Oklahoma, Texas load up on prospects ahead of final Big 12 season
FOX Sports College Football Analyst
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1. Oklahoma and Texas charge ahead of their final season big 12 play and push for the SEC.
Oklahoma and Texas each secured a top-five recruit class, a five-star QB, a five-star LB, and more blue-chip recruits than Ohio State. In fact, only Alabama and UGA put together better classes for 2023 than Texas, and only those three put together better classes than Oklahoma (per 247 Sports).
Oklahoma’s 2023 recruit class ranks No. 4 in the nation, ahead of Ohio State, LSU, USC, Tennessee and others. And this follows a lost season. Texas followed up its 2021 season with a top 3 recruiting class, giving the Longhorns back-to-back top 5 recruiting classes.
That also means all Texas has to offer for landings from Bijan Robinson, Jordan Whittington, Casey Thompson, Jake Smith, Xavier Worthy and Quinn Ewers, an Alamo Bowl win over Colorado and a narrow hit against Alabama in front of a sold-out crowd in forty is acres. So if you’re here for the annual Texas — or Oklahoma return — joke, you’ve come to the right place.
As for me? I highlight two quotes attributed to America’s favorite rancher, John Dutton:
“This is America. We don’t share a country.” And the Big 12 has been part of Oklahoma since its inception.
“Everyone has forgotten who rules this valley.” It’s time Oklahoma reminded people that there was only one Oklahoma.
The top 5 most influential prospects
RJ Young counts Arch Manning of Texas, Cormani McClain of Colorado, and Jackson Arnold of Oklahoma among his most influential signers.
2. The most influential high school prospects of the Class of 2023 are:
- Nebraska WR Malachi Coleman
He is 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, runs the 100-meter dash in 10.46 seconds and has been on the podium in the 100, 200 and triple jumps at the Nebraska State Championships. A video has been circulating showing him banging his head against the board while sprinting to make a block in the middle of a basketball game for Lincoln East.
That’s not all.
Nearly 60% of his catches ended in six points, and he averaged a whopping 33 yards per catch—as a junior. He also recorded 57 tackles, 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles that same season.
The weird thing about all of this is that in 2021 he went to a summer camp in Nebraska as an unknown and left without an offer from Scott Frost’s staff. Matt Rhule had to work overtime to get him as the state’s No. 1 player, especially after Coach Prime attacked him.
He told 247 Sports that saying no to Coach Prime “was like saying no to God.” Score one for Rhule in Nebraska.
- South Carolina Edge/TE Nyckoles Harbour
He ran the 200 meters in 20.79 and the 100 meters in 10.28 – at 6 foot five, 225. His father played for the USA men’s national soccer team. He leaves the line of scrimmage like a fired gun, chases the quarterback like a hungry lion, and punches and slams like Clubber Lang.
comp? Rashan Gary. he is so good
- Five Star Tight End Duce Robinson
The race for his signing is not over as he announced on National Signing Day that he is delaying his decision. The nation’s top tight end made house calls to USC coach Lincoln Riley and Georgia coach Kirby Smart.
Riley is no doubt trying to sell him that he’s the next great Arizona tight end since Mark Andrews, the Pro Bowler he turned from a wideout into a Mackey Award-winning tight end. Smart can sell him as the next great West Coast tight end since Brock Bowers, who was the top receiver on the best team in the country last season. A Phoenix native, Robinson is also a notable pro baseball contender and could hear his name called in this year’s upcoming MLB draft.
The Los Angeles Dodgers liked him enough to ask him to attend a private practice session with other prospects last month. His comp is Aaron Judge when Aaron Judge caught 84 passes for 1,614 yards and 14 TDs en route to a state title appearance at Pinnacle — the same high school that produced Spencer Rattler.
- Five-Star Oklahoma QB Jackson Arnold
2022 Elite 11 MVP, MaxPreps Player of the Year, National Gatorade Player of the Year. He started 31 games. He won 28 of those games. As a senior, he threw for 3,476 yards, rushed 921 and totaled 57 TDs.
He’s the most decorated quarterback to sign with Oklahoma since Kyler Murray, and he could be the change agent the Sooners so desperately need in the Brent Venables era.
- Five Star Colorado CB Cormani McClain
Along with Travis Hunter, secondary guru and defensive coordinator Charles Kelly, and the best cornerback to ever live in Coach Prime, the formation of Voltron on defense awaits you in Boulder.
It has the speed and length to take your #1 WR from you as soon as it hits campus. And he will only get better.
McClain’s Comp? Tariq Woolen of the Seattle Seahawks.
- Five-Star Texas QB Arch Manning
He’s the biggest name in recruiting this year and has a fight coming up with reigning Quinn Ewers. His game needs to go strong to reach his No. 1 overall ranking, as people will still be skeptical because he didn’t play major high school football, and his father, uncles, and grandfather — who he’s named for — form the first family of football. But don’t twist it. Arch can hurl it.
3. Who will Nick Saban hire for his offense and defense?
It’s not uncommon for Saban to lose assistants for other jobs. In fact, Tuscaloosa is one of the top college football coaching incubators in modern history.
Just Eight years ago, his assistant coaching staff looked like this:
His offensive coordinator was Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin. His defensive coordinator was Kirby Smart, who has won two national titles with Georgia. His offensive line coach was Mario Cristobal, who is the head coach in Miami. His wide receiver coach was Billy Napier, the Florida head coach. His defensive backs coach was Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker. And Dan Lanning was a graduate assistant on that staff, and he’s the head coach at Oregon.
There’s a reason the likes of Butch Jones, Derek Dooley, Todd Grantham, Charlie Strong, and Steve Sarkisian have all worked for Saban as analysts, which is a job akin to an assistant with a better salary.
With former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien returning to New England to fill the same role as with the Patriots, and former defensive coordinator Pete Golding filling the same role with Ole Miss, there are no small numbers for either job from applicants.
And while there are names like Jim Leonhard, Joe Brady, Charles Kelly, Freddie Kitchens, and even Jeremy Pruitt as potential contenders, the real question is what Saban’s plan is for the future with another top recruit class going into a season like this about a real QB derby?
Whether Saban is hiring internally or externally for both or both positions will tell us a lot about the future of Tide in the years to come – particularly who might be in the best position to succeed him when the time comes.
4. is Jalen hurts a graduate from Oklahoma or Alabama?
Who do you think should claim hurts for the Super Bowl: Oklahoma or Alabama?
I asked this question on Twitter after Hurts led the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl, where he will join Patrick Mahomes in the first-ever Super Bowl with two black quarterbacks. This is a long way from when then-Alabama OC Brian Daboll benched hurts at halftime of the 2017 national title game in favor of Tua Tagovailoa.
Hurts also brought the Tide back with less than five to play in an SEC title game they would lose to UGA a year later after sitting on the bench as a senior. And Saban loved him enough to tell him to go where they have the best offense and that was OU.
At OU in 2019, Hurts had the biggest comeback win of my life by winning at Baylor, leading that team to the college football playoffs and finishing runners-up at Heisman. While at Norman, Hurts made it clear he liked OU, but his heart lies in Alabama.
Alabama or Oklahoma: Who Gets to Claim Jalen Hurts?
RJ Young shares his thoughts on the Jalen Hurts story with both the Crimson Tide and Sooners.
OU fans might say that they should have the greatest claim on him because OU (Lincoln Riley) never benched him. This meant a lot more after Riley Spencer benched Rattler in the middle of a shootout against Texas in 2021 for the player who would win the 2022 Heisman Trophy – Caleb Williams.
Sooners fans might want to think that Hurts played angry to annoy Alabama, but really he just wanted to play. And he honored both programs when he wore both schools’ insignia at the Senior Bowl.
But the privilege of claiming it falls to Alabama because he graduated from there and is thus an alum. He enrolled and took courses for a master’s degree at OU, but did not finish it.
That goes without saying when prospects prepare for the NFL Draft every April. For example, Stetson Bennett, who turns 26 in his rookie season in the NFL, still hasn’t graduated from Georgia, although he’s at it Time schedule May with a degree in economics.
RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of The Number One College Football Show podcast. Follow him on Twitter @RJ_Young and subscribe to The RJ Young Show on YouTube.
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