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Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Attrition analysis: OU's 2011 class hit hard

By Brandon Chatmon

A glimpse at the attrition rate at the University of Oklahoma removes the fog hovering over some of the major question marks the Sooners face heading into 2013. OU has had some ill-timed departures, forcing the Sooners to rework their recruiting game plan with the hope of having a balanced roster heading into the upcoming season.

Where have all the tight ends gone?

Class of 2010 signee Austin Haywood was a contributor who appeared poised to step in as the starter in 2012 until he quit the team midway through the 2011 season. The Class of 2011 could be considered the main reason for OU’s struggles at the tight end position as Max Stevenson suffered a career-ending injury while redshirting in 2011 and Dan Tapko left the program before his freshman season. Three players who could have been contributors were nowhere to be found as OU prepared its offensive attack heading into 2012. Therefore, OU’s four-receiver package was born and fullback Trey Millard became a jack-of-all trades in the offense.

Why don’t the Sooners have someone ready to step right in for Javon Harris and Tony Jefferson?

2009 signee Kevin Brent, a ESPN 150 member, transferred after two seasons in the program. 2010 signee James Haynes could have been preparing to step in as a redshirt junior but left the program after the 2011 season. 2011 signee Bennett Okotcha had good moments while redshirting in 2011 but decided to transfer shortly after defensive coordinator Mike Stoops arrived. That makes three potential replacements in three years, all leaving the program without making an impact. Now, the odds of a true freshman seeing significant action in the Sooners’ secondary this fall have skyrocketed.

Surely having a redshirt freshman as the lone returning rotation defensive tackle was not the game plan. Was it?

Jordan Phillips
Jordan Phillips seems ready to go at defensive tackle in 2013, but a lot of the other prospects Oklahoma has signed have washed out.
No, most certainly not. Yet, attrition is not the main culprit. Lack of production is. OU signed Jordan Phillips and Marquis Anderson in 2011 and Jordan Wade in 2012 (although Wade was initially a part of the 2011 class). The 2010 class is the underlying factor as Torrea Peterson has yet to make an impact and Daniel Noble's career ended due to a concussion. Thus, Phillips is the lone defensive tackle signed in the past three years that appears ready to contribute in 2013.

Defensive tackle is major concern -- a concern that’s unlikely to diminish after signing day no matter who OU inks in early February as the numbers suggest it is lack of production, not lack of bodies, that has been the overriding problem.

The main reason the Sooners find themselves hoping to add quality young depth at so many positions with signing day around the corner could be traced to OU’s 2011 recruiting class. Eight of 19 signees are no longer with the program, the worst attrition rate (42.1 percent) since 2008. Running back Brandon Williams, receiver Kameel Jackson and linebacker Kellen Jones each left the program after playing as true freshmen. Quarterback Archie Bradley chose professional baseball, Tapko left before his first fall camp, Stevenson and offensive lineman Dylan Dismuke were forced to quit football, and Okotcha chose to transfer.

These scenarios are troubling, but the Sooners aren’t the lone college football program impacted by attrition. Generally speaking, landing contributors with two-thirds of your recruiting class is a quality group of signees. The Sooners overall attrition rate, 26.6 percent since 2008, is not bad by any stretch of the imagination.

Yet it has been untimely attrition at multiple positions that have put OU in a position where the Sooners have to play catch up to fill some holes in the final weeks of the 2013 recruiting cycle in hopes of securing a more balanced roster this fall.