2017 Season/Recruiting Outlook

2017 Season/2018 Recruiting Outlook

This is one of my last two posts on RufWriters. Before I move over to The Franchise Oklahoma, I wanted to give some insight into how I expect the 2017 Season and 2018 Recruiting Class to play out.


2017 Season

Baker Mayfield

How does he react with a new receiving corp? Can he adjust early on? Last year, he struggled without Sterling Shepard until they moved into Big 12 play, and then Dede Westbrook went on a run that no other receiver in Oklahoma history has done. They can’t afford that this year. A win in Columbus would not only stymie opposing teams’ saying Oklahoma “is not a big boy” in college football, but it would be a shot in the arm on the recruiting trail. Bob Stoops will need Mayfield, the face of his program, to play like a Heisman winner. Not just in Big 12 play, but early on in the season.

Offensive Line

This will be the best offensive-line in sometime. Sit back, watch, and enjoy Bedenbaugh’s creation take place.

Mike Stoops’ New Look

I’ll be honest: I hate the idea of a four-man front. I realize that it means Obo Okoronkwo will rush more and both Neville Gallimore and D.J. Ward will be able to play more naturally, but it also means Oklahoma will not be as good against the run against the likes of Ohio State, Texas, and Kansas State. The 3-4 forced Oklahoma to keep AT LEAST seven in the box, including future NFL players in Caleb Kelly and Obo Okoronkwo. That is why they were stout against Auburn, Kansas State, and even Oklahoma State in the 2nd half.

It has not been proven if it is a 100{90cbdbedcebe3734fdfdeb1f9843068779d1ec8d5ef30619baff100fe391d921} move to an even front yet, but from the sound of it, Bob and Mike Stoops are moving towards that. We’ll see how it goes, but I do expect them to mix their looks between the even and odd front, depending on the matchup that week. Something to watch.

Austin Seibert?

Sophomore slump? Maybe. But Oklahoma needs him to be the guy he can be. The last thing a College Football Playoff contender needs is a concern with their specialists, and Seibert was one a year ago.

Not The Ordinary Must-Wins

For Oklahoma’s alumni, donors, and fanbase, every game of every season is a “must-win“. However, this year, the games against Ohio State, Texas, and Oklahoma State have a different feel to them this off-season. Here is why:

1) Ohio State embarrassed Oklahoma in Norman. Something that was once unheard of, and is unthinkable to many surrounding the Oklahoma football program. They were outclassed by a better, more talented, and more disciplined football team. Oklahoma needs to stay on that top line, and this is the only way they will do it.

2) Tom Herman has been a thorn in Bob Stoops’ side. What better way to get that thorn out of his side with a dominant win the 2nd Saturday of October? Not only has Herman taken subtle shots at Stoops and his program the last two years, but he is also coming into Stoops’ territory on the recruiting trail. A win may stem the tide for a little bit.

3) Everyone is pegging Oklahoma State as a favorite in the Big 12. I think that’s a good enough reason as Stoops’ needs to keep Gundy and his high-powered offensive attack at bay, maintaining their distance as a few steps up in the college football world.

Predictions

10-2 is usually the safe bet in Norman, but I do expect Oklahoma to go 11-1, with a win in Columbus and a loss in Big 12 play (too early to tell right now, but I have @ Kansas State pegged, despite Bob Stoops being undefeated there). I think “SoonerSquad17” will not only help on the field, but bring the most out of the players’ that are on the fringe of becoming good or just staying average. This kind of environment has been missing for a long time.

Receiver-by-committee finally works. Lincoln Riley’s offense has been predicated on one receiver being a true #1 receiver, but this year will be different. Sure-handed receivers in Jeffery Mead and Nick Basquine return, Mark Andrews returns, and Oklahoma added potential playmakers in Grant Calcaterra, Marquise Brown, Jeff Badet, and CeeDee Lamb. They may not have a single receiver over 1,000 yards, but Baker Mayfield will have the same production as he did a year ago.

Mike Stoops’ defense struggles with consistency. They always talk about staying in their base-defense, but they haven’t done that week-in and week-out the last two years. Schematic folds are expected, but it has almost been a new-look every week. Will the move to an even-front help with consistency? I do not see it.

I expect Oklahoma to have two first-round draft picks: Orlando Brown and Obo Okoronkwo. Not only that, but I expect up to seven Oklahoma players to get drafted. Lots of talent in Norman, and some that will not even see the field.

I predict a College Football Playoff berth, but not #8. The Sooners have all the tools, but so does Alabama, Clemson, and Florida State. Those teams are better at every position on the field besides quarterback and the offensive line. Defense wins championships, always has, and always will.


2018 Recruiting

Quarterback

I do not expect a current Sooners’ offer to be the guy Lincoln Riley gets in this class. Riley had not built a relationship, or even talked to, another quarterback when Cameron Rising flipped to Texas. Expect at least one more offer to go out over the next month.

2nd Running Back?

Do not see it happening. A lot of buzz around Tavion Thomas, and I even expect Mychale Salahuddin to official visit, but I do not see it happening as of right now.

Wide Receiver

Watch for Treveon Johnson to pull the trigger soon. The other obvious choices are Tommy Bush and Kundarrius Taylor as of right now.

Coach Simmons, Gundy, and Riley will be in a battle with Florida State, Alabama, and Texas A&M for Jaylen Waddle, but they are in a good spot right now. Do expect some high-profile receivers outside of these four to official visit, however.

Beden-Boss

Just wait on it. Tank Jenkins is the one to keep an eye on. Sources say that he will visit in June, and if that visit goes well, he will be the true interior linemen in this class. Brey Walker, Darrell Simpson, Anthony McKinney, and Tank Jenkins would be a haul.

Curtis Dunlap Jr. is the wild card here. If things do not work out with Tank Jenkins in June, then Dunlap Jr. is the one to keep an eye on to see if Bedenbaugh puts the pressure on.

Penei Sewell is another to keep an eye on. The mauler has said Oklahoma will remain in his top list, and if he wants to be in Norman, he is a player that Oklahoma will have to take as he is a difference-maker. That would make it a five-man offensive line class, and another haul for Bedenbaugh.

Defense?

There is no more than three or four defensive targets that I am confident in. Alston Orji, Jalen Redmond, and DaShaun White are ones to watch over the next month or two. Even Kalon Gervin is one to watch when/if he makes that trip to Norman.

On the defensive line, I do expect Oklahoma to come after one of their own hard in Ron Tatum. It is a very fluid situation right now, but once the clouds disappear, expect Coach Thibbs to go all-in. Ronnie Perkins, Trevor Trout, and Daniel Carson are ones to watch as high school targets, but Oklahoma is also making JUCO targets Emmitt Golden, Tayland Humphrey, and Dorian Gerald a priority. Tough to figure out where Coach Thibodeaux is at right now, but expect some clarity over the next two months.

With the secondary, the situation with Leon O’Neal Jr. and Texas has opened the door completely open for Coach Cooks. If he can end up flipping Gervin, and stealing O’Neal Jr. from the state of Texas, then Cooks can go ahead and get his cigars out as it would be another quality class, but not the impactful one he had a year ago. However, Cooks will have his work cut-out for him with O’Neal Jr., as Texas A&M is another major contender, and the Aggies have hit the Cypress area hard.

Jordon Austin

Such a unique situation. Prior to his ACL injury, I was a believer in Austin. I mean, just imagine Dakota Austin but actually the right size for college football (that is in no disrespect to Dakota Austin, either). As of right now, I do not see him ending up in this class, but I would think it would be foolish to look over him. Jordon Austin has a ton of upside, but how he comes back from this ACL this fall, as has been reported by SoonerScoop and The Football Brainiacs, will tell a lot in how he fits into this class.

ST2k18

It may seem clear as mud right now, but I do expect Oklahoma to be back in the top-10 of recruiting rankings by the end of this cycle. Wins over Ohio State and Texas will all but certify this thought. There are a lot of targets that can be swayed by performances on the field this season, and the entire coaching staff needs those wins to happen for the program to maintain their momentum they built with “SoonerSquad17″.

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