Sooners go back to California for safety

How times have changed.

Oklahoma opened the 2011 season with two Oklahoma-bred safeties, Aaron Colvin and Javon Harris in the starting lineup. In a couple of years, the Sooners' safety positions could be manned by one player from Florida and another from California.

Hatari Byrd (Fresno, Calif./Central East) picked OU on Tuesday, another sign of the impact Mike Stoops' arrival has on the Sooners' recruiting strategy. OU's new defensive coordinator covets size and versatility. And Byrd brings both to the table.

With OU planning to increase the overall number of snaps with five or more defensive backs on the field, the Sooners will be asking those defensive backs to do more. They’ll be on the field for their speed and coverage ability, but they’ll also be asked to hold their own in the run game.

Byrd joins Ahmad Thomas (Miami/Miami Central) as prep safeties committed to the Sooners. Byrd, at 6-foot-1, 192 pounds, and Thomas, at 6-foot, 195 pounds, each possess the size and athletic ability to handle their responsibilities in OU’s defense.

The duo also provides a representation of Stoops’ belief that the athletes in California and Florida are well-equipped fit his defensive system. During this recruiting cycle, 13 of OU’s 21 known offers to cornerbacks and safeties are to defensive backs who reside in California or Florida. Only four of those offered prospects reside in Texas.