Skip to main content

Early National Signing Day 2022: More than two-thirds of Oklahoma signees go out of state

Seven in-state players ink with either Sooners, Cowboys or Golden Hurricane

By Christian Potts 

Photo of Ardmore's Cal Swanson, left, and Eric Fields

More than 30 seniors from Oklahoma high schools made it official Wednesday, signing national letters of intent to take the next step in their football careers with Division I programs.

Several elected to stay close to home, with seven state players signing with the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the University of Tulsa, where they'll join a number of preferred walk-ons from in-state to bolster those rosters.

But more than two-thirds of the state's DI signees on Wednesday are headed quite a bit further away, as Oklahoma high school football continues to be a hotbed, bringing in college coaches from all across the country to look for talent that can help their programs succeed.

"All the coaches up there were really down to earth, really easy to talk to," said Ardmore quarterback Cal Swanson, who signed Wednesday to head out of state to the University of Illinois. "And it really does feel like a family up there, and I think they have something special going on. It's just really nice up there."

Ardmore's Cal Swanson (left) and Eric Fields

Ardmore's Cal Swanson (left) and Eric Fields

An added element to recruiting in the modern era is the increasing usage of the transfer portal for players already at the college level.

With most of the 2,000-plus Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision players in the portal making the jump within just the last few weeks as their seasons ended, it's led to many programs having unexpected needs at the last minute.

Couple that with coaching changes at multiple programs, and it causes some late movement in recruiting urgency and philosophy.

That was a benefit to players like Ardmore's Eric Fields, who had multiple Division I offers but none from a Power Five school until Nebraska entered the mix late after former Baylor and Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule came onboard in late November.

The Huskers made late pushes on multiple players around the country, including Fields, who played running back but especially starred as a linebacker for the Tigers, leading the state with 180 tackles his senior season.

"They kind of came in late, kind of unexpected to me," Fields said. "I'm thinking, they're really talking to me? First, I thought it was a dream; I thought they can't be talking to me, I'm just a little Ardmore dude. But I was happy.

"It's been a wild experience. I broke my leg last year (his junior season), so I didn't get to do that much in the recruiting process then. I just know that I like football, I just wanted to play. I did what I had to, did my strength training and came back and had a good season."

Among the storylines from Wednesday:

• Despite missing all but the first half of the first game of his senior season due to a shoulder injury, Owasso wide receiver Cole Adams still got the call and signed with the University of Alabama.

As recently as two weeks ago, Alabama head coach Nick Saban visited the Rams' star, reaffirming his belief in him as part of the future of the program for the Crimson Tide.

Adams will enroll early at Alabama and is expected to be fully healthy to go through spring football practice with the Crimson Tide.

Owasso's Cole Adams

Owasso's Cole Adams

• Oklahoma State got bigger, literally, as Stillwater lineman JaKobe Sanders stayed local to join the Cowboys. Sanders was a force at center for the Class 6AII state champion Pioneers, and held firm to his commitment all through his senior season.

He'll join an OSU team his grandfather, Robert Turner, was part of from 1973-1976. Turner played fullback and often blocked for College Football Hall-of-Famer Terry Miller.

"It's crazy being able to continue his legacy there," Sanders said this week. "I've been around those old players and listened to their stories of Oklahoma State and just how special the place is. It's just amazing being able to continue what he started."

The Cowboys also picked up Del City's Jaedon Foreman, a 6-foot-5 defensive end who was part of an athletic and physical defense for the Eagles.

Stillwater's JaKobe Sanders (76)

Stillwater's JaKobe Sanders (76)

• Oklahoma signed a trio of high-profile in-state players. McAlester's Erik McCarty, Mustang's Jacobe Johnson and Norman North's Chapman McKown could all have a chance to assist the Sooners in multiple ways.

McAlester's Erik McCarty

McAlester's Erik McCarty

• Tulsa signed only eight players in the early signing period, but among them were Tulsa Union receiver Grayson Tempest and defensive back Devin Robinson, as well as OSU transfer Braylin Presley, a former Bixby star.

Tulsa Union's Grayson Tempest

Tulsa Union's Grayson Tempest

• Arkansas lost one and gained one. Two days ago, Tulsa Booker T. Washington receiver Micah Tease decommitted from the Razorbacks and subsequently signed Wednesday with Texas A&M.

But Wednesday afternoon, Grove star running back Emmanuel Crawford announced he'll be joining the Hogs after a stellar senior season in which he rushed for more than 2,300 yards and led the Ridgerunners to the Class 5A semifinals.

Read More

• Multiple state quarterbacks signed Wednesday, and they're headed to many corners of the country.

Choctaw's Steele Wasel will play for Akron, while headed west are Cushing's Blaze Berlowitz (New Mexico State) and Rejoice Christian's Chance Wilson (Montana State). Pawhuska's Todd Drummond joins Wilson in heading the FCS route, inking with South Dakota.

Then there's Swanson, a run-pass threat that has been on the radar for Illinois for a while, getting an offer before his senior season for the Tigers. He threw for more than 5,000 yards in his career despite his sophomore season getting cut short by multiple games canceled due to Covid. He led the Tigers to a co-district championship the next season.

"Very proud of the way he handled it that first year," said Ardmore coach Josh Newby. "And we're very proud of last year, and Cal was really able to explode onto the scene with those skill players that were around him."

• Beyond this group, a long list of players who either already signed Wednesday or likely still will sign are headed to smaller division schools, including a large number likely to end up at one of a dozen small-college and junior college programs in Oklahoma.

• The full list of players who signed with Division I schools at the FBS and FCS levels as of mid-day Wednesday includes:

Ardmore: QB Cal Swanson, Illinois; LB Eric Fields, Nebraska

Bixby: TE Luke Hasz and WR Dylan Hasz, Arkansas; OL Josh Newkirk, Lindenwood

Choctaw: QB Steele Wasel and WR Jax Smith, Akron; OL Gabe Gaines, Lindenwood

Community Christian: DE Bai Jobe, Michigan State

Cushing: QB Blaze Berlowitz, New Mexico State

Del City: DE Jaedon Foreman, Oklahoma State; DB Kanijal Thomas, Kansas State

Edmond Deer Creek: DB Dale "Tre" Miller, North Carolina

Edmond Santa Fe: OL Jonathan Ashford, Air Force

Grove: RB Emmanuel Crawford, Arkansas

Hilldale: OL Evan Keefe, Air Force

Jenks: DB Jalyn Stanford, Houston; OL Landon Zaldivar, Memphis

McAlester: LB Erik McCarty, Oklahoma

Midwest City: QB DeAngelo Irvin, Air Force

Midwest City Carl Albert: DB Ta'Shawn James, Iowa State

Mustang: DB Jacobe Johnson, Oklahoma; WR Keegan Bass, Air Force

Norman North: RB Chapman McKown, Oklahoma

OKC Millwood: RB Rickey Hunt Jr., Ohio

Owasso: WR Cole Adams, Alabama

Pawhuska: QB Todd Drummond, South Dakota

Plainview: LB Morgan Pearson, Colorado

Putnam City: DE Taje McCoy, Colorado

Rejoice Christian: QB Chance Wilson, Montana State

Stillwater: OL JaKobe Sanders, Oklahoma State

Tulsa Booker T. Washington: WR Micah Tease, Texas A&M

Tulsa Union: DL Demarion Thomas, Vanderbilt; WR Grayson Tempest and DB Devin Robinson, Tulsa