The Oklahoma Sooners have a history of landing great running backs on the recruiting trail, and history repeated itself on Monday with the commitment of Kennedy Brooks, four-star running back from Mansfield, Texas (Mansfield).
Brooks committed to the Sooners over a number of other notable offers. Arkansas, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas A&M were mentioned as some of the competition for the Sooners in his recruitment, but he also boasts offers from Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, SMU, Texas Tech and Washington.
According to the industry generated 247Sports Composite rankings, Brooks is the No. 19 running back nationally. He’s in the Top 247 of recruits overall and is considered to be the No. 39 recruit from the state of Texas. Being in the Top 50 from Texas is a big-deal considering the talent that comes out of the state on a yearly basis.
With all those numbers in mind, it’s easy to see that Oklahoma just landed a big-time commitment. For what it’s worth, his coach, Daniel Maberry, agrees. Here’s what he told Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.
“Just one of the best running backs I’ve ever seen,” Mansfield coach Daniel Maberry said. “He has a skill set nobody else has.”
“He’s going to fit in great. Oklahoma has a tremendous tradition with great tailbacks and I think Kennedy will fit right in with them. Kennedy is extremely excited to be part of a program with such tradition and such heritage. I think they’re getting an excellent kid and he’s going to do great things for them.”
Start with the current combination of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine in Oklahoma’s backfield. Though it hasn’t been the best of years for either player, they have combined for 587 yards and six touchdowns. Oklahoma’s running attack has been underwhelming in 2016, but last year we got a glimpse of what the Mixon-Perine combo is truly capable of. In a College Football Playoff season, the two combined for 2,102 yards and 23 touchdowns, Perine being responsible for 1,349 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns.
Mixon was a five-star all-purpose back in the 2014 class, ranked the No. 1 player at his position and the No. 21 player in America. Perine also had high marks as a recruit in 2014, ranked a four-star and considered to be the No. 13 running back.
Other notable running backs who have committed to the Sooners in the past few recruiting cycles are 2016 four-star Abdul Adams, four-star 2015 all-purpose back Rodney Anderson, and of course, 2013 five-star running back Keith Ford. Ford played two seasons in Norman before transferring to Texas A&M. He sat out in 2015 and has so far rushed 43 times for 213 yards and three touchdowns for the Aggies in 2016.
In an article about Oklahoma running backs one would be remiss not to mention the Sooners’ less recent history, which is littered with superstar running backs. Billy Sims, Adrian Peterson, Steve Owens, Greg Pruitt, Joe Washington and DeMarco Murray are among the notable names to have run the ball for Oklahoma.
Brooks brings some of the same traits to the table that many of those star running backs possessed.
Brooks is 6-foot, 197 pounds and runs a 4.50 40-yard dash, according to his HUDL account. As a junior, he rushed 431 times for 3,542 yards and 43 touchdowns — which is an elite stat line for a running back, no matter the level.
He’s a smooth runner who has excellent footwork, can cut on a dime and he has the burst and acceleration to blow by defenders once the hole opens up. He does a great job of planting his foot in the ground and changing direction, and he’s extremely elusive as a result. He’s constantly changing his running path to avoid tackles, but he’s never “dancing” as a running back. He cuts on angles and is always keeping his eyes ahead of him looking towards the end zone. It’s no surprise that he’s found it so many times.
Brooks will probably want to pack on more muscle mass in order to truly thrive in Oklahoma’s physical system, but he has all the intangibles to be successful as a Sooner running back.
Another in a long line.