Oklahoma recruiting: Wooing defensive players is new for Lincoln Riley

Stay up to date with Oklahoma football recruiting with the latest news and notes and analysis in the daily edition of DieHards’ Wagon Wheels. In this edition, we look at Oklahoma’s coach Lincoln Riley’s involvement in recruiting defensive players.

New part of job

Up until June, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley didn’t spend much time looking at potential defensive recruits. If he saw one that stood out, it was while studying an offensive player he was either recruiting or evaluating. He passed that information to other staff members.

Obviously, it’s a different situation these days.

“It’s not something that previously I focused on a lot. That hasn’t been my job,” Riley said on Tuesday.

The Sooners’ lack of defensive depth glared in the last two games. They are specifically thin in the secondary and at linebacker. Injuries in the last two games have forced either freshmen or a walk-on onto to the field at critical moments.

The majority of the holes in Oklahoma’s 2018 class are on defense. It has 19 overall commitments. At least five of the spots it has open will go to defensive lineman, linebacker and, it hopes, one more safety.

Riley said it hasn’t been difficult finding defensive players who want to come to Oklahoma and play in the Big 12 Conference.

“I think we’re having a good run on it right now with the guys that we currently have committed,” he said. “It’s something we’re pushing on more with adding [defensive tackles coach Ruffin McNeill] to the staff. Getting another defensive line coach and splitting that up, part of that decision was going more in that direction. I think we’re going to be able to recruit great defensive players here. We’ve had a ton over the years, and we’re going to have a lot more going forward.”

Sooners allow high-profile commits to take visits

When you’re a 4-star recruit or higher, taking official visits is something the Oklahoma coaching staff has to live with. In September, 5-star offensive lineman Bray Walker took a trip to Florida State and also plans trips to Michigan and LSU this fall.

Four-star running back T.J. Pledger took a trip to Nebraska last weekend. It was the second trip the running back took to the Big Ten school since committing to Oklahoma in June.

“I was really able to see everything that Nebraska has to offer,” Pledger told Rivals.com. “I was also able to see the game day atmosphere that I wasn’t able to see yet. My father and my mother were able to join me, too.”

Don’t sweet it Oklahoma fans. Pledger told Rivals.com he’s firm with the Sooners.

“I’m 100 percent committed to Oklahoma right now,” Pledger said. “No sir, I don’t plan on taking any other visits.”

Pledger isn’t the only commit to take some trips elsewhere since giving a verbal pledge to the Oklahoma coaching staff. Four-star defensive end Jalen Redmond took a trip to Arizona State in early September.

Miss a previous edition of Wagon Wheels? Get caught up here.

The post Oklahoma recruiting: Wooing defensive players is new for Lincoln Riley appeared first on Diehards.

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