Editor’s Note: This is Part 6 of a 14-part series on Oklahoma’s early enrollees in the 2023 recruiting class.
Many times, graduating high school early and launching one’s college football career pays off. Many times, it doesn’t.
While early enrollees are navigating new realms of pain and commitment, a lot of their friends are back home — playing basketball, running track or just hanging out and taking full advantage of the affliction known as “senioritis.”
In Oklahoma’s case, 14 newcomers have chosen to make that sudden transition from boys to men. Jerry Schmidt’s winter workouts might seem impossible at first, and then the summer grind is even harder. In between, the coaching staff takes over, and spring football practice puts them ahead of their summer counterparts.
In this series, AllSooners examines each of the 14 newcomers and projects their impact on Brent Venables’ football team in 2023.
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Once Cayden Green committed to Oklahoma, his recruitment was essentially over.
Oh, other schools, like Missouri and LSU, continued to call. But Green had a system for dealing with those calls.
“I just didn’t answer, really,” he said.
That’s how badly Green wanted to play for Bill Bedenbaugh. Now, as a mid-term enrollee at OU, he’s doing exactly that. The football team is enduring Jerry Schmidt’s grinding winter workouts and they’ll soon get individual and small-group attention in the coaching stations. Then comes full-on spring practice, where the 2023 freshman class will finally get to test themselves against their older, more experienced teammates.
For Green, finally getting coached by Bedenbaugh will feel like fulfilling a mission he’s been on. Green getting to witness up close the career paths of former Sooners like Orlando Brown and Creed Humphrey — Green is from Lee’s Summit, MO, where he grew up a Kansas City Chiefs fan — assured him that he, too, can ply tutoring from Bedenbaugh into a spot in the NFL.
Background: Green was born in Broken Arrow, OK, the son of two Oral Roberts University basketball players. Because of that, he grew up an OU fan. But growing up in Kansas City, Green also was drawn to Missouri. At Lee’s Summit North, Green became a MaxPreps and Under Armour All-American offensive tackle and helped lead his team to the Missouri Class 6 state title game. ESPN ranks him as the No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2023 class, and Rivals ranks him as the No. 44 overall recruit.
2023 Projection: Green was a three-year starter at LS North whose first offer (from Kansas) came during his sophomore year. He evolved into a dominant left tackle, but has shown the ability to easily slide in and play guard. He’s naturally more athletic than many of his colleagues, so that versatility will help him get on the field quicker at OU, where the left tackle spot should be manned by sophomore Jacob Sexton and left guard will belong to senior McKade Mettauer. At right guard, Chris Murray and Wanya Morris have moved on, and while Tyler Guyton looks to have locked down the right tackle spot, Green could vie for time at right guard.
“When I first started getting recruited by them, knowing Coach B and knowing his history in putting guys in the league, that was the biggest thing that stood out to me,” Green said. “And then as I got to know the new staff, I just, I enjoyed them more and more each time I got to visit them.”
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Green is 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds. With a frame like that to go with top-shelf athletic ability, a high football IQ, natural intelligence and a strong work ethic, many believe Bedenbaugh can turn Green into the Sooners’ next great NFL star.
“I’ve always been an Oklahoma fan, but moved to Missouri and I became a Mizzou fan,” he said. “We went to a couple games, so those two schools were schools I was big fans of. But what Coach B does with his linemen is just second to none, and that ultimately helped with my decision.
“It was a big deal for me. He has success year in and year out. And I think he’s the best at what he does. And he puts the most guys into the league. So it was kind of a no-brainer for me.”
Now the question for Green is where he’ll play. He’s the prototype left tackle, but his value — at least early in his career — could be at guard. He willingly played both during his week of practices ahead of the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando.
There are major differences, of course, but Green said he’s up for anything.
“I think the biggest difference is the speed of everything,” Green said. “When you’re at tackle, you’re more setting and waiting. Whereas when you’re at guard, it’s more quick, right in your face. I think that’s the biggest difference between the two. And I think that’s the biggest reason why typically you can’t have a guard go (to) tackle — typically — because the speed is so different.”
Does Green prefer one or the other?
“I don’t really care,” he said. “I’ve been playing both out here (in Orlando). I’ve been working on tackle and guard.”
Has Bedenbaugh given any indication one way or the other?
“Oh, he’s not sure if he wants me at guard or tackle,” Green said, “so I’ll probably just work both. But yeah, he’s not he’s not too sure yet.”
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