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- American football player and coach
Oklahoma isn’t waiting on its official departure to the Southeastern Conference to go ahead and start planting its roots.
The Sooners’ Southeast recruiting push continued last night when Oklahoma offered consensus four-star safety Derek Williams Jr. out of Westgate High School in New Iberia, La.
— Derek williams jr. 🏈❗️ (@derek2_williams) December 29, 2021
The 6-foot-2, 185 pound safety is rated highest overall by 247Sports where the recruiting service has Williams Jr. ranked as the 45th-best player in the class of 2023 nationally.
Williams Jr. holds offers from a bevy of other programs such as Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Texas and Texas A&M.
The Sooners’ 2023 class currently has a pair of players committed, four-star Los Alamitos, Calif., wide receiver DeAndre Moore Jr. and three-star Durango, Colo., interior offensive lineman Joshua Bates.
OU signed four-star safety Robert Spears-Jennings from Broken Arrow, Okla., on the first day of the Early Signing Period back on Dec. 15 in its 2022 class.
According to 247Sports, OU has offers out to 10 other safeties in the 2023 recruiting class: Joenel Aguero, Peyton Bowen, Braxton Myers, Jamel Johnson, Rahmir Stewart, Sylvester Smith, Elliot Washington, Deldrick Madison, Jordan Castell and Braylon Johnson.
Williams Jr. and the rest of these offers can expect to be hearing from the Sooners’ new safeties coach.
Oklahoma head football coach Brent Venables announced his hiring of new safeties coach Brandon Hall on Dec. 17.
“Brandon is an Oklahoman and someone who worked with us for 10 years. He’s the epitome of what the coaching profession should be all about, as far as development, putting in the work, creating opportunities through relationships and sweat equity, figuring stuff out, being mentored, having humility and taking some chances. I’m really proud about his growth and development. He was one of the first people I met when I came to Oklahoma in 1999 when he was a student assistant. To see him continue to bloom at each of his stops has been really cool for me, all the way to being one of the best defensive coordinators in college football the last few years at Troy. He’s been a leader, he’s loyal, he’s tough, he’s smart, he’s really innovative and he connects well with the players. They’re in for a treat,” Venables said of Hall.
Hall also discussed his excitement to return to Oklahoma as the next OU safeties coach in a statement on Dec. 17.
“When people talk about ‘going home,’ this is actually true in my case. I was born in Norman, so Oklahoma is a special place for me. I started my career here under Coach (Bob) Stoops, and both he and Coach Venables took a chance on me. They’re a big reason I’m here. I’ve always believed that your identity as a coach is your foundation, and my foundation is Coach Stoops and Coach Venables. I’ve been able to go out and develop my own style and develop as a coach and person, but to be able to come back and be a part of the OU tradition is something I can’t describe. Who I am as a coach and as a person has really been impacted by those two and how they approach the game – their aggressiveness, their tenacity and their standards.
“Coach Venables to me has always been about, ‘OK, this is the standard; this is how we’re going to operate and this is how we’re going to live.’ It’s impacted me not only as a coach but in my personal life as well. When he called and asked me to join him at OU, it really wasn’t a question for me. It was, ‘I’m in.’ This place is special to me. I’m going to do everything I can each day to live up to those expectations and standards, because if there’s anybody who understands them, it’s me. I’m looking forward to growing and being a part of it all. There are great, great things ahead for this program,” Hall said in his statement.