RECRUITING EXCLUSIVE: Sooners pull off Shocker!

Venbables gets his man, Sooners land highly-touted junior college all-american cornerback

copyright 2003 by OU Insider and James Hale


Who says recruiting surprises end on signing day?

For the second straight year persistent and honorable recruiting by co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Brent Venables has paid of for the Sooners in landing an All-American junior college player on the second go-round.

All-American cornerback Chijioke Onyenegecha (6'2, 205, 4.4) of San Francisco City College, California will announce on Monday that he will play his college football at OU. Onyenegecha signed with Arizona State on signing day, but mistakes were made in the filing of the paperwork, giving Onyenegecha the opportunity to bail out of his agreement with the Sun Devils. Once Onyenegecha realized that he could make another choice, he did so, by choosing Oklahoma.

For the second straight year the Sooners have landed a Junior College All-American on the rebound. Last year linebacker Lance Mitchell signed with Florida over OU and was in Gainesville working out with the Gators when he learned that he was ineligible to play in the Southeast Conference. Mitchell put in a call to Oklahoma and found out that he was eligible to play for the Sooners. The rest is history.

You have to give credit to Coach Venables in both cases. Coach Venables works hard in recruiting and generally cares about the athletes that he recruits. He develops a great relationship with all of his recruits and even when they don't sign with OU both sides always part on good terms. Coach Venables never burns bridges. Both Mitchell and Onyenegecha had tough decisions to make and initially chose other programs over the Sooners by small margins, and the fact they cared for Coach Venables so much made their decisions that much tougher. Thus, when things didn't work out at the original school, both Mitchell and Onyenegecha turned back to a coach they cared about and a school they almost went to in the first place.

Onyenegecha becomes a huge addition for the Sooners in the fall. The Sooners do not have a lot of depth at cornerback and Onyenegecha will come in immediately and vie for the wide side cornerback starting job with Antonio Perkins. Onyenegecha also gives the Sooners the physical corner they don't feel they have right now. This might also free Perkins to play safety when the Sooners go to five defensive backs like he did a year ago.

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