2023 recruiting cycle key for move to SEC

Brent Venables is just getting started in his pursuit of evolving the Oklahoma Sooners from, in his words, “good to great.” As a defensive coordinator, Venables was arguably the most successful coordinator of the last decade, helping Clemson win two national championships and building a defense that accumulated the most tackles for loss and sacks in the country during his time at Clemson.

Safe to say, Venables knows how to build a defense. Now in charge of the whole program, Venables first recruiting class was a home run. A group that was ranked No. 28 in the country according to 247Sports team recruiting rankings in the aftermath of the Lincoln Riley departure was built back up into the No. 8 class after national signing day.

In two months, Venables and the Sooners coaching staff rebuilt the recruiting class into a top 10 group.

That immediate rebuild set the tone for 2023, his first full recruiting cycle at the University of Oklahoma. With five commitments, the Sooners are No. 20 in the country according to 247Sports and No. 18 in On3’s rankings. Their current class consists of Joshua Bates, Jackson Arnold, Ashton Cozart, Kaleb Spencer, and Erik McCarty. It’s an intriguing group, with several players that could add a star in their senior seasons at high school.

Brent Venables is working to reshape the culture at the University of Oklahoma. Despite the star rating assigned to their current commits, Venables knows what he’s looking for in players and some of that stuff can’t be quantified.

As he shared at the latest Coaches Caravan in Amarillo, he’s starting from scratch. In this piece from this piece from Ryan Chapman at Sooners SI, Venables talked a bit about the reshaping of the mentality and culture that’s taking place at Oklahoma. “We’re starting over,” Venables said. “We’re stripping this bad boy down to the studs.”

While the focus might be on the players present for the 2022 season, what Venables is working to create isn’t just for 2022. He’s laying a foundation that will impact and influence the future of Oklahoma Football.

This recruiting class will be juniors heading into 2025, the year Oklahoma’s currently expected to move to the SEC. There’s talk that they could buy their way out earlier, but in their current media rights contract, 2025 is the first opportunity they’ll get to make a move.

While there will be some seniors from the 2022 recruiting class still with the program, the 2023 class will be the corps of the team as Oklahoma plays their first season in the SEC in 2025.

Brent Venables has to hit back-to-back home runs in his recruiting classes to set Oklahoma up for success when they arrive in the SEC. There’s little evidence to suggest he and his coaching staff won’t because of what he was able to do in the short time after he arrived in the 2022 cycle.

Oklahoma’s trending in the right direction with several top prospects like David Hicks, Cayden Green, and Bai Jobe that will help give them a boost in recruiting rankings. Adding those guys and other four and five-star talents to the current crop of commitments will be key for the Oklahoma Sooners when they take the field for the first time as an SEC team.

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