The Oklahoma Sooners failed to live up to preseason expectations in 2011, and by the end of the season had much bigger problems than losing games.
Players were transferring left and right, some on their own will, others asked to by coaches, and blame was being passed all around for reasons behind the disappointing season.
Needless to say, the 2012 recruiting class was a very important key to Oklahoma putting the tumultuous end of 2011 behind them.
The Sooners got everything they wanted, and then some, signing 25 players on Wednesday, including a couple of late additions from the junior college ranks.
“I felt more than anything we answered all of our needs,” Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said. “We came into this recruiting season and knew where most of our shortcomings were.”
The stars of the class are the wide receivers. The Sooners ended up with five wide receivers in what is easily the best group of wideouts in the Bob Stoops era.
The group is highlighted by junior college transfer Courtney Gardner, who had been committed to Arkansas for months. Gardner switched his commitment after a very positive official visit in Norman last Saturday. Gardner joins high school stars, Durron Neal, Derrick Woods, and Sterling Shepard, as well as Trey Metoyer, a 2011 Oklahoma signee who spent the fall semester at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia.
Stoops was extremely pleased with the class of receivers the Sooners signed and said he was excited for the impact they will have for the OU offense.
“I love all these guys,” Stoops said. “They are all special athletes. I think they have a chance and are really going to make a huge impact.”
In addition to a deep group of wide receivers, the Sooners also added several solid defensive backs. Philadelphia native Kass Everett is already on campus and enrolled in classes at OU as a junior college transfer. The Sooners also signed Zach Sanchez, who switched his commitment to OU on Monday from Baylor. Gary Simon, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., also signed with the Sooners Wednesday.
Stoops said the basketball coaches sealed Simon’s commitment and added he may go out for basketball as well.
The only negative from OU’s signing day was the status of tight end Laith Harlow. Harlow is recovering from back surgery, and it was determined he would be unable to continue playing football. Stoops said the Sooners will honor his scholarship, however.
The Sooners gathered players from 11 different states, something Stoops said he enjoys doing.
“It’s really positive in that I love to recruit the whole country,” Stoops said. “It really shows the broad range, maybe the overall popularity throughout the country and just the recognition around the country.”
This class is also already very close. Quarterback commit Trevor Knight of San Antonio organized a private Facebook group for those who had made verbal commitments to Oklahoma to connect and get to know each other.
The plan worked, and that may be the sort of camaraderie the Sooners need to move forward into a positive 2012 season.
It wasn’t the flashiest class, or even the highest rated, but it’s what the Sooners needed.
And that’s the most important thing.