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- American football player and coach
After an agonizing week filled with rumors, misinformation, smokescreens, de-commitments, and borderline scandals, the Oklahoma Sooners have found their man. The name is familiar in Oklahoma as Brent Venables takes the reigns as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners. From 1999 to 2011, Venables coached at Oklahoma, where he served as associate head coach, defensive coordinator, and linebackers coach for the Sooners under legendary head coach Bob Stoops.
Stoops is currently serving as interim while things are sorted out for Venables and the rest of the potential new staff.
For Venables, the bit of mess he walked in isn’t catastrophic, but it’s worthy of note. They are less than two weeks away from the Early Signing Day, and their 2022 class is currently 17th on 247Sports team rankings after being 7th just a week ago.
They’ve lost four 2022 recruits since news of Riley’s departure to USC, and Venables will have his work cut out for him to regain those commitments, add others, or bring guys from Clemson’s recruiting class.
Who are the five players that Brent Venables and the current staff should look to close the deal on?
Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy, DL
Gabriel Dindy is the crown jewel of the Sooners 2022 class. He’s the highest-rated recruit in the class at No.10. He’s a massive 5-star defensive lineman from Lakeland, Florida, who has two Sooners as parents. The previous regime did some heavy lifting, and Calvin Thibodeaux led the way.
Thibodeaux and Bob Stoops made their way to visit Dindy and his family recently, and by all accounts, the visit went great. Dindy didn’t like what transpired with the Riley situation and offered some words about it. He also said that regardless of what happens, he and his family were waiting for the new hire to decide if they would stay with Oklahoma or if he’d flip and head to College Station and sign with the Aggies.
Even though they’ve had guys visit Dindy, it would serve Oklahoma and Venables well to show their face and communicate with Dindy to keep him in the boat. Venables is an excellent recruiter and has landed names like Bryan Bresee, Christian Wilkins, Andrew Booth, Trenton Simpson, Andrew Mukuba in recent years at his time in Clemson.
Venables also recruited Dindy while he was at Clemson early on in the process. Venables can sell him on what he can be at Oklahoma and how he can help get him to the NFL. It wouldn’t hurt to retain Calvin Thibodeaux as well.
Gentry Williams, DB
The homegrown number one player in the state needs to play for his home school. Gentry Williams represents a perfect fit for Venables defense and what he likes from his corners. He has the speed to run and play press, which is huge as Venables plays man a lot when he utilizes the exotic blitzes he’s become known for. With reports of Williams visiting Arkansas recently, news of Venables hire couldn’t be at a better time.
There’s a very significant chance Michael Reed may be Venables’ number one option as DB coach with Roy Manning resigning. Reed has been the defensive backs coach the last few years at Clemson.
Reed has coached and developed Andrew Booth (a virtual lock at this point for a first-round draft pick status), AJ Terrell (a first-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons), Isaiah Simmons (first round to the Arizona Cardinals), and David Amerson. That’s four NFL players who Reed and Venables coached. Reed seems like a perfect fit for this staff, and he should be on that flight with Venables.
Again, like with Dindy, Williams was also recruited by Clemson early on, so there is some level of connection there.
Marvin Jones Jr., Edge
While this may be one of the Sooners biggest longshots now, the change in head coach coupled with the fact that the head coach now is a defensive guru that is well known nationwide for his ability to gameplan, develop talent, and maximize players, Marvin Jones should be someone the Sooners touch bases with again in light of everything that’s changed.
Hopefully, retention of Jamar Cain coupled with a home visit by Venables could get the ball rolling again for the Sooners, who were in an excellent spot less than two weeks ago.
Their biggest competition is still Florida State and Alabama but having a name like Venables be your closer on an elite defensive recruit is much different than having an offensive-minded head coach try and close things out.
Derrick Moore, Edge
Derrick Moore was another casualty of the Sooners 2022 class when Lincoln Riley departed. You have to think that a name like Venables’ who has recruited up and down the east coast for years now, carries some weight.
Retention of Cain on staff, given his already impressive recruiting track record, would provide a significant shot in the arm. Like with Jones, a visit from Venables could be what Moore needs to see he’s in good hands with a coach who knows what it takes to develop guys into professional defenders.
Moore has tremendous upside and could see significant snaps on day one with how depleted the edge room may look at Oklahoma heading into 2022.
Any defenders Clemson already has committed to them
As we’ve seen recently with the Riley to USC situation and how vocal recruits are about the position coaches that recruit them, it’s not out of the question that Oklahoma benefits in a similar way to USC.
Players build relationships with coaches that are deeper than the program itself. In other words, the Sooners could see themselves land a recruit that didn’t previously have OU on their radar because said recruit may have wanted to play under Venables above all else.
That’s not speculating any particular Clemson recruit will flip to Oklahoma but it’s clear some of these relationships are deeper than we realize and could sway a kid to follow a coach he committed to.