The Norman Transcript

February 5, 2009

Sooners on edge of top 10

By John Shinn

Oklahoma didn’t bag a five-star recruit and therefore came up well short of the recruiting national championship Web sites were handing out Wednesday.

Then again, Sooner coach Bob Stoops wasn’t losing any sleep over it.

“We recruited all positions and really filled some needs where we have graduation whether it was this year or coming next year,” he said.

Where OU’s class stacked up nationally won’t really be decided until at least 2011.

As far as where it ranked Wednesday, most recruiting services had it in the top 10 or close to it. Scout.com and Scouts Inc./ESPN both had the Sooners at No. 9. Rivals.com had them at No. 13.

“The class isn’t as strong as the one they had last year,” CBS College Sports Network recruiting expert Tom Lemming said, “but not many are.”

The Sooners signed three five-star recruits last season —running back Jermie Calhoun, defensive end R.J. Washington and offensive lineman Stephen Good. Their impact was minimal this past season. Calhoun and Washington both redshirted. Good played in a reserve role.

Nonetheless, those stars are the recruiting measuring sticks. OU’s best shot at a five-star player was Bastrop, La., wide receiver Rueben Randle. He was Rivals.com’s No. 2 overall prospect. But he stayed at home and chose LSU.

In-state talent was the biggest factor in 2009. LSU was either one or two among most recruiting services’ final rankings. It helped that three of the nation’s top 25 players were from Louisiana.

“Proximity is a major factor in recruiting,” Stoops said. “You look at the schools that do well and the bulk of their players are from a close proximity to their school. It’s always tough to take top players from another state.

“The difference is we have such a presence in Texas, being so close to Dallas, playing in the Cotton Bowl every year and being in the south division of our conference.”

The SEC was the big winner Wednesday. LSU and Alabama battled it out for the top spot in every recruiting service’s top 10. Georgia and Florida also had consensus top 10 classes. USC, which has become a recruiting juggernaut over the last six years, brought in a consensus top-three group. Texas also had a top-five haul.

Stoops, however, wasn’t concerned with where OU ranked.

“They’ll continue to keep our future here at Oklahoma bright and on a championship path,” he said.

John Shinn

366-3536

jshinn@normantranscript.com