Oklahoma football: Pair of Sooners among ESPN Top-50 2023 Newcomers

Oklahoma’s Dasan McCullough (1) is pictured at OU media day in Norman, Okla., on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023.
Oklahoma’s Dasan McCullough (1) is pictured at OU media day in Norman, Okla., on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023. /

Almost one-third of the players on Oklahoma football roster this season were not on the roster a year ago.

It used to be that the high school recruiting process was the prime talent pipeline for replenishing the natural matriculation of a college football roster. New transfer rules and Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) have changed all that.

The Sooners signed 26 scholarship players in the 2023 recruiting class, and then added 16 more through the transfer portal. Brent Venables has said that he isn’t a huge advocate of the transfer portal as a means of feeding and building sustained success on the field. He believes that is best accomplished by recruiting and developing the best through the more traditional high school ranks.

For the time being, however, the transfer portal — or perhaps we should rename it the transfer floodgates — is here to stay and serve as a means of adding immediate experience in position areas where it is needed most.

And with a relatively young roster heading into Year 2 of his OU head-coaching era, Venables had a big need for adding more experience in certain areas.

Which college program will get the most out of its transfer newcomers is still to be determined. Ranking teams based on transfer additions is far from an exact science, but at least one reputable source (247Sports) ranked Oklahoma with the 8th best 2023 transfer class nationally.

ESPN this week published a ranking of the top 5O college newcomers (freshman recruits and transfers) this season. Two of top 50 are at Oklahoma.

Sophomore linebacker Dasan McCullough transferred from Indiana and is ranked No. 6 on the list. He played as a true freshman at Indiana last season and is reported to be the highest-rated recruit signed by the Hoosiers under head coach Tom Allen.

McCullough recorded 49 total tackles last season with 6.5 tackles for loss 4.0 sacks and 3.0 pass breakups. He could be an immediate difference-maker at the second level of the OU defense.

The other Sooner to make the ESPN Top 50 Newcomers list was five-star freshman recruit Peyton Bowen, ranked No. 17 in the ESPN 300 and the No. 2 safety in the 2023 class. Bowen orignally committed to Notre Dame but flipped to Oregon on early signing day last year. A day later he flipped his commitment once again, this time to Oklahoma, where he joined high school teammate, QB Jackson Arnold, in OU’s top-five 2023 class.

The top-rated 2023 newcomer, according to the staff at ESPN, was WR/CB Travis Hunter, who followed head coach Deion Sanders to Colorado from Jackson State. He was followed by QB Sam Hartman (Wake Forest to Notre Dame), QB Shedeur Sanders, son of Deion Sanders (Jackson State to Colorado), DB Fentrell Cypress (Virginia to Florida State and WR Dominic Lovett (Missouri to Georgia).