NORMAN, Okla. – Bob Stoops indicated he hired Jerry Montgomery to coach Oklahoma’s defensive line, in large part because of Montgomery’s reputation as a recruiter.
That reputation manifested itself when news broke that Montgomery was leaving Michigan to join the Sooners.
“I actually couldn’t recruit for Oklahoma until I signed the contract,” Montgomery said Wednesday in his first interview with local reporters. “The one thing that happened was I was involved with so many kids, that kids reached out and said, ‘Coach you’re leaving, what’s going on?’ I said, ‘Call me, I’ll explain it you.’
“They all reached out to me, a good 15-20 kids, to say why? So we talked and had those conversations.”
In Ann Arbor, Montgomery demonstrated an aptitude for developing such relationships with prospects, as he became one of Michigan’s most prolific recruiters. He believes he can do the same in Norman.
“It’s about building relationships, I don’t care where you’re at, if you’re in Florida or Texas or Michigan or whatever,” he said. “It’s about building relationships in this area, the Texas area, and the surrounding states.”
Montgomery, however, said OU won’t be restricted recruiting just from traditional pipelines. He believes the Sooners can go to the South, too, where prominent and prevalent defensive line blue-chippers have been fueling the SEC’s dominance of college football.
“Those kids are close to home, most of those kids are in the South and want to stay close to home,” Montgomery said. “But we’re not too far away, so it’s about getting in those schools and building relationships in those recruiting areas, getting those kids on campus more than once, and showing them what we have to offer at this great place; the tradition and history of the defensive linemen that have come through here is unreal. So we’ve got to show them those things.”
In recent years, the Big 12 has struggled to recruit the blue-chip defensive linemen away from the SEC, because of the Big 12’s status as a finesse, pass-happy league. Montgomery, however, said the Sooners could also use that to their advantage in recruiting.
“Kids like to hear about getting after the quarterback,” he said. “(We can sell) them on the chance to play early and the chance to play against high-powered offenses.”
Playing early will be another pitch Montgomery will use in the short term. The Sooners only have three defensive tackles on the entire roster at the moment, and none with significant playing experience.
“When your numbers are so low, kids’ playing time is going to be early,” he said, “which is always a huge selling point.”