Recruiting Outlook: 2018 Wide Receivers

(image via Scout.com)

2018 Outlook: Wide Receivers

With Oklahoma only losing two receivers to graduation in 2017, they will not be looking to replace too much. With that being said, Dennis Simmons, Cale Gundy, and Lincoln Riley are currently rolling on the trail at receiver, and will likely continue to do as such for the 2018 class.

What will Oklahoma be looking at for the 2018 receivers? They lose Jeffery Mead, but return guys like Nick Basquine, AD Miller, and Mark Andrews. More so, they will return likely key contributors in Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb. Where does Oklahoma look? Look no farther than the coaches’ discretion as the best receiver out there.

Terrace Marshall~

Ah, The Boot. A place Oklahoma continues to try and steal recruits out of. This 5* recruit does have the Sooners high on his list, but it is always tough to pull a recruit of the state of Louisiana. 

With Marshall, you’re looking at a receiver who is just better than everyone else. Some receivers are defined by one aspect of their game, he is not. He is simply an all-around good wide receiver.  He has the size, he has the speed, and he has the competitiveness. Marshall does not excel at any of those, but you hardly see a defender be able to deter him from getting the football, and then getting further down the field. 

One area I will be interested in watching this spring and summer is his route running. If he can continue to improve in that area, his path to the best receiver in the country for his class will be easier.

Brian Hightower~

A California native that is now resided at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Hightower is good friends with Oklahoma target, TJ Pledger. It’s early, but it seems like if the Sooners can reel in the talented running back, they will also have a good chance at the highly touted wide receiver.

For Hightower, his ability to stretch the field is second to none. In the game against Mission Viejo (IMG’s toughest game), you see him making two competitive catches that ultimately allowed his team to win. That is the kind of stuff you want to see from a high school wide receiver. Now, Hightower is highly rated, but does not have the quantity of clips I would like. Like Marshall, Hightower’s camp performances will mean more going into his senior year.

Jalen Preston~

Oklahoma is currently behind for the Manvel, Texas prospect, Jalen Preston. Preston is one of those receivers built like KD Cannon. A possession receiver with the gifts of a slot receiver.

As you can see above, Preston has a knack to get in the end zone. He doesn’t have elite speed, but has an ability to make defenders miss. Like a running back, he also understands angles. Preston uses this ability to force opponents to take a deeper angle to catch him. If Art Briles was still at Baylor, Preston would likely be his first call. That said, Preston should be everyone’s first call.

Like I said, Oklahoma is behind in Jalen Preston’s recruitment, but they have offered. Will be interesting to see if Oklahoma decides to make a major push for him as the next three to four months roll on.

Joshua Moore~

Moore is one of the most offered players in the 2018 class. The one thing that sticks out to me about Moore is that he knows he is the best player on the field, and it shows. Even in highlight tapes, you’ll see some top players who play in less talented divisions that look “bored”. You do not see that at all.

Athletically, he is gifted in that he plays stronger than his size. Listed at 6’0.5″ and 168 pounds, you don’t see him have any issues getting tackled on first contact. Moore is not a guy that will blow you away athletically, but he is one of those slot receivers that will go up and make competitive catches and gain two to three more yards at the end of runs at the next level.

With already having 48 offers, Moore’s recruitment has already began to slim down. Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma seem to have an early lead on the highly touted recruit. He is one of two slot receivers that Oklahoma has offered in the 2018 class.

Brennan Eagles~

If Eagles was 30 pounds heavier, he would be the #1 TE in the country. The Houston native does look stiff on some of his routes, but his strong hands allows him to get away with not gaining that separation needed. 

For the 17th best receiver in the 2018 class, he really does not have a key attribute to hang his hat on. Eagles’ does have that breakaway speed, but his speed at 15-20 yards after the snap isn’t anything special. So what is it about him that makes him such a highly touted recruit? His frame. As I mentioned above, Eagles’ would be the best FLEX receiver prospect in the country if he was 220-230 pounds already. Do schools currently see him as that? No. But he would be an absolute nightmare if he went against safeties and linebackers regularly.

Eagles’ reminds me of Steven Dunbar of Houston. Yeah, the guy catching all the back shoulder throws against Oklahoma in the season opener. A big bodied guy who uses his size and strength to beat corners. Now, his recruitment has not been a clear one quite yet, but Oklahoma has offered.

C.J. Moore~

CJ Moore’s Hudl Profile (Highlight video does not show enough)

The curious case of C.J. Moore is still one that hard is to decipher. Why hasn’t Oklahoma offered the Top-250 player in the country? Especially since he is in their OWN state?

One would have to look at how long it took Jeffery Mead to develop as maybe one indication, but you can also begin to see that the Sooners may feel good where they are at with a couple of the more highly touted receivers that are listed above. It still is ludicrous me that Moore does not have that Oklahoma offer no matter what the situation is.

In his tape, you will see that Moore does not move like a 6’5″ receiver normally does. His routes and the way he moves in and out of his cuts will remind you of a 6’0 receiver or smaller. His feet are what separates him from most taller receivers.

The thing about a guy like Moore is that they usually shy away from contact. This is the not case with him. He is able to catch the football in traffic, with a man in his face, or even with a man all over him. This is why it is weird that Oklahoma has not gone ahead and offered the Tulsa, Oklahoma product. Sure, his body type is a major question mark, but once he hits the camp scene, I do not know if that will be the case.

Jaylen Waddle~

Hands? Check. Speed? Uh, check. Feet? An area of work. If a guy like Waddle had the feet of say, Tyjon Lindsey, they would be close to clones of each other. 

This also ties in with his route running. For a slot receiver, you want to be crisp and precise on each step in order to gain separation. Prime example, look how well Sterling Shepard is doing in the NFL. That is not something I see in Waddle’s tape. Sure, his speed puts him over the top against high schoolers, but it’s a slot receivers feet and routes that will allow them to take the next step to being great. Waddle does have another year to develop, but this is a red flag to me in his game right now. 

Jaylen Waddle does have elite speed as I have mentioned a couple times. This has put colleges on notice as he has multiple offers, including one from Oklahoma. The Sooners seem to be behind Texas A&M at the moment, but it is a long ways to go in his recruitment.

Drue Jackson~

Oklahoma recently tried to get into Sachse High School with Jared Mayden in the 2016 class. For 2018, they could look to get into Sacshe again to get Drue Jackson. The slot receiver is slowly beginning to see his recruitment pick up with bigger fish becoming interested. 

With Jackson you are looking at a guy who, like Joshua Moore, does not necessarily excel at one major thing. He does not have elite speed, but he does have that it factor that you want in a receiver. Jackson runs great routes, finishes runs, and makes competitive catches. 

In how Oklahoma is approaching receivers, you can tell that they are just moving down their board with offers. Drue Jackson may be one of the better slot receivers in the country, and is definitely one to watch and see if the Sooners extend an offer. 

Erik Ezukanma~

The Keller, Texas (Timber Creek High School) prospect is one that is about to see his recruitment EXPLODE. Currently holding offers from Texas A&M and Kansas, the receiver is about to make you drop your jaw.

The one area of slight concern to me is his feet and route running, but outside of that, I do not see an issue in his game. He has the explosiveness you want. He has that high pointing ability you want. He makes those competitive catches. He is physical at the point of contact, but most of all? The guy is a competitor. Ezukanma is a player you want on your team. 

Oklahoma has shown a little bit of interest, but I expect them to make an offer and make a major push for the future 4* receiver, and Top 250 player in the country. 

Jaylon Robinson~

If you are an Oklahoma fan, this tape should remind you of a few receivers the last four to five years of Sooner football. Robinson is a receiver that fits that mold of the “Z” receiver in Oklahoma’s scheme. As a junior, he shows you the electric speed and feet to get open no matter which receiver position he plays. These are two things that will always carry from high school to college, and he sure has it.

Robinson is a one-on-one nightmare. A current Texas Tech commit that I have not been able to find out too much on in terms of Oklahoma’s interest. Thankfully for the year 2016, we can see some processes begin with Twitter follows. Cale Gundy recently followed the Fort Worth, Texas prospect, and I would assume would continue to dot their I’s and cross their T’s before potentially extending an offer here. He is the kind of prospect built for the Sooners.

Sean Shaw Jr.~

It is truly difficult to get a good read on Shaw because he is playing against low level competition in most of his tape. The one thing you can take away? His hands. At 6’5″ it is hard to be that premier guy in an offense at the collegiate level. Most of those guys end up being possession receivers for three or four years. As you can see above, he is able to make those competitive catches that Coach Stoops and Coach Riley rave about.

Sure, the Jones, Oklahoma prospect shows some shiftiness and ability to run routes, but he struggles to gain separation against 3A competition sometimes – something that may factor in at the next level. This, to go along with his top end speed are the major red flags in my head, but Shaw is a solid prospect nevertheless.

This is a guy that Oklahoma is interested in, but is not near the top of their board right now. Should things change with some of the guys above, you will see Shaw emerge as that outside receiver for Oklahoma’s 2018 class. 

Maureese Wren~

The last name will sound familiar, and so will the quarterback throwing to him in his tape. Yes, Maureese is the younger brother of Erick Wren, and the quarterback throwing to him is none other than 2017 QB commit, Chris Robison.

The thing that sticks out to me the most is that he shows ability to use his body to make catches. Wren high points the ball well for a 6’5″ receiver, and also uses that size to gain separation. For someone at his stature, those two things are hard to do because you become accustomed to being so much bigger than everybody for so long. I enjoy his film, but that “damn” feeling is not present when watching. 

Wren has received some interest from some of Oklahoma’s coaches, but like Shaw Jr., I do not see him being a major target for Oklahoma right now. As the it gets deeper into the recruiting season, this will be a name to watch.


Here are some names to watch over the next few months, but have not received major interest from Oklahoma quite yet: Al’Vonte Woodard, Nathan Page, Lawrence Keys, and Joshua Fleeks.

 

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