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Oklahoma Sooners Football: OU to Use Four-Man Front (Plus Other Stoops Presser Notes)

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Stoops spoke to the media after nailing down his top-ten class.

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Auburn vs Oklahoma Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

It was a drama-free signing day for Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners, who signed all 27 of their commits and didn’t add any last-minute deciders. The result is OU’s top class since 2010, far and away the best in the Big 12.

As is tradition, Stoops addressed the media in the afternoon after everyone’s letter of intent was in. The conference each year is used to shed the best possible light on the incoming class, and words like “thrilled” and “best” get thrown around liberally. But this year Stoops definitely did seem happy and relieved to be done with one of his least-stressful signing days.

Probably the biggest takeaway was Stoops’s confirmation that Oklahoma will move primarily to a four-man front. This news has emerged slowly through discussions with OU defensive line recruits, but Stoops confirmed it to the media on Wednesday.

“Because of all the spread we get, we just feel overall we’re going to do more based out of a four-man front and jump into the odd occasionally, as opposed to being primarily an odd and jumping into a four-man front,” he explained. “That’s something we’ll concentrate on in the spring. Again, with the … amount of passing we get, we feel it will allow us to get more pressure, just from a four-man rush.”

Other highlights from the conference include:

  • In his opening statement, Stoops said: “I feel we signed one of the best classes we’ve signed, probably, in 19 years. I love the balance of it. There’s 13 offensive guys, 13 defensive guys and one specialist. I felt we answered the need in all positions to get ourselves to the numbers we like to have at each position, as well as the quality of players at each position.”
  • On the 6 Oklahoma signees and recruiting in-state: “I think always the challenge here is just our population numbers in the state of Oklahoma aren’t what they are whether it be Texas or some other surrounding areas. I think that always limits to some degree. But I’ve always said since … I got here in ’99, that though our numbers may not be — just, again, because of population — the players in Oklahoma can play anywhere in the country.” He cited Gerald McCoy, Teddy Lehman and Jammal Brown as examples.
  • On building classes around a quarterback: “It is a big deal. When you get someone early that’s the caliber, and throws the ball the way Chris [Robison] does, I think other players start to take notice early on.”
  • On impact of the Playoff appearance in jump-starting the class: “I believe it had a strong impact on it. Any time you have that kind of year and you put yourself in that position … it makes a difference to recruits. I don’t think there’s any question.” Also cited stadium upgrades as major factor.
  • On the record 11 early enrollees: “It’ll give all those guys a great advantage to be prepared to play right away in the first game.” Said it “allows you to push forward to the next class to some degree.”
  • Stoops said Marquise Brown is “very similar” to Dede Westbrook because of his quickness and speed. “He’s built similarly. We love the way he goes after the ball, competitiveness. He’s got that exceptional quickness, so we hope he can be a similar player.”
  • On Robert Barnes: “We’re always going to stand by our word. An injury isn’t going to keep us from continuing to honor that scholarship.”
  • On who gets credit for recruits: “It isn’t just one recruiter. I feel like too much of the time it gets labeled, ‘Oh, this guy recruited him.’ We do our darnedest to recruit as a staff. Even cross over offense to defense, depending on the connection and where a guy may be from.”
  • On how much the Jacob Phillips flip will hurt Sooners at MLB: “Not much. We had four guys already committed, right? So we’ve got two to fill Mike and Will, and right now we’re also going to look this spring at Ricky DeBerry in there instead of outside, with the guys we’ve got outside. We’ll be fine.”
  • On the SEC recruiting in Texas: “I don’t think there’s any question … they have a presence and a fairly strong presence down there. Not just with A&M but with a number of schools, depending on the area and depending on logistics. Some schools in the SEC are closer to that area than others. It’s always been a battle going to Texas or going anywhere. I think sometimes people think ‘Oh, that will be easy once you win a number of games.’ It’s never — it’s always a challenge.”
  • Stoops answered several questions on recruiting players who are the same age as his kids, and about his now-lengthy tenure. At one point he said, “It seems like I got here a year ago.”
  • On if he’s ever considered taking the team to Rome (like Jim Harbaugh): “If I go to Italy, I’m probably just going to go with my wife and my family. That would be plenty for me. But hey, more power to him. I’d like to see Joe Castiglione’s reaction if I decided to take 200 people to Rome for four days.”