Open post | Weekend, January 19th – 21st

Sooners Add 34 New Faces
– Charlie S – Posted on: January 15, 2024

The Sooners welcomed 34 new faces to the football program to start the spring semester.

Here are the 34 new players referenced in the tweet above:

1. QB Casey Thompson
2. QB Michael Hawkins
3. QB Brendan Zurbrugg
4. RB Sam Franklin
5. RB Xavier Robinson
6. WR Deion Burks
7. WR Jacob Jordan
8. WR Zion Kearney
9. WR Ivan Carreon
10. TE Jake Roberts
11. TE Bauer Sharp
12. TE Davon Mitchell
13. OL Febechi Nwaiwu
14. OL Michael Tarquin
15. OL Spencer Brown
16. OL Josh Aisosa
17. OL Daniel Akinkunmi
18. OL Eugene Brooks
19. OL Isaiah Autry
20. EDGE Caiden Woullard
21. EDGE Wyatt Gilmore
22. EDGE Danny Okoye
23. EDGE Nigel Smith
24. DL David Stone
25. DL Jayden Jackson
26. LB James Nesta
27. DB Michael Boganowki
28. DB Jaydan Hardy
29. DB Reggie Powers
30. DB Jocelyn Malaska
31. DB Dez Malone
32. DB Eli Bowen
33. K Liam Evans
34. K Tyler Keltner

Ain’t No Fun When the Rabbit Has the Gun
– Charlie S – Posted on: January 15, 2024

So over the weekend, I spoke to a player at a school going through a high profile coaching change.

There is no need to name the player as they are not currently in the portal, but I did want to share his thoughts as the process unfolded.

Said player started by saying “I’m really sorry, but under team policy, I really can’t speak on anything surrounding myself or the team at this time.” So, he got the disclaimer out of the way, which is pretty stand up of him to still be beholden to the program rules despite having everything changed up on him shortly after signing day (he is a mid year enrollee as a true freshman) and arriving on campus.

I told him I appreciated his stance and I respected him for honoring the team rules. I told him if he wanted to speak off the record, he could give me a call anytime.

He called me about 5 minutes later and we had a quick chat about life in general for a guy who walked into a brand new situation (college, team he signed up for, loss of coach he thought he would be playing under, decisions to come and whatnot) only to have everything change.

My biggest takeaway was…the system is unbelievably broken and the players are still just pawns in the high-stakes game despite being allowed to collect NIL money. No, I am not asking anyone to feel bad for the players but I am saying things are only going to get messier as the days and years go by.

We talked about his process and why he chose the school he did and all that went into his decision. I can tell you his decision would have been different if he knew the head coach was going to be leaving and he would have chosen a different school (yes, OU was definitely a team he may have chosen). I asked him if he was considering leaving his current school and he indicated he and his family are going through all their options but they felt like his best course of action was to stand pat for now and to give the new staff a chance to recruit him. He noted that the timing of this really ‘sucked’ because he would be forced to make a snap decision if he wanted to get to another school and, you know, actually go to school…like the education part of it all.

He said, “Man, I didn’t even know any of these coaches from my recruitment, but I know the school and I know the guys here…but a lot of them are in the same boat as I am, no knowing whether we are even wanted.” He added “Of course the new staff is telling us they want all of us, but the reality is, they have to say that or they would have no team.”

As we spoke, I asked him about signing his NLI and what his thoughts were now that this has all gone down and he said ‘I have no idea why there even is an NLI anymore. Seriously, with the way the rules are now with unlimited transfers, I would probably tell next year’s class to not even bother signing one as all it does is add some more paperwork for you to fill out if something like this happens” (to get a release). I thought that was interesting and hadn’t considered the lack of importance in that regard of the NLI.

Anyway, I then asked him if his camp had been contacted by other staffs since the change occurred and he laughed. He said “contact from other staffs never stopped, we just never paid attention to the noise for the last 4 or 5 months, but suddenly, you find yourself kind of wanting to respond to some of the efforts…you know, just to see whats real and whats not.”

So, right now, he is going to likely stay at his current school for the spring semester and then he will make an informed decision on his future based on how he feels when the spring portal window opens. He indicated that he believes many of his current teammates are taking the same approach. We know the new staff will be evaluating the players as well and I expect the spring portal to be very active for the programs that had coaching changes…which brings me back to the system being badly broken.

What we are seeing, and have been seeing throughout the history of college football is the old ‘bait and switch’ in regard to coaching hires and fires. However, things have changed a bit in that regard and there will be programs around the country finding out in the near future that it ‘ain’t no fun when the rabbit has the gun’ and the players leave en masse in the spring portal window.

It’s just a really crappy situation for all involved from the coaches to the players to the administration to the fans. I don’t blame players for wanting to leave a situation they didn’t sign up for and I don’t blame coaches for taking better jobs. I do blame the governing body for fostering the wild west mentality due to its ineptness and lack of guidance and proper implementation and execution of guardrails for the programs and players that they have been changed with caring for and bettering.

Think about it…you have players actively speaking with other schools while deliberating about their future. That is one aspect that really isn’t all that new, I have mentioned plenty of times that the old ‘No contact with players at other schools’ has been dead in the water for quite some time. Those conversations happen daily and have been happening very frequently since even before the portal became a thing. However, now you have coaches who almost have to do it to keep up with the speed of college football. Coaches actually need to remain in contact with kids at other schools, kids at their schools, kids they are recruiting, families of recruits, families of their players, families of kids at other schools…what are we even doing?

I don’t know that I expect this player to enter the portal, after the spring semester of his freshman year. He is a high-ceiling guy that the new staff will undoubtedly want to keep around. He also will likely have a period of time where he wants to pull the trigger right now and head to another school instead of sticking around to find out. Who knows. Pretty silly situation all around in my opinion, something that could have been avoided with some flexibility and maneuvering by those in charge starting a long time ago.

Right now, it’s a completely broken system. No longer does the phrase ‘commit to the school, not the coach’ ring even remotely feasible as the new coaches will want to bring in their own guys and the current guys at the school are also free to chase their coach to his next destination. We saw what Deion Sanders did last year with the processing, heck we are seeing what Brent Venables is doing on a slightly smaller scale. It’s a new game and the problem is…there are no rules, like none at all.

Bottom line…college football never sleeps. There is no offseason when it comes to recruiting and retention of players. I expect the spring portal to be very active but the difference is, the spring window will likely be a story of quality over quantity in regard to the portal. More high end guys will be entering the portal as opposed to guys who are looking for a fresh start and a better lot in life as we saw in the winter portal. Less numbers in the spring, higher quality.

On the Trail | Trip Down to Cibolo Steele HS
– CJ Vogel – Posted on: January 15, 2024

Hello my friends from the north!

I made the day trip down to the San Antonio area to check out the talent at Cibolo Steele High School as they begin their spring semester offseason workouts.

Steele of course is home to 2026 Oklahoma RB commit Jonathan Hatton. Though 2026 is a ways away, Hatton is very happy with his Oklahoma commitment and this would not be a surprise at all to see him stick with his pledge all the way through.

I was told during my trip that Hatton is not one for the recruiting scene. He received plenty of interest and offers early on, though he connected with DeMarco Murray and opted he had seen enough. Some elite prospects enjoy the game and process that comes with being a highly coveted prospect, not Hatton.

Hatton is a massive body with plenty of room to grow out physically as well. He is every part of 6-foot-1 and will probably finish his career close to 220 lbs. Hatton was pushing some serious weight in the workouts I was able to watch.

On top of that, I was told Hatton is a great leader despite being very young in the Steele locker room this season. Really strong evaluation and addition to the 2026 class.

One other name to keep an eye on is 2025 ATH Royal Capell who Oklahoma is beginning to get more interested in according to the coaching staff at Steele.

Oklahoma is viewing Capell as a true Deebo Samuel type of prospect. You hear that often on the recruiting trail and very rarely does it actually pan out in favor of a true hybrid offensive weapon, but for Capell it absolutely makes sense.

Following his offer in June, the pitch I heard from Oklahoma involved keeping Capell at the position in which he had the hot hand at. If he is making plays between the tackles, it will be running back. If he can create separation and gain yards in the slot or outside, he will be a receiver. Regardless, a massive weapon.

So far, offers for Capell have ranged from running back to receiver to nickel to safety. He is a football player. Several power fives have their sights set on the defensive side of the ball as well.

The coaching staff at Steele say he is as good a football player there is in all of central Texas.

Capell told me he will visit Texas, Miami the week following and then hopefully get up north to Oklahoma for a visit around February.

Sooners Offer ’25 LB Jaedon Harmon | Alley’s First Offer
– Charlie S – Posted on: January 16, 2024

Yesterday, Zac Alley, OU’s new linebackers coach and Co-DC sent out the first offer of his tenure in Norman and ’25 linebacker Jaedon Harmon (6’1 215) out of Rome, Georgia, was the recipient.

I caught up with Harmon to see how it went down and Harmon told me that Alley messaged him yesterday and from that point, they had a great conversation which resulted in the offer.

Harmon told me that Alley will be heading down to Georgia to see him on Wednesday so the Sooners are wasting no time here in building a relationship there.

Harmon was very excited to be Alleys first offer and he says he plans on making it out to Norman in the spring for a visit.

He does not have any connections (family or friends) to Oklahoma, but something he said will likely leave you smiling. Harmon told me “Trust me, I know how great of a program it is and they coach linebackers better than anyone!”

I expect the linebacker board to look a little different with Alley coming on board as he will identify some additional targets for OU while also moving away from some of the current offers which is understandable.

Right now, I am working under the assumption that Oklahoma will be looking for two linebackers in the ’25 cycle and we will get deeper into the weeds there later in the cycle when I roll out the Big Boards.

Quick Hitter | OU is in Better Shape Than Bama
– Charlie S – Posted on: January 17, 2024

One week ago, who would have ever thought that the title of this article was accurate?

One week ago today, Nick Saban announced his retirement.

Since that time, Alabama has named a new head coach and watched as an exodus of players took place, which is expected to continue.

Oklahoma is in better shape ahead of the ’24 season than Alabama is as the Sooners head into their inaugural season in the SEC.

I actually do not think it is all that debatable.

Follow Up Note on Geirean Hatchett
– Charlie S – Posted on: January 18, 2024

Just wanted to follow up on last night’s note on Washington offensive lineman Geirean Hatchett HERE.

We have confirmed that OU is in contact with Hatchett. Both Bedenbaugh and Venables have spoken with him.

Also, his brother Landen Hatchett (freshman Center at UW – Class of ’23) has announced his intentions to enter the portal. This adds a new twist for the Sooners as I mentioned in the comment section yesterday Landen was very, very high on OU and it is my understanding (from communicating with him) that he preferred OU to UW last cycle but OU already had a center in the fold (Josh Bates). Landen played in nine games for UW at center as a true freshman in the ’23 season.

At any rate, we do believe that OU is in as good of a spot as they want to be with Geirean at the very least and we will keep an eye on Landen.

Another thing I am keeping an eye on is the timing of everything here as OU has started classes so the clock towards enrolling for the spring semester is counting down. If OU pushes all in, this could move very quickly.

Added: Hatchett is set to visit starting today.