It’s been a pretty rough 48-hours or so for the Oklahoma fan base, but fortunately I have some time off and able to get some writing in (finally). This post will be focused on those signing (or believed to be signing), if you’re looking for more thoughts and discussion about the other situations — check out the discord, where I’m there daily.
Breakdown: First and foremost, you have to realize Oklahoma had A LOT of hurdles to overcome with this cycle. Most evident is the transition from Mike Stoops to Alex Grinch and the many months of just not knowing exactly what that was going to look like or sell to recruits. Furthermore, Oklahoma was playing from behind with many of their top-targets as far as building those relationships that are often to groundwork to a successful recruitment. Surprisingly, the Sooners overcame that time gap at good rate and that should be very encouraging to every fan heading into this 2021 cycle. Staying with this 2020 class, there’s quite a few pieces to like and while I’m not sure if I’ll go over all (will have thoughts on all signees on Discord), going to cover what I can without turning this into a massive post.
Perrion Winfrey: There’s been some idea that JUCO prospects aren’t major additions compared to guys directly out of high school, but here to tell you I think Winfrey can shut that conversation down quickly. With Neville Gallimore leaving, there is a massive hole to fill in the middle of that defensive front and the #1 overall JUCO prospect looks to be the answer. 6’4″, a lean 305-pounds, Winfrey is a nice blend of quickness and nasty. At times he has a tendency to get his pad level a little high, but it’s hard to ignore his ability to power through interior linemen and still be physical at the point of attack. Big fan here.
Lincoln Riley on Iowa Western CC DL signee Perrion Winfrey.
— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) December 18, 2019
Justin Harrington (yet to sign): No secret Oklahoma has lacked physicality and size in their secondary so let’s introduce top-ranked JUCO safety, Justin Harrington. Harrington brings the physicality and size you find in some of the top-ranked defensive backfields around the nation. 6’3, 214-pounds, this is the type of athlete Grinch wants in his defense. The type of athlete that has the length to cover passing windows and the size to come up and be a difference maker against the run. If you’re a fan of the style of football highly-touted linebacker, Justin Flowe – physical almost to the point of recklessness – you’ll like Harrington. That said, he’ll need to be selective with those big hits in today’s Big 12.
Josh Ellison: Ellison’s commitment was a little watered down by the fan base as it was quite evident he was heading to Norman before his announcement. At the same time, this is guy that really fits the branded “SpeedD” moniker and could be a surprisingly great addition to this class. 6’3″, 295-pounds, Ellison is moved out to defensive end for a majority of his tape, but at that size he’ll be an interior lineman as soon as his LOI is signed. Why was he an defensive end at Blinn C.C.? Big reason would be his quickness. Plenty of examples of Ellison being able to either get around the outside of the tackle, or make a quick inside step and get to the passer.
Marvin Mims: Is there anything left to say? The kid’s name is everywhere and rightfully so. Mims has had an INSANE senior season setting both records in the state of Texas as well as nationally for single-season receiving yards (2626 yards on 114 receptions). Mims is an immediate impact-type player, that brings elite speed to the position that Oklahoma hasn’t had with Marquise Brown now in the NFL. Also important to note that with Oklahoma landing 3, 5-star wide receivers last cycle, it was going to be a bit tough to convince elite talent to join them in Norman. Finding a guy like Mims, who was a 3-star at the time of an offer, is a near perfect situation as he’s a top-talent in the nation.
— Jason Swann (@JasonSwanny) December 18, 2019
Bryson Washington: Washington was at one point one of the nation’s top-ranked safeties. Now sitting outside the top-200, the talk has died down a bit but you can’t ignore the fact that Oklahoma went into Texas and signed a guy that was once thought to be a big Texas lean. Washington himself is another big-framed safety that Alex Grinch covets in his defense. I think there’s more to like with Washington from a coverage standpoint than his counterpart, Harrington. You have to go back to his junior film, but Washington seems to have a natural ability to read the quarterback and more importantly play the ball. It will be interesting to watch, but he’s another guy that could push for some time early.
Michael Henderson & Jalen Conyers: Think an underrated part of this class is what they’ve done with the TE/HB position. Henderson is an outstanding athlete, maybe even more-so than Dimitri Flowers was coming out of HS. Henderson looks to play that hybrid TE/HB that Brayden Willis currently plays in Lincoln Riley’s system but something hints that Henderson, like Flowers, may inspire Lincoln Riley to do more with the position. Conyers, like Henderson, is a do-it-all type athlete Gruver but fits closer to what Grant Calcaterra as far as being a pass-catcher first. The obvious standout group in this class is the offensive line, but this group right here just made Oklahoma’s offense a lot better.
Seth McGowan: A lot of drama at this position over the past couple weeks, but Oklahoma got a good one in Seth McGowan. McGowan follows the mold of recent Oklahoma running backs, Rodney Anderson and Kennedy Brooks in that he’s a strong, steady runner with top-end speed. Would add that while being a cut-and-go type back, McGowan does have a bit more wiggle to his game than the before mentioned. Wouldn’t go as far as to call it flashy, but it does add a dynamic to this group that hasn’t been there for a couple season’s now. Whether or not Oklahoma decides to add another back remains to be seen, but McGowan is a great fit here and one of the better backs in a loaded 2020 class.
— Daymond Patterson II (@DP2Nice) November 8, 2019
Oklahoma’s Bill Bedenbaugh has been able to bring in a lot of talent since arriving in Norman, but this may be his best work yet. Nate Anderson (No. 51 nationally), Andrew Raym (No. 88 nationally), Aaryn Parks (No. 198 nationally), Anton Harrison (No. 209 nationally) and Noah Nelson (No. 497 nationally) is one of better groups you could realistically put together in this class. The work put in the bring Raym into the fold after it looked like both Georgia and Michigan were ready to pull him out-of-state is one of the better closings for Oklahoma — especially considering the talent that has left that area these past few cycles. Raym figures to be the guy that is most physically and position ready of the group. Anderson has elite potential, but understandably, he’ll need some time to grow in the S&C program. Anton Harrison and Aaryn Parks are the tapes you love to see. Bedenbaugh guys through-and-through with massive bodies that have a knack for playing mean and physical.
At first glance, I can see why a lot of fans aren’t necessarily crazy about this class as opposed to the 2019 group. It makes sense. It wasn’t an easy class for Oklahoma. It definitely wasn’t an easy class to follow along with. That said, having some time to sit down, go through the film and how pieces could fall into place, it’s clear Oklahoma got better today. Most of the immediate help will be on the defensive side, while the long-term outlook for the offensive line is as good as it’s ever been. This isn’t the most complete class, but with what Oklahoma has in front of them heading into the February signing date, this one has a chance to be special.