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.
Warren plays way into conversation
Intel with a real OKPreps theme this week. Staying in Oklahoma with the tale of Lawton running back Michael Warren. There is no question he is the Class of 2014 prospect that has emerged out of nowhere. Now the question is where exactly is he going to land?
The visit process begins this weekend with an official visit to Toledo. The Rockets were the first school to make the leap and make the offer. He also had an in-home visit with Tulsa earlier this week.
And as has been documented before, the question has been about his academic standing. He took the ACT for the first time this fall and said he scored an 18. It's not bad, it's not great. It's a nice start as long as he keeps working at it.
"A lot of schools have been telling me that as soon as my scores came in, they would start recruiting me a lot harder," Warren said.
With good reason, too. Buried as fourth string as a junior, Warren set the school record for rushing yards in a season. He rushed for 2,512 yards on 269 carries with 26 touchdowns. That's 9.3 yards per carry and 209.3 yards per game against the best competition in the state.
That was never the goal for Warren, but it just sort of all evolved that way.
"I never expected that at all," Warren said. "When I hit 2,000 yards I had people telling me I was close to the record. Once I heard that, I made that my goal. It was just an incredible season."
A season that made OU take notice. Running backs coach Cale Gundy got in with Warren nice and early and Warren said he talks to Gundy about once every two weeks.
"He said they need a running back," Warren said. "OU is the school I would like to go to. I could see myself playing for them."
Warren never made a trip to Norman this fall, but he was at OU's three-day camp in June. Strangely enough, though, he was working at defensive back at that camp instead of running back.
Following the Toledo visit, Warren said he plans to hit Washington State in January and maybe New Mexico once again. But if things become even more positive regarding his academic standing, definitely expect the Sooners to play a bigger role.
The running back situation
It's clear the Sooners are taking one more running back. And in a way, well, it sounds like it's a race to see who is the first to qualify.
"Talked to Coach Gundy, and he said they are looking at four running backs and it will be about who does what he needs to do first," Lawton coach Randy Breeze said. "We're excited for Michael that he could have these opportunities."
North Richland Hills (Texas) Birdville coaches said they are hearing the same thing about the race being on to academically qualify.
Michael Warren is one. Safe to assume Xavier Turner is another. Turner had his most recent conversation with Gundy last week. Warren's numbers are gaudy, while Turner's are just ridiculous.
He has rushed for 2,857 yards on 289 attempts with 50, yes, 50 touchdowns. Birdville has a huge test Saturday against Denton (Texas) Guyer.
It's obvious Turner is also in an academic quandary because he's tweeting offers from schools like Butler Community College in Kansas.
Who are the other two? It feels like Englewood (Colo.) Cherry Creek four-star prospect Nathan Starks could be one of them. After everything he has dealt with in the last 12 months, it wouldn't be surprising to hear he might have academic issues or transcript concerns.
The fourth one is a mystery. Do not believe it Oakley (Calif.) Freedom five-star back Joe Mixon. OU has other issues, such as distance, with Mixon and not anything regarding academic concerns.
It could also be Lackawanna (Pa.) College prospect DeChavon Hayes. Following a great OU visit last month, he had the same feeling at Arizona State last week. It's clear it's down to the Sooners and Sun Devils, and we should find out soon.
As is, will be an interesting month of running back recruiting.
Overton getting the push
OU got its first Class of 2015 defensive tackle commit last week with Houston Cypress Falls defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin.
Now the Sooners are pushing hard to get No. 2 with fellow Scout 300 prospect, Jenks (Okla.) High's Marquise Overton. Pushing really hard.
Following Lampkin's commitment, Overton said he heard from OU defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery later in the week and tried to see where things stand.
"They were saying how they only have a certain number of spots open for the class and wanted to know what was going on," Overton said.
It's an interesting tactic that hasn't been used by OU in a long time. The Sooners have never been the school to try to pressure anybody into a commitment, but Montgomery also has a lot of years of doing this gig and knows how to get the job done.
Right now, though, it seems as though this is a conflict for Overton.
"I'm torn, you know, because I really want to experience the process," Overton said. "I don't know right now."
Overton is already one of the state's top prospects, but he could become one of the nation's top defensive tackles before the spring is over. He has added height and weight to his frame and has been dominant all season for Jenks.
The OU offer certainly made a huge impression on Overton, but too early to tell if it has been enough to get an early pledge.
Cooper seeing Rebels, Ijalana visiting Purdue
Cooper said after his visit with OU that the Sooners were No. 1, followed by Texas Tech. He also added that he wanted to see Ole Miss before making any kind of decision.
Keep in mind that at the time he didn't have an offer from the Rebels. All he had was a lot of contact. The contact has turned into an offer and turned into an official visit this weekend.
If Cooper commits this weekend to Ole Miss, don't be surprised. If not, nothing but a positive outcome for the Sooners on that front. It will guarantee that it's not an impulsive decision.
But instead of the Illini, he has chosen the Boilermakers. It's clear there was real mis-communication between Ijalana and OU tight ends coach Jay Boulware.
A lot of it stems from things not being 100 percent laid out about his academic standing. It still feels like he's going to be a mid-year guy but you simply never know when it comes to transferring credits and things of that nature.
Ijalana tweets later in the week projected a bit of resentment toward the situation so we'll see if the door is officially closed between Ijalana and OU.