Oklahoma football: Sooners land several more top targets for 2022

NORMAN, OK - APRIL 24: Oklahoma Sooners helmets sit next to the end zone before their spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on April 24, 2021 in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
NORMAN, OK - APRIL 24: Oklahoma Sooners helmets sit next to the end zone before their spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on April 24, 2021 in Norman, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

February National Signing Day turned out to be the big day new head coach Brent Venables and the Oklahoma football recruiting staff was hoping for.

The Sooners added four additions to what is now a 20-member class ranked No. 8 in the country by Rivals and No. 9 by both 247Sports and ESPN.

Perhaps the biggest name to formally join OU’s 2022 class on Signing Day 2.0, as some people of come to call the second of the two signing periods for every recruiting cycle (early signing in December and February) was in-state athlete Gentry Williams. Although listed as an athlete, Williams, the top-rated prospect in the state of Oklahoma, is being looked at by the Sooners as a cornerback.

Rated as a four-star prospect, and No. 11 at his position nationally, Williams has been committed to Oklahoma since October. He did not sign with OU during the early signing period but remained committed to the Sooners. During the period between December and February, he has been heavily recruited by USC and Lincoln Riley, who was the Oklahoma head coach at the time Williams first gave his verbal commitment, Arkansas, Florida and others.

The Sooners also picked up three-star edge rusher R Mason Thomas, who flipped from Iowa State; four-star defensive lineman Gracen Halton, who until last weekend was committed to Oregon; and three-star athlete Jamarrien Burt, who the Sooners are recruiting as a defensive back.

New Oklahoma cornerbacks coach Jay Valai, who Venables recruited away from Nick Saban at Alabama, had a big hand in closing the deal on both Gentry Williams and Burt.

Halton was committed to Oregon before Mario Cristobal left at the end of the regular season to take the head coaching job at Miami, his alma mater. After visiting Oklahoma last weekend, he announced that he would make his final choice between OU, Oregon and Miami. Several recruiting experts felt Halton might switch his allegiance back to Cristobal, but at Miami instead of Oregon. When it came down to the decision announcement, Halton picked the Sooners.

Oklahoma was not as fortunate with a couple of other top recruiting targets.

Five-star offensive lineman Devon Campbell signed with Texas on Wednesday. Since the early signing period, Campbell had narrowed his choices to Texas and OU, and Sooner offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh had made a strong effort to persuade the player rated as the No. 1 interior offensive lineman in the class to come north across the Red River. But Texas has always been considered to be Campbell’s likely landing spot.

Defensive line prospect Ahmad Moten is a high school teammate of R Mason Thomas in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The thinking was that Moten and Thomas might come as a two-for-one package, but Moten ended up signing with Miami.

The Sooners may not be through in filling out their 2022 class. Edge rusher Kevonte Henry has been committed to Michigan since June 2021. Oklahoma offered Henry in December shortly after Venables was named the Sooners’ head coach. With the uncertainty about Jim Harbaugh’s coaching status at Michigan, some in the college recruiting business believe Oklahoma has a good chance of flipping Henry.

While there was legitimate concern that there could have been serious fallout and second guessing among OU 2022 commitments at the time of Lincoln Riley’s departure announcement, the enormous and immediate efforts of former head coach Bob Stoops and Brent Venables as soon as his feet hit the ground in Norman staved off what could have been a tsunami of decommitments.

As a result of two months of rigorous and exhaustive recruiting and re-recruiting activity, the Sooners’ 2022 class actually got stronger and improved its national standing from where it was at the time Riley left.

At its current national ranking, OU’s 2022 class is the highest it has been since the 2019 recruiting cycle.

For a complete listing of the Oklahoma 2022 recruiting class click here.