able to find consistency and playing time through his time in Norman, and Courtney Gardner never played a down due to eligibility issues. JUCO standout LaColtan Bester, however, became a big part of the passing game (including throwing touchdowns) through his two seasons in Norman. I suppose it’s pointless, and gross, even bringing up Trey Metoyer.
The Lone Star State combo of CeeDee Lamb and Charleston Rambo received their highest ratings by Rivals (Nos. 10 and 12, respectively). Both are tall, explosive and versatile deep threats, and lining up with the quick-footed Marquise Brown inside, look to form a prolific pass-catching class to develop together over the next couple of seasons. The snaps and opportunities will be there for these young receivers, and oh yeah, so will the nation’s best passer.
The key targets still out there, as aforementioned, are James Robinson IV and Ryan Jones. Despite an official visit to Ohio State last weekend, the Gators still appear to be the leader in the clubhouse for Robinson, considered among the most promising in this class. It’d be a shame to lose out on a star like him, but if he’s still on the fence between catching a first down or two per game in Gainesville instead of two touchdowns a half from Baker the Touchdown Maker, then we’ll probably be fine without him. It really doesn’t get more Florida than that.
I just don’t get how all wide receiver prospects aren’t lining up at Lincoln Riley’s door during this current run at OU. Are recruits being told he’s only going to be here for a season? Even then, just one season in Norman would mean so much more to a wide receiver’s career than Florida’s anemic, non-existent pass offense. Plus, there are literally man-eating, dinosaur lizards there. Seriously.
James Robinson IV Highlights
The speedy Ryan Jones, a four-star athlete prospect who decommited last September from North Carolina, also holds offers from numerous top-flight schools including Tennessee, Clemson, Louisville, NC State, Wisconsin and West Virginia. The Sooners have been eyeing Jones since he parted ways with UNC and have recently offered the Mallard Creek standout and are hosting his official visit to campus this weekend. Kerry Cooks has been the main connection, as Jones could also potentially be a DB at the next level.
Jones also played cornerback in high school and shows consistent ability to high-point the ball (not quite as well as Robinson or Lamb) especially on go routes, jump balls and fades. He also has the size to step in right away, unlike Rambo who at 170 lbs. will need to put in some work in the weight room. Even if the Sooners don’t land Robinson IV or Jones, the wide receiver class of 2017 already carries with it great promise and hype. Let’s just hope none of these guys go Jarboe or Metoyer on us.
Ryan Jones Highlights