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.
Ijalana with no doubts
Before taking his official visit to OU last month, Los Angeles Pierce College tight end Isaac Ijalana said he was ready for a month of anything with the recruiting process.
He had no idea just how much those words would be true. All the drama ended with Ijalana on Wednesday when he officially signed with the Sooners and was the first national letter of intent OU received for the class.
Things were looking good with OU and Ijalana after he committed last month. But on a visit by tight ends coach Jay Boulware, a big mis-communication happened.
"What started things originally was stuff about my course load," Ijalana said. "They thought one of my science classes didn't transfer over."
With the writing on the wall that if it didn't OU would look elsewhere, Ijalana made a pre-emptive strike and decommitted two weeks ago.
A couple of days after that, Ijalana got word from Boulware that everything was good to go. Ijalana, however, wanted to see what was out there and took official visits to Purdue two weeks ago and Utah State last week.
Those visits only helped confirm what he had been feeling from the start that OU was the place for him.
"I didn't feel as comfortable at those places as I did when I was in Norman," Ijalana said. "Everybody was real friendly, and it just felt right."
It was his plan all along to commit on his birthday, which just happened to be Sunday so he followed through on that and committed Sunday evening.
Boulware and OU coach Bob Stoops were thrilled, he said, but that quickly turned to what's next for Ijalana.
"When I called them, they were excited, but they were like now it's time to get to work," Ijalana said. "They want me to have the right mindset."
The belief has always been for Ijalana that he can help restore the tight end position for the Sooners starting next season. He talked to Boulware and Stoops on Wednesday and said everybody is feeling real good and is on the same page.
"I feel like my skill level and talent can make a big difference," Ijalana said. "They have fullbacks playing tight end right now. This is the best fit for me. All the stress is gone, and I can relax. I'm ready."
Perine locked with Sooners
One of the more intriguing positions to watch heading into signing day is running back. It's obvious OU wants to take at least one more back so it was interesting to find out if that bothered Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson running back Samaje Perine.
Perine, committed to OU since early in the spring, has been OU's guy for a long time. He said he has no problems with the Sooners wanting one more back and a visit by running backs coach Cale Gundy helped things even more.
"We just went over everything. It was good," Perine said. "We were talking about the plans of who is coming in and where I fit. Everything is going great."
Most schools have all backed off Perine at this point, but he said Texas is still lingering. With Mack Brown leaving the Longhorns, Perine said that hasn't changed anything for him. Bottom line is he's still not interested and said he's not going to be changing his mind.
A lot of speculation in the fall was about Perine eventually being OU's fullback option. That all went out the window when the Sooners landed Dimitri Flowers for that spot. Some of that speculation is simply because Perine isn't the typical OU back.
"That's what Coach Gundy was saying," Perine said. "They've never had that speed power back that I am. It's something different, and Coach Gundy was already talking about looking at different packages and how to put me in there."
Perine is set to have his official visit to OU on the Jan. 17 weekend where it looks like the Sooners are going to do everything in their power to fill out the class.
After visiting for a couple of spring practices, Perine said it was great to get up to Norman for a couple of games. He said he really enjoyed the atmosphere and seeing what the town was like.
And he has loved watching the offense because the truth is there in what Bob Stoops and Gundy told him in the spring.
"When I went up there for junior day, Coach Gundy and Coach Stoops were telling me how they were looking to get to a run-based offense," Perine said. "They wanted to get back to that. Watching them this season made it that much better because I saw how much they used the running game, and I know I could have an opportunity."
Alvarez solid with OU
Schools were starting to knock on the door for Mesquite (Texas) Horn offensive lineman Jonathan Alvarez, but only OU was willing to go that next step.
After making strides during the summer, the Sooners had Alvarez come up for an unofficial visit in September, offered less than 72 hours later and had his commitment on that same day.
Since then, there hasn't been much news regarding Alvarez. No news in recruiting usually equates to good news as is the case here. You can thank his high school coaches for some of that, too.
"My coaches have been through this process a lot," Alvarez said. "When some of these schools call, I don't have a clue. They tell them I'm not interested because I'm good with OU. I like that."
Alvarez received an in-home visit from Cale Gundy last week and said offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh should make his way to Mesquite next month.
Alvarez still has some time before he can enroll at OU, but his talk with Gundy certainly has him feeling excited about the future.
"He was talking about me living there and how they think highly of me and can see me playing early," Alvarez said. "All I kept thinking was how much I'd love to play for them."
OU has always been that dream school for Alvarez, a sign that he had made it as a player. Going to OU as a recruit was one thing but going as a commit has been another. Alvarez was a frequent visitor to OU's campus for every home game following his commitment.
"This is my future home. I love it even more," Alvarez said. "Now I don't have to try to impress anyone anymore. I know I have a place."
Alvarez is in constant contact with Bedenbaugh and was told to watch Gabe Ikard this season. Alvarez said that wasn't a big deal because he was already watching Ikard the most to begin with.
He said Gundy told him OU sees him a lot like Ikard and can have the ability to play both guard and center. Either way he just wants to play, especially after watching the line this season.
"Coach Bedenbaugh is a really smart coach," Alvarez said. "They beat you up good. It has been great to watch the line dominate this season."