NORMAN, Okla. — Will Muir honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when someone from the Oklahoma athletic office called him requesting to shoot video in the record store he manages.
But when a digital content crew arrived about a month ago, unveiling some of the personalized album covers for OU football’s 2019 signees during about an hour-long film session, things started making sense.
“It was very unique,” Muir said.
Muir, a former teacher who holds two OU degrees, has seen plenty of faces — high school and college kids, serious vinyl collectors — come and go during his 12 years at Guestroom Records, located in downtown Norman. Most people are on independent searches for a specific record.
Perhaps it made sense then, that OU’s recruiting staff stepped through Guestroom’s doorway and into a shop splattered with various album art, with the idea of using records for videos to announce the newest Sooners.
“I think people understand the whole idea of going on a hunt and looking for that special thing,” Muir said of the concept, “and that’s what the recruiting office does. They’re going on a hunt and looking for that special athlete.”
In unveiling a 22-member recruiting class now ranked highly as No. 5 nationally, OU executed its signing day bonanza with creativity, much like last year when it produced videos of former Sooners shuffling through playing cards, which were personalized for the team’s 2018 signees. Each new player also received a miniature cereal box with his own face on it.
This year videos for the 2019 class — dubbed #NewWave19 — incorporated a music theme, showing people searching for a player’s record and placing it on a turntable as clips their high school highlights begin rolling.
“Ooo, Oklahoma bout to break the internet tomorrow,” one of OU’s five-star receiver signees, Trejan Bridges, tweeted Tuesday, seemingly giving his nod of approval.
It was another hit, so to speak, at a time when standing out digitally to a target audience has never been more critical for college football programs.
One of Guestroom Records’ two owners, Justin Sowers, didn’t know the business was involved in OU’s venture because Muir wanted to keep it a surprise.
Sowers saw the videos for the first time Wednesday. From a creative standpoint, he liked the idea. He also understands why it’s an attractive approach.
“You know, records are cool. It was something interesting to do, I think,” Sowers said. “They had all those records pressed up, they were etched and that sort of thing. It looked like it turned out great.”
It was made possible by a recruiting staff Lincoln Riley has increased in size after becoming OU head coach nearly two years ago. He heaped praise on executive director of recruiting Annie Hanson and her team during his signing day press conference for their originality.
“We’ve done some really, really unique things content-wise that I think have been great for our recruits,” Riley said. “I think our fans have really enjoyed it. We’ve heard from a lot of people around the country that nobody’s doing things like what you’re doing. Again, give our recruiting staff a ton of credit. That was their original idea.”
As far as incorporating local businesses into the program’s signing day — Kong’s Tavern was also featured — Riley said it made sense.
“It kind of worked,” Riley said, “as far as making it unique for each and every guy and involving this community that gives us so much support, and all that the city of Norman does. It was just a perfect match.”
And it played without a scratch.
Palmateer is sports editor for for The Norman Transcript, a CNHI News Service publication.