Lincoln Riley just sent a message to Tom Herman: No trespassing.
The Texas football coach on Monday felt his first sting at the hands of Oklahoma’s new coach when Putnam City defensive end Ron Tatum flipped his verbal commitment from UT to OU.
In the ever-evolving rivalry between the Longhorns and Sooners, the 42-year-old Herman had crossed the Red River four times in the last two recruiting classes and has taken some of Oklahoma’s top talent out from under 56-year-old Bob Stoops’ nose.
But Riley, 33, may have flipped the script.
They say football recruiting is a young man’s game. Advantage Riley.
Tatum is OU’s ninth 2018 verbal commitment (Riley’s first), joining high profile names like offensive tackle Brey Walker, running back T.J. Pledger and quarterback Tanner Mordecai.
Quarterback recruiting under Stoops had hit a rough patch, too, when Herman picked up an unbinding commit from former Southmoore star (now Newcastle) Casey Thompson, son of former Sooner wishbone wizard Charles Thompson. Even more troubling, Herman flipped California QB Cameron Rising from his verbal pledge to OU. Now, both Thompson and Rising are committed to Texas.
But Riley’s immediate promotion in the wake of Stoops’ sudden retirement last week may have stemmed that momentum.
Tatum is a 6-foot-4, 270-pound thoroughbred, arguably the top prospect in the state.
No doubt Oklahoma will be challenged to replace a legend like Stoops. But just five days into his new job, Riley is off to a good start.
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.