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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Wariboko's recruitment a marathon for OU

By Jeremy Crabtree

Oklahoma lost its second-highest-ranked recruit in the 2015 class on Wednesday when ESPN 300 offensive guard Joshua Wariboko decommitted from the Sooners. In most situations, this would be a bad thing for OU, but in the long run it might not be so bad after all. That’s because the race to land Wariboko, the state of Oklahoma’s No. 4 player and the No. 14 guard nationally, will be a marathon and not a sprint.

Yes, Wariboko was the Sooners’ first commitment for 2015 when he pledged last June, and securing an immediate impact player such as Wariboko at a position of need was a good thing. But as the process continued and more and more offers came in from the likes of Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Texas, Texas A&M, USC, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Nebraska and others, Wariboko hinted he wanted to look around. He also thought more and more about wanting to play with his younger brother, Max Wariboko, a 2016 defensive back prospect who is generating a lot of attention in own right.

Wariboko couldn’t let himself take longer looks at other schools while he was committed to the Sooners, though. He knew he had to take a step back from the pledge and re-evaluate his situation. He let the OU coaches, more specifically longtime lead recruiter Bill Bedenbaugh, know of his decision almost a week ago, but waited until Wednesday to announce the news.

After discussions with my family, We've decided to officially reopen my recruitment. Thank you!

— P + H (@JoshuaJ45) April 17, 2014
And it’s the way OU handled the situation that could help it win the race on signing day. The Sooners had every right to be upset about the news. It’s not too often a star recruit from Oklahoma, who earned a scholarship offer more than two years before he can sign his letter-of-intent, backs away from the Sooners. It just doesn’t happen. Wariboko’s decision was one of the lead news stories in newspapers and television stations across the state. It's kind of a big deal.

But instead of freaking out, Wariboko said Bedenbaugh and other OU coaches handled the situation with class.

“He really handled it in a professional way,” Wariboko said. “It was tough being honest with him because you never know how somebody is going to react to that type of news. I really respected him for the way he handled the entire situation. It left me feeling good about Oklahoma still.”

Wariboko said he’s going to now take a step back and take the next 10 months to determine which school is right for him. With his brother also moving up the charts with recruiters, the commitment the second time around will definitely be a “family decision” for the both of them. And don’t be surprised if the Sooners are there in the end. Both of his parents are Oklahoma alums, and the way OU handled Wariboko’s decommitment certainly won it points that could pay off down the road.