NORMAN, Okla. -- Not all the backs have panned out for OU running backs coach Cale Gundy, but when he knows who he wants, he goes after them hard.
Running back Alex Ross (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) was the second commit of the 2012 class. And now OU has started early again at the position. Junior Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Ranch) has verbally committed to the Sooners during junior day, his coach Gene Johnson confirmed to SoonerNation.
Ford, 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, is regarded as one of the best running backs in Texas. Unlike a lot of Texas high school products, however, Ford doesn't have that natural desire to play for the Longhorns.
In fact, Ford, who is the Sooners' first verbal commitment for the class of 2013, entered the weekend with a top five of OU, Florida State, Alabama, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
Dating back to a summer camp and an unofficial visit to Oklahoma in November, however, it was starting to become apparent that OU and Ford were seeing eye-to-eye.
One of the biggest reasons has been the relationship developed between Gundy and the Ford family. Ford said it was very important to him to meet such a family-oriented person like Gundy.
He didn't go into the weekend expecting to commit, but the chance was there. He had some questions he needed answered, and the Sooners gave Ford the answers he was looking for.
"It wasn't hard to figure out Keith had the tools to be something special," Cypress Ranch coach Gene Johnson said. "He's a super kid, a quiet kid. We encouraged Keith to go to as many camps as possible and things really picked up with Keith and OU after his sophomore season."
After sitting around the last couple of weeks seeing Texas and Texas A&M nab one big-name commit after another, OU fans were getting restless with the start to the 2013 class. With Ford, an ESPNU Watch List member, being the first commit to the Sooners, it should provide the bang that OU fans are hoping for.
Ford also has offers from Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Michigan and Oklahoma State, among numerous others.
Bob Przybylo covers football and basketball recruiting for SoonerNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.