The Sooner Intel is an inside look into Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting and is solely for Sooners Illustrated subscribers. It is a sneak peek into what's happening with OU recruiting and is not to be distributed anywhere else.
Simpkins emerging as top in-state back
It won't be easy for any Class of 2015 in-state running back to get an offer from Oklahoma. Not when the Sooners have their sights set on three incredibly talented backs from Texas.
But if you want one name to watch, it's clearly Clinton (Okla.) High star Marquiz Simpkins. Coming off a banner year as a sophomore, a lot is expected of Simpkins on the field.
Off the field he is starting to learn how this whole recruiting thing works. Simpkins had no idea recruits were invited to attend games with provided tickets and seemed overjoyed over the fact he could be at Oklahoma's game against Tulsa.
Simpkins made sure he made the trip, and he said it was definitely worth the wait.
"That was the first OU game I've been to," Simpkins said. "It was real good. I loved the atmosphere. I didn't stay the whole time. We had to leave in the third quarter, but it was great."
Simpkins has an offer from Tulsa and camped at OU during the summer. He maintains contact with running backs coach Cale Gundy and said it was good to talk with Gundy once again.
Through three games, Simpkins has been impressed with OU's ability to run the ball.
"That offense is running well right now," Simpkins said. "I saw Keith Ford doing his thing. They have a lot of great backs."
Still only a junior, but Clinton is expecting Simpkins to carry them to another title. He understands that and accepts the responsibility.
He has gone from 177 pounds last year to around 190. He said the last time he maxed out on bench was 320 pounds. Other schools are starting to take interest, including Oregon and Oregon State. Schools like Tulsa, Oklahoma State and Indiana have always been in the picture.
Simpkins didn't rule out another trip to OU.
"I'd like to come back, but I don't know when I'd be able to," Simpkins said. "Right now I'm just trying to concentrate on my junior season."
Through two games Simpkins has rushed for 361 yards on 31 carries with three touchdowns, averaging more than 11 yards per rush.
To me, Simpkins is clearly the state's top back, but is he better than Chris Warren, Tyreik Gray or Soso Jamabo? That will be the question down the road. How OU fits in with that trio of backs should help clear the air about where Simpkins will stand with the Sooners going forward.
Evans enjoying OU defense
We've all said it so don't try to deny it. Going into the spring and summer, everybody was wondering why any linebacker, any quality linebacker, would choose OU following the linebackers' performance in 2012.
So far OU defensive coaches Tim Kish and Mike Stoops have cleaned it up on the field and are starting to clean up on the recruiting trail. The first linebacker to pledge was Allen (Texas) High's Tay Evans back in July.
Eight days later, Class of 2015 offensive tackle Bobby Evans, Tay's younger brother, committed to the Sooners, too. Both of the boys made a trip to OU to see the Sooners victory against West Virginia.
"That was our first time going to a Sooners game," Tay Evans said. "I had a lot of fun. The whole environment was crazy. It was unlike anything I've ever seen."
Evans visited OU for junior day and for an unofficial visit during the summer but had never actually seen what it was like in Norman for game day. He said the difference is night and day between visiting for a game and any other time, mentioning the energy as the biggest difference.
Getting to watch the game on the sidelines also gives a unique perspective.
"You get to see just how fast the game is going," Evans said. "It definitely opened up my eyes more. The defense did great. It's really working out well right now. I can't wait to be a part of it."
Evans is playing defensive end and linebacker for Allen, but there is no doubt he is going to be a linebacker for the Sooners. With that in mind, there was one guy he was definitely watching the whole time.
"I watched Corey (Nelson) the whole time," Evans said. "He's so fast and hard-nosed. He's doing a great job of leading the linebackers."
And that's something Evans mentioned often was about how tough the defense was playing. It's something that has a lot of defensive recruits excited in the first month of the season.
Evans said he is going to take his official visit for TCU weekend just like a number of top OU commits and top targets.
Evans said he's not sure if Bobby will make it to that game, but the brothers are definitely enjoying how everything is going.
"It's crazy right now," Tay Evans said. "It's something we've always dreamed about and now it's actually going to happen. I don't know how big Bobby is, but he has definitely picked up some weight, that's for sure."
Odeyingbo gets first taste of OU
There have been a number of first-time visitors to OU home games this month. Included in that group is under the radar Irving (Texas) Cistercian running back Dare Odeyingbo.
Odeyingbo, a four-star prospect for the Class of 2015, attended his first OU game last week against Tulsa. But it wasn't his first trip to OU.
"I've been to OU before, but it was always for basketball camps," Odeyingbo said. "I'm from a small school so I play football and basketball, and we've been to OU for basketball."
Football is a little different when it comes to the atmosphere and everything else. Odeyingbo said he is definitely just going to play football at the next level.
Through three games Odeyingbo has been a work horse. He has rushed for 632 yards on 65 attempts with seven touchdowns and is averaging 9.7 yards per rush.
Odeyingbo said he started being in contact with OU coaches more in the summer, and Gundy said he had an open invitation to attend any home games he could.
Last weekend things just sort of worked out as he played earlier in the week and decided to make the trip up to Norman.
"It was better than I thought it would be," Odeyingbo said. "I got a better feel of where the holes are on the field being down that close. It was a lot of fun."
But don't be surprised if schools like Kentucky and Louisville enter the picture. Originally from Kentucky, he moved to Texas seven years ago and grew up a Louisville fan and that's where he saw his first college football game.
That shouldn't have any bearing on his school selection, though. Odeyingbo said he has no more visits planned right now and is just trying to focus on school.
OU two-for-two with Sutherland
You're not likely to get any commits from Scout 300 members for the Class of 2015 this early unless you have some sort of tie-in with the recruit.
OU doesn't have that with Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus offensive tackle Keaton Sutherland, but it can say it has done everything right so far with the four-star prospect.
The Sooners offered Sutherland on an unofficial visit last month, much to Sutherland's surprise. And Sutherland was back at OU for the West Virginia game.
"It was a lot of fun," Sutherland said. "The packed stands was great. It was a really great environment that I'd love to get used to."
Arkansas and TCU have already offered Sutherland, and he said he's not in any rush at all to make a decision. But it's nothing but good news to have already had him on campus twice in a month.
He said he didn't get to talk to offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh that much because he had to leave in the fourth quarter, but he liked watching the offensive tackles open holes throughout the game.
As for his junior season, things are going well. He has fully adjusted from being a defensive end last year to an offensive tackle this season.
"I'm really liking the change to offense," Sutherland said. "It's working out well."
Sutherland has no idea when and where his next visit will be this season.
Wariboko, Overton blowing up
You want big-time recruits? Then you have to be able to keep them when other schools make their pitch because other schools are coming hard for Oklahoma City Casady 2015 OU offensive guard commit Josh Wariboko.
Wariboko, a four-star recruit in the early Scout 300, has had a crazy week of picking up one huge offer after another.
He started his weekend with an unofficial visit to Texas A&M just to check things out. He said the 12th man was awesome, and he really enjoyed the visit.
He got home Sunday and was offered by USC, a school he has always dreamed about. Then the Aggies offer was made official Monday night. Another SEC school entered the mix when Ole Miss threw its hat in the ring Wednesday. Not too shabby. So should OU fans be concerned?
"I'm a Sooner," Wariboko said.
The offer from the Trojans was a big one and there will be other big ones as his film continues to get out there more and more. But the family ties to the program to go with his relationship with Bedenbaugh should have OU fans feeling pretty good right now.
The same can be said about Jenks (Okla.) High 2015 Scout 300 defensive tackle Marquise Overton. With Baylor and Oregon State already in the mix, things got more interesting more recently with Overton as the Rebels are in the chase.
And now so are the Sooners. There has been a lot of speculation about OU's interest in Overton, but it's clear the Sooners are starting to like what they see. Overton said he is starting to talk to defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery a lot more, and he was invited to the Tulsa game.
Overton grew up a huge OU fan, and it's up to the Sooners to keep him home. It won't take much, if you ask me, but they do need to put in the work.
Got a chance to see Overton last week against Tulsa (Okla.) Union, and he was no doubt a presence on the inside. He looks like a legit 6-2 at this point, too, which should make some OU fans happy. His size has seemingly been a deterrent for some as to why Overton isn't getting as much from the Sooners.
Sooners making push on the hardwood
In the last couple of classes, OU basketball has had at least one or two commits by this time as Lon Kruger continues to rack up quality names. But almost into October, and the Sooners are without a pledge for the Class of 2014. That could change soon.
Bel Aire (Kan.) Sunrise Christian Academy three-star point guard Lourawls Nairn is close to making a decision. Known as "Tum Tum," the point guard is down to OU, Minnesota, Michigan State and Indiana.
Nairn has made official visits to OU, Minnesota and Michigan State in the last few weeks. His final visit is to Indiana this weekend.
At 5-foot-10, Tum Tum is an explosive point guard who was down to OU, the Gophers and the Hoosiers until a last-minute visit to the Spartans might have changed everything.
What OU has going in its favor is the relationship Kruger and the staff has built at Sunrise, much of that predicated on how well things have turned out for the Sooners with Sunrise alum sophomore guard Buddy Hield.
Nairn has visited OU several times in the last two seasons.
It was huge for the Sooners because OU has been after Burton before, but he never really considered the Sooners much of a basketball school.
He said the visit completely changed his perception of the school and has OU solidly in the mix. The Sooners are battling Oklahoma State and Oregon for his services.
He has visited OSU already and is scheduled for his official visit to Oregon this weekend. He said he hopes to make a decision in the next few weeks.
The Starks/Mixon debate
OK, Neal, here ya go. The great debate for the 2014 class. If you had to take one between Oakley (Calif) Freedom five-star running back Joe Mixon or Englewood (Colo.) Cherry Creek four-star prospect Nathan Starks, who would you take? And what should the Sooners do?
Not going to answer the latter, but I'll tell you what I'd do on the first one. I'd put all the eggs in the Mixon basket. If Mixon and Florida have had a falling out, that's just more good news for the Sooners.
Mixon is scheduled to visit OU for TCU weekend. There have been rumblings about Starks also visiting the Sooners the same weekend. To me, that would be the best thing possible. You get Bob Stoops and Gundy in the room with them and lay it all out.
Starks has always felt like the No. 1 target for the class until he was dismissed from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman in the spring.
The thing with Starks, again just my opinion, is I don't know what he's waiting for. OU has shown it's going to stick by him so I sort of thought he would decide to pledge to the Sooners to get it all over with.
Several schools decided to let him go, but based on his long relationship with Gundy, the Sooners have not abandoned him. So felt like Starks would reward (for the lack of a better term) OU's loyalty to him during a rough time.
But he hasn't. That's his choice so that's fine, and I'm not going to judge him. But Mixon could be one of those rare talents. From all accounts, his California visit went well. But it didn't blow him away.
Mixon is set to visit Wisconsin after his OU trip, and maybe by November everything starts to work itself out regarding the two.
Mixon is a huge Adrian Peterson fan and went nuts when Peterson started to follow him on Twitter. TCU week is a bye week for the Vikings. Peterson is already scheduled to be in Palestine, Texas, the day before as his jersey is retired.
Is it possible he makes a trip to Norman as well?
That might be the ace up the sleeve the Sooners will have for Mixon and that could be the thing that sways Mixon to OU when it's all said and done.