Oklahoma football: Don’t be misled by Sooners’ slow 2021 recruiting start

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 9: The Oklahoma Sooners press box is lit up against the Iowa State Cyclones on November 9, 2019 at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. OU held on to win 42-41. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 9: The Oklahoma Sooners press box is lit up against the Iowa State Cyclones on November 9, 2019 at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. OU held on to win 42-41. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

Oklahoma football recruiting is moving at a snail’s pace — or so it might seem.

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But what hasn’t been moving slowly — if at all — since the novel coronavirus became the headline du jour. It’s as if the world has stood still for the past now almost three months while tens of thousands of healthcare workers and first responders have been in grim battle against an invisible and deadly enemy we all now know as COVID-19.

But things are beginning to change, and finally in a very good way.

The same can be said for Oklahoma’s 2021 football recruiting class. Until only a couple of weeks ago, the Sooners’ commitments for the 2021 class were just five (one four-star wide receiver and a trio of three-star prospects). At that point in time, Oklahoma ranked 48th in the class rankings, according to Rivals.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Since then, however, Lincoln Riley and his staff have landed a commitment from five-star wide receiver Mario Williams, rated as the No. 1 receiver in the class, and four-star linebacker Clayton Smith. That bumped Oklahoma up 18 spots in the Rivals rankings for 2021 and to No. 21 in the ESPN Recruiting Class Rankings.

The good news for Sooner football fans is that the current Oklahoma commitments for 2021 represent just the tip of the iceberg. There are a number more undecided, highly rated targets below the surface of what we’ve heard about so far, on both offense and defense, that have Oklahoma on their short list of choices, including No. 1 quarterback prospect Caleb Williams.

One of the most highly recruited prospects in the 2021 class, Williams has given Sports Illustrated an exclusive behind-the-scenes peak at his recruiting experience via a weekly blog titled, “All on the Line.”

Williams is not yet committed and doesn’t appear to be in a rush to do so, but he has publicly announced that he has narrowed his extensive list of scholarship offers down to just three choices: Oklahoma, LSU and Maryland. Nearly every college recruiting expert worth his salt believes that Williams is headed to Oklahoma and that he is just holding his cards close to his vest for now.

Don’t be fooled by Oklahoma’s perceived slow 2021 recruiting pace.

In one of his recent posts for SI, Williams wrote about his final three school choices:

"“I haven’t wavered. The best place for me is the best place for me no matter who’s there. It hasn’t really bothered me that one of my good friends, Garrett  Nussmeier (a top-ranked QB prospect himself), committed to LSU. They’re still in the running.“My top three is my top three. Those are the schools I’m deciding from. For the guys committing to those places, I’m happy for them. It’s a great opportunity.”"

That’s his story for the moment, and he’s sticking to it. But if you believe how the wind is blowing, here’s the kicker for all the Sooner fans who are worried about the recruiting class that will be making its way to Norman in the spring and summer of 2021, here’s the kicker:

“I’m still recruiting the guys. Still going hard on a bunch of the top guys in the nation, making sure they understand what’s trying to be built,” Williams wrote in his blog post on May 11.

“Defensive guys, offensive guys, I need you to be with me. I’ll be with you, and we’re gonna win big.”

Part of the thinking behind why LSU may have dropped out of his final three is because of the commitment of the four-star Nussmeier. But the same could be said for OU because of the presence of the No. 1 prospect in the 2019 class, Spencer Rattler, who is ready to step into the starting QB role at Oklahoma.

Williams dismissed the latter notion the same way he attempted to diffuse the LSU situation:

"“The players who are already at these schools or just committed doesn’t bother me.”"

Circling back to the original premise of this article, Oklahoma recruiting for 2021 is going to be just fine. There’s plenty going on just beneath the surface to indicate that the Sooners will bring another top-ranked class to the finish line come early national signing day in December and again in February.

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A lot of that hinges, of course, on Williams’ decision. But things are looking really good from where I sit.