NORMAN — Bill Bedenbaugh became Oklahoma's offensive line coach mere days ago, but already notices the recruiting impact of his new employer's brand.
OU coach Bob Stoops hired Bedenbaugh for several reasons; none more important, though, than his recruiting prowess. Bedenbaugh built his reputation as one of the nation's best in that department during stops at Texas Tech, Arizona and West Virginia.
“I've never been at a place like this,” Bedenbaugh said Wednesday, when he met with reporters for the first time since accepting the job.
“It was hard at West Virginia. ... A bunch of kids that didn't really give me the time of day, they've been Facebooking me and calling me.”
Bedenbaugh arrived in Norman on Saturday, and said he's spent most of his time getting to know his new linemen, reaching out to the Sooners' three 2013 offensive line signees and contacts future prospects.
Spring football practices begin March 6, and Bedenbaugh said it's hard to learn much about a player until they're on the field and in pads. But he's already at least somewhat familiar with many of his new guys, because he recruited most of them.
Bedenbaugh pursued incoming junior-college transfer guard Dionte Savage, but he never expressed much interest in West Virginia.
So the new coach's weekend call to Savage was “a fun one,” Bedenbaugh said.
“I told him who it was, and he just started laughing ... I called him about 50 times and he never answered my calls,” Bedenbaugh said before adding with a chuckle, “I've got something for him.”
The key to recruiting success is knowing the prospect's aspirations, and Bedenbaugh said all recruits' most common goals are attainable at Oklahoma.
“Most of these kids that you're recruiting want to play in the NFL,” he said. “I've coached a lot of kids that are playing in the NFL. They've produced a lot of o-linemen here that are playing in the NFL.
“The education, winning championships, being around a great person like Coach Stoops as your mentor. ... Heck, we've got as much to sell as anybody in the country.”
In 2013, Oklahoma returns several offensive linemen with starting experience. Guards Adam Shead and Bronson Irwin, tackles Tyrus Thompson and Daryl Williams, and center Gabe Ikard are all back.
After a preseason ACL tear cost Tyler Evans his 2012 season, the senior received a medical redshirt to return in 2013.
Bedenbaugh said all jobs are open, and will remain that way throughout the season.
“Every spring, every job's open,” Bedenbaugh said. “During the week, every job's open.
“If you don't perform the way you're supposed to in a game, you're not gonna keep your job. That's reality. They understand that.”