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Monday, January 21, 2013
Changing the game: OU's 'Cali Trio'

By Bob Przybylo

The running back position changed for Oklahoma with recruiting ever since Adrian Peterson chose the Sooners for the Class of 2004.

But that was just one position. A move made in the Class of 2010 opened up one of the biggest recruiting areas in the nation, and OU hasn’t slowed down since.

Known in OU circles as the “Cali trio,” running back Brennan Clay, wide receiver Kenny Stills and safety Tony Jefferson have put the Sooners on the map in California.

Now when OU coaches come into California, all they have to do is point to the trio as an example of not only OU giving Cali kids the opportunity, but Cali kids making the most out of their opportunity.

How much has it paid off? In the last two classes, the Sooners have been racking up the commits from California. For 2012, ESPN 150 receiver Derrick Woods and four-star tight end Taylor McNamara were among the signees.

The 2013 class has commits from ESPN 300 safety Hatari Byrd (Fresno, Calif./Central East) and three-star receiver K.J. Young (Perris, Calif./Citrus Hill).

Coincidentally, Young might be asked to replace Stills, and Byrd might have to do the same with Jefferson. After three stellar seasons, Stills and Jefferson are both opting to enter the NFL Draft. Their departures might make it a little rough for OU on the field in 2013, but it’s one more thing for OU to point to when talking with California recruits.

The Cali trio was more than just success on the field and opening up the door to California, though. They became the go-to recruiters for the university the last two years. Whenever a top recruit was in town, there was a safe chance he was hosted by Jefferson, Stills, Clay or all three.

After a subpar start to his OU career, Clay came on strong during the latter half of 2012. And if nothing else, he will go down in OU lore with his game-winning overtime touchdown run in a 51-48 victory against Bedlam Rival Oklahoma State in November.

OU didn’t just get three signees in 2010. The Sooners got a pipeline to one of the most recruiting rich states in the nation. And it’s not about to stop anytime soon.