Oklahoma recruiting: Sooners’ spring game brings enormous haul
Stay up to date with Oklahoma football recruiting with the latest news, notes and analysis in the daily edition of DieHards’ Wagon Wheels. In this edition, we look at the Sooners’ spring game weekend, which produced six commitments.
Oklahoma cashes in on spring official visits
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley knew as soon as the NCAA altered its rules to allow official visits in the spring, this could be a game-changer. They loaded up with 18 official visitors, including graduate transfer defensive lineman Jay Hayes from Notre Dame.
By Sunday afternoon, Riley had worn out the eyeballs emoji on his iPhone. Five of those official visitors announced they’ve committed to the Sooners by late Sunday afternoon. It was seven in all.
— Lincoln Riley (@LincolnRiley) April 15, 2018
It started with 4-star receiver Arjei Henderson (Fort Bend Travis High School in Richmond, Texas), 4-star receiver Theo Wease (Allen High School in Allen, Texas) and 4-star safety Jamal Morris (Fort Bend Bush High School in Richmond, Texas).
The trio committed to Oklahoma as soon as they arrived in Norman for their official visits.
Wease and Henderson both committed to Oklahoma in February 2017. Both dropped the commitment a few months later. At least with Wease, it feels much different this time around.
“I think when he committed last year it was just too early,” Allen High School coach Terry Gambill told DieHards. “He needed to look around and figure on what was best for him. I think he’s done that.”
Henderson was the first to commit. He announced a final 3 of Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Alabama several months ago.
Like Wease, he made his decision before he arrived in Norman.
“I think it was one of those things where he’s had so much attention over the last year and a half and he’s been to a lot of places,” Fort Bend Travis coach Trey Sissom told DieHards. “He’s already committed to OU early on in the process. I think he feels very comfortable with the coaching staff. I know Coach Riley and (outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons) they’ve done a great job keeping in touch with him and his family. I think it’s a deal where he’s pretty content with OU and he wants to get things settled down.”
For the 2020 class, Oklahoma picked up 4-star running back Jaylan Knighton from Deerfield Beach, Fla. That might have been the biggest surprise of the weekend.
All Glory To God!🙏🏾⭕️ pic.twitter.com/fM4M5LRcBx
— The real Rooster‼️Ⓜ️ (@jaylan_knighton) April 14, 2018
Knighton is a teammate of 2018 Oklahoma early enrollee defensive back Miguel Edwards. But he held 29 offers, with Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State, Miami and Florida on that list.
The Sooners also got 3-star defensive tackle Derek Green (Southwest High School in Jacksonville, N.C.) back in the boat. He committed to Oklahoma in November but dropped the pledge a few months ago.
This weekend was his first chance to come to Norman. That was enough for him to reassert his pledge.
Hayes announced his decision on Sunday afternoon. He’ll play just one season at Oklahoma. But he’ll arrive at Oklahoma after spending four years at Notre Dame. He played in 23 games the last two seasons and was a starter for the Fighting Irish in 2017.
Riley indicated he picked up pledges from seven players this weekend. The last one hasn’t been publicly claimed.
One interesting announcement that didn’t include a commitment came from 5-star cornerback Chris Steele (St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, Calif.)
The date is officially set. I will be committing On July 7th… #Shhh
— steele 🎒 (@KinggChris7) April 15, 2018
Steele still has official visits left. He’s expected to take a trip to LSU next weekend. But it was worth noting that he made that decision after seeing what the Sooners had to offer in person.
Spring game visits should be bigger in 2019?
On Friday morning, the Sooners had the No. 18 class in the 247Sports composite team rankings. By Saturday night, they had risen to No. 3. They now have the No. 1 class in the Big 12 and are in contention for the first top 5 class in a decade.
Not bad for a weekend in the middle of April. Riley hinted what happened Friday-Sunday is just the start. He and Oklahoma’s recruiting staff and athletic department pieced together the event on Saturday in a few months. Now they have a whole year to plan the next one.
“It can get really big. It can get as big as we want it to get,” Riley said. “Those will be discussions that we’ll have.”
Based on what he did with recruits this weekend, mark the calendar for next April.
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