✌🏽 Happy Thursday, friends. Let’s ride.
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🔒 Recruiting taking off
The recruiting philosophy of Brent Venables’ staff has tested the patience of some OU fans, who grew accustomed to the previous regime’s more aggressive approach.
All signs point to the Venables era being a yearly slow burn of commitments. But the past month and the one to follow it is shaping up to cure a lot of those gripes — and OU’s team recruiting, which is already up to No. 25.
Oklahoma picked up five commitments in June, including highly coveted four-star running back Kalib Hicks. One week into July, the Sooners have added two more commitments, landing three-star linebacker Phil Picciotti and speedy four-star receiver Jaquaize Pettaway.
And there’s plenty more to come.
A few guys that are scheduled to announce their decisions over the next week:
Four-star offensive tackle Cayden Green is set to announce at 5 p.m. Friday. OU is favored to land Green’s commitment, but he is also considering LSU, Nebraska and Missouri.
Three-star offensive tackle Logan Howland will announce his commitment at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Howland, who's also been heavily pursued by Iowa, Miami and Michigan, checks in at 6-foot-7, 280 pounds and is a top-50 prospect at his position.
Four-star running back Daylan Smothers is set to commit on July 14. The 5-foot-11 tailback seems like a safe bet for the Sooners, but Florida State and NC State have made big pushes for his services this past month.
Happy commit szn, friends.
👨🍳 Carolina Baker
Baker Mayfield finally has a new home and Norman will soon be overrun with black, blue and silver.
Carolina traded for the former Sooners quarterback on Wednesday, sending a conditional fifth-round pick to Cleveland in return.
Will Baker Mayfield be the starter in Carolina? It’s hard to say with 100% certainty after Carolina selected Matt Corral in this year’s draft. The Panthers also still have quarterback Sam Darnold, who was drafted third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Jets and traded to the Panthers after three seasons in New York.
Is Mayfield the best option of those three?
There’s no question.
Lost in the ugly breakup between Mayfield and the Browns is the former Sooner doing the impossible. He took a dead franchise and won it a playoff game, something countless other Cleveland quarterbacks came nowhere close to doing.
Mayfield isn’t blameless in any of this. He took a gamble playing hurt much of last season, which was bound to go one of two ways. Either Mayfield was going to play through the injury and be praised for gutting out the season or the injury was going to lead to lackluster performances and Cleveland wouldn’t meet the lofty expectations it quickly drew after its early success with Mayfield.
The latter happened, and the Browns decided to move on and sell their soul while they were at it.
Perhaps Mayfield will get his revenge Week 1 when Carolina meets Cleveland to open the 2022 season. No. 6 is certainly familiar with that.
🏆 Preseason awards
The Big 12 allows me to participate in its media preseason football poll for whatever reason.
Voting on these things are mostly pointless, because preseason watch lists and polls are merely conversation starters and social media inventory for college football teams.
I do my best to project in my rankings. For example, I have Kansas State at No. 2 in my team poll because I truthfully think it will get to the Big 12 championship game in December. But I understand why some might have a Baylor or Oklahoma State ahead of them, because those teams feel more proven with what we know right now.
It’s much harder to do that with that actual all-conference team, because if I could predict players that would breakout for big seasons, I’d likely be working in football and not just writing about it.
With that said, I think a few lesser known guys in the Big 12 like Danny Stutsman and Key Lawrence can separate themselves as two of the best in the conference. I also have Brayden Willis as All-Big 12 fullback, because really it should just be two tight-end slots.
Once again, these are merely projections and should in no way be taken as slight toward a player that was left off. Here was the ballot I submitted:
Here are the actual All-Big 12 preseason awards:
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