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Brent Venables and Co. are weeks removed from their first spring as a staff together. It was a successful one with no notable injuries and some standout performances across the board. All told, things went as well as they could’ve hoped considering the positive reviews from the media and recruits in attendance.
The spring game served as an eye-opener for recruits and gave the Oklahoma Sooners some significant momentum to ride as they head into the most crucial time of the year for recruiting. With spring ball done and the team going home to recharge before fall camp, the staff will be all in on recruiting. With that in mind, it’s time to map out the targets to watch as the 2023 class begins to materialize this summer.
Commits: Jackson Arnold
Oklahoma has its centerpiece and leader for this class in rising senior Jackson Arnold. Arnold quarterbacked a very talented Denton Guyer team to the state championship game last year and torched defenses. The craziest thing about it was his first year starting on varsity. He earned a spot in the Elite 11, the premier offseason QB evaluation circuit, and with another year of production like he put on display last year, Arnold will be knocking on the door for five-star status in 2023.
With him in the boat, the Sooners have a player whose word means something to his peers and can deploy him on the recruiting trail to flip guys like teammate Peyton Bowen (we’ll get to him later) and recruit others to Norman in the process. The Sooners also added JUCO transfer General Booty who has three years left of eligibility on top of 2022’s Nick Evers. Evers completed his first spring as an OU QB so the Sooners won’t be needing to address the position anymore for 2023.
Notable targets: Dylan Edwards, Daylan Smothers, Tre Wisner, Richard Young, Sergio Snider
Oklahoma’s in an odd spot in regards to their running back recruiting for the 2023 class. The Sooners and recruiting pundits seemed pretty confident that running back Tre Wisner would end up a Sooner. While that’s still a possibility as he won’t be able to sign until later this fall, his commitment to Texas was a bit of a shock. His relationship with running backs coach DeMarco Murray and his visits to Oklahoma seemed like a great sign that a Sooners’ commitment was coming. Things didn’t end up that way as he committed to Texas after their spring game.
So what now for OU and their running back recruits?
The Sooners are still communicating with five-star Florida RB Richard Young. Dylan Edwards has the Sooners in his Top 10. Four-star North Carolina RB Daylan Smothers was offered by DeMarco Murray in the spring and has to be in consideration at this point with where the Sooners are at with running back.
Ultimately, one or both of Smothers and Edwards seem like eventual commits for the Sooners but there’s a long race ahead of them. This summer could go a long way in the recruitment of both. DeMarco Murray has a busy summer ahead of himself.
Targets: Reid Mikeska, Malachi Coleman, Markus Dixon
The tight end position for the Sooners has become much different than it was with Lincoln Riley at the helm. Gone are the tight end/H-back hybrids and in come more traditional TE player types.
Their recruiting has to reflect that and one target they’ve begun to hone in on is three-star Reid Mikeska. The former Clemson commit decomitted from the Tigers and was just in Norman on an unofficial visit. Having him for an official visit doesn’t seem farfetched and everything’s trending in the right direction to land a commitment.
Elsewhere, Markus Dixon and Malachi Coleman remain targets for the Oklahoma Sooners. With the likely exit of Brayden Willis and Daniel Parker Jr. after the 2023 season, the Sooners will need multiple bodies to join the room behind freshmen Kaden Helms and Jason Llewellyn. The Sooners will need to get Dixon and Coleman from the East Coast to campus for a visit to have a shot here.
Commits: Ashton Cozart
Targets: Mikal Harrison-Pilot, Anthony Evans, Jaden Greathouse, Jaquaize Pettaway
Ashton Cozart got the party started with a commitment in the winter after an unofficial visit once Jeff Lebby got settled as the new offensive coordinator. He’s firmly locked in as a Sooner.
With multiple receivers likely on their way out following this upcoming season, Oklahoma will need a few more to add to the room.
A three-sport athlete Mikal Harrison-Pilot is probably the most dynamic of the bunch. The Sooners have also started to up the ante on three-star speedster Anthony Evans who was in Norman for the Spring Game. There’s no denying the Sooners are firmly in the running for both but the summer could provide the separation the Sooners need.
Four-star receiver Jaquaize Pettaway locked in his official visit to the Sooners for the ChampU BBQ and he’s someone the Sooners would love to have in Crimson and Cream. He’s an impact player and there’s reason to believe he can contribute from day one.
Commits: Joshua Bates
Targets: Cayden Green, Payton Kirkland, Wilkin Formby, Harris Sewell, Brycen Sanders, Logan Howland
This list is massive and we mean that figuratively and literally. There are a lot of big bodies the Sooners are fighting for to man the trenches up front under Bill Bedenbaugh.
Joshua Bates has been committed since August of 2021. He’s firmly an interior lineman and will replace the scholarship left behind by Chris Murray when his career ends after this season. The Sooners need to add more talent to the tackle position, which is why they are targeting tackles like Cayden Green, who they are very much in a good position with, and four-star tackle Wilkin Formby out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Both are locked in for official visits as well.
Four-star Brycen Sanders has locked in an official to Oklahoma while Payton Kirkland will also visit during the ChampU BBQ, but remains a bit of a wild card. The Sooners would be wise to keep pushing for him still. The Sooners seem a long-shot for Harris Sewell, while three-star offensive linemen Logan Howland will take his official at the ChampU BBQ in June.
Many of the Sooners’ offensive line dominoes project to fall sooner rather than later as guys like Sanders plan to end their recruitment in June and make their decisions, clearing up the scene even more for the Sooners to address where they stand with some of their targets.
Targets: David Hicks, Derrick LeBlanc, Peter Woods, Jordan Renaud, Kayden McDonald
While they have no commits along the defensive line, it cannot be understated how close the Sooners are in regards to names like LeBlanc, Hicks, and Kayden McDonald. Why is that? Well, it’s simple. Todd Bates’ hire has had positive ramifications. He’s done a tremendous job building relationships with the top prospects in the defensive tackles class.
David Hicks, a five-star defensive lineman from Allen, Texas, has raved about his relationship with Bates and while Texas A&M is also in the running with the Sooners there’s no need to overthink where Oklahoma stands here.
The same could be said about Derrick LeBlanc who has made multiple trips on his dime to Norman and enjoyed every second of it. Florida has a crystal ball for Leblanc but that’s certainly not a reason to believe he’s Florida bound, at least not yet.
McDonald is being recruited by Bates and quarterback Jackson Arnold heavily. Arnold and McDonald grew up together so having the QB committed has to give OU another voice in the ear of McDonald.
Peter Woods was offered later but being from Alabama, a place Bates is from and is extremely comfortable recruiting is another feather in his cap. Woods dropped a top four featuring the Sooners and don’t expect them to back off anytime soon.
Targets: Bai Jobe, PJ Adebawore, Chandavian Bradley, Colton Vasek
Bai Jobe and P.J. Adebawore are the names to watch here. Both have visited OU multiple times, both fit the build they are looking for, and both have strong relationships with defensive ends coach Miguel Chavis.
That’s not to say, Bradley, a five-star, will be cast aside but both the aforementioned names are ones that the Sooners are in a good spot with. Colton Vasek is right in the Longhorns’ backyard and would be an interesting find but without an official visit lined up, it’s hard to say much about him and his relationship with the defensive staff.
Targets: Anthony Hill, Troy Bowles, Phil Picciotti, Samuel Omosigho
Anthony Hill, the nation’s number one linebacker, is atop the list for the Sooners and seems like a priority for Brent Venables personally. While Venables is now the head man in charge, he’ll still get out there and recruit players personally. It’s not farfetched to believe that the only way the Sooners land Hill will be because Venables went above and beyond. The Sooners will host Hill for his official visit at the ChampU BBQ.
Phil Picciotti, a three-star linebacker from Pennsylvania, has landed three predictions in Oklahoma’s favor and also has confirmed a ChampU BBQ official visit. The Sooners look to be leaders there.
Troy Bowles, a four-star linebacker and the son of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles, was one of the first linebackers offered when Venables was announced as head coach. Bowles has every major program from the southeast knocking at his door and it may be very hard to pry him away from the clutches of Georgia, the state of Florida, or even a school like Alabama or Ohio State. Nonetheless, we’ll see how things work out this summer.
Samuel Omosigho, another three-star the Sooners love, is a player firmly in their sights. After visiting on April 18th, the Sooners received an On3 prediction shortly after for Omosigho’s services. Consider that a serious indicator of where the Sooners are in his recruitment.
Commits: Erik McCarty, Kaleb Spencer
Targets: Jacobe Johnson, Peyton Bowen. Makari Vickers, Jalon Kilgore, Micah Tease
The Sooners have two defensive backs in Erik McCarty and Kaleb Spencer already. McCarty is pound for pound one of Oklahoma’s best players as he could have played D1 football as either a running back or a defender. He’ll enter Norman with the intention to be a safety.
Virginia’s Kaleb Spencer will be a hybrid safety type that can play everywhere and do everything. That leaves room for guys like in-state super athletes Jacobe Johnson and Micah Tease at defensive back as well. Being from Oklahoma, the Sooners need to land commitments from both four-star players.
Outside the state of Oklahoma, Peyton Bowen is probably at the top of the recruiting boards at defensive back. Bowen plays with Sooners QB commit Jackson Arnold. The two are close and Arnold is applying the pressure to get the Notre Dame commit to flip. The Sooners just have to continue to run the race and will find themselves in a great place as the fall rolls around with Bowen.
Jalon Kilgore has locked in an official visit for the ChampU BBQ and will be in Norman in June. The race for four-star Makari Vickers is wide open and doesn’t figure to be ending anytime soon. Cornerbacks coach Jay Valai will have to keep the Sooners in the hunt to bring the cornerback out of Florida to Norman.