The Norman Transcript

January 8, 2012

Attrition has put more emphasis on 2012 recruits

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The next three and a half weeks are going to have a big effect on Oklahoma’s football future. That period ends with national signing day on Feb. 1, and it’s shaping up to be a very important class for the program.

“We’ve got a huge recruiting class to come that will virtually make up a third of your team,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “That’s good.”

The 2012 recruiting class is going to be one of the largest of the Bob Stoops era because of the attrition this season.

Schools are allotted 25 scholarships and can sign up to 25 players a year. The Sooners will ink more next month because of the attrition they had this year due to transfers.

Stoops won’t confirm or deny which players have officially left other than junior defensive end Ronnell Lewis, who has thrown his name in for the NFL draft, and freshman running back Brandon Williams, who has announced he will transfer to Texas A&M, but OU is expected to have around 10 extra scholarships to hand out on signing day.

“If they come in at the fall, we can count back up to 85. We have more attrition, we can count back to 85,” Stoops said.

Questions about the coaching staff could be one thing that could greatly influence how deep the class of 2012 becomes.

There have been wide-spread reports that OU defensive backs coach Willie Martinez could be leaving for the vacant defensive coordinator positions at either Kansas or Illinois.

If Martinez left, that would open the door for former OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, who also served as secondary coach from 1999-2003, to return to the Sooner staff.

Bob Stoops has been mum on that subject since his younger brother was fired as Arizona’s coach in October.

“I don’t have any timetable on anything whether I do or not,” Stoops said when he was asked about bringing his brother back on Dec. 31.

But a move could be close at hand. A tremor was felt throughout the recruiting world when Devante Harris, a four-star defensive back from Mesquite, Texas, who played in the Under Armour All-American game in Florida on Thursday, announced via Twitter on Saturday that he had decommitted from OU.

Harris didn’t give a reason, but OU defensive back Tony Jefferson tweeted that he didn’t know if coaching changes were coming at OU, “I wish they would tell the players. We would like to know too.”

Instability in a program — even if it’s just one position coach — is something that can have ramifications with less than a month to go before signing day.

Coaches are in a dead period for recruiting until Friday. Perhaps by then, any questions about OU’s staff for next season will be settled.

OU can’t afford for the question to linger too long. The 2012 recruiting class, which is still ranked No. 8 by Rivals.com after Harris’ defection, has much potential to greatly impact the program for the next four years.

John Shinn 366-3536 jshinn@normantranscript.com