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Column: Oklahoma's ChampU BBQ Wasn't About the Cars or the Stars, it was About the Future

The dazzling array of former Sooners, fast card and fantastic food was all eye candy for the next generation of OU players — but how many will come to Oklahoma?

As the guest list grew, so did the wow factor.

Adrian Peterson was there. Kyler Murray was there. CeeDee Lamb was there. Sam Bradford was there.

Sam Bradford! Where’s he been?

Roy Williams was there. So was Marquise Brown. And Billy Sims. And Kenneth Murray. Even Jalen Hurts, who played but one season at Oklahoma as a graduate transfer, but felt compelled to come back and lend a hand with Lincoln Riley’s recruiting efforts.

In one photo alone, Lane Johnson and Trent Williams — the highest-paid right tackle and the highest paid left tackle in NFL history — posed with their millionaire grins and OU DNA.

And in the south end zone, a row of supercars — Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porsches Corvettes, even a Rolls Royce, a Bentley and more — added to the big-money appeal of playing football for the Sooners.

It was ChampU BBQ weekend at OU, and while the star power was shining bright, the success or failure of such an event relies strictly on how many of the high school prospects at the party actually come to Oklahoma.

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The real stars of Saturday’s soiree on Owen Field, though, weren’t the guys who used to win championships, or the cars, or even the barbecue.

The real stars were the ones who have championships yet to win — the 40-something recruits in attendance from the 2022 and 2023 classes who are still pondering whether they want to play for the Crimson and Cream or somewhere else.

Devon Campbell, a 5-star offensive lineman from Arlington, TX, was there. Gavin Sawchuk, a 4-star running back from Highlands Ranch, CO, was there. Austin Jordan, a 4-star cornerback from Denton, TX, was there. So was Jake Taylor, a 4-star offensive lineman from Las Vegas. And Jalen Hale and Brandon Inniss, maybe the top two wide receivers in the nation in the 2023 class, were there. So was 2023 quarterback Malachi Nelson, a 5-star from Los Alamitos, CA, and 2023 defensive tackle Lebbeus Overton, a 5-star from Milton, GA.

As well as dozens of others.

Oklahoma even supposedly got a verbal commitment out of the weekend, although Riley’s googly-eye emoji still hasn’t been claimed. More are expected to follow.

Names like those were the stars of this year’s ChampU BBQ. And names like those will determine whether Oklahoma can eventually win a national championship under Riley.

Maybe in 10 years or so, they can come back and help recruit the next generation.