Carlson: Seven things to watch on Signing Day for OU, OSU and Oklahoma high school football
Signing Day is almost here.
With the college football season shifted back a few weeks on the calendar because of the pandemic, the games are our focus. But Wednesday is indeed the day football players across the country will sign national letters of intent.
We used to call this the Early Signing Day, but what began in 2017 as a chance for players and programs to get an early jump has become the day most recruits are signed and most classes are filled. That will be the case again this year as we look across the state at the top-notch recruits and the major-college programs.
Not much work will remain when the more traditional signing day in February rolls around.
But like pretty much everything this year, Signing Day will be different because of the pandemic.
Here are seven things to watch for Wednesday.
Cookies anyone?: Signing Day ceremonies have become a staple over the years with recruits gathering with family and friends at their high school to sign their letters of intent. Pictures are taken. Refreshments are served; cookies shaped or designed to represent the player’s college are almost assured.
But what about signing ceremonies during a pandemic?
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Some schools are having ceremonies, including Edmond Santa Fe, Choctaw and Del City locally, but many will not. It doesn’t change the magnitude of the day for the players — their national letter of intent is good even if they don’t have balloons in their new school’s colors — but this is one more event that some will be without this year.
A total bummer.
Big thing, big guys: The biggest thing to watch at OU involves some of the biggest guys. The Sooners have only one offensive lineman committed currently, three-star tackle Cullen Montgomery, but a couple others will be making their choices and have OU in the mix.
On Signing Day, four-star tackle Savion Byrd will make his decision known. He’s likely down to OU and SMU, and SMU has a great shot at getting him because of a former Cowboy. Ra’shaad Samples, who played one season at OSU, is an assistant at SMU, and his father is the head coach at Duncanville High School, where Byrd plays.
Then on Friday, five-star guard Bryce Foster will announce his decision. He lists LSU, OU, Oregon, Texas and Texas A&M as his finalists, though those in the know say he’s down to OU and A&M. If he chooses the Sooners, Foster will be the first Rivals five-star offensive lineman to sign at OU since 2008.
A Rhino becomes a Cowboy?: Even though OSU’s class is almost full, it is still looking to add another offensive lineman. The top target is four-star offensive tackle Jordan Moko, who plays at Snow College, a junior college in Utah.
The native of Australia can throw the discus over 200 feet and can walk on his hands. You don’t often see 6-foot-5, 300-pound guys doing that.
Even though he played rugby back in Australia, playing football (the American variety) was actually his dream. He even spent time playing for a football club in Brisbane with perhaps one of the greatest nicknames in all of sports — the Rhinos.
Officially signed without officially visiting: The pandemic changed recruiting dramatically. Rules were amended, and recruiting was restricted. Recruiters couldn’t do in-home visits, and recruits couldn’t make official visits to any campuses.
Like many things this year, lots of recruiting was done via Zoom.
That means lots of players will be signing with schools to which they never made an official visit. That doesn’t mean all of them are signing sight unseen — some OU commits, for example, gathered a group of recruits together for an unofficial event in Norman last spring — but there will be plenty of recruits who make their first trip to their new campus on the day they move into the dorms.
Catching up: The strength of OSU’s class is at wide receivers, both in quantity and in quality. The Cowboys will sign five receivers, and all are three- or four-star recruits, depending on which recruiting service you favor.
Jaden Bray is an Oklahoman from Norman High, but the other four receivers are from Texas. Cam Smith is from Denton Braswell, and John Paul Richarson is from Missouri City, but the headliners of the group are the Green twins from Allen.
Maybe Cowboy offensive coordinator and receivers coach Kasey Dunn likes having twins on the roster — hard to blame him with the way Tylan and Tracin Wallace turned out — but Bryson and Blaine Green already look college ready. Both are 6-foot-2, 210 pounds or so.
D.C. pipeline: OU expects to sign four players from the Washington, D.C. area, and all on their own, they would make for a star-studded class. The headliner is five-star quarterback Caleb Williams, who now lives in Norman, but the other three players are four-stars: wide receiver Jalil Farooq, defensive tackle Kelvin Gilliam and cornerback Damond Harrison.
This bunch from the District wasn’t all Shane Beamer’s doing, but the Sooners’ assistant head coach has ties to that area of the country and certainly helped build relationships. Beamer is on his way to South Carolina to become the head coach, but this D.C. group is quite a parting gift for OU.
Oklahoma strong: We’ll have to wait to have the final numbers, but the state will produce more FBS signees in this class than it has in recent years. What’s more, the state’s prep scene is producing more and more Power 5 players.
Look at The Oklahoman’s Super 30, and the top 13 players are committed to Power 5 programs. Seventeen of the top 18 are, too.
Those are big numbers.
The talent in the state is improving, and Signing Day will be further validation of that.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or email@example.com. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok, and support her work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.