NORMAN — Bob Stoops said there was much more than just Oklahoma's Sugar Bowl win over Alabama that went into the Sooners' strong finish to the 2014 recruiting class.
“Ahead of the Sugar Bowl, we were on track,” Stoops said Wednesday after the Sooners added 26 players on signing day. “We were on a lot of great players. We had some great commitments already. Definitely in the month after that, that momentum had a strong positive impact on us finishing out and getting these guys in the last few weeks. It isn't just the game. The assistant coaches did an excellent job. Hopefully I had a little bit to do with it, how we were all working with them, and finished in a really strong way.”
Whatever it was, it worked.
Oklahoma's strong finish continued into signing day. The Sooners inked a pair of players that went into signing day uncommitted, flipped another from an SEC school and held on to a commitment that had publicly considered another school.
The closing momentum that started Tuesday with the commitment of Jenks safety Steven Parker continued early on signing day, when New Orleans St. Augustine defensive tackle Courtney Garnett stuck with his verbal to the Sooners.
The longtime Texas commit pledged to the Sooners last week, but he went ahead with a planned trip to Notre Dame just before signing day.
Stoops read the situation and decided a softer approach was better than a take-it-or-leave-it stance with Garnett.
“I didn't like my chances if I said that,” Stoops said. “You've gotta weigh your hand. If you're going to bluff, you'd better be ready to lose. Sometime you fold 'em, sometimes you stay with it.”
Shortly after Garnett's decision became public, the Sooners signed offensive tackle Kenyon Frison (6-foot-5, 290 pounds), who chose OU over Utah.
Then the Sooners got the day's big prize, when four-star athlete Michiah Quick chose the Sooners over Notre Dame.
Quick, who played with OU's 2013 signees, Hatari Byrd and L.J. Moore at Fresno (Calif.) Central East, figures to be a receiver at OU.
“Michiah Quick, an inside slot receiver, is another big-play guy that you can throw screens to to turn into big plays,” Stoops said.
The momentum continued throughout the day, culminating in offensive tackle Orlando Brown flipping from Tennessee to the Sooners by mid-afternoon.
After the Sugar Bowl, Oklahoma was just inside the top 40 in the Rivals.com team recruiting rankings.
The ascent started with the commitment of five-star running back Joe Mixon a few days later and has continued.
After almost all major recruits had sent in their paperwork Wednesday night, the Sooners were No. 15 in the country and the top Big 12 school.
In the last 13 years, the Sooners' recruiting classes have never been ranked lower than 15 by Rivals.
“It's hard to compare when you're looking at 15 years of doing it,” Stoops said. “But I feel this ranks up there with any of them with what we know coming out of high school and with some of the junior college guys.”
The only thing the Sooners didn't get Wednesday was the signing of Douglass defensive end Deondre Clark.
Clark reportedly signed with LSU, though there was no official announcement. Clark and his family denied that he had already signed.