🏈 Sooners eye strong finish to '22 class
What to expect from Oklahoma football recruiting as Brent Venables' first National Signing Day quickly approaches.
✌🏽 Happy Monday, friends. Let’s ride.
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🔒 Closing strong
Brent Venables’ first National Signing Day as Oklahoma’s head football coach arrives Wednesday.
While OU couldn’t hold on to all of its original 2022 commitments following its unexpected coaching change, Venables has not only kept the class from completely unravelling but has the Sooners positioned to still finish top-10 nationally this cycle.
A few National Signing Day questions to answer…
Who’s already signed?
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ WR Nicholas Anderson***
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ RB Jovantae Barnes***
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ QB Nick Evers***
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ WR Jayden Gibson***
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ TE Kaden Helms***
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ATH Jaren Kanak***
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ LB Kip Lewis***
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ LB Kobie McKinzie***
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ CB Jayden Rowe
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ RB Gavin Sawchuk
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ OT Jacob Sexton
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ S Robert Spears-Jennings***
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ OT Jake Taylor
⭐️⭐️⭐️ TE Jason Llewellyn***
⭐️⭐️⭐️ DL Cedric Roberts
⭐️⭐️⭐️ DL Alton Tarber
*** = early enrollee
Who’s committed but not signed?
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ CB Gentry Williams: The Booker T. Washington product didn’t sign with the Sooners in December, but he’s left every impression that he will on Wednesday. The Tulsa native is considered the state’s top overall prospect and one of the nation’s best cornerback prospects. The Sooners haven’t had much luck recently landing elite in-state defensive back talent. The fact they’re holding on to Williams amid a complete defensive coaching staff overhaul feels like a small miracle.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ WR Gavin Freeman: OU flipped Freeman, a Texas Tech commit and standout at Oklahoma City’s Heritage Hall High School, over the weekend. It was a long time coming for the Sooner legacy, whose father, Jason Freeman, played tight end for the Sooners. How much did the younger Freeman want to play for OU? He passed on multiple FBS scholarship offers to accept a preferred walk-on spot in Norman. And yes, the kid can play (Read more at SoonerScoop.com).
Who’s still deciding?
⭐️⭐️⭐️ ATH Jamarrien Burt: The Sooners are in good shape to grab another former Florida commit. Burt backed off his Gators verbal in November but it wasn’t until the last few weeks that OU became a real contender for the 6-foot-1 cornerback. Burt is also strongly considering Utah.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ OL Devon Campbell: The Arlington (Texas) Bowie product will announce his decision on Wednesday. While OU assistant Bill Bedenbaugh has done plenty to convince Campbell to come to Oklahoma, it seems unlikely he picks the Sooners. Campbell, one of the country’s top recruits at any position, is expected to sign with Texas, according to both 247Sports and Rivals.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ OT Josh Conerly Jr.: The Sooners hosted Conerly on campus this past month, but both 247Sports and Rivals have Michigan and Washington as the favorites to land the hulking offensive tackle.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ DE Gracen Halton: Oklahoma got in late on the one-time Oregon commit, offering the 6-foot-3 defensive end late last month. Following a January official visit, the Sooners undoubtedly lead the way to sign Halton entering the week. Their biggest obstacle will be fending off the Miami Hurricanes.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ DE Kevonte Henry: Oklahoma was one of several schools to get the Michigan commit to visit in January after he was offered by OU on Dec. 29. Arizona got the last word with Henry this past weekend and have been projected by both 247Sports and Rivals to flip the 6-foot-4 defensive end.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ DL Ahmad Moten: Oklahoma is hoping to close on the Florida standout defensive lineman. The Sooners are fighting off late pushes from Miami, Tennessee and North Carolina but are assumed to be the leaders for Moten as of Monday.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ DE R Mason Thomas: OU was able to get Thomas in front of its new staff in January for an official visit. He’s currently committed to Iowa State, but Thomas seems to be looking at either joining Venables’ first signing class or Mario Cristobal in Miami.
🏟 Super Bowl bound
An OU football alumnus was already guaranteed to win the Super Bowl entering conference championship weekend.
But after both the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams won on Sunday, it’s now confirmed at least two former Sooners will become Super Bowl champions.
The AFC champion Bengals boast the Sooner-centric backfield of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, as well as linebacker Jordan Evans. Meanwhile, the NFC-winning Rams have linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and offensive lineman Bobby Evans on their roster.
Worth noting, all five Sooners in the Super Bowl were teammates at OU in 2015 and ‘16.
How they got here
The Bengals have been the story of the NFL postseason, taking down Las Vegas, Tennessee and Kansas City for an improbable AFC championship run.
Cincinnati overcame a 21-3 deficit to beat the Chiefs 27-24 in overtime on Sunday. The turning point for the Bengals? A 41-yard touchdown reception, courtesy of Perine, to pull the Bengals within 11 points just before halftime.
The Rams also rallied to win their conference championship game. Los Angeles trailed by 10 entering the fourth quarter but came back to beat the 49ers 20-17 on Sunday. Okoronkwo recorded two tackles in the win.
When is Super Bowl 56?
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Rams
Date: Sunday, Feb. 13
Time: 5:30 p.m. CT
Location: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Calif.
🏠 Staying home
Those hoping OU’s new coaching staff will be more active with in-state recruits should be pleased by Venables’ early efforts in the Sooner State.
McAlester’s Erik McCarty announced his commitment to Oklahoma over the weekend.
The Class of 2023 three-star prospect also had offers from Baylor, Kansas State, Nebraska, Pitt and TCU.
🎥 Watch Erik McCarty’s high school highlights on Hudl.
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🦡 Williams to Wisconsin?
Leaving this at the end, because I’m sure a lot of you are done thinking about Caleb Williams.
But … I found this amusing.
Williams still hasn’t decided where he’s going to play football in 2022. And Wisconsin, of all schools, has emerged as a legitimate landing spot for the former Oklahoma quarterback, prompting Badger fans to chant “We Want Caleb” during a men’s basketball game on Saturday.
It worked for OU fans back in September when Spencer Rattler was still Public Enemy No. 1 in Norman.
Perhaps the Badgers believe history can repeat itself.