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Joe Mixon is one of the most recent Oklahoma running backs to head to the NFL.

Oklahoma’s recruiting profile soars with NFL RB production

Stay up to date with Oklahoma football recruiting with the latest news, notes and analysis each weekday in Wagon Wheels. In this edition, we look at the Sooners’ running back recruiting and development.

Oklahoma’s running back recruiting is complete for 2018. T.J. Pledger, a 4-star recruit in the 247Sports composite rankings, and 3-star Tavion Thomas have been in the fold since June.

Undoubtedly, there are running backs disappointed that the class is full. Oklahoma has become a popular destination for running backs because of its success in sending those position players to the NFL. In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Joe Mixon in the second round, and the Washington Redskins tabbed Samaje Perine in the fourth round.

Receiving skills helped both during the draft process. Mixon caught 65 passes over two seasons in Oklahoma. Perine caught 40 balls over his three years with the Sooners.

“We flex our guys out, and we run a number of routes where we key the tailback,” Oklahoma running backs coach Jay Boulware said.

Boulware said, surprisingly, that the rise of 7-on-7 spring and summer leagues has not made it easier to identify top running backs. Oklahoma runs a different system.

“For most running backs, 7-on-7 is not a development deal for them,” Boulware said. “You look at what most backs do in 7-on-7 and what we do in 7-on-7, and they’re totally different.”

The Sooners shift their running backs out of the backfield on a regular basis. As a result, coaches search for running backs who can stretch defenses downfield and not just catch lateral throws.

Boulware said recruits have noticed.

“Our guys are getting developed like most guys don’t get developed at the collegiate level,” Boulware said. “We’re trying to prepare our backs for the NFL. We … get them ready to go. Most NFL teams are looking for all-around backs instead of just one thing, and that’s what we’re building here at Oklahoma.”

Sooners make 4-star linebacker’s top 5

Oklahoma, which lacks a linebacker commitment for its 2018 class, has made the cut for Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School 4-star recruit Rosendo Louis.

Louis also listed Arkansas, Miami, Florida State and South Carolina in his group of  finalists.

Louis made an unofficial visit to Oklahoma’s campus in April. The Sooners do have some help in recruiting him. They hold a commitment from 4-star cornerback Miguel Edwards, who is Louis’ high school teammate. Edwards committed to the Sooners after an unofficial visit in April.

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