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Five-star tackle Brey Walker is one of many members of Oklahoma's 2018 class who excelled in sports other than football.

Oklahoma recruiting: Sooners place value on multi-sport athletes; Isaiah Spiller impact

Stay up to date with Oklahoma football recruiting with the latest news and notes and analysis in the daily edition of DieHards’ Wagon Wheels. In this edition, we look at the importance the Sooners’ place multi-sport ability and what the de-commitment from 4-star running back Isaiah Spiller means to the class.


Oklahoma football likes multi-sport athletes

The Oklahoma coaching staff will hit the road again later this month for the spring evaluation period. The one thing the Sooners coaches like is watching prospects play a sport other than football.

It’s unlikely there will be many players in the 2018 or ’19 classes that follow quarterback Kyler Murray’s path of playing two sports in Norman. But many are not simply football players.

One of the more interesting aspects of 4-star tackle Darrell Simpson isn’t that he already has the size (6-foot-5, 320 pounds) to play for the Sooners. It’s that he’s been a basketball player most of his life.

“My dad [Darrell Simpson Sr.] never wanted me to play just one sport,” Simpson told DieHards. “He wanted to play several sports and learn how to work with each sport and control.”

He’s not the only one in that group. The Sooners welcome 5-star tackle Brey Walker in June. He’s been a competitive wrestler since childhood.

“I taught him how to bend and how to dominate and put people on the ground. Wrestling exposes your flaws,” Walker’s father, Corwin Walker, told DieHards.

It’s not just the big guys, either. DieHards spoke to 4-star linebacker DaShaun White last month at Richland Hills (Texas) High School. It was late March and White has ample reason to focus on his football career. But he was still going to run in a track meet later that afternoon.

“I want to compete. I really want to show that I’m fast for a linebacker. I like that,” White said. “I know I get to a lot of meets and guys are like, ‘this guy is big. I’ll blow by him.’ Then I get out of the blocks and it’s fun. But the biggest deal is I love the competition.”

Four-star linebacker Nik Bonitto was one of the top basketball players in the country several years ago.

The 2018 class shows the value Oklahoma coaches place on athleticism. They want to players who offer multiple options regarding positions. Playing more than one sport develops that trait. We’ll see if the 2019 class does the same.

It’s off to good start. Quarterback commit Spencer Rattler, who is the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the current 247Sports composite ranking, also helped lead Pinnacle (Ariz.) High School to a state title in basketball.

What Isaiah Spiller’s de-commitment means for Oklahoma

Early Wednesday evening 4-star running back Isaiah Spiller dropped the news that he that he is no longer committed to Oklahoma. The decision did not come as a shock to the Sooners.

Look back at when Spiller committed. It was in November and Texas A&M was in the midst of the Kevin Sumlin era winding down, about a month away from Jimbo Fisher coming in from Florida State.

Spiller, who is the No. 2 all-purpose back in the 2019 247Sports composite ranking, has made several trips to College Station, Texas, since the winter began — including last weekend. It makes sense. His father, Fred Spiller, played tight end at Texas A&M. The Sooners always figured they would have to fight off the Aggies for Spiller.

Oklahoma is going to sign two running backs in the 2019 class. It has extended offers to nine of them. The Sooners’ relationship with 4-star running back Noah Cain (IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.) seems to grow weekly. Cain, who is from Denton, Texas, took an official visit to Oklahoma for the start of spring practice. The offer to in-state running back Marcus Major, who attends Millwood High in Oklahoma City, could look more enticing, as well.

What Spiller’s decision means is he’s lost his spot in the 2019 class. The first two running backs to grab them are going to get them.

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