When a head coach in college football changes teams, it can often lead to a flip in recruits. Oklahoma is already watching that play out before its eyes.
Following the reports that Lincoln Riley was headed to USC, ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren reported that 2022 five-star running back Raleek Brown had decommitted from the Sooners. Brown, a native of Santa Ana, California, seems like a solid bet to follow Riley to the Trojans.
Oklahoma running back commit Raleek Brown told me Lincoln Riley going to USC changes everything for him.
News isn’t official from USC yet, but seems likely that Brown will follow Riley to USC. Brown also said he thinks this will make a big impact on most other Cali prospects.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) November 28, 2021
He was not the first to decommit from Oklahoma, however. That belongs to 2023 five-star wide receiver Brandon Inniss, who announced his decommitment from Oklahoma on Sunday. He has not officially announced where he is going.
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Later Sunday evening, 2023 four-star running back Treyaun Webb, from Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, also announced that he would be decommitting from Oklahoma.
Webb is listed as the No. 5 running back in his class, and No. 96 overall, per 247Sports Composite Rankings.
And there was still more damage to be done. Oklahoma’s top prospect in the 2023 class, quarterback Malachi Nelson, the No. 2 recruit in the nation, also announced his decommitment from Oklahoma. Nelson is a Los Alamitos, California, native.
The Athletic has reported that Riley is already trying to bring Nelson to USC.
According to 247Sports Composite Rankings, Brown is the No. 34 overall prospect, No. 2 running back and No. 2 California player in the 2022 class. Though the recruiting site reported that the Mater Dei running back committed to Oklahoma on Feb. 5, 2021, its Crystal Ball predictions now say 88.2 percent of experts expect him to land at USC.
And Brown’s tweet following the Riley news would seem to indicate such a move could be in the cards.
Inniss is rated as the No. 1 wide receiver in the 2023 class, and is listed as the No. 9 national prospect overall, according to 247Sports Composite Rankings. The American Heritage High product is also the No. 2 recruit in the state of Florida.
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This might not be the end of the recruiting damage dealt to the Sooners. 247Sports currently grades Oklahoma’s 2023 recruiting class as No. 1 in the nation. However, Nelson has already announced that he is leaving. Two of his teammates, five-star athlete Makai Lemon and four-star wide receiver DeAndre Moore Jr., are also current Oklahoma commits.
There has been no indication yet that these recruits will flip — often it is far more than the head coach that draws an athlete to a program — but all eyes will certainly be on that trio as they could decide to make the 30-minute drive northwest to follow the head coach that spearheaded their recruitment.
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And there might be Oklahoma recruits from other parts of the country sold on the Sooners because of Riley that might decide to explore other options.
Not everyone is panicking yet in Norman, Oklahoma. Quarterback Caleb Williams said that he is happy for Riley and his family, and ended his tweet with “#sooner” amid speculation that he might also follow Riley out to Los Angeles.
I appreciate all the concerns about the situation but I am also happy for Coach Riley, mama Riley, Sloan and Stella for that huge opportunity ahead. That’s all I plan to say right now! #boomer
— Caleb Williams (@CALEBcsw) November 28, 2021
Williams was a five-star commit in the 2021 class, according to 247Sports Composite Rankings, which listed him as the No. 7 recruit in the country and No. 2 QB in the class. Williams took over under center for preseason Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler, and has completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,670 yards, 18 touchdowns and four interceptions, while rushing 72 times for 408 yards and six touchdowns.