Oklahoma football: Sooners sprint to the Signing Day finish line with an eye to 2023

Apr 24, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners offense runs onto the field before the spring game at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners offense runs onto the field before the spring game at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oklahoma football coaching staff expects to add several more members to the 2022 recruiting class this week with National Signing Day coming up on Wednesday.

The majority of the 2022 class is already in place, but unlike recent seasons when the Sooners were virtually inactive during the February signing period having already signed its entire class two months before, Brent Venables vows the job isn’t finished for 2022.

Since the 2018 recruiting cycle, which was the first to have both an early signing period in December and the more traditional National Signing Day in February, Oklahoma has signed a total of six recruits in February. A year ago, for example, the Sooners did not add another player to its 16-member 2021 recruiting class after December.

Oklahoma does not expect to be on radio silence regarding recruiting news this Wednesday.

The player likely to be the biggest recruit to sign with the Sooners on Wednesday is four-star safety Gentry Williams from Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa. Williams was the only OU commit for 2022 that did not sign during the December early signing period. Although he did not sign in December he remained committed to Oklahoma and said at the time that he would not sign before February.

Williams is expected to sign on Wednesday, and he all but indicated his intent to sign with the Sooners in a Twitter message last week. The highly rated defensive back is graded as the top recruit in the state of Oklahoma and No. 11 at his position in the 2022 class.

OU and offensive line coach are also in the hunt for the country’s top offensive line recruit, Devon Campbell. The five-star interior offensive lineman has narrowed down his decision to two schools: Oklahoma and Texas. He is believed to be leaning toward staying in state (he is from Arlington, Texas) and signing with the Longhorns, but it he were to decide on crossing to Red River and coming to Oklahoma, he would become the highest rated recruit in the Sooners 2022 class and the best offensive line prospect to come to OU in many years.

On Monday, Oklahoma picked up 2022 commitment from in-state recruit. Gavin Freeman, a three-star wide receiver from nearby Oklahoma City is the No. 30 wide receiver prospect in the state. Freeman was previously committed to Texas Tech, but that was before he had made an official visit to OU. He will be a preferred walk on at Oklahoma.

This past season, in his junior year, Freeman passed Heritage Hall High School alums Wes Welker and Sterling Shepard as the school’s all-time yards-per-catch leader.

Sooners exercising double vision with recruiting activity for both 2022 and 2023

While Venables and staff have a laser focus on the 2022 class, they have also been active looking ahead to the 2023 class, which suffered several key decommitments following Lincoln Riley’s departure for USC. OU lost another blue-chipper from the 2023 class on Monday, when DeAndre Moore Jr. announced his decommitment.

Moore is a high school teammate of 2023 top-rated QB Malachi Nelson and fellow wide receiver Makai Lemon. Nelson and Lemon decommitted from OU immediately after learning of Riley’s move to USC. Moore was expected to follow, but for whatever reason he remained committed to the Sooners, until Monday.decisio

As a result, the Sooners have some work to do on the 2023 recruiting process. Over the weekend, 2023 athlete Erik McCarty pledged to the Sooners. Venable has made it clear he does not want to lose out on top in-state prospects. McCarty is from McAlester, Oklahoma, about two-hour’s drive southeast of Norman.

McCarty has received offers from Nebraska, Baylor, TCU, Pittsburgh and others. He was one of the prospects who attended Venables’ first junior day this past weekend.

Last week, OU earned the commitment of four-star QB prospect Jackson Arnold, a highly regarded recruit out of Denton, Texas, but the Sooners currently have just three commitments in the 2023 class.

They have numerous offers out, however, including one to four-star wide receiver Ashton Cozart, who is from Flower Mound, Texas. The Sooners are believed to have the upper hand in his recruitment. OU was recruiting Cozart before the Riley departure, but so also were new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby (while he was at Ole Miss) and OU’s new cornerbacks coach Jay Valai (while he was at Alabama).

Other potential Sooner 2022 commitments to keep an eye on this week

Gracen Halton, a four-star defensive lineman from San Diego, California. Halten had been committed to Oregon, but he announced his decommitment last weekend after taking part in a major recruiting weekend at Oklahoma the weekend before. Halton says he has narrowed his choices to Oklahoma, Miami and Oregon, and will announce his decision in a signing day ceremony on Wednesday.

Two other prime targets who were in attendance at the recent OU recruiting weekend and who could end up as Sooners are Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, high school teammates Ahmad Moten and R Mason Thomas.

Moten is a three-star defensive-line prospect whose stock has been rising in recent months. He was the first recruit Oklahoma offered a scholarship to after Venables became the new Sooner head coach. Thomas also is rated three stars and is being recruited as an edge rusher. He has been committed to Iowa State since July 2021 but has continued making recruiting visits. The Sooners are hopeful they can get Moten and Thomas to come to Oklahoma as a package deal.

Jamarrien Burt is a three-star athlete who the Sooners have targeted at the much-needed cornerback spot. Burt was committed to Florida before Dan Mullen was fired this past season. The Sooners have already earned 2022 commitment from two other Florida decommits (QB Nick Evers and wide receiver Jayden Gibson. They are hoping on Wednesday to make it three for three.

Not to be overlooked for 2022 are the 10 recruits Oklahoma has picked up from the transfer portal (three offensive players and seven on defense), which is one more than the Sooners lost to the portal after last season.