NORMAN — Shortly after sitting before the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents and politicking for massive football stadium upgrades, Bob Stoops jumped back into recruiting mode with some fresh, powerful ammunition.
“Right when they got approved, he sent me a picture,” said three-star Aledo, Texas, wide receiver Ryan Newsome.
Four-star Midwest City safety Will Sunderland quickly received around 15 pictures of the planned renovations from OU coaches, then saw even more artist’s renderings on Twitter.
“It’s crazy,” said the clearly impressed Sunderland.
The regents approved $370 million in renovations to Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, and OU coaches wasted no time in using the plans — which include a new press box, bowling in the south end zone and a giant new weight room — to their advantage on the recruiting trail.
OU officials hope to begin work on the stadium when the 2015 season ends. News of the ambitious upgrades comes almost a year after the school opened Headington Hall, a state-of-the-art facility for student-athlete housing.
In both his remarks to the regents and a news conference after the project’s approval, Stoops stressed the need for an upgraded weight room.
“Sometimes space is an issue as well as equipment available,” Stoops said after Wednesday’s meeting. “The other part of that is, we currently will work out in one area, but with the implementation of all the movement that we do with pulling sleds, going over and under hurdles … there’s all kinds of movement that’s involved in the training as well that we have to cross the street to use the indoor facility.
“So, this puts it all in one area.”
OU President David Boren then chimed in, saying the new weight room “will not be your grandfather’s Oldsmobile.”
“It will be very different,” Boren said. “It won’t be just simply a weight room in the way we’ve thought of weight rooms in the past. It’ll be a very comprehensive training facility.”
Newsome, who visited Oklahoma in March for the Sooners’ Junior Day, said he’s been highly interested in OU since he received a scholarship offer in November and that he would’ve remained interested even without the renovations.
But he did admit being surprised by the Sooners’ small weight room.
“It wasn’t what you’d expect OU to have,” Newsome said. “You expect them to have something bigger. I mean, it was nice, but I think (Stoops) knows it’s time for something bigger and different. They definitely got something bigger and different.”
Newsome recently announced his top five schools on Twitter, naming OU, Notre Dame, Oregon, Texas and UCLA as his current favorites. He’s scheduled an official visit to Norman the weekend of Nov. 8, when the Sooners host Baylor.
The full effect of these upgrades on recruiting probably won’t be felt until the construction is completed — OU officials hope the work is done by the start of the 2016 season — but the eye-popping renderings will have to do for now.
“To be able to walk into an incredible, first-class facility that meets every one of their needs as a recruit, and then to walk in the stadium and have that impact of the stadium tower along with the whole south end zone bowled in is gonna be special,” Stoops said. “I think the crowd noise factor is gonna be louder, so it’s gonna impact recruits even during games.”