In-state prospects welcome at OU

Texas came into the state and took the top in-state prospect for two years from Oklahoma. The Sooners are doing their best to make sure it never happens again.

A couple of years ago the argument could be made Oklahoma was ignoring top in-state recruits. Maybe ignoring is too harsh a term, but the Sooners were slow playing some of the best of the best in the state.

The results showed. In back-to-back years, Texas came into the state and took the top prospect with Demarco Cobbs for the Class of 2010 and Josh Turner for 2011.

That might have been the wakeup call the OU coaches needed. Since then, the coaches have shown a dedication to keeping the top in-state stars home. And for the most part, it has worked.

OU was able to keep wide receiver Sterling Shepard and running back Alex Ross in the crimson and cream for the Class of 2012. The trend continued again last year with defensive end D.J. Ward and cornerback Stanvon Taylor.

Tuesday was another step toward the right direction with the 2014 and 2015 classes as several OU commits and top targets were on hand for the Sooners' second practice of the day.

Leading the charge were a couple of commits in Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe four-star quarterback Justice Hansen and Tulsa (Okla.) Union three-star tight end Carson Meier.

Not a coincidence it was Hansen and Meier because both are good friends with one of OU's top targets, Jenks (Okla.) High four-star safety Steven Parker. Parker was also at OU on Tuesday.

You could make a great argument that Parker is OU's No. 1 overall target on their board to fill out this class. Parker has almost made too many trips to OU to count at this point. It started last summer, heated up during the fall and still hasn't slowed down.

Parker and Hansen have developed a strong bond from all the visits, while Parker and Meier have the bond from being former AAU basketball teammates growing up.

It's not being unnoticed by the in-state coaches, either.

"It's just a lot different right now," Edmond Santa Fe coach Lance Manning said. "There is definitely more communication and more attention. I think it's helping. I know a lot of kids grow up wanting to play for OU anyway, but there is a lot of positive steps right now."

It wasn't just the Class of 2014, either. OU welcomed Lawton (Okla.) High offensive lineman Jalin Barnett for his fourth trip to OU since April. Barnett could end up being the state's top-rated prospect and already has an OU offer.

And if you're looking for a couple of sleepers, look no further than Midwest City (Okla.) High and its tandem of defensive backs William Sunderland and Roscoe Gatewood.

Gatewood has put himself on the map with his performances this summer, while Sunderland was easily one of the best performers at OU's camp two months ago.

Sunderland has been called essentially a Parker-like clone for 2015. That remains to be seen, but he has certainly started to put it all together and is poised for a huge junior season.

OU already has three in-state pledges for this year and Oklahoma City Casady offensive guard Josh Wariboko has already committed for 2015. Inviting all those guys Tuesday won't guarantee commitments, but it sure isn't going to hurt in the future.


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