NORMAN — There was a time when Oklahoma could fish from a small pond and expect to haul in enough talent to maintain the program’s elite status.
For 50 years, it heavily relied on its home state and the bountiful amount of quality players south of the Red River to fill its recruiting haul.
But as the National Letter of Intents begin arriving early today at the Switzer Center s bit of a change in the Sooners’ recruiting philosophy will be on display.
Winning national championships requires recruiting nationally. The Sooners’ 2014 class will bring in players from all four time zones and at least eight different states, of which only one — Texas — borders the Sooner state.
“They’ve cast a wide net,” ESPN national recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said.
The net spreads west to California, where it enters today with verbal commitments from five players, including five-star running back Joe Mixon from Oakley, Calif. The numbers could grow to six if four-star athlete Michiah Quick picks OU over USC, UCLA and Notre Dame.
It goes to the upper Midwest to Troy, Ohio, for four-star offensive tackle Alex Dalton. It goes into the heart of the SEC where OU has commitments from one Alabaman, two Mississippians and has secured two more linemen from New Orleans.
The Sooners have four of the best players in Oklahoma — Edmond Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen, Jenks defensive back Steven Parker, who committed Tuesday, and Tulsa Union teammates wide receiver Jeffery Mead and tight end Carson Meier.
Then there’s the crop of six it has coming from Texas, including four-star running back Samaje Perine from Pflugerville.
If this class seems light on Texans, it is compared to past years. But it also represents a change in OU’s recruiting philosophy along with the dynamics of recruiting in Texas.