The tide had turned for Latrell McCutchin’s recruitment as he pulled away from the University of Oklahoma campus.
The blue-chip cornerback committed to Alabama nine months prior to a March 1 visit to OU. McCutchin realized there were other options he wanted to explore after he unknowingly experienced his final in-person recruiting trip for the foreseeable future.
So as he departed Norman to return home to Austin, Texas, McCutchin went public with his decommitment from the Southeastern Conference juggernaut. Fast forward four months to July 4, McCutchin set off the first of two recruiting fireworks of the night for the Sooners.
The four-star defensive back placed an OU cap on his head and a matching OU chain — which his mother Reyna Lewis bought before she knew his decision — around his neck in a video posted to his Twitter account. He lifted both of his index fingers and pinkies from his fists, motioning “horns down” to the camera as he announced his commitment to the Sooners. Caleb Williams, a five-star quarterback from Washington, D.C., also committed to OU later that evening.
OU’s had no issue landing top-tier offensive talent or developing it under coach Lincoln Riley. Defense has been a different story, making McCutchin’s verbal all the more special. McCutchin boasted more than 30 offers from nearly every major program but decided Norman was his best landing spot.
“Every school is a place where I think I could have went to the [NFL] from,” McCutchin told The Transcript. “I could have went to one of the big powerhouse [defensive back-developing] schools, but I was more intrigued by changing the culture for cornerbacks coming out of OU, because I feel like people are really sleeping on them when they shouldn’t be.”
McCutchin’s lofty goals are consistent with the reputation he’s built over his playing career. He’s blossomed from a childhood football star on the television docuseries, “Friday Night Tykes,” to one of the top 100 prospects in the 2021 recruiting class, per Rivals.com’s rankings.
The invaluable cornerback prospect is confident he can continue to thrive in defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s system, as does his coach at Austin’s Lyndon Baines Johnson Early College High School.
Jahmal Fenner Sr., a former Texas-El Paso defensive back, has coached McCutchin since he transferred from Manor High School following his freshman year. Fenner already knew of McCutchin’s talents before he arrived, and he backed up every bit of it his sophomore season.
“He has all the abilities and qualities that you look for in a DB [defensive back],” Fenner said. “He’s instinctive, has a very high IQ and then [athleticism] wise. With his length and ability to be fluid in the hips and his feet, a lot of times those are qualities that you find in more shorter, compact DBs, but he has the length and all the same abilities as a small guy would have. So, he makes a perfect corner DB.”
McCutchin hasn’t played football, however, since his breakout sophomore season.
He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament the team’s first game last year and missed all of his junior campaign.
McCutchin still stood by his team and spent much of the 2019 season focused on carving out an off-the-field leadership role.
“He’s a dynamic [player],” Fenner said. “He’s a kid with a strong mindset, strong mentality. [He] approaches the game as wanting to be the greatest and carries that ability off the field as well. He’s a guy in the locker room that leads. He’s a natural-born leader.
“I think OU is getting a guy that can not only be a game-changer as a prolific player, but he’s gonna make the guys around him better as well.”
McCutchin underwent surgery for the injury, which resulted in a grueling a nine-month rehabilitation process.
Lewis, his mother, took the news of McCutchin’s injury hard at first. Her son had never missed this much time from football.
McCutchin ultimately overcame the hurdle and is preparing for his senior season this fall.
“The whole recovery process is something that I wouldn’t want to wish on anybody because of how hard and difficult it can get at times,” McCutchin said. “But luckily, I made it.”
His mother is ecstatic for her son’s recent commitment, as well as his return to the field, where his trust in his abilities never falters.
He simply wants to excel. He expects nothing less.
“He’s always just wanted to compete and he’s always wanting to win,” Lewis said. “He always wanted to be better than everybody. … He just has a real competitive mindset. When he puts his mind to something and he wants to get something done, he’s gonna do it.”