Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley: Transfer portal arrivals have 'more of a businesslike demeanor'

Unlike recruiting high schoolers, "you do get a sense of their maturity, what they've learned, why they're leaving and what they're looking for"
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Oklahoma’s coaching staff has been busy handing out scholarship offers and hosting virtual visits.

But not all recruiting is created equal. When it comes to the transfer portal, the message is a little different.

“These guys, this isn't a deal about facilities and all that, that sometimes high school guys get wrapped up in,” Lincoln Riley said on National Signing Day. “For these guys, there's a little bit more of a businesslike demeanor to it.”

Five OU newcomers — Wanya Morris, Key Lawrence, Eric Gray, Robert Congel and Micah Bowens — have been wooed. They’ve been wined and dined. They’ve seen what kind of facilities and amenities big-time schools like Tennessee, Texas A&M and Penn State have to offer.

What’s important to a 17-year-old isn’t necessarily what’s important to a 21-year-old.

“I think you do get a sense of their maturity, what they've learned, why they're leaving and what they're looking for,” Riley said. “And I think for us, we just try to paint a very real picture of what it looks like here and what's going to be expected and what the standard is and what the opportunities are going to be like.”

Having a previous relationship helps when guys are considering your school as a transfer destination. Riley said OU coaches knew Lawrence, and Morris through the recruiting process. He said he knew about Bowens, and surely Bowens knew all about Riley. But while it’s helpful that guy considered your school previously, it’s not essential. Congel and Gray didn’t have OU high o their list of finalists.

“The big thing,” Riley said, “is we just don't want surprises. We want to know what we're getting, and we want these guys to completely understand what they're jumping into, and I think if both sides are for it, then it's great.”

Riley said he’s never been one to scissor relationships once a prospect chooses another school, but that attitude has never been more important than it is now.

“We’re not the group that, if a guy tells us he’s not going to come here, we end it yelling and screaming,” Riley said. “I mean, that’s just not who we are or what we believe in.

“It’s natural to think that if you’ve built relationships with guys — and now with this transfer portal and the likely passing of the one-time transfer (eligibility waiver) — it’s a reality that we all live in now.

“There’s a lot of examples. Kyler Murray here is a great example of that several years back. So you never know what’s going to happen with these kids.”