It has been, somewhat incredibly, just under three weeks since Bob Stoops ceded the OU head coaching position to Lincoln Riley, but it didn’t take long to see that things were going to be a little different under the new regime.
Sure, we all knew that Bob and his staff were out there crootin’ like crazy. We just didn’t really get to see that much of the time. Stoops was late to the Twitter train and never wholly embraced the platform that, for top high school athletes, is being used more and more like some kind of Tinder U. (Swipe right for Nick Saban! It’s what’s on the inside that counts.)
Stoops also handed over a somewhat diminished 2018 class, bludgeoned by an April full of gut-punches. While the top-10 #SoonerSquad17 allowed Oklahoma Sooners fans to dream of another torrid few years of 2000s-level recruiting dominance, the early returns on 2018 suggested more of the 2010s status quo.
And then the retirement, and suddenly nothing was status quo anymore.
Today, Sooner Nation lives in a brave new world of innuendo, anticipation and fire emojis. A world where the OU head coach not only gives the perfunctory new-commit retweet but goes out of his way to let us know the commit is coming with a pair of eyes that say, “I know something you don’t — aw, shucks, who am I kidding? It’s a commit.”
— Lincoln Riley (@LincolnRiley) June 25, 2017
It took five days for Riley to flip Ron Tatum. What took you so long? we said. Then Tramonda Moore got on board. Pretty good, pretty good, we conceded. Tavion Thomas was next — though seemingly all we could think about was T.J. Pledger.
And 2019 kid Austin Stogner? My brain can’t think that far ahead, I objected.
But after netting Kundarrius Taylor, Treveon Johnson and Jaylon Robinson in one weekend, I think the only appropriate response is surprised face with open mouth emoji. Seven commits in 20 days? SEVEN? That’s 0.35 recruits every day! Keep this up and we’ll have 23.8 new recruits by kickoff and 62.3 recruits by the early signing period! Is that even legal?? Note: I apologize for being #OnPaceGuy
Today was a good day-— Lincoln Riley (@LincolnRiley) June 24, 2017
In all seriousness, Riley should be commended for capitalizing on the exciting first days of his new administration. Though he’ll need more defensive recruits to make a standout class — don’t go all Kingsbury on us now, Linc — Riley has created a near-unprecedented level of optimism and excitement around Sooners recruiting. It’s quite a contrast from this spring.
Still, it should be noted that recruiting bumps of some kind are pretty much par for the course under new coaches. They usually don’t happen nearly this fast — Tom Herman’s and Matt Rhule’s first commits came in late February, Willie Taggart’s in April — but most coaches don’t take over in June. The key to Riley’s run will be sustaining the momentum he has earned.
But the early returns are amazing. No eye-popping names, but the Sooners have always thrived with depth and quality at every position. Finish strong and Riley could assemble a class to rival #SoonerSquad17 (at least as far as quality is concerned). If he can accomplish that, it’s safe to say that he has the potential to end up being OU’s best recruiter ever. That’s a tall order considering that OU’s list includes Bud Wilkinson, Barry Switzer and Bob Stoops. However, like his legendary predecessors, he takes over as a young guy who can relate to the kids. If history tells us anything, Riley will continue to be a force on the recruiting trail for years to come.