NORMAN — Oklahoma’s top-rated commitment so far in its class of 2015 insists there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the way the Sooners are recruiting.
“Those things happen; people decommit,” said Jenks four-star defensive tackle Marquise Overton. “It’s still really early, so we’ll be fine.”
After Oklahoma’s Sugar Bowl upset of Alabama and strong finish to the 2014 signing class, recruiting momentum seemed especially strong. But after two decommitments last month, the Sooners only have four players committed in their 2015 class, causing many to wonder what’s wrong.
This isn’t terribly unusual, though, for Oklahoma, which has traditionally closed extremely well over the final month before signing day. The Sooners don’t often land major commitments while prospects are on campus, and much of that might have to do with Bob Stoops and his staff preferring a much lower-pressure sales pitch than some other major programs.
“It’s not my style,” Stoops said last week in an interview with The Oklahoman. “I’m just not that kind of a person. The way I look at it, I wouldn’t want my son being pressured by somebody.
“I want a guy to come to it on his own. The other thing is, I have enough confidence in what we have here, which is incredibly positive, that a guy will want to come on his own.”
Casady offensive guard Josh Wariboko-Alali, a top-100 player nationally who was the Sooners’ first commitment for 2015, decommitted in late April. Only a few days later, three-star defensive tackle Du’Vonta Lampkin, of Cyprus Falls, Texas, decommitted as well.
Lampkin had been committed to OU since November.
Josh McCuistion, who covers OU recruiting for the Rivals network site SoonerScoop.com, said those decommitments shouldn’t be a reason for fans to panic just yet.
“I don’t think it’s a widespread issue that is something Oklahoma’s just not doing,” McCuistion said. “I think this is just something of a run of back luck.
“I think people wanna make it into one thing or turn it into some kind of overriding theme, and I don’t know that that’s fair.”
For example, Wariboko-Alali’s younger brother Max is a 2016 cornerback prospect, and the two would like to play together in college, a factor that might’ve played a big role in his decision to decommit.
Lampkin still considers OU the top school on his list, but has said he re-opened his recruiting because he didn’t feel right taking other visits while still being “committed” to Oklahoma.
Overton said Stoops and his staff told him before he committed that he should make sure Oklahoma is where he wants to be before making any decisions, something the Jenks standout said he respected about the Sooner coaching staff.
Two of the Sooners’ top signees in 2014 — running back Joe Mixon and receiver Michiah Quick — visited Norman in early October, but didn’t commit to the Sooners until early January and signing day, respectively.
“It’s always something I’ve found really commendable about Oklahoma’s recruiting,” McCuistion said. “They are not the types that are gonna try to pressure these kids. There is always gonna be some pressure; it’s recruiting. But by comparison, the stories I hear of kids at other schools, there’s really no comparison.”
Stoops said the only times he’ll apply any heavy pressure is when it becomes late in the process and he’s got fewer scholarships available than interested prospects, and that’s only because he wants to be upfront and honest with the players.
“But in the end, I have confidence we’ll get the guys that fit us,” Stoops said. “I’ve always had a feel that you get guys in the end who you’re supposed to get.
“They get a feel for how we work, how we do things, and if it isn’t what they want, that’s OK. There’s enough guys out there that we’ll find the right ones.”