Sooner Intel, Pt. I: News and nuggets

Big week on the trail means another big Intel for this week.

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.

Rankin or bust for jucos at OU

Everybody knew junior college offensive lineman Jamal Danley was most likely going to commit to the Sooners last weekend on his official visit.

Everybody, including the only other juco lineman on a visit of his own. It didn’t shock Mississippi Gulf Coast lineman Martinas Rankin that Danley committed.

He couldn’t have been surprised, seeing as how he was standing right next to Danley when Danley told Bill Bedenbaugh late Saturday night.

“I kind of knew Jamal was going to do that,” Rankin said. “I was standing right there beside him. When he told the coaches, I didn’t know what would happen. I didn’t know if OU was taking one juco guy or two.”

All these thoughts kept racing in the mind for Rankin. If OU only wanted one juco guy, he had accepted that. He loved his visit. Loved getting to know Bedenbaugh and Bob Stoops. Said he felt honored to have been a special guest of the program on a week like that.

But as it turns out, the door isn’t closed for Rankin and the Sooners. He couldn’t leave Norman without knowing what his status was. Bedenbaugh gave it to him straight.

“He said they probably wouldn’t recruit anybody else from junior college,” Rankin said. “I still had a spot, but that was it. To hear that was really flattering. It made me feel pretty good. For a program like that saying that, let’s just say it was a happy moment.”

Those positive vibes that were all over campus last week hit Rankin, too. After Danley’s pledge, Rankin started to think about it himself. Based on how great of a time he was having in Norman, the thought certainly crossed his mind.

And Danley would have had something to do with that.

“I met him going into my junior year of high school at a camp,” Rankin said. “We talked a little bit, but we’ve gotten a lot closer now. We played against each other last season.

“When I was out that night chilling with the guys, I realized it would be a smooth transition when you know someone like Jamal is there with you. I wouldn’t be the only guy far away from home. The vibe I got from everybody, I can see myself playing for them.”

In a rarity, Rankin was actually older than his host as freshman offensive tackle Kenyon Frison did the honors this last weekend.

Rankin spent a lot of time with Frison as well as older guys like Adam Shead and Dionte Savage. His goal was simple – to learn more about Bedenbaugh.

“I asked them how they like it and what they think of Coach B,” Rankin said. “They all said he’s a tough coach, but he’s going to get you right. He’s intense, but he’s willing to do everything he can for you to help.”

Rankin was hoping to get more time with the players and coaches, but he arrived in Norman late Friday and didn’t get to do much. Saturday, he said, is a day he won’t forget for a long time, especially meeting Bob Stoops.

“It was an honor to meet him,” Rankin said. “He’s a great guy, and it was nice to finally meet him.”

Rankin decided he needed to weigh his options. Less than 48 hours from returning home, he picked up an offer from Texas. Even though he admitted he usually rooted against the Longhorns growing up, that doesn’t mean anything now.

Ohio State is also another school he’s strongly considering. No matter what, though, he’ll make his decision soon because, like Danley, he’ll be a December graduate and on campus in January.

Harper’s trip worth it

Most of the talk was about the official visitors in town for OU last weekend. Those kids got to stay in Norman on Saturday. Unofficial visitors weren’t as lucky. And with how late the game ended, getting home meant arriving in the early hours Sunday morning.

One of those was Arlington (Texas) Martin defensive back Madre Harper. A Class of 2016 prospect, Harper was make his first trip back to OU since participating in OU’s camp in June.

Harper wasn’t alone, though, as he went to the game with OU quarterback offer Shane Buechele. They ended up getting home at 3 a.m.

“It was totally worth it,” Harper said. “I had a great time. It was a lot of fun, and the team had great energy.”

Harper was one of the top names to participate at OU’s camp in the summer, and all he was doing was planting the seeds for more attention from the Sooners. Harper said it was important to him to not go straight home after the game.

Instead, he spent quality time talking with OU defensive back coaches Bobby Jack Wright and Mike Stoops.

“It was good to talk to them again,” Harper said. “They care about my progress.”

Harper said he thought he fared well at OU’s camp and last weekend only made him more interested in the Sooners.

But OU isn’t alone. He said schools like LSU, Purdue and Utah have been showing interest and the plan is to see the Tigers later this month.

What he saw Saturday, though, was a defense he wouldn’t mind being a part of.

“They did a really god job,” Harper said. “The cornerbacks made a lot of plays. The OU defense stood their ground. It was exciting. It was crazy. It was loud. Can’t wait to come back.”

Frederick emerging as target

The Class of 2016 within the state has some names to watch, no doubt. Most of them feel like it will be from the skill position areas.

But with OU, the focus is actually on one of the guys in the trenches. We’re a long ways away from anything concrete happening, but the Sooners have taken a huge early in interest in Broken Arrow offensive tackle Rowdy Frederick.

Frederick was back at OU last weekend, his first time on campus since excelling all three days at OU’s camp in the summer.

Though it meant getting home around 4 a.m., Frederick is happy he went and got to spend more time with offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh.

“It was just a few minutes, talking about keeping in touch and things like that,” Frederick said. “Going into the locker room was pretty crazy. Seeing that was really cool.”

Frederick said schools like Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas Tech are showing interest, but no school is showing more right now than the Sooners.

He has been a name to watch for a while, but the big thing has always been about trying to get his weight back on track. Frederick said he weighed 344 pounds by the time his sophomore season ended, and he knew that was too high.

“I couldn’t move the way I wanted,” Frederick said. “I had to get my footwork better so I could handle smaller, faster guys.”

Frederick said he is around 320 pounds now, and he is definitely feeling the difference. He didn’t grow up an OU or OSU fan, but he did say he is really liking the relationship he is forming with Bedenbaugh and how important the summer camp was.

“It was great. Those three days meant a lot,” Frederick said. “He’s a great coach, and I like the way he coaches his players. Being able to get teaching from him and some of the guys on the team right now really meant a lot.”

Frederick is a part of incredibly talented Broken Arrow team for the 2016 class that should include at three or four Division I recruits.

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