Oklahoma recruiting: Lincoln Riley is tepid on December signing period

Lincoln Riley-Oklahoma football-Sooners recruiting-early signing period

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 discuss how Oklahoma will handle the December signing period.

Lincoln Riley sizes up December signing period

Oklahoma isn’t sure how many players it will sign on Dec. 20. They have several commits who ready to get the process over. But Lincoln Riley expects the early signing period to be a feeling out period for the Sooners’ coaching staff.

“I think we’ll sign quite a few,” he said. “I don’t know if I like it or not, ask me in a few months. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen, honestly. There are a lot of guesses out there.”

This period is new to college football coaches. They’re used to recruiting in December. Signing is for February.

Basketball has done it this way for decades. It’s signing periods are in November (before the season) and April (after the season).

The number of players taken in each period seemed to depend on the school and the players. Lower-rated commits usually jumped on board in November. They didn’t have a choice. The offer could be gone if they waited.

The higher-rated players — especially 5-stars — waited until April. They had the luxury of seeing if any coaching changes occurred. They also knew by then whether players on the current roster were leaving for the NBA draft.

The football model doesn’t follow that path. There might be some schools who don’t have coaches by Dec. 20 if they strike out on a couple dream candidates.

The head coaching carousel should finish spinning by January. But we all know the one for assistant coaches spins wildly in the weeks following the traditional National Signing Day in February.

No matter how talented the recruit. Immediate playing time at a traditional power is much harder to achieve in football than basketball.

The 5-star football recruits can wait as long as they like. There are some that have made up their mind that they’ll sign in February just to ensure they can take five official visits. Oklahoma’s lone 5-star pledge, Brey Walker, is in that boat.

“Are 20 percent of the players going to sign? Are 75 percent of the players going to sign? How do you handle the ones that don’t sign?” Riley wondered.

Academic factors could delay signings

Riley’s other apprehension comes from the academic side. All offers Oklahoma extends are based on the prospective recruit qualifying academically. Some won’t be cleared until January or later.

Signing a player in December based on the assumption he’ll qualify is riskier than doing it in February. A recruit who is told wait to sign until February could take it as a sign to look elsewhere whether that was the intention or not.

“There’s going to be some trial-and-error with it,” Riley said. “We’re trying to think of everything we can and be prepared for everything we can. It’ll be a little bit of a moving target for the next couple of years. I doubt we’ll have a real sense of is it positive for the game or negative until we get through a couple of them.”

All but 1 commit has taken the official visit

Three-star running back Tavion Thomas (Dayton, Ohio) and 3-star JUCO offensive lineman Tramonda Moore — Independence (Kan.) Community College — made their official visits to Oklahoma for the West Virginia game.

With that, 19 of Oklahoma’s 20 current 2018 commitments have taken their official visit to Norman. The only one who hasn’t is 3-star cornerback Jordon Austin (Lancaster, Texas). Austin did make an unofficial trip to Norman in September.

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