Lincoln Riley valued quality over quantity in his 2021 recruiting class, and he delivered.
The Oklahoma Sooners landed four members of Sports Illustrated All-American’s final SI99 rankings.
Quarterback signee Caleb Williams finished as the No. 1 overall recruit for the Sooners.
Joining Williams are slot receiver Mario Williams at No. 24, two-way athlete Billy Bowman at No. 53 and cornerback Latrell McCutchin at No. 57.
“I’m very, very proud of the people we signed, the people that are coming into the program. I think there’s a lot of great days ahead for the Oklahoma Sooners,” Riley told the media during his National Signing Day press conference ahead of December's the Big 12 Championship Game.
Riley said he was comfortable taking a fewer number of prospects in the 2021 class because the coaching staff wanted to ensure they knew the quality of player and person they were bringing into the program.
“We aren’t going to go out there and recklessly add a bunch of targets when we can’t go through this process like we feel like we should. We zeroed in on guys we wanted and we went after them,” he said.
If Alex Grinch can convince Bowman to play some defense in Norman, the addition of two defensive recruits in the country’s top 99 could mean the improved OU defense is about to kick things into another gear.
“I tell him he may break my heart playing offense,” Grinch said of his efforts to pull Bowman away from Riley’s offense during his National Signing Day press conference in December. “I only talk to him about playing defense.”
While Oklahoma boasts an impressive haul, the Sooners could be left wondering what could have been. Down the home stretch of the 2021 recruiting cycle, the Sooners struck out on wide receiver Emeka Egbuka, running back Camar Wheaton, offensive tackle Tristian Leigh and offensive lineman Bryce Foster — all four of whom ended in the SI99.
Riley and the Sooners have their sights set on their eighth national title in 2021, but they still may have a gap to close on the top programs in the country. The participants in this year’s championship game, Alabama and Ohio State, both currently have eight prospects in the SI99 with the potential to add a few more as the remaining uncommitted players make their decisions.
Clemson trails close behind with seven members of the SI99.
If recruiting had its say, Oklahoma’s stranglehold on the Big 12 looks to be getting even tighter. Texas Tech is the only other school in the conference who will be bringing in a member of the SI99 with No. 76-ranked wide receiver Jerand Bradley.