Oklahoma football: Rocking recruiting weekend for Sooners

Sep 4, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners sooner schooner before the game against the Tulane Green Wave at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners sooner schooner before the game against the Tulane Green Wave at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

This is a giant ChampU recruiting weekend for Brent Venables and the Oklahoma football program.

The Sooners are hosting a number of prized, unsigned recruits this weekend in what could be one final big push before National Signing Day on Feb. 2. There is also a big basketball game on campus on Saturday as OU hosts No. 4-ranked Baylor.

Venables is looking to add to his 2022 class, which currently numbers 15 signees and is somewhat remarkably still ranked 10th in the 247Sports class rankings with a chance of climbing higher, despite taking a big hit following the departure of Lincoln Riley in late November.

This will be the first major recruiting weekend for Venables and his newly assembled coaching staff. Prospects in both the 2022 and 2023 classes will be in Norman, giving Oklahoma a prime opportunity to close out additional spots in the 2022 class and position itself favorably to land top prospects for 2023.


A special focus this weekend will be on continuing to build up the Sooners defensive strength. Among the top defensive targets who will be in attendance is four-star defensive back Gentry Williams. Williams is the No. 1 player in the state of Oklahoma and has been committed to the Sooners since last October. He remains committed, despite the coaching change, but said he does not plan to sign before National Signing Day in February.

This will be an opportunity for newly hired defensive backs coach Jay Valai, who this past season coached the cornerbacks for Nick Saban at Alabama, to close the deal on Williams.

Oklahoma has two other defensive back recruits from the Tulsa area, where Williams is from, in its 2022 class: Jayden Rowe, who is expected to be in attendance at this weekend’s recruiting activity, despite already having signed with the Sooners, and Robert Spears-Jennings. Both Rowe and Spears-Jennings are rated as four-star prospects.

Two other players on campus this weekend that Oklahoma is very interested in are defensive tackle Ahmad Moten and edge-rusher R Mason Thomas. Both are three-star prospects from the same Ft. Lauderdale high school. Thomas is currently committed to Iowa State, but Moten remains uncommitted but is being recruited heavily by Miami, North Carolina and Iowa State.

Both Moten and Thomas were among the first players to be offered by Oklahoma under the new coaching staff. Moten will be hosted this weekend by Sooner defensive line coach Todd Bates, who was the top recruiter at Clemson before joining Venables at OU.

Defensive ends coach Miguel Chavis, who previously also was at Clemson, has been building a relationship with Thomas for several months and will be hosting him this weekend in hopes of getting him to flip to the Sooners.

Another highly touted defensive targets who will be at the OU recruiting weekend and who the Sooners would love to land as part of the 2022 class are Gracen Halton, a four-star defensive-line prospect out of San Diego. Halton is presently committed to Oregon, but in making an official visit to Oklahoma ahead of National Signing Day.

A couple of 2023 defensive targets the Sooners are high on are defensive lineman David Hicks and linebacker Anthony Hill.

Hill is a top-50 recruit that the previous OU coaching staff had its eye on. Venables has recruited and coached some of the best college linebackers in the country over the past decade and likes the potential he sees in Hill. Another plus in the Sooners’ favor in the recruitment of Hill, from Denton, Texas, is he is from the same high school as current Sooner Billy Bowman.

It appears, at this stage, that Texas and Texas A&M are OU’s biggest competition in the recruitment of Hill.

Hicks is a five-star prospect rated by 247Sports as the top recruit in the state of Texas, No. 2 defensive lineman in the 2023 class and the No. 5 player overall. He is on the radar of every major program, including Alabama, Notre Dame, LSU and Texas. Of note for Sooner fans, OU defensive line coach Todd Bates was a top target of Clemson also, and the coach previously leading that charge for Clemson was Bates.

This is an all-out press for Oklahoma recruiting this weekend, and we should know very shortly how successful it was, especially regarding the 2022 targets in attendance.