Oklahoma football: Sooners jump on top in transfer portal rankings

Oklahoma's Austin Stogner (18) warms up before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.Lx14199
Oklahoma's Austin Stogner (18) warms up before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.Lx14199 /
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We’re one week away from the first of two National Signing Days for 2023 freshman and JUCO recruits, but that’s only one of two pipelines the Oklahoma football program will be accessing in replenishing its roster for the 2023 season and beyond.

The transfer portal has changed everything we once knew about the traditional college football recruiting. And the whole name, image, likeness thing has added even more complexity. With the portal and NIL, we now have widespread movement of players and essentially have introduced free agency into the college game.

The transfer portal is a two-way street. Players come and players go, and their reason for changing scenery runs the gamut from just wanting to finish out their career with another team to the opportunity for more playing time somewhere else to personality differences or dissatisfaction with the team they are on.

Oklahoma obviously has some needs in reworking the roster for the next season that can be met through experience available in the transfer portal and the Sooners will again be very active in the portal just as they were last offseason. OU brought in 14 new transfers prior to the 2022 season and were on the losing end of seven players who left via the portal, including this year’s Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams.

Although OU’s experience with the portal last season worked out favorably for Venables and the Sooners — 2022 portal additions included quarterback Dillon Gabriel, defensive lineman Jeffrey Johnson from Tulane and defensive back C.J. Coldon from Nevada, all of whom were key contributors this season — Venables indicated several times this fall that he is not a fan of the portal, but he is not a fool either, recognizing that there are gems to be found if the fit and need are smartly aligned.

“You see some elite quarterbacks in the transfer portal, for whatever reason,” Venables said in a weekly press conference in November. “Then, maybe, because a staff is let go, you might see some excellent players and also great guys and workers — but, you know, are they running from something. That’s what you got to ask yourself?”

Venables may have mixed feelings about the portal, but so far early in the process the Sooners have been active at both ends of the transfer spectrum. As of Dec. 14, as many as 17 Oklahoma players have entered the transfer portal, which clearly is on the high end among major college programs. The Sooners have also added three new additions through the transfer portal, and according to 247Sports, Oklahoma sits at the top of the heap in the early stages of this offseason’s transfer portal circus.

Previously, OU added former Notre Dame defensive tackle Jacob Lacey and welcomed the return of former Sooner tight end Austin Stogner, who played last season at South Carolina. And earlier this week, Venables and staff picked up former Indiana linebacker Dasan McCullough. All three are former four-star recruits, and McCullough is rated as the top edge rusher in the portal.

The 6-foot, 5-inch, 235-pound McCullough comes with an added bonus. His brother, Daeh, a four-star safety prospect, also committed to the Sooners as a member of OU’s top-10 rated 2023 recruiting class.

Expect the incoming transfer activity to continue for Oklahoma over the next month ahead of the spring academic semester.