The Oklahoma Sooners were dealt a serious blow in the backfield after learning Marcus Major would miss the entirety of the upcoming season. Ruled ineligible due to academics, the situation remained manageable with two potential stars at the running back position as well as a third option in Tre Bradford for depth purposes.
Fast forward to Thursday and once again the group suffered a surprising loss. Multiple sources reported that Bradford was no longer with the team. Citing no discernible reason for the absence, the move left the program with two scholarship backs.
Assuming one has been following the current recruiting trends at the position for newly minted coach DeMarco Murray, routine is not the word to describe the job. After missing out on several big targets over the past two seasons, the Sooners dismissed another from the team. Translation…Oklahoma will not have any prep level running backs to utilize from the 2019, 2020, nor from the 2021 recruiting cycles.
It’s a glaring hole that Lincoln Riley and the rest of the staff must address in 2022. More importantly, the Sooners must hold on to their two committed recruits at running back. Who are they?
Raleek Brown // Mater Dei
Ranked as the No. 2 back in the 2022 class, Brown is slightly undersized. However, what the prospect lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and explosiveness. Considered an all-around running back with the skills necessary to succeed at the collegiate level. With the ability to slide over into the slot, Brown can also make linebackers pay. Showcasing the talent to catch the ball out of the backfield, the versatility of the recruit plays into Lincoln Riley’s hands. There’s no denying that the program will continue to put a premium on signing Brown out of high school later this year.
Gavin Sawchuk // Valor Christian
A near perfect compliment to the aforementioned ball carrier, Sawchuk is the No. 4 ranked running back in the 2022 class. Needing to show improvement in the receiving portion of the game, the runner has top notch speed. Comfortable running on the outside and turning the corner, the prospect has the size to be an immediate contributor once stepping onto the field. Again, look for Oklahoma to hard sell the university here as securing an LOI has become of utmost importance.
Knowing there’s areal possibility that there will be no scholarship ball carriers remaining with the team at the close of the season, will OU add one or more to the 2022 class? There is a third prep player that Lincoln Riley has his eyes set on.
Jovantae Barnes // Desert Pines
A 4-star recruit, Barnes is vastly different than the two current commitments at the position. More of a rumbler, the back clearly has a strong lower half which is on display every time he drags defenders down the field. It’s likely because of this strength that the prospect is the most comfortable of the three running between the tackles. While a consistent player, Barnes may not excite like the others on this list due to a lack of a touchdown threat every time he touches the ball. Yet, the style the runner brings to the table is a much needed addition on this roster.
Still, knowing all of these individuals are entering their senior year of high school, it’s not out of the question for the Sooners to add a JUCO prospect or two. This recruiting cycle is putting the RBs in the spotlight. Needless to say, DeMarco Murray and the rest of the group have to deliver.