NORMAN, Okla. — A thick sheet of smoke rolled into Oklahoma’s campus early Friday. Wildfires in the western part of the state were the culprit. You have to forgive some if they thought it was coming from the Switzer Center.
What happened on Friday was unprecedented.
The Sooners picked up commitments from 4-star receiver Theo Wease (Allen, Texas), 4-star receiver Arjei Henderson (Richmond, Texas) and 4-star safety Jamal Morris (Richmond, Texas) as they arrived in Norman for the start of their official visits.
It didn’t end there. Early Friday evening, the Sooners added a player to their 2020 class when 4-star running back Jaylan Knighton, who is from Deerfield Beach, Fla., announced he was the fourth commitment of the day and in that class.
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley summed up the day best with an afternoon tweet shortly after Morris became commitment No. 3 for the Sooners.
Having fun yet?
— Lincoln Riley (@LincolnRiley) April 13, 2018
Big recruiting days are nothing new for the Sooners. They picked up three commitments — although only one was public — following a big weekend of official visits in conjunction with their 2017 game against Texas Tech.
But this isn’t after a big home game in the fall. This is the first year NCAA rules have allowed prospective recruits to take official visits in the spring. Some schools ignored the rule change, betting the players they wanted would prefer to make their decisions after weekend visits for actual home games.
Riley wagered bringing in a big group to watch a scrimmage would still have major appeal. The Sooners pulled out all the stops, building the spring game into an event that resembles a festival as much as a game.
The program lured many of Oklahoma’s alums currently playing in the NFL back to Norman to help. A retirement party to honor former coach Bob Stoops certainly helped bring back many of them.
The commitments from Wease, Henderson and Morris were obviously pre-planned. Who commits at the beginning of a visit if they’re really coming to a campus to weigh the positives and negatives?
All three spent a year contemplating vast offers. Wease and Henderson briefly committed to Oklahoma over a year ago before both decided they needed to explore other options.
But what’s big is the number of people who will be roaming around the Switzer Center all day on Saturday, fully on board with the Sooners.
There’s still two more days ago. The unofficial visitors, including Knighton, will get a lot of attention after the spring game. There are still 14 official visitors who will be in Norman until Sunday afternoon. It’s unlikely Oklahoma is done ringing the commitment bell.
Give credit to Riley. He didn’t send in all his recruiting chips on the spring game. The Sooners figure to have major recruiting weekends surrounding home games against UCLA and Oklahoma State in the fall. But he made a bigger spring bet than most programs were willing to make.
How much has the gamble paid off so far?
The Sooners were No. 18 in the 247Sports 2019 composite team ranking. After Morris announced his pledge, the Sooners were up to No. 3. Oklahoma’s 2020 class rose to No. 2.
And the weekend is just beginning.