The hot-button topic of the week, perhaps of the entire 2017 recruiting season is the story of Jacob Phillips. The past few weeks have been a rollercoaster of sorts for both the Oklahoma staff and the fan base. The hype and excitement of watching their talented linebacker dominate in the Army All-American Bowl has worn off as they are now facing the real possibility of never seeing him dawn the crimson and cream. With all the panic going on, I thought I’d do a quick write up to try and make sense of the situation. However before I sort out the “now”, let’s see how things led up to this point.
Phillips used all five of his official visits before committing to the Sooners in October. To land his verbal commitment, Oklahoma beat out Texas A&M, Oregon, Notre Dame, and Alabama, just to name a few. It is important to note that at the time, Phillips was not rated as the nations top inside linebacker and the LSU Tigers were not on the radar. If you’ll remember, LSU had recently fired Les Miles and Ed Orgeron only had a couple of week under his belt as interim head coach. Orgeron would have his ups and downs throughout the season but would eventually be named LSU’s next head coach. Meanwhile, Oklahoma would go on to dominate the Big 12, win their conference championship and eventually blow out the Auburn Tigers in the Sugar Bowl. Riding that momentum, it appeared the Sooners would keep their highly rated recruiting class together, however that would soon change.
Rumors of Phillips interest began to emerge heading into the Army All-American bowl. After an impressive performance against some of the nations best high school seniors, Phillips saw a big bump in the rankings as well as interest from LSU. Ed Orgeron and staff made a big enough push to get Phillips’ and his family to visit Baton Rouge at their own expense. From reports, the visit went as well as LSU could have hoped for and the prevailing opinion now is that a flip is imminent.
Now that we’ve got some of the background out of the way, I’ll give you my take on the situation. Jacob Phillips is still an Oklahoma commit, that hasn’t changed as of now. However, in past years Oklahoma would be considered a long shot for landing an athlete like Jacob Phillips. That said, times have changed and maybe so should fans perspective on recruiting. The Sooners’ have been able to reap the rewards of a new coaching staff, new facilities, and winning big games. Yes, I’m referring to both Sugar Bowl victories. With that, Oklahoma has been able to re-emerge as contenders for some of the nations premier athletes, as evidenced by their 2017 class.
That success however, comes new challenges. Oklahoma saw it last year when they were in a recruiting battle with Notre Dame for then 5-star linebacker, Caleb Kelly. Now a year later, the Sooners are going to have to battle it out with LSU to land another highly-touted prospect’s signature. This is just the reality and the nature of recruiting. In many ways it hasn’t changed. The higher your class is ranked and the higher the ranking of the guy you’re recruiting, the more competition you will face. You saw that in the Switzer era, you are now seeing it again in this new era of Oklahoma football. Recruiting is a 24/7 job. It isn’t always easy. It doesn’t truly end until that letter of intent is in. It’s really that simple.
My advice to Sooners fans: don’t take it personally. Enjoy the process. Be excited. These type of recruiting battles becoming more common means one thing — Oklahoma is back to recruiting at an elite level.