The day is almost here! We can finally finalize the 2016 Oklahoma recruiting class (kinda). I plan on being here most of the day updating you with info as it comes in, but make sure you are following me on Twitter for the quickest updates. So I’ve been working on this for about two weeks. The plan for this post is to update it with an my analysis/evaluation as each player either announces or turns in their LOI. I think I have one for every possible commit, but there may be some surprises out there, who knows. There’s going to be a lot to publish so for reading purposes, I’m going to try to keep these pretty short but hopefully still informative.
I’m going to start with guys already on campus and then add updates once I get confirmation that the LOI is signed and the Oklahoma Football twitter account acknowledges them. So make sure you check in tomorrow! Here we go:
QB, Austin Kendall
Image from thefootballbrainiacs.com
It all starts with the quarterback, right? Well Sooner fans should feel pretty good about this one as he ranks 186 overall in the 2016 class according to 247Sports and most importantly enrolled early for spring ball. Kendall stands about 6’2” and doesn’t have the elusiveness of Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray but that really isn’t a problem. He gets the ball out quick and when he needs more time, he does an excellent job of keeping his eyes downfield while shuffling his way through the pocket. Seriously, his pocket presence is awesome but that’s not to say he can’t scramble or escape, he just makes a lot of great plays inside the pocket. He doesn’t lack arm strength at all and his throwing motion is pretty fluid and quick.
A lot of times, especially if you watch WR film, you’ll notice guys have to slow down if the ball hangs in the air too long. Not the case here. The thing that stood out to me the most on film was that he hit his WR’s in stride nearly every time, even in tight coverage. Going off film alone, Kendall has great accuracy and a lot of touch to go along with it.
Overall I think Kendall is one of the more polish QB’s Oklahoma has recruited in a number of years. I know there is some concern that he won’t get playing time with the recent transfer of Kyler Murray but if Kendall can translate his high school game to D1 football, he’ll be your starter come 2017. He’s more of a system guy that can make the throws you need in an air raid offense and he could be special player in Riley’s system.
Safety, Chanse Sylvie
Image via Scout.com
Admittedly, there are only three positions I’ve never played football at and this is one of them, but being a quarterback for a number of years, I had to watch a lot of safeties so I’ll give this my best shot. First things first, Chanse Sylvie brings the wood!! His Senior film is full of some pretty vicious hits. If you need an example, think Ronnell Lewis meets Tony Jefferson. He comes down from the safety spot and meets runners head on, pretty viciously I might add. Just watch him during the Army All-American game and you’ll see why I’m pretty excited, he puts down some poor returner.
If it wasn’t obvious above, Sylvie can really stop the run. He’s not the biggest guy on the field, only 5’11”, 185 lbs but he really comes downhill fast and makes runners pay and that’s the kind of guys you want on your team. Play bigger than you are. Pretty impressed how he doesn’t give up on speed right before contact, some DB’s do just so they don’t whiff on a tackle. But Sylvie just seems have great vision for the ball, takes excellent angles and really drives his feet through the tackle. Yay fundmentals.
Coverage wise, Sylvie keeps his hips and head square to the field which allows him to cover the deep end of the field. He never really comes off breaks late and puts himself in pretty good position for jump balls. Athletically he’s great, I think he can contribute early at special teams, much like Kahlil Haughton did this season and he’ll be pretty competitive at the safety position in 2017.
Offensive Guard, Ashton Julious
Image via Tulsaworld.com
So yeah, when I noted above that there were three positions I’ve never played, this would be another one, this and offensive tackle…so these may be short and sweet. What I do know is that Ashton Julious is big, at 6’6″ 341 pounds which is pretty big. Pretty pro analysis right there.
All joking aside, going off his most recent Spring Practice film Julious does a pretty good job of keeping his pads level low for being 6’6″, and stands up defenders. He also has nice little initial punch which is great considering what we witnessed in the Clemson game was our line getting pushed around in the second half. You’ll also see he’s developed some really nice foot and hip technique for a big guy. Never quits driving his feet after contact and is keeping his hips square to his defender (that’s key to leveraging your weight on a someone).
I think Julious comes in and contributes sooner rather than later, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins spot in the fall. This has the feel of an pretty underrated pick-up for the Sooners, he could be pretty special.
Offensive Tackle, Ben Powers
Image via Kansas.com
First off, I think Ben Powers is an awesome name for a lineman. Second, this dude is a mauler. He’s incredibly aggressive and does not stop blocking until the whistle is blown. No really, if his guy is on the ground he keeps driving him into it, it’s pretty awesome and it’s what Baker Mayfield needs. Why? Because a lot of times Baker extends plays with his feet and lineman tend to let go of their blocks when he escapes the pocket, this guy just keeps going. He’s got some sort of motor on him. WATCH.
Beginning to think Coach Bedenbaugh is genius because again, excellent footwork. How does he keep finding this guys? Powers looks so light on his feet but somehow still knocks guys out of the play. His length is only complimented by his form, leverages the defender up and drives him out of the way. I think there’s a play in there where he straight up drives the defender 10 yards back while the running back only gains maybe 2 yards or so. I’m pretty excited about this one as well. I think Bedenbaugh is going to have one of the better offensive lines in college football here pretty soon and this guy will definitely be apart of it.
Offensive Guard, Logan Roberson
Image via Tulsaworld.com
Logan is an in-state guy and trained with former Sooner, JD Runnels. Unlike the other two guys above, Logan is not a JUCO player so obviously is less developed both physically and fundamentally, which is kind of scary…in a good way. Roberson plays a lot like Powers, a high-motor, very aggressive mauler type guy that you’ll see dragging his man 10 yards down the field and then burying him, just a bit more raw. But that’s really not a huge deal because he doesn’t need to come in and play early, he’s got time to develop under Bedenbaugh and Schmidty.
I personally like this pick-up a lot. Underrated, in-state, and knew where he wanted to go early. He’s not highly rated but don’t let that deceive you, the film says a lot more than the rating does. Give this guy a year, maybe two to develop and we may have quite a player on our hands. Kudos to JD and Oklahoma for recognizing this guy when the big recruiting outlets didn’t.
Update 7:38am: OLB, Emmanuel Beal
Image via Scout.com
Part of the Lackawanna trio, Emmanuel Beal is just another one the pretty talented JUCO players coming in. Only rated as a two-star prospect, Beal kind of outplays that rating. Like Doucet, Beal is a quick and physical outside rusher but where I’m the most impressed is that he tracks the ball so well. There are times where he doesn’t necessarily make the big hit or a flashy but just does his duty and many times that delivers the ball right into his lap. Not to say he’s a boring player, but there are many instances where guys try to do to much which results in them doing nothing at all. I guess I just enjoy team players. Beal, again like Doucet bring in more size and length to linebacking core but also has the speed and ability to cover the flats which Big 12 offenses often try to exploit.
Beal isn’t a flashy commit but by no means is he a bad one. Rating aren’t everything and I think Beal surprises fans.
OLB, Kapri Doucet
Image via Twitter.com
Another commit from the newly founded Lackawanna pipeline, JUCO All-American Kapri Doucet fills a need (Striker’s position) on defense right away. Not only does he bring in experience, he brings in more size on the outside than they’ve had in recent years. I know it’s somewhat unpopular to bring in JUCO players as you’re basically recruiting over guys already on the team but Doucet is the real deal. If you’re desperate for a comparison…you can think of Doucet as a bigger Devante Bond and I think he’ll have a similar impact.
Fun-fact, Doucet was also a placeholder as well and ran a nifty fake field goal. I really don’t believe he’ll be the placeholder at Oklahoma but it’s fun thought.
Similar to Eric Striker, Doucet has a nice first-step and nice timing on when to jump the snap. He does a great job a taking angles on the ball, fills running lanes, and closes quickly. It’s kind of hard to believe he’s listed at 244 lbs, he definitely looks a bit lighter but that added weight can only help what was an undersized linebacking core in 2015. I fully believe that Doucet will challenge the guys already campus for Striker’s spot and I’m kind of expecting him to win it.
Update 8:03am: Boom! WR, Mykel Jones
Image via 247sports.com
In a surprising turn of events, Oklahoma landed itself 4-star WR, Mykel Jones out of Patterson, Louisiana very late in the recruiting game. He’s smaller, shiftier guy that can play both inside and outside wide receiver although I kind of expect he plays more on the inside at the next level (which probably means he’ll play outside just so I’m wrong).
Kinda love Mykel’s film because it shows off a lot of versatility and knowledge of the game as he moves from inside to outside and even out of the backfield. Downfield, he finds the open pockets in the secondary and sits in them, think Ryan Broyles-ish routes. Out of the backfield, he gets to corner fast and zooms down the sideline, what’s not love?Now it’s hard to make observations off junior film but anytime you can add a talented player out of talent-rich Louisiana, it’s a very good thing. He’s going add a lot of quality depth at wide receiver in 2016 but we probably won’t get so see his real potential till the 2017 Spring Game.
Update 8:42am: LB, Jon-Michael Terry
Image via TulsaWorld.com
JMT is another in-state guy with huge upside. Just up the road in Tulsa, the 6’4” athlete played both defensive end and tight end but was recruited as a linebacker by Tim Kish and what a find. He’s a big, fast, and athletic guy capable of breaking through the line or moving in space. If you haven’t seen how quick and light on his feet this guy is, you should probably go check out his HUDL film now, do it. He’s clocked at 4.6, that’s quick for how big this guy is. Now I do don’t want to go into some tangent too much, but let’s just say if JMT were from a more southern state…he’d be four-star athlete.
Again, he’s a guy where you love what you can’t coach. Size, speed, instincts, he’s going to bring in a lot. Still raw and there will obviously be a learning curve moving to linebacker but the future is bright here. What an under-the-radar find by Kish and Mike Stoops.
Cornerback, Parnell Motley
Image via 247sports.com
Motley is another guy from the east coast and had a huge list of offers to choose from, luckily he chose the right one. Come from our nations capital (Forrest Gump reference), this 6’1″ athlete is electric on both sides of the ball but will probably stay on the defensive side at the next level…but we’ll see. He’s very springy and quick guy, he gets his hips turned quick with the WR which allow him to play more press coverage than off-the-ball coverage.
He’s got a nifty little return game that I think helps him find playing time earlier than most as the Sooners lose Shepard this year as well as Ross next year (or sooner). I think he’s honestly one of the better candidates to take over either or both responsibilities eventually.
Maybe it’s just the number four and the lack of sleep but on the offensive side of the ball, he kind show little glimpses of Kenny Stills. Probably the lack of sleep, but I see it in his game. He’s going to be a pretty fun one to watch in the coming years and with his athleticism he should find plenty of time on the field, potentially on both ends of the ball. If you want to see for yourself, check out his highlights here, they do not disappoint.
Update 8:48am: DE, Amani Bledsoe
Image via kusports.com
Diron Reynolds and Mikes Stoops have found themselves another terror at the defensive end position. Bledsoe’s recruitment was a little wavy with the departure of Jerry Montgomery but Diron Reynolds was able to rebuild the relationship and pull the talented Kansas prospect back to Oklahoma. At 6’5, 263 lbs, he’s already bigger than Charles Tapper and should only get bigger under Schmidty’s strength program.
Bledsoe is a ferocious and gritty player that has exceptional quickness for his size. While raw, he is still able to shuck would-be blockers due to his physicality and throws down QB’s and RB’s with ease (insert very-happy-face-emoticon). This won’t immediately translate at the D! level but give him time to develop under Reynold’s and he could easily become an NFL prospect later on down the road. After the Clemson game, the lack of physicality on the defensive line was pretty evident. Bledsoe is part of the answer, these are the kind of recruits that Oklahoma has been needing to land, Sooner fans should be pretty excited once he is ready to take the field.
OLB/DE, Mark Jackson
Image via ExpressNews.com
If you follow me on Twitter you probably know that I’m a huge four-star Mark Jackson fan-boy and I’ll be the first to admit it. He was definitely near the top of my 2016 wishlist. Jackson is listed as defensive end but I think he plays that standup Striker position. A lot SEC folks describe Jackson as undersized but that doesn’t really matter when you’re 6’2” and play like you’re 6’7”. He’s quick, he’s explosive, he’s a got high motor and he finds the ball. If you don’t believe me, go back and watch this year’s Army All-American game, he finds his way in the backfield a lot against top-rated offensive linemen (then again, that West defense dominated most of that game).
Jackson has a great first step and he tenaciously attacks the football. Now he’s not as perfect as I make him sounds and he’ll need to size up some but he’s got a lot of potential down the road. If he puts in the work, he’ll be a pretty special player for the Sooners. Due to depth, I don’t think we get to see him much in 2016 but that’s no indication of how good he could be. Diron Reynolds and Tim Kish are really pumping a lot of talent back into this defense.
Update 9:01am: Wide Receiver, Adrian Hardy
This may be one of the more interesting stories to watch with the 2016 class as Hardy was relatively unknown until his commitment to Oklahoma. He’s consensus three-star wide receiver but most of his highlights and film are of him playing quarterback. Really the only explanation for this is Hardy is one the better athletes capable of playing the position on his team. While that’s not a bad thing at all, it makes it tricky to evaluate him as wide receiver at the next level. Oklahoma hasn’t recruited and developed a “big” receiver in a number of years with the addition of Lincoln Riley and Dennis Simmons, one of their goals looks to be to change that as you’ll notice they’ve targeted taller guys.
At 6’3” Hardy has the prototypical size to be a possession wide receiver, there’s no question there. Where you’ll be impressed is his ability to make lateral cuts, he’s pretty shifty guy. He has really good vision while running downfield, navigates traffic pretty well, finds the cut-back lanes and blockers. The biggest question is how to get the ball in his hands since most of his big plays are from him at QB (which he isn’t that bad at), but if he can catch, he makes it hard to bring him down on the run.
Overall Hardy just looks like a really good athlete and a do-it-all kind of athlete, not a bad thing to have. He was one of Riley’s earliest offers and he obviously sees a fit for him in his system. I really think he projects pretty well in the long-run but will obviously need some time to transition to a full-time wide receiver.
WR, Zach Farrar
Part of the many late commits from just last week, Farrar is a life-long Sooners fan and flipped from Mississippi State shortly after Oklahoma offered him. The Sooners haven’t had the best luck developing big-outside wide receivers but Farrar could very well change that. At 6’4” he’s got the size you’d want on the outside but combine that with quick acceleration and big-time speed (clocked in high 4.4’s, low 4.5’s) and you’ve got potential go-to wide receiver.
Much of the hype is regarding Farrar’s speed and acceleration, what I like is ferociousness and physical presence when he cuts to the middle of the field. When you get that much speed and size on the outside, you tend to get a bunch of go-routes and that’s about it. Farrar shows some variation on film, he loses his cover man in the clutter while using his size to catch the ball over the top.
I don’t expect most of this class to contribute in 2016 but if I had to pick a true-freshman to make an impact in the offense early, Farrar is my guy.
RB, Abdul Adams
Image via HighschoolLot.com
The one-time Michigan State commit, Abdul Adams isn’t like many of the other running backs recruiting in the past couple years, at 5’11, 205 lbs, he’s not technically a small-back per se, but he plays very quick and very elusive. Think of him as a bigger Daniel Brooks, if you will. He shows great patience in waiting for the play to develop and then hits the hole with some serious speed. Great vision in the open field combined with his lateral quickness make him a homerun threat once he gets past the line of scrimmage. He’s not technically a power-back but can still hurt you between the tackles and definitely hurt you if he can get to the outside.
The ability to catch the ball out of the backfield gives him more versatility which is what makes him such an attractive player in Riley’s system. You could line him up as a single-back or motion him out as wide-receiver much like they do with Mixon now. Also, you might watch out for him as potential kick-returner in the future given his speed and ability to find cutback lanes. He’s not going to be an immediate impact guy but he will fill a big need along with Rodney Anderson in 2017/2018 once Perine and Mixon move on.
Update 9:48am: OT, Erik Swenson
Image via fansided.com
Swenson is one of those weird stories similar to Orlando Brown where a highly rated player just falls into your lap. In this case, the long-time Michigan commit had his scholarship pulled in the final weeks before NSD and found a new home with Sooners, which is fine by me.
Swenson is huge at 6’7″ but don’t let his size fool you, he can keep his pad level pretty low and given his length, he locks out defenders on the edge pretty well. He’s a bit more polished than Brown was coming in, at least in my opinion but will need to put on more muscle before he finds playing time. Brown is probably NFL bound after next season for all intents and purposes, so it’s like Swenson with similar size and ability, takes over his spot in 2017/2018. Also, I like the neck roll, you don’t see as many in football anymore. I hope that carries over to his college game.
OG, Johncarlo Valentin
Image via 247sports.com
Sticking with east coast theme, Sooners added huge Philly prospect, Johncarlo Valentin who is said to know former star, Trent Williams. Small world, I guess. Aside from having probably the best name in this class, Valentin also looks like the most intimidating and I really hope he keeps the Harden-esque beard. At 6’5″, 330 lbs he is not small at all but actually looks a bit slim for his frame. Given the nutrition and strength programs at Oklahoma, Valentin could very well turn into a monster come fall 2017.
On film, he pulls pretty well down the line and pretty much de-cleats anyone on the second level. He’s got pretty good footwork for a guy his size, he’s clumsily running down the line or up the field. Bedenbaugh should have fun with this guy and the Oklahoma ground and pound running game added another future stud in the trenches.
Late-addition OLB, Caleb Kelly
By now you probably know who this guy and how highly rated he is. He’s a big, fast linebacker who moves more like a nickel. He’ll every opportunity to play early and should make an impact next season. There was some wavering on whether or not Kelly was coming to Oklahoma, with Notre Dame pushing late but Sooners fans can rest comfortably tonight with Kelly now firmly committed.