'A special, special talent': Latrell McCutchin's commitment a big recruiting win for OU football
It hasn’t taken long for Latrell McCutchin to capture the hearts of Sooner fans.
The four-star cornerback committed to OU on Saturday, and generally a commitment from a blue chip defensive back out of Austin would be the top news of the day for the Sooners. However, McCutchin’s commitment was overshadowed by Caleb Williams, the No. 1 ranked quarterback in the nation, who committed to OU just several hours later.
Yet McCutchin is already setting himself up as a fan favorite with his actions on Twitter, including wearing a gaudy OU chain in his commitment video and tweeting his disdain for Texas. While those are to be expected from a Sooner commit, his recruitment has been anything but typical.
After committing to Alabama in June of 2019, McCutchin tore his ACL early in the season and missed the rest of his junior year.
“Tearing my ACL my junior season really tore me apart, but luckily for me I had the best support system, and also some of the best therapists around to build me up,” McCutchin said in his commitment video. “... There were times in this recovery process when I truly wanted to get up.”
Alabama and OU were among the first Power 5 schools to offer McCutchin, both did so in May of 2019. Despite pledging to the Crimson Tide early in his recruitment process, the Sooners’ coaching staff stayed in contact with McCutchin regularly during his junior year, and he particularly developed a strong relationship with cornerbacks coach Roy Manning.
The Sooners were able to get him to Norman for an unofficial visit on March 1, shortly before in-person recruiting was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. McCutchin tweeted his decommitment from Alabama at 6:33 p.m. during his visit, and OU coach Lincoln Riley tweeted his signature eye emoji just one minute later.
“I think OU just really embraced him,” said Jahmal Fenner, who coaches McCutchin at Lyndon B. Johnson High School in Austin. “He’s a kid that’s big on relationships. He wants to have a strong relationship with all of his coaches. OU put in the time and really reached out to him throughout the whole process of his injury and recovery.”
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OU flipping a high-caliber defensive recruit from a school like Alabama may come as a shock to some given the school’s reputations on defense. Alabama currently has 16 defensive backs on NFL rosters, while Oklahoma only has three.
However, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and Manning have stepped up OU’s secondary recruiting going into their second year on the job. The duo signed four-star cornerbacks Kendall Dennis and Joshua Eaton, as well as four-star safeties Bryson Washington and Justin Harrington in 2020.
“Alabama was like a dream school to him, but I wasn’t surprised (that he decommitted) because he committed so early in the process,” Fenner said. “He’s a kid that knows what he wants. So I think it shows his maturity for him to be able to decommit from Alabama and reevaluate what’s best for him.”
McCutchin is ranked as the No. 124 player in the class of 2021, No. 11 at cornerback and No. 21 from Texas, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 176 pounds, which makes him fit the mold of the taller defensive backs Grinch and Manning like to recruit.
“Latrell is a dynamic player,” Fenner said. “He has a strong mindset and he’s one of those kids that just wants to be great in all aspects of life. I think Oklahoma’s getting a special, special talent.”
McCutchin could be on track to see playing time early in his career, which would not be unprecedented. Jaden Davis played in all 14 of OU’s games during his true freshman season in 2019, with 26 total tackles, two passes defended and an interception. With senior cornerback Tre Brown set to graduate after the 2020 season, there will be a hole to fill at the cornerback spot in 2021.
“I think he needs to focus on just getting stronger and building relationships with his teammates and coaches, and just keep growing as an individual” said Fenner, who played defensive back at UTEP from 2001 to 2004. “That transition from high school to college is different, and our players need to develop mentally and be open to different types of experiences he will have.”