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Analysis: Smith fills RB void for Sooners

1/17/2012

Running back depth was not a concern for Oklahoma entering the 2011 season. Because of that, recruiting running backs wasn’t a top priority for the Sooners coaching staff.

The Sooners landed their top target early in the process, when fourth-ranked back Alex Ross (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) committed, and three-star prospect Daniel Brooks (Port Lavaca, Texas/Calhoun) came on board before the spring game. No other backs were necessary.

That all changed as the 2011 season progressed, and it gave three-star running back David Smith (Midlothian, Ill./Bremen) a chance to realize a dream as he committed to OU in a special ceremony Tuesday afternoon at Bremen High.

The Sooners entered the 2011 season with six quality running backs but finished with just two healthy backs in Roy Finch and Brennan Clay.

Three backs (Jonathon Miller, Jermie Calhoun and Brandon Williams) have transferred, while walk-on star Dominique Whaley is still recovering from breaking his ankle in October.

Miller and Calhoun transferred early in the season, but the loss of Williams is what made OU running backs coach Cale Gundy try to land OU’s first Illinois product in eight years. Williams wanted to be closer to his daughter and transferred to Texas A&M, and Gundy was back to work. From the start, Smith and Gundy hit it off well, and the relationship just got better in the last month.

And Oklahoma is not done at running back yet. The goal for the Sooners is to find one quality high school running back and hopefully one ready-to-go junior college prospect.

The high school running back can be checked off with Smith. At 6-foot and 197 pounds, Smith said OU has been one of his dream schools for a long time, and he narrowed his choices down to OU and West Virginia early last week despite having never visited Oklahoma until last weekend.

Smith is another quality playmaker for OU’s 2012 offensive class. He didn’t get a great chance to shine as his team struggled his senior season, but he’s ready to put in the work.

The junior college running back could come as soon as this weekend as OU is hosting Damien Williams (San Diego/Arizona Western College). Williams visited Arizona State last weekend and will be in Norman, Okla., this weekend. He is also expected to visit Texas Tech before making his announcement.

It will be interesting to see how this affects three-star back Akeel Lynch (Athol Springs, N.Y./St. Francis). Lynch, a Boston College commit, was supposed to make an official visit to OU last weekend but was unable to leave New York due to inclement weather.