The Oklahoma Sooners are facing an unexpected development in the recruitment of highly-touted 2018 running back T.J. Pledger. Competition from other top schools was undoubtedly expected throughout the recruiting cycle for a player of this caliber but following the recent changes at Oklahoma, the four-star stud from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida — a hard commit with the Sooners since March 25 — has OU’s old red-clad rivals from the north in his ear.
According to 247Sports, Pledger and his mother will visit Lincoln this weekend as the Nebraska Cornhuskers — who’ve been on hot on the heels of Pledger especially of late — have seen the last three crystal ball predictions in landing him go their way.
Don’t look now, but OU’s former conference foes have entered the fray in the wake of the retirement of Bob Stoops, which clearly has had some impact on the young recruit’s commitment. We hope Pledger’s mom can continue to stay in her son’s ear. On Wednesday evening, she responded to 247Sports’ tweet above with one of her own.
Lincoln Riley and the Sooners’ staff are surely on top of this, and The Football Brainiacs report that Pledger is expected to visit Norman in late July. But it appears a battle is certainly brewing with Oklahoma’s long-time big red rival, along with UCLA, developing into real contenders to land the talented IMG product. It should be mentioned that to go with Coach Stoops’ retirement, Pledger has to be well aware of the stable of young running backs already waiting their turns in the crowded Sooners’ stable. Another thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is that some of his friends — including current IMG teammate Joshua Moore — are committed to Nebraska.
I had started to wonder what the situation was with Pledger, as he’s been somewhat quiet on social media the last couple of weeks following Bob Stoops’ announcement and recent changes in Norman. Losing Pledger, whom some feel is the nation’s premier all-purpose back, would undoubtedly be a huge blow to OU’s 2018 class. Luckily, there is still plenty of time between now and National Signing Day for Lincoln Riley to put Pledger’s mind at ease regarding the coaching transition in Norman.
Things may appear to be trending in the wrong direction at the moment, but I still like OU’s chances in this recruiting battle if they can make it through the weekend without a flip. Lincoln Riley and Jay Boulware have given us plenty of reason to have faith in them as recruiters, and I’m confident that they can right the ship in this instance. Nevertheless, this is going to be a very interesting battle to watch in the coming days and weeks.