The needs were plentiful for the Oklahoma going into National Signing Day. Now, with 24 new players heading to Norman, it's time to take a look at how the Sooners did with a class that doesn't necessarily reek of star power. Despite the lack of highly-ranked recruits, the Sooners did a good job of meeting needs and putting themselves in a good position for the future.
Biggest need met: Defensive tackle
The Sooners racked up four defensive tackles and could add a fifth if JUCO transfer Toby Johnson decides to come to Norman. Either way, this is exactly what Oklahoma needed with its top three tackles from 2012 graduating, leaving very little remaining in the cupboard. Quincy Russell has the ability to start immediately, but all four players should have the opportunity to fight for time in the defensive rotation. The only bad thing about this group is that none of them are on campus for spring practice.
Biggest need not met: Offensive tackle:
The Sooners did sign two in this class—Christian Daimler and Josiah St. John—but missed out on two more that really could have helped the Sooners solidify the future at this position. Oklahoma got in the game late for both George Adeosun and Josh Outlaw, but were thought to be able to get at least one of them. However, Outlaw surprisingly signed with Texas Tech, while Adeosun went with Virginia. It was a tough blow to the Sooners, who really could have used some more depth at the position.
Complete recruiting oversight: Tight end
The Sooners barely used the tight end last season because they didn't have many and the ones they did have weren't ready for game action, so head coach Bob Stoops didn't play them. In fact, all three true freshmen tight ends the Sooners brought in a year ago redshirted. The Sooners didn't sign a single tight end in this class and for the most part, didn't try very hard to get one. Brannon Green will be a senior in 2013 and he's the only player who saw any sort of significant playing time in 2012. OU better hope those redshirt freshmen have matured a lot over the past year or the tight end might be completely eliminated from OU's offense.
Biggest immediate impact: Hatari Byrd or Ahmad Thomas, safety
Byrd and Thomas are both physical safeties that roam the field well and have solid cover skills. With Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris leaving Norman, both safety positions are up for grabs and it's almost a guarantee these two freshmen will be in the mix for a starting role. Byrd seems to be the more likely of the two to start and many people say he could have a similar impact to the one Jefferson had as a freshman in 2010. Either way, fresh blood on an OU defense that was torched in the second half of 2012 would be a good thing. Byrd and/or Thomas can certainly help the Sooners move past those embarrassing performances.
Sleeper alert: Dionte Savage, offensive guard
Savage, a one-time Baylor commit, is a mountain of a man. Checking in a 6'5, 345 pounds, Savage has the ability to push people off the ball in a big way. He'll also be a solid pass protector. A junior college transfer, Savage could work his way into the starting lineup immediately and be able to help a running game that really needs lineman that can blow people off the line of scrimmage.
Biggest surprise: LJ Moore, defensive back
Moore, a high school teammate of Hatari Byrd, was recruited hard by Mike Stoops early on, but the interest seemed to taper off as the 2012 season progressed. However, in the past few months, the Fresno, Calif. native has gotten a lot of attention and it resulted in his signing with the Sooners late Wednesday afternoon. With the addition of Moore, the Sooners signed five very good defensive backs to shore up a suspect secondary.
Biggest disappointment: Josh Outlaw, offensive tackle
The Lithonia, Ga. native was looking to be a nice get at the end of the Oklahoma class but signed with Texas Tech instead. As mentioned above, the Sooners would have liked to have the 6'4, 290 pound tackle to add depth at the position, so this is a tough miss for the Sooners.
Five interesting facts:
1. 14 of 24 signings were on the defensive side of the ball.
2. 6 states were represented in the signing class: Oklahoma, Texas, California, Florida, Washington, Michigan, and Toronto, Canada.
3. Oklahoma signed two sets of teammates: Hatari Byrd and L.J. Moore from Central East HS in Fresno, Calif. and Josiah St. John and Quincy Russell from Trinity Valley Community College
4. This is the most Oklahomans (5) OU has signed in a class since 2007 (7)
5. New receiver Dannon Cavil's entire family are huge Texas fans.
Final Grade: B
The Sooners needed defense and they got a lot of that. Seven defensive linemen and five defensive backs will bolster a defense that was torched in the second half of 2012. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is working on establishing his system with players he needs to combat the explosive offenses in the Big 12. Offensively, the Sooners added a few quality offensive linemen and some excellent receivers to go with a star running back and quarterback. There are a lot of things to like about this class, but the lack of star power keeps this grade from being higher.