Open Post | Tuesday, February 9th

Note on Raleek Brown’s Speed
– Super K

This past weekend I was in California to see 2022 4-star WR, CJ Williams (Mater Dei). Williams is more of a Texas target but he’s also Raleek Brown’s teammate.

In the course of our conversation, I asked him about Raleek. And the word he used to describe Raleek is “sudden”. He said in terms of long speed, guys like Domani Jackson can run with him. Domani is the number one rated cornerback in the country so if it takes that kind of corner to run with Raleek then OU is looking good.

But he said that Raleek’s initial ten yards are hard for anyone to handle, including Domani. He said he’s so sudden he gets any DB on his heals right away and can get them to turn their hips.

As a freshman, Raleek ran a hand timed 4.3 40 at the OU camp. I was told Lincoln walked over after seeing the time and hand timed Raleek himself. Lincoln got him at a 4.32.

This is the kind of non-negotiable speed and quickness OU typically has had but haven’t since Hollywood left. Guys like Raleek open the offense up.

Sooners Saturday | What Can Brown Do For You?
– Charlie S

Last Friday, the Sooners received the long anticipated verbal commitment from elite 2022 athlete Raleek Brown. It was a recruitment that always seemed destined to end up in Norman as head coach Lincoln Riley and Brown formed a very strong relationship which dates back prior to Raleek even being a national name.

Yes, OU will have to work to keep him, and yes there will be a lot of noise out there as other programs will not give up on their pursuit of Raleek, but let’s save that talk for another day and allow ourselves to believe that Raleek is done with the recruiting process (which he very well may be despite overtures from others).

Let’s have a quick talk about the impact Brown will have on the numbers for the class of 2022.

As I have previously mentioned (starting around the time Luther Burden silently committed in the summer) Raleek was a guy that the Sooners kept in the loop with each move they were making on the recruiting trail. The Sooners shared where they stood with other players and even made sure to notify him when they got a commit prior to the players announcing. Riley was building additional trust with the Brown camp by being very transparent about how much of a priority Brown was for the Sooners.

Cale Gundy, Dennis Simmons and DeMarco Murray were all involved with the recruitment, and they did a great job in supporting Riley in the pursuit of the dynamic recruit.

Now that he is in the fold, what does that do for the class?

First off, for the time being, it likely completes the numbers at wide receiver. With Jordan Hudson, Tayln Shettron, and Luther Burden already in the fold, the addition of Brown pretty much closes the door (at least temporarily) on the possibility of adding any additional wide receivers. While Brown is listed by the national sites as a running back, he will be used extensively in the passing game.

As far as the running back room goes in ’22, I am still working under the assumption that OU would like to take two true running backs. Some of the targets that DeMarco will be working on include Gavin Sawchuk, Jovantae Barnes, Jordan James, and Kevin Winston. (K happens to be on the west coast right now and we hope to have an update on Barnes for you in the coming days).

Currently the OU running back room consists of four scholarship backs in Kennedy Brooks, Eric Gray, Seth McGowan and Marcus Major. Brooks, Gray, and Major will all be eligible to leave next year for the NFL (I doubt Major would even consider leaving for the draft early, but there is also always the possibility of a transfer) so there is absolutely room (and a need IMO) to add two additional running backs to the room.

Since Brown will line up all over the place for the Sooners in ’22, they could conceivably get away with only taking one true running back in the class, but I’m going to be a guy who advocates for taking 2 true running backs in the class due to the numbers and possibilities regardless.

Circle back to the wide receivers in the ’22 class. Following the ’21 season, the Sooners could see a mass exodus as Haselwood, Wease, and Bridges will all be eligible to leave for the draft (not saying any or all will, but there is always that possibility) and you will also lose Theo Howard for certain and Obi Obialo (if he is still there when the season rolls around) as well. Take into account the possibility of a transfer or two from other guys, and well, you can make a case for the numbers to work for OU taking four true wide receivers in the ’22 class.

Now, I am not saying to take just any wide receiver in addition to the three they already have along with Brown, but if you can find the right guy with the right attributes (speed, speed, speed) then you can certainly make a case for taking four true wide receivers.

So what can Brown do for you? He can line up anywhere and be a nightmare of a mismatch for opposing defenses. Line him up in the backfield, and the defense will be inclined to load the box. Motion him out of the backfield and you create an insane matchup with him on a linebacker. Line him up in the slot and suddenly the defense has to have the safeties account for him which will loosen up the run game for the Sooners. Then you can also line him up wide and force a CB to cover him one on one or if they slide someone over the top to help on him you immediately have created opportunity for another playmaker on your offense to be at an advantage even if the CB can cover Brown man to man. The possibilities are endless.

Bottom line…if I am the Sooners, I still recruit two more running backs and one more wide receiver. Treat the ’22 class like you all want Lincoln to treat a game…do not take your foot off the gas. You are playing from way out front right now, finish the skill position class with style. Take two backs that you covet and if the right wide receiver is out there, take him too. Separate.

Go ahead Lincoln…

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Kris Ross | In-Person Initial Update
– Super K

Last Thursday, I went out to see 2022 DT, Kristopher Ross (North Shore) who recently picked up an Oklahoma offer.

***In terms of size, I’d give him around 6’3 and he said he weighs 270+ lbs. I think he will be a comfortable 285 lbs.

***His recruitment is just starting to build. In fact, after Baylor, Oklahoma was the first power five school to offer Ross. That OU offer, however, was followed up by Texas.

***My sense is no matter how much his recruitment takes off, Ross will likely stay close to home.

***He is originally from Louisiana and grew up an LSU fan though I don’t necessarily think it would be a forgone conclusion if they offered.

***It’s pretty clear Ross’ relationship with the Baylor staff is strong. They’ve been recruiting him for longer and it sounds like the whole staff including coach Aranda is recruiting him. Ross also said that James Blanchard, Baylor Assistant AD for Football Scouting, made the strongest initial impression of anyone Ross has spoken to in recruiting.

***Still, the brand of Oklahoma is a tough one to beat and Ross said he really vibes with coach Thibs. Coach Bo Davis has just jumped into the mix so when I spoke to Kris, I believe he had only spoken to coach Davis once or twice.

***Ross called Oklahoma, “tempting” as a place to end up. He likes the movement on the OU defensive line. Ross also said he doesn’t have any questions marks regarding Oklahoma.

***I get the sense that Thibs has OU in pole position here. If Ross gets up to Oklahoma and the Sooners really push here, I think things could get interesting in a hurry. Ross didn’t say he wants to end things early but said that’s something he has been thinking about. I think he’s running into the same issue a lot of the players have. They want to reserve a spot due to Covid but are also wanting to see places.

Sunday Brunch | 2021 Class Positional Grades
– Charlie S

Going to give my personal wrap up on the class of ’21 for the Sooners by position group!

The Sooners signed 16 players this cycle and 10 of them are already on campus. I’m going to hand out the grades by position based on needs filled, quality, and quantity of the players recruited to each position group.

This is just my opinion on how I see things now that the ’21 high school class is in the books!

Quarterback (needed 1 – got 1) – A+

Caleb Williams – You take the number one QB in the class, you have to get an A+. Simple. Williams should be a multi year starter for Riley, a Heisman Trophy contender when all is said and done, and another early draft pick following in the footsteps of Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Spencer Rattler.

Key Misses: None…Riley had Vandagriff committed at one point and when he left for Georgia (Hahahahaha) he pivoted and took the number one QB in the country.

Running Back (needed at least 1 – got 0) – F

Camar Wheaton, TreVeyon Henderson, Donovan Edwards, LJ Johnson. Those were the targets, in order of priority. OU got none.

Not only did OU not get any of their top targets, they didn’t pivot for backup plan out of high school. They DID pull Eric Gray from the portal, but I do not count him in the class of ’21 even though he is a perfect fit in the OU offense in my opinion. But bottom line is…you can’t give the position anything other than an F in regards to highs school recruiting.

Key Misses: Everyone

Wide Receiver (Needed at least 3 – got 3.5*) – A

Mario Williams is the headliner of a really nice group which also includes Cody Jackson, Jalil Farooq and potentially Billy Bowman depending on which side of the ball he ends up!

The group has it all with speed, size, and elusiveness. If Bowman ends up at WR I don’t see how you don’t initially grade this class as an A+ on paper. I expect Williams to be a guy who has an immediate impact, much like Marvin Mims did last year and I think Cody Jackson actually is the sleeper of the group. Another really good class of wide outs heading to Norman.

Key Misses: None. Emeka Egbuka is not a miss in my book as he would have been a luxury (a very good luxury, but still not a miss). Christian Leary would have been my preference over Jalil, but can’t say he was a miss when his spot got taken by Farooq.

Tight End/Hback (0 – N/A)

Can’t grade something you don’t try to fill.

Key Misses: Can’t miss when you don’t pursue.

Offensive Line (needed at least 3 – got 2) – C –

OU had a few high profile misses which leaves that bad taste in your mouth. We all know Foster and Leigh were guys OU coveted and in the end they missed on. Foster was always going to be a hard pull from Aggie and OU made that way more interesting than even I thought was possible and Leigh told OU multiple times he was on board until he wasn’t. Not looking to delve into that really, it is what it is.

What OU got was a tackle with a very high ceiling in Savion Byrd and a interior guy who actually reminds me of Cody Ford in Cullen Montgomery.

OU did a nice job supplementing through the portal with the addition of Wanya Morris and Robert Congel, but as for the high school class…pretty average based on not being able to fulfill their initial wants and needs.

Key Misses: Bryce Foster, Tristan Leigh, Reuben Fatheree

Defensive Tackle (needed 2 got 3 – counting Downs in this group) – B

I know this is based on high school recruiting, but Isaiah Coe was a traditional recruitment coming out of JUCO so he gets included. I also put Downs in this group because I see him ending up playing the inside when all is said and done (much like Jalen Redmond). When you include Kelvin Gilliam, this is a really nice group.

This isn’t an ‘SEC’ DT  group as Grinch’s scheme does not call for the big guys (don’t get me wrong, Coe is a big guy) and it relies more on speed than size, but all three players should be very nice fits in Norman.

Key Misses: Marcus Burris and Monkell Goodwine are guys who had legit interest in OU but for one reason or another, things didn’t come together between the parties. Abaira is another guy that OU could have had but I do not count him as a miss as they walked away from him after a while.

Defensive End/Rush LB (needed 2 got 2) – A

Again, I could count Downs in this group but the headliner for sure is Clayton Smith who, in my opinion, is the highest ceiling defensive recruit OU has signed since Gerald McCoy. Then you add in Nathan Rawlins-Kibonge who has a massive upside and you get a top grade.

Jamar Cain landed Smith and NRK and also went on to help in other recruitments. Smith will likely push Brynden Walker immediately for reps behind Nik Bonitto and I can easily envision Grinch trying to get both Bonitto and Smith on the field at the same time as the season progresses.

Key Misses: OU really didn’t have a key miss here as they pursued guys like Dallas Turner and Scooby Williams, but they would have been gravy as OU needed 2 and got 2.

Linebacker (needed at least 1 (could have used 2) got 1) – B-

Danny Stutsman was a priority for Brian Odom. He went out and locked him up. I think Stutsman has a floor of being a 2 year starter at OU and a ceiling of being an All-Big12 first teamer and an honorable mention All-American type.

My issue is, in my opinion, they should have taken another ILB.

OU could lose 4 ILB following the ’21 season (again, I do not suspect they will lose all 4, but Kelly, White, Asamoah, Ugwoegbu are all eligible to leave for the draft).

OU has Kobie McKinzie committed for ’22 and they will likely look to take 2 additional ILB in that class.

Why not take 2 in ’21? So that’s why I kept the grade a bit lower than one would suspect considering how high I am on Stutsman. Solid take, but at the end of the day, I would have loved to have seen them add a guy like Trevin Wallace or Trenilyas Tatum, both of who were interested.

Key Misses: Another case of you can’t miss on something you really do not pursue.

Defensive Backs (Needed 4 got 3.5) B

Again…getting half a player credit here for Billy Bowman.

I’m a big fan of this defensive back class. Really like the attributes all 4 of the potential players bring.

I feel like Latrell McCutchin will immediately push for playing time in the corner room and I also thing Damond Harmon would have been a guy who would be in the mix at safety if he had been an early enrollee. He still will likely make some noise through the summer and fall camp, but I suspect he will now fight to be in the 2 deep rather than fighting for impactful playing time.

I love Mukes ceiling, but he is so raw he will need some time to grow into his role and learn some of the finer points of football. Make no mistake, his potential is huge for Oklahoma.

If Bowman sticks on the defensive side, particularly at safety, I could see giving this group an ‘A’ grade.

Key Misses: In my mind, it’s Andrew Mukuba. I know it’s not really a miss because they didn’t push, but he is a guy they could have had a chance with and OU still desperately needed an impact safety…who knew Key Lawrence was going to pop up and get grabbed by OU (huge). But for the high school class, I think ‘B’ is about right.