Photo Credit: Associated Press / John Amis
With Oklahoma Sooners football stagnant, fans are caught between re-watching old games and looking for the eyeball emoji on Lincoln Riley’s Twitter feed. Riley gave us some eyeballs on April 18th.
Most assumed this was about Jantzen Dunn, the 6-2, 178-pound athlete from Kentucky. No commit to Oklahoma followed up Riley’s tweet and two days later, Dunn was committed to Ohio State. Dunn’s add gives the Buckeyes 17 commitments for 2021, which is currently the best class in the country. Oddly enough, North Carolina’s class currently ranks 2nd with 14 commits. The Oklahoma Sooners currently rank 41st with only 4 commits.
What the hell is happening?
As embarrassing as it is for the Sooners recruiting class to be ranked behind the likes of Duke and Iowa State, it’s too early to worry about it. Of the 23 players that make up Lincoln Riley’s 2020 class, only Michael Henderson and DJ Graham were committed this time a year ago. 12 of 23 Sooners did not commit until December’s National Signing Day and Chandler Morris committed in January. There’s still plenty of time on Oklahoma’s side, as is the fact that Lincoln Riley is a closer.
The current 2021 recruiting classes are largely the effect of COVID-19 restrictions. These restrictions include coaches and players being unable to travel, among other things. And with kids unable to make visits to campus throughout the spring and (likely) summer months, coaches like Lincoln Riley are having to adjust their methods.
With so much uncertainty in society, 2021 recruits are trending toward what they already know and are familiar with. It cannot be easy to convince a kid to commit to the Oklahoma Sooners without him first stepping foot on the Norman campus. It’s no wonder why many kids are committing to schools that are closer to home. This includes a majority of the Ohio State 2021 class; kids that reside in Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.
We can’t be sure of much right now in college football, but we should bank on a lot of 2021 de-committing in the coming months. These kids are going to get their campus visits in as soon as physically possible, even if it means having to de-commit. Clemson was reminded of this recently when five-star defensive end Korey Foreman re-opened his recruiting. Dabo Swinney’s program has a strict “no more visits” rule for committed players. It’s likely the nation’s top recruit pulled his commit for the sake of making trips, but there’s speculation USC is closing in. It’s also worth nothing Oklahoma offered Foreman back in January.
Expect Lincoln Riley to continue his pursuit and eventually lure Foreman to Norman for an official visit. The Oklahoma Sooners staff now has Kenneth Murray’s NFL draft story to brag to young, dynamic linebackers. Ultimately, the Oklahoma Sooners will be one of several big-time programs to make a recruiting surge as campuses begin to re-open in the fall semesters. And it will be interesting to see how coaches juggle this recruiting with preparation for what is likely to be a late start to the 2020 season. Recruiting in the fall is nothing new for college programs, but a lot of the work is typically done before kicking off a new season.
Jack O.K. is an Oklahoma graduate student with an affinity for Sooners football and basketball.
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