Sooners have proven they can recruit with the best teams in the land

A view of the team logo on the helmet of the Oklahoma Sooners during the Big 12 Media Day at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
A view of the team logo on the helmet of the Oklahoma Sooners during the Big 12 Media Day at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

There may be some questions surrounding Brent Venables and the ability of his Oklahoma football team to step right in and immediately compete at a high level with the best the Southeastern Conference has to offer.

One area, however, where there should be little question of the Sooners' readiness and ability to compete with the top team in the SEC is on the recruiting trail.

To compete with the best teams in the SEC, you must keep the pipeline full and flowing with top talent and beyond that have the right assistant coaches to be able to develop those players so they can reach their full potential. This is something that Venables has shown he can do at Clemson and is currently doing at Oklahoma.

The evidence may not be strong enough yet at Oklahoma to produce the ultimate results on the field that everyone measures successful programs by because Venables has had just two full seasons leading the Sooners. But he is well on his way to building a new monster at OU, in reference to what legendary Sooner coach Barry Switzer used to say about Oklahoma football: "Our job (as OU head coach) is to feed the monster Bud (Wilkinson) created."

The first measure of that is the ability to recruit with the big boys. And that means luring the best not only in your state and neighboring states but generally all over the country wherever the best of the best reside.

Oklahoma has always had a strong football reputation fueled by a successful history, and with Venables they have a passionate and personable recruiter and supporting staff that is able to find and reel in outstanding prospects on both sides of the ball, something that has been missing at OU since the opening decade of the 2000s.

Oklahoma's last two recruiting classes were both top-10 classes on a national basis. The 2024 class that will be freshman this fall contains 14 elite recruits (rated five star and four star) and is fairly evenly diffused between offense and defense,

What is notable, however, is that five of the eight elite recruits in the 2024 class are defensive lineman (3) and edge rushers (2), including five-star defensive lineman David Stone. What's notable about it is that strength on the offensive and defensive lines is a hallmark of the SEC style of play, and it also underscores Venables' fundamental belief that outstanding defense begins at the point of attack.

The Sooners' 2025 recruiting class currently ranks No. 7 in the 247Sports national class rankings, No. 8 according to Rivals. That's third best in the SEC behind Alabama and Georgia in both polls, but more importantly shows that the Sooners is more than capable if holding its own in recruiting top talent in competition with the big boys in the SEC.

Alabama and Georgia were the only SEC teams that ranked higher than Oklahoma's 7th-place finish in the 2024 recruiting rankings as well, according to 247Sports.

Much like OU's 2024 class under Venables, the 2025 is being constructed in much the same way with a fairly equal balance offensively and defensively and with half of the offensive recruits listed as offensive lineman and half of the defensive recruits as the D-linemen.

It's pretty clear that the Sooners are utilizing the credibility gained by becoming a member of the SEC to expand and even enhance their recruiting reach and also to build strength and depth on the offensive and defensive lines.

Getting the right players in the right positions is half the battle, but you still have to put them in the best possible position to succeed on the field of play, and then its up to them to complete the process, as individuals and as a team.

Oklahoma appears to be in a good place in terms of getting the right people with the right stuff. Time will tell about the latter and more critical part of the process that truly separated the contenders from the pretenders.