Kobie McKinzie chose football for money and signed with Oklahoma

Kobie McKinzie chose football for money and signed with Oklahoma

But when Lincoln Riley decided to leave for USC, McKinzie made a decision many of his fellow 2022 commits made, which was to step back from their commitment and reevaluate the situation.

A product of Cooper High School in Lubbock, McKinzie was the first player to commit to OU’s 2022 class.

Highlights

  • The Sooners hired Brent Venables shortly after, and the new OU head coach was able to bring McKinzie back to Norman, convincing McKinzie to honor his original commitment to OU and sign his National Letter of Intent during the early signing period.

  • In the immediate aftermath, McKinzie was contacted by the Texas staff, where he then committed to the Longhorns.

Venables had to work to get McKinzie back into the fold, however, as the linebacker didn’t know what to say to the OU coaching staff after the hire was made.

“I’m a teenager and I’m gonna make a teenage decision,” McKinzie told SI Sooners’ John Hoover in an interview on the Hoover and Mayes Show on 97.1 FM The Sports Animal Tulsa. “But luckily I have my dad in my corner and he’s gonna lead me in the right direction.”

“Coach (Cale) Gundy texted me and said, ‘do you see who we just got?’ And I was shocked because I didn’t know what to say,” McKinzie said. “And so I didn’t text Coach Gundy back for like two days.

“When I finally got back to Coach Gundy he said ‘Coach V is calling you,’ and Coach V called me and said I’m coming out to Lubbock tomorrow. I’ve got to see you before it gets too far and I really don’t have a chance. So he was playing from behind, but I didn’t see it that way. A lot of people do, but I felt like it was fair ground for everybody because I had only knew those Texas guys for the same time I knew Coach V.”

Once Venables met with McKinzie in person, McKinzie said there was a stark contrast in the messages coming out of Norman and Austin. “When (Venables) came to Lubbock, Texas had came the day before and their whole selling point to me was money,” McKinzie said. “Like that’s all they talked about in the meeting and that just didn’t sit right with me. I understand the opportunities money-wise there were amazing, but how do we change this football program?

“I’m going there to play football. That’s short money what NIL is, and I want to make long money to get what my main goal is and that’s the NFL. So Coach V came in and said I want you, I don’t need you. And that’s big picture for me. You want me but don’t need me? Okay I want to prove to you that I belong on this defense, that I can help this defense elevate.” Venables isn’t naive enough to completely leave NIL out of the equation, he just said he prefers to seek out recruits who have other priorities other than racking up as many endorsements as possible.

“It is something that you have to have a plan for,” Venables said during his Signing Day press conference on Dec. 15. “We certainly do. Typically, with the right guys, that’s not one of the first, second, third things that is discussed. If that’s one of the first or second things, you have to be cautious moving forward. “There’s nothing wrong with making a little short-term cash… There’s nothing wrong with those opportunities. It’s there, landscape that we have. It’s one we need to promote. It needs to be an advantage for us.”

“I want to compete on the biggest stage there is, and that’s the National Championship. And I think those guys up in Norman, Coach Venables specifically, he’s been in a lot of National Championships. He knows how to get there.” Venables’ pitch landed him his first victory over Texas since returning to Norman, and he appears to have found a high-character linebacker he can coach and bond with for years to come in McKinzie.

“I looked back at that situation,” said McKinzie, “and I sat down and I looked at the man in the mirror and I said what do you truly want? Do you want to go play in a National Championship or do you want to be content with being alright? And I definitely don’t want to be content. The message certainly resonated with McKinzie, as he said his goals and aspirations go much higher than how much money he can make on campus in Year 1.