Analysis: OU's 2009 recruiting class
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
2/04/09 at 6:47 PM
OU football beat writer John E. Hoover analyzes the Sooners' 2009 recruiting class:
Oklahoma's 2009 recruiting class has some nice names and even a handful of potential stars, but on the surface it doesn't look like one of Bob Stoops' best classes.
There were gaping holes to fill at receiver and offensive line, and it appears the Sooners did well at those positions – but could have made out a whole lot better. Numbers were skimpy at both – two receivers, four linemen – so OU fans need to hope the guys that signed pay off now and develop as good players.
In particular, there can be no whiffs on the three junior college newcomers. Wideout Cameron Kenney must contribute immediately, and offensive linemen Jeff Vinson and Tavaris Jeffries have to at least compete with redshirt freshmen and sophomores for top backup jobs.
OU added plenty of future depth at linebacker (four), defensive back (four) and defensive end (three), three problem areas in recent years.
There's also a quarterback, a running back and a tight end, as well as a pair of versatile athletes who could play almost anywhere. In all, nine offensive players and 13 defensive players were signed.
OU's class is ranked No. 13 by Rivals.com and No. 9 by Scout.com.
The future is not set – particularly in recruiting. Did the Sooners get their next great QB in Drew Allen? What does RB Jonathon Miller's future hold? Will Ronnell Lewis stay at LB, or could he eventually be moved to offense?
More immediately, OU needs to earn quick dividends from Kenney, whose athletic ability is obvious on highlight film. Also, at least two of the four new offensive linemen – ideally, the juco transfers – need to be on the two-deep come fall.
If the Sooners are going to compete for championships in 2009, this class must provide a handful of major contributors.
The needs: OU's record-setting 2008 offense was balanced, predicated on a talented and experienced offensive line. Four starters are gone (and another senior who started plenty). Some replacements already are in place, but this recruiting class may have to deliver at least one starter and two backups. The loss of three senior receivers (145 catches, 2,368 yards, 21 TDs) also must be minimized. That starts with Kenney, and maybe freshman Jaz Reynolds.
Headliner: Kenney is the only offensive player OU signed rated at least four stars by both Rivals.com and Scout.com. In two seasons at Garden City (Kan.) CC, he caught 86 passes for 1,203 yards and 8 TDs. He also punted, kicked field goals, returned kicks and took handoffs.
Sleeper: TE Gabe Ikard of OKC Bishop McGuinness comes equipped with a major college frame (6-4, 246) and was a prolific receiver in high school (29 catches, 542 yards, 9 TDs last year). If he takes to Kevin Wilson's coaching and embraces blocking, Ikard may someday develop into a trusted starter.
Immediate impact: Kenney is 6-foot-2, 195 pounds and runs a sub-4.5 40. He has the ability to take a ball at its highest point and is shifty on the run. He looks like a hybrid of Malcolm Kelly and Juaquin Iglesias, good both in the air and on the ground. He originally committed to Auburn, then chose OU over Georgia.
This is where the true talent of this class lies. Three Scout.com five-star prospects signed with the Sooners in DT Jamarkus McFarland, CB Gabe Lynn and LB Ronnell Lewis. Of the three, Lynn may have the best chance of playing immediately.
Beyond the stars, OU signed good depth at LB and DE, where depth has been difficult to come by recently.
DEs Jarrett Brown and Terry Franklin are athletic and look like good long-term prospects, while Justin Chaisson may be able to contribute immediately.
LBs Jayden Bird, Gus Jones and Tom Wort all seem like solid athletes with uncommon toughness in the Rocky Calmus/Ryan Reynolds mold.
The needs: Nine starters return for OU next season, with the graduation of two starting safeties the only holes to fill. There are plenty of candidates already on the team, but don't rule out any of the newcomers. Lynn is a CB by trade but wouldn't mind giving safety a shot next season. Kevin Brent could be a star in waiting, not as big as Nic Harris or as fast as Lendy Holmes, but perhaps a total package. Javon Harris and Marcus Trice come in needing to get bigger and stronger, but are athletic enough to contribute later.
Headliner: The Sooners have had success at DT thanks to the recruiting and coaching of Jackie Shipp. Shipp has another potential star to work with in McFarland. McFarland isn't as strong as Tommie Harris, as big as DeMarcus Granger or as quick as Gerald McCoy, but he has all three attributes and knows how to use them. With Granger returning from back surgery, McFarland might have to play immediately – and he's good enough to.
Sleeper: Marshall Musil could be the next Nic Harris. Or the next Auston English. Or the next Trent Smith. Or the next Matt Clapp. If Musil starts out on defense, he's big and athletic enough to help out just about anywhere.
Immediate impact: Depending on how fast he absorbs the OU defense, expect Lynn to get into the backup rotation at CB almost out of the gate. If the Sooners can't quickly identify the best candidates to play safety, Lynn might move there. At 6-foot and 185 pounds, Lynn is big enough. But the learning curve at safety is significant.
To read more about OU football from beat writers John E. Hoover and Guerin Emig, go to the OU page on Tulsa World's Sports Extra.
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