Oklahoma Sooners Loss in AT&T Cotton Bowl Highlights Recruiting Problems

By Curt Popejoy
Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

Rather than pour my heart out about last night’s crushing loss by the Oklahoma Sooners at the hands of the Texas A&M Aggies in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, and give you a blow by blow recap of the beatdown, I want to use this opportunity to illustrate a problem that has been coming on for several years and really reared its ugly head last night. Besides, going over that game again might send me right over the edge.

The problem with this team has come down to lack of quality recruiting. Going back to the 2009 recruiting class for the Sooners and going man for man through the subsequent classes, there are some disturbing trends. The top players the Sooners recruited at positions that requite utmost athleticism, particularly on defense have not panned out. Spots like defensive back, defensive end, wide receiver and running back have simply not produced the type of elite playmaker that should be from a program like Oklahoma. Let’s review, shall we?

2009-The top player from this class was cornerback Kevin Brent who was coming in to take over the secondary. But instead he redshirted, rarely played and finally transferred in 2011. Defensive lineman Justin Chaissaon gets into legal trouble almost immediately upon arriving and at last check I believe is a professional surfer. Even defensive backs Javon Harris and Damontre Hurst who are starting are at best marginal athletes and as we have seen in recent years aren’t the types of players that concern offensive coordinators.

2010-This group is highlighted by quarterback Blake Bell, who we will get a full picture of next season, but I am optimistic his future is bright. But of the positions we are highlighting it’s more mediocrity. Running backs Brennan Clay and Roy Finch have been supplanted by a walk on and a JUCO transfer, defensive end Geneo Grissom is still third on the depth chart, and defensive back James Haynes has transferred. In fact the best athlete of this draft, defensive back Tony Jefferson is likely not one of the 10 best safetys in the country.

I highlight these 2 groups because this should be the core of the team and the players that should have been out there competing against the Aggies. Keeping in mind that per Rivals neither of these classes even included a 5 star recruit. A program with the rich tradition and history of Oklahoma should be able to pull in much better athletes and playmakers than it has in recent years. Last night Sooners fans saw Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and the rest of the Aggies skill players make quick work of a very under-athletic Sooners defense that was slow to the football, and lacked the agility needed to make plays.

This Sooners team cannot continue to be competitive in the Big 12, or the BCS championship picture if the ship can’t be righted on recruiting. Every week college football fans are treated to amazing individual performances by skilled athletes all over the field. But I don’t remember the last time that could be said about a Sooners player aside from a quarterback. The Aggies beat the Sooners last night with a much more athletic roster on offense against a defense that simply couldn’t keep up. It’s not the first time it’s happened this year and moving forward it won’t be the last. I understand this isn’t always a popular opinion among Sooners fans, but I expect much more out of this team than the performance they put on last night, and have in recent years. Getting nice production out of the bottom half of a recruiting class doesn’t excuse a lack of production from the top half. If this were an NFL team, you cannot miss on your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks every year and win and the same holds true in college football. The Sooners must start winning on these top recruits.


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