Oklahoma football: ChampU BBQ a heavy-hitter event and major Sooner recruiting lever

Helmets sit on the field before an NCAA football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Oklahoma won 28-24. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]
Helmets sit on the field before an NCAA football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Oklahoma won 28-24. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] /

This past weekend Oklahoma football hosted its major recruiting activity of the year. Every year, the Sooners host the ChampU BBQ, a huge event which brings in several dozen of the Sooners’ and the country’s top recruiting targets.

While college football recruiting is an all-year activity, and sometimes more than that, the real push for Oklahoma recruiting ramps up through the remainder of June and into July. That’s when, historically, the commits for the current recruiting cycle begin falling in the commitment column with greater frequency.

A number of OU’s top targets for 2024 were in attendance at ChampU BBQ over the weekend, and Brent Venables and the Sooner coaching staff are hopeful that the event will close the sale on some of the top prospects OU has been heavily recruiting.

The first domino from this past weekend’s activity is expected to fall on Tuesday night when four-star LB James Nesta is expected to announce his verbal commitment, which is expected to be OU.


Probably the biggest prospect in attendance at OU’s weekend recruiting event was five-star DT David Stone, a consensus top-10 recruit who is from Oklahoma but is out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The Sooners are believed to be in the lead position to get Stone, who is also being heavily pursued by Michigan State and several other big schools. Venables is making a heavy push to strengthen the Sooner defense at the point of attack.

Also in attendance over the weekend was another five-star DT, Dominick McKinley, out of Lafayette, Louisiana. And on campus a week before that was five-star DE prospect Williams Nwaneri. out of the Kansas City area. Oklahoma should be able to land at least one of these highly touted DL prospects, but if they could get two or even all three it would be a major coup and go a long way toward putting together a Brent Venables-type elite defense.


The OU coaches and recruiting staff also were believed to make a lot of progress at ChampU BBQ weekend with RBs Caden Durham and Xavier Robinson and S Mykel Patterson-McDonald. All are 4-star prospects and all have crystal ball forecasts favoring the Sooners. Robinson and Patterson-McDonald are Oklahoma products; Durham is out of Duncanville, Texas.

Another RB the Sooners are targeting and was in attendance at ChampU BBQ is four-star prospect Taylor Tatum. Until recently, Tatum was trending toward Oklahoma, but Lincoln Riley and USC have put a full-court press on Tatum in recent weeks and that might be enough to lure the Longview, Texas, recruit, who is rated the No. 1 RB in the class, according to 247Sports. Something the Sooners may have that could tip the scale, however, is that Tatum has expressed an interest in playing baseball as well (a la Kyler Murray), and OU baseball coach Skip Johnson has been talking to him about that.

Oklahoma 2024 TE target Davon Mitchell was also in attendance over the weekend. The Southern California native is a close friend of 2024 OU QB commit Michael Hawkins, which the Sooners are hoping plays in their favor.

This is only a small representation of the nearly 30 recruits who were in Norman for the ChampU BBQ weekend. Most of the recruits who were on hand are being touted by other major college suitors as well, but Venables believes strongly that if and when they are ready to commit to Oklahoma they have completed visits to all the schools they are considering. Because of that approach, it may take a while longer for the Sooners to flesh out their 2024 class. These are some of the big names to keep a close eye on, however, over the next six weeks and into the fall.

The Sooners earned seven commitments a year ago from prospects who attended the 2022 ChampU BBQ event in what turned out to be the fourth-best class nationally as ranked by both ESPN and 247Sports.

Oklahoma has quite a bit of ground to make up if they are going to bring in another top-10 class in 2024. The Sooners are currently ranked No. 53 in the 247Sports 2024 class rankings with six commitments.