NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops will have a busy weekend. The Sooners play their spring game on Saturday. Beginning Friday, they will host a huge recruiting weekend. And his brother, former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, is being honored at a banquet in Oklahoma City on Friday, and a statue of him will be unveiled at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
“I’m gonna do some recruiting and then head up there [Friday] night. Saturday, I’ll do what I have to do here. We have a lot of players coming in. But I’ll get to see them,” Mike Stoops said following the Sooners practice on Thursday.
The plan to honor Oklahoma’s former head coach has been planned for months. The spring game was the best time because it’s one of the few times that current NFL players can return to campus.
Sooners coach Lincoln Riley knew having some of those former players around while Oklahoma hosts official visitors for the first time in the spring would be a selling point.
Hosting official visitors is the new aspect of the spring game. The NCAA changed the rules, allowing prospects to take an official visit beginning in April prior to their senior year of high school. Before, they had to wait until the fall of their senior year.
Oklahoma is one of the schools that has fully embraced the spring visits.
“I’m looking forward to it. It gives you a great start building a relationship with kids and then being able to articulate with you on what they see on players they meet. It just builds a stronger connection as you move forward,” Mike Stoops said. “I’m sure a lot of players won’t be able to come back unofficially, some within the distance will be able to come back and see a game and see the environment or see us in Texas. So we’ll see how it works. I don’t think anybody really knows how it’s all going to play out but we’re excited about the players we have coming in and trying to build those relationships as quickly as possible.”
Oklahoma has a team effort in the defensive line room
Many programs have separate coaches for defensive ends and defensive tackles. But what Oklahoma does with its defensive line is different. Defensive tackles coach Ruffin McNeill shed some light on the dynamic between himself and defensive ends coach Calvin Thibodeaux on Thursday.
The defensive line meets as a unit with both coaches commanding the room.
“He’s in the back, I’m in the front room. We sort of teach together and feed off one another. It’s been a great relationship,” McNeill said. “I love working with Thibs and I learn from him as much as he learns from me. He really absorbs. I really just try to make sure I share experiences I’ve had in the past to make sure he continues on. He’s gonna coach 25 more years. I’ll be coaching four to five.”
Caleb Kelly expects a pep talk
Oklahoma linebacker Caleb Kelly likely won’t play in the spring game because of offseason shoulder surgery. What he’s looking forward to most on Saturday is seeing what team captains Adrian Peterson and Trent Williams have to offer on Saturday.
“I expect them to come in and pump everybody up,” Kelly said. “I’m sure they’ll bring all the recruits and film it. It’s gonna be cool to see them interacting with all of us. Those are the guys who are living our next dream.”
Kenneth Murray has a message for Oklahoma recruits
Middle linebacker Kenneth Murray is unlikely to play on Saturday because of nagging injuries. He will likely go through the drills, but the Sooners have kept him out of contact.
That should leave Murray plenty of time to interact with recruits. He already has his talking points down.
“I’m going to tell them that my coaches are genuine and they mean what they say,” Murray said. “If they’re telling you something, that’s exactly what’s gonna happen to you. There isn’t one coach on this staff that isn’t going to care about you. I believe that with all my heart and I try to preach that to all the guys so they know that’s true.”