Just a few years ago, some of the state's top recruits questioned the commitment of the Oklahoma coaching staff when it came to in-state recruits.
They felt Sooners coaches showed recruiting priority to out-of-staters early in the process and came on strong late thinking they could change their minds after they committed elsewhere.
So, fairly or not, some of the top recruits in the state wound up at out-of-state Big 12 schools or in the SEC.
Last season, the Sooners signed five in-state players, their most since 2009. They haven't inked more than that in one class since 2007, when eight Oklahomans signed.
That progress appears to be continuing this year, both in the immediate recruiting class and beyond.
Three in-state players — Edmond Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen, Tulsa Union wide receiver Jeffery Mead and Union tight end Carson Meier — are already committed for the 2014 class. One more uncommitted in-state recruit — Jenks defensive back Steven Parker — has an offer from the Sooners.
And almost two weeks ago, Casady offensive lineman Josh Wariboko-Alali became the earliest player to commit during the Bob Stoops era.
Wariboko-Alali is the quickest commit since Kameel Jackson committed in late October of his junior season in 2009.
“I think when they missed out on some and they see them playing for other schools and how well they're doing, I think that's when they started realizing they could've recruited somebody that they didn't recruit,” Wariboko-Alali said. “This 2015-2016 class has some really good players in Oklahoma, and I think the coaches realize that.”
Wariboko-Alali was quickly followed by another offensive lineman, Bobby Evans of Allen, Texas. While Evans isn't an in-state player, his father played basketball at OU and his older brother, Tay, is committed for the 2014 class.
The early success for 2015 can also be credited to first-year offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, who has been the primary recruiter for both Wariboko-Alali and Evans.
“He really understands relationships and really getting to know people before anything else,” Wariboko-Alali said. “That means a lot to me. He actually had genuine interest in me. He wanted me to call him a lot and just talk to him about anything.
“I knew right off the bat that Coach Bedenbaugh was a good recruiter. He knew how to talk to me and just showed interest. I think getting Coach Bedenbaugh on the staff, that was a great hire. It's showing, already.”