- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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After recruiting them for several months, Oklahoma's coaching staff was finally able to talk publicly about the players the Sooners added to the program on signing day. Over the next week or so, SoonerNation will review some of the key things coaches had to say about the players signed at each position group during their signing day webcast on Soonersports.com.
Running back Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Cypress Ranch) was the headliner of the class, ranking No. 27 in the ESPN 150 as the third-ranked running back in the nation. The UnderArmour All-American was unyielding in his commitment to the Sooners and earned high praise on signing day.
“He’s extremely strong and physical; he doesn’t look like an 18-year old kid," offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. "He’s a highly competitive player, he’s an inside runner who has the ability to hit home runs, he’s a guy that catches the ball out of the backfield really well, too. He’s a multidimensional back, a guy that’s only going to get better."
Even though Ford was highly productive in high school, the Sooners believe he still has upside and ways to improve. Like any high school running back, pass protection and toughness between the tackles should top the list of areas to improve for Ford. Yet that doesn't mean he's not ready to help right away.
"Because of the way he’s prepared his body to be a great player, he can come in and compete for a spot right away," Heupel said. "He feels confident in the opportunity that is here and the tradition at running back.”
Ford's willingness to compete might be his most impressive trait. Despite the Sooners returning three seniors at the position along with promising redshirt freshman Alex Ross, Ford didn't hesitate or think twice about being a Sooner.
“He’s somebody that his dad has really groomed him to be a great football player," running backs coach Cale Gundy said. "He spends a lot of time in the weight room in the offseason. He can do a lot of different things, he does a great job catching the football, I believe he can be a good short-yardage runner. He’s a guy who can play first down, second down, third down, fourth down. He’s very smart, a great competitor."
Gundy and the Sooners search for complete running backs that allow them to run their tempo offense without having to sub out a running back.
"He’s strong, explosive, athletic with great pad level when he runs the football," co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. "He can run inside, run outside and catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s a dynamic player and one we are excited to have."
2hBrandon Chatmon and Jake Trotter