NORMAN — When a few of their teammates bounded onto the stage, through smoke and with music blaring, in new alternate uniforms for the upcoming football season, the current Oklahoma players went wild.
Defensive end Michael Onuoha and running back Samaje Perine, sitting front and center, jumped out of their chairs.
Charles Tapper, another defensive end, bounced up and down with his hands raised like he was in the pit at a raucous concert.
But while the uniform unveiling certainly played well to the players who will wear them next year, there’s no doubt the target of the announcement were players not yet on the Oklahoma campus, ones that haven’t yet signed with the Sooners.
While uniforms aren’t likely to be the sole deciding factor in a recruit’s choice of schools, every little edge helps.
And combined with the recent announcement of the upcoming renovation of Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, the Sooners have plenty of positive momentum on the recruiting trail.
“It’s great right now,” Casady offensive lineman and Sooners recruit Josh Wairboko-Alali said. “Obviously they’re a great program and they might not’ve needed new uniforms, but these are just things that will really stimulate the interests of the fans, the recruits and the players.”
Wariboko-Alali was committed to the Sooners for several months before reopening his recruiting in the spring. He’s still considering OU.
Tuesday’s unveiling drew mixed reactions among fans, with some liking the look but plenty saying they wished OU had held firm with its traditional uniforms.
The reactions from recruits, though, was nearly 100 percent positive.
That was plainly evident on Twitter.
Three-star safety Kahlil Haughton of Waco (Texas) Midway was one of the first to chime in.
“OU changing the game up on everybody,” Haughton tweeted before calling the new helmets “so sick.”
Midwest City four-star safety Will Sunderland is one of the Sooners top targets from the 2015 class.
Sunderland also voiced his approval.
“Oklahoma is about the change the recruiting game up,” Sunderland posted. “OU went 0 to 100 real quick.”
Less than three years ago, Sooners coach Bob Stoops shot down any talk of alternate uniforms, saying OU had “one of those brands that does not change.”
When last year’s gold-accented OU-Texas uniforms were revealed, though, Stoops had clearly softened his stance, alluding to the alternates that were announced Tuesday.
“I think recruits are always excited about uniforms, helmets and any of the looks that you might put on the field,” Stoops said Tuesday. “(The additional uniforms) won’t be something we do constantly, but it will be a nice changeup and will be positive in recruiting, with our players and with our fans.”
Former Sooners linebacker Teddy Lehman said the potential recruiting benefits were worth the tweak to the traditional look.
“When you’ve been one of the true programs that’s made it through time — Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma — you can look at that uniform and say, ‘We don’t need to change.’ I can understand people with that perspective,” Lehman said. “You’re gonna hear it tomorrow: ‘I don’t see Alabama changing their uniform.’ Well, wait until they don’t win four out of five national championships. There’s gonna be a time when they dip a little bit, and they’re gonna be trying to figure out ways to stay relevant and stay trendy.”