NORMAN- The next generation of Oklahoma Sooners officially signed their letters of intent to join the program on Wednesday.
Sixteen players signed with the Sooners, rating Oklahoma as the number 12 signing class in the 2021 recruiting cycle per Rivals’ recruiting rankings.
“It’s been a long time coming and then certainly a different journey with these players and their families throughout this,” Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley said. “I think it says a lot about the quality of people that we’re bringing in here.”
While every recruiting class comes with it’s own set of challenges, the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic complicated things further.
Due to NCAA restrictions, there was an embargo on in-person campus visits. The offshoot of that decision meant a great number of the players signed by the Sooners made their decision without once setting foot on campus in Norman.
“I’m very very proud of the people that we signed and the people that are coming into our program,” Riley said. “There’s a lot of great days ahead for the Oklahoma Sooners.”
The class boasts two five-star rated recruits and nine four-star recruits thus far, per the Rivals rankings.
Five-star quarterback Caleb Williams from Washington D.C. headlines the class, as he made waves hosting the “Sooner Summit”, an unofficial visit weekend for fellow prospects in an attempt to help recruit them to join Williams at Oklahoma.
Williams had to work on his own to help bring the class together, as the NCAA restrictions on in-person recruiting prevented the Oklahoma coaching staff from getting involved.
“It was something that, you know, we couldn’t be a part of,” Riley said. “If a player does choose to come on our campus on our own, we can have nothing to do with them. We can’t even be on a phone call with them while they are on our campus… that’s how strict the rules are.”
On top of the off the field leadership skills, Riley said he was also excited about Williams’ blend of athleticism and arm talent. But the aspect of Williams’ character that put him over the top for the Sooners was his mentality, Riley said.
“When we had a previous player committed, he and his father were willing to come here and walk on,” Riley said. “Not many people would have been willing to do that and I just think it shows you the confidence Caleb has in himself.”
Williams will be joined by elite weapons on offense and along the offensive line, as has become the standard at Oklahoma. But in 2021, the defensive recruiting took a jump too.
Nine of the 16 signed commits are defensive players, with the position of four-star athlete Billy Bowman also to be determined.
Riley specifically singled out the defensive backs as a unit he is excited about.
‘We were thrilled to add those guys,” Riley said. “One of the big headlines I think is that group and the ability that we’re bringing in.”
Four-stars Lattrell McCutchin, Damond Harmon and Billy Bowman could make up that group alongside three-star Choctaw standout Jordan Mukes.
McCutchin, a 6’1” native of Austin, TX flipped his commitment from the Alabama Crimson Tide to the Sooners earlier this year.
Harmon will also add size to the Oklahoma secondary, standing at 6’1”.
“[Harmon] was one of the most versatile DB’s that we were able to see across the country and was an immediate day one target for us,” Riley said.
It may take a bit more convincing however to get Bowman on the defensive side of the ball.
“I don’t know that I’ve seen a more dynamic athlete in the country this year than Billy,” Riley said.
The 5’10” product of Denton, TX was a late flip to the Sooners from the Texas Longhorns, but defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said he may not be done recruiting him.
“I tell him he may break my heart playing offense,” Grinch said. “I only talk to him about playing defense.”
The defensive line continues to build with the additions of four-star prospects Kevin Gilliam and Nathan Rawlins-Kibongo, as well as the addition of three-star lineman Ethan Downs out of Weatherford.
Targets still remain on the board for the Sooners in the form of a trio of offensive standouts.
Five-star offensive tackles Bryce Foster and Tristan Leigh have yet to announce what school they will sign with, as well as five-star running back Camar Wheaton.
Recruits can sign through Dec. 18 to participate in the early signing period. They can also choose to hold off and make their final decision in the late signing period between Feb. 3 and April 1 of 2021.