NORMAN — The next two days, coaches around the country will feverishly try and poach oral commitments away from other programs before the finality of Signing Day.
Notre Dame and Baylor, pay heed.
Few schools have landed more surgical strikes on another's commitment list during Signing Day week in recent time than Oklahoma. Past plunders that have played a significant role in the building of what could be a special Sooner squad in 2011.
This time around, OU reportedly is gunning for a pair of committed prospects: Coppell, Texas, defensive back and Fighting Irish pledge Bennett Okotcha; and Euless, Texas, tight end/offensive lineman Nila Kasitati, who's committed to the Bears.
Notre Dame and Baylor have reason to be worried.
The previous four years, the Sooners have made out like Cat Ballou's gang Signing Day week — plucking away a future All-American receiver, All-Big 12 linebacker, starting cornerback and budding standout linebacker.
Players who were committed to rival schools only three days before Signing Day. Players who flipped to become Sooners.
In 2007, OU pulled off its greatest coup by snagging a pair of prospects who will be the foundation of the team in 2011.
Going into the final few days that recruiting season, OU didn't have a class ranked high in the recruiting standings. In fact, the class was on the cusp of placing outside the Top 25.
But that Monday, Sooner assistant Bobby Jack Wright coaxed San Antonio 4-star linebacker Travis Lewis to switch his commitment from Nebraska to OU. A move that stunned both the Huskers and recruiting analysts.
“I don't think anybody saw this coming,” said one guru the same day. “He was thought to be as solid as you could be to Nebraska.”
The Sooners weren't finished. Two days later, recruiting coordinator Cale Gundy completed an equally impressive pilfering of 4-star Oklahoma State pledge Ryan Broyles, who after several flip-flops between the Sooners and Cowboys, ultimately inked with the Sooners.
Next season, Lewis and Broyles — both spurned the NFL Draft to return for their senior years — should be preseason All-Americas.
Two years later, OU was it again Signing Day week. Again, at the expense of the Cowboys. Four-star cornerback Demontre Hurst was one of the gems of OSU's 2009 commitment list. But a couple of weeks after Hurst pledged to become a Poke, Brent Venables convinced Hurst to take a visit to Norman. By the end of the trip, Hurst was a Sooner, and last season as a true sophomore was a starter in the OU secondary.
No last-minute steal, however, hurt more feelings than OU's plundering of 4-star linebacker Corey Nelson from Texas A&M last year. On the eve before Signing Day, Venables persuaded Nelson, who had been committed to the Aggies for eight months, to sign with the Sooners.
That didn't go over well in College Station. Message board posters blasted Nelson on TexAgs.com, and fans wrote nasty notes on his Facebook wall. Even The Battalion, A&M's student newspaper, got riled up, publishing an editorial that accused Nelson of stabbing Aggie coach Mike Sherman in the back. A&M fans had cause to be upset. Nelson was one of the standouts on a freshman class Bob Stoops has called the best he'd ever recruited.
This week, the Sooners will make another run at other people's players, and Notre Dame and Baylor have grounds to be nervous.