By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops admitted in December that his staff was “behind” in recruiting. They’ve closed the gap this month, entering this weekend with 20 commitments heading into signing day on Feb. 6.
So, what will the OU staff be doing over the next two weeks?
Working hard to complete a class that still has five scholarships to fill.
Stoops said that means checking with some recruits who are already committed to other schools to see just how devoted they are to their early oral pledge.
“I think you kind of always are,” he said. “How committed is somebody? Things constantly change. I think for everybody during recruiting, you’re always sort of reassessing things, even for the other teams. What’s this kid going to think when they sign this guy now? I think everybody is playing that game.”
The Sooners are No. 14 in the Rivals.com recruiting ranking. ESPN.com has OU at No. 18. Scout.com currently pegs the Sooners at No. 15, while 247sports.com has OU the highest at No. 12.
But in order to crack the top 10, OU must land some big recruits down the stretch. The fact it’s still looking for players at this point in the process breaks a trend it has had going. For the last several years, the Sooner coaching staff has been successful at gathering early commitments in the summer and keeping the class together throughout the fall and winter.
So, what changed this year?
For one, OU picked up a lot of those commitments after they attended summer camps in Norman. It gave recruits a chance to get a first-hand look at the program. Coaches got an up-close-and-personal look at the prospects.
Some of that dynamic is changing. It’s getting harder and harder for coaches to get prospects into summer camps.
“Yeah, it’s just hard to get kids, as you know, for two and three days now,” Stoops said. “They’ve gotta move, they’ve gotta get to all these camps and they only have time for one. Or finances. It’s just really hard to get two, three days with a kid now.”
It’s something OU will have to adjust to next season. The NCAA announced on Saturday that beginning in August, it will lift many of the contact restrictions it has on contact with potential recruits. There will no longer be a limit on the amount of phone calls, text messages and social media that coaches can have with recruits.
“I think it needs to happen in the end, so you’re not texting them, you’re emailing them,” Stoops said. “Whatever you’re doing, you’re doing something.”
There will also be no limit on the number of coaches who can recruit off campus at the same time.
Next year is going to be a case of coaching staffs hitting the road and truly outworking one another for players.
Considering OU still has scholarships to fill for 2013, it probably wishes those changes came eight months earlier.
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