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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
What we've learned from OU's 2013 class

By Brandon Chatmon

NORMAN, Okla. -- This recruiting cycle has been full of intrigue for Oklahoma. Excitement, disappointment and surprise have made the past two months fly by.

Upon taking a step back to take a closer look at the Sooners recruiting class, some interesting storylines emerge. Here’s a look at some of the things we’ve learned from this year’s recruiting class.

Trey Millard
Trey Millard's emergence as a fullback/tight end hybrid has decreased the need to recruit tight ends in the 2013 class.
OU likes its current defensive backs on campus

Last spring, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said he would like to bring in five quality defensive backs in the class. With signing day rapidly approaching, just three defensive backs sit on OU’s commitment list. OU still might land Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) or L.J. Moore (Fresno, Calif./Central East) but it’s becoming clear that five quality defensive back signees might not be in the cards.

Therefore, it appears the Sooners feel pretty good about the young defensive backs on campus, particularly 2012 signees Gary Simon and Zack Sanchez along with junior Julian Wilson. Simon impressed enough to play his way out of a redshirt season, Sanchez impressed on the scout team and Wilson was arguably the most improved player on the roster this season. Their emergence could explain OU’s lack of urgency to secure additional defensive backs in the final weeks of the recruiting cycle.

OU feels good about Trey Millard and the young tight ends on campus

When Millard decided to return for his senior season, it lessened the urgency to secure a tight end or fullback in this recruiting class. The Sooners would love to see redshirt freshmen tight ends Sam Grant and Taylor McNamara emerge this spring. But if they don’t they still have Millard, who played his hybrid fullback/tight end role to perfection in 2012, and senior tight end Brannon Green to fill the role this fall.

Therefore, the Sooners didn’t have to bring in a junior college tight end like they did with Green in 2012. Now OU can focus on securing a quality tight end and/or fullback in the Class of 2014 without major concerns about the position this fall.

Cale Gundy can recruit regardless of the depth chart

If you look at the depth chart at running back, the Sooners appear stacked at the position. Seniors Damien Williams, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch return, each having played the role of lead running back at various points in their careers, and at least one redshirt freshman running back showed the ability to be an impact player in 2013.

Nonetheless, Under Armour All-American running back Keith Ford has been unyielding in his commitment to the Sooners. Ford knows the challenge ahead of him and he’s looking forward to it. Running backs coach Cale Gundy deserves a lot of credit for his work in securing Ford. Receivers coach Jay Norvell gets a lot of praise for his recruiting prowess, but Gundy is right there on his heels.

Don’t expect any major offensive changes

Some Sooners fans would like to see OU come out in the I-formation 30 times per game. This recruiting cycle proves that major change is unlikely.

OU is poised to bring in four receivers, a move that wouldn’t happen if a major overhaul of OU’s offensive system was planned. The Sooners could make minor tweaks to the system and reaffirm their commitment to running the ball. But it appears any additional commitment to the running game will come out of a spread offensive attack.