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Just because OU didn’t bring in a bunch of 5-star prospects with its latest recruiting class doesn’t mean this group won’t be great
There are no five-stars in Oklahoma’s latest recruiting class. No tight ends either, which is sort of weird. And just one high school offensive lineman.
Oh, it’s a top-15 class nationally. There is some talent coming in. Jay Norvell and Mike Stoops, among a few others, put in enough work to see to that.
But with OU coming off back-to-back three-loss seasons, and with a lopsided Cotton Bowl defeat serving as the last game on record, fans wanted more. Basically, they wanted more stars.
It is a convenient time for perspective.
Some of the best players of the Bob Stoops era were missing stars. Don’t trust me, trust the recruiting services who attach stars to the names of prospects in the first place.
I dove into the databases at both Rivals and Scout — they’re available since 2002 — and discovered something startling.
You can put together a whale of an OU lineup of 3-stars (or less) that Stoops has signed since then.
See for yourself:
Quarterback: Sam Bradford
The most popular Sooner in recent memory, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner and pre-Landry Jones record book owner, was a 3-star recruit out of Putnam City North. Michigan got in on Bradford late, but before OU swooped in, the best he could do was scholarship offers from Iowa State and Texas Tech.
Running back: Allen Patrick
The guy who replaced Adrian Peterson in 2007 and rushed for 1,009 yards was a 3-star recruit, according to Scout. He wasn’t even supposed to be a tailback. Heck, he wasn’t even supposed to play offense.
You can also make a case for Damien Williams, who burst on last year’s scene after being wooed by New Mexico State, and Chris Brown. I can’t think of a better complementary player in the Stoops era than Brown, who got the tough yardage as DeMarco Murray’s tag-team partner. He chose OU over Southern Mississippi.
Fullback: J.D. Runnels
The Sooners beat Kansas for the battering ram on their 2003 and ’04 national runner-up teams. Trey Millard, their current battering ram, was a Scout 3-star.
Wide receivers: Juaquin Iglesias, Quentin Chaney
If the recruiting databases went back beyond ’02, we could include Mark Clayton here. He might have been a 1-star.
Tight end: Brody Eldridge
Yes, OU once signed multi-starred Jermaine Gresham. But all of their other tight ends flew under the radar to Norman. Eldridge, who had offers from Arizona and TCU, is likely Stoops’ all-time favorite Sooner.
Joe Jon Finley was a Rivals 3-star. James Hanna, who went from OU to the Dallas Cowboys, was a Scout 3-star who had scholarship offers from Arizona and Louisville.
Center: Jon Cooper
Colorado State wanted this four-year starter, but OU beat them to him.
Guards: Davin Joseph, Duke Robinson
That’s right. Two future pros and one consensus All-American were 3-star signees according to Scout.
Tackles: Donald Stephenson, Trent Williams
That’s right. Two future pros and one consensus All-American were 3-star signees according to Rivals.
Defensive ends: Jeremy Beal, Frank Alexander
That’s right. Two Big 12 Defensive Players of the Year were 3-star signees according to Scout.
You could almost build an entire front seven out of 3-star OU defensive ends. Auston English, once the Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, and Larry Birdine, an All-Big 12 player back in 2006, both chose the Sooners over Missouri and Oklahoma State.
Defensive tackles: Adrian Taylor, Casey Walker
Stoops has picked up multi-star tackles like Tommie Harris and Gerald McCoy. But he’s also signed lesser-known lynchpins like Taylor and Walker.
Linebacker: Lewis Baker
In the spirit of the 2012 OU defense, we’ll include just one ’backer — Baker, who was also offered by Vanderbilt. Truthfully, this is Brent Venables’ fault for signing 4- and 5-stars over the past decade.
Cornerbacks: Brian Jackson, Jamell Fleming
Fleming, the defensive MVP of OU’s last two bowl victories, also had scholarship offers from Baylor and Central Florida.
Safeties: Quinton Carter, Darien Williams
Carter, a consensus All-American and future Denver Bronco, was a Scout 2-star who had offers from UNLV and Fresno State.
Kicker: Garrett Hartley
The Sooners beat Kansas for this future Groza Award finalist.
Punter: Tress Way
The best in OU history (according to his career 44-yard average) was a 2-star out of Union, who Tulsa and San Diego State wanted.
Wait a few years and present-day OU 3-stars Millard, Aaron Colvin, Tyler Evans, Gabe Ikard and Adam Shead might also make this honor roll. Wait a few years more and you’ll likely be able to put members of the 2013 recruiting class on the list.
Stoops compared signee Christian Daimler, the one prep offensive lineman OU signed, to Lane Johnson. He’s about to be a first-round draft pick. Norvell compared 6-foot, 170-pound signee Austin Bennett to 2012 breakout slot receivers Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard.
The beat goes on. Some years it takes a little longer to hear it is all.
(Editor's Note: This story appears in Sooner Spectator's 2013 Recruiting Issue. To subscribe, call toll free 1-877-841-8877)