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.
OU, Wariboko on same page
Start this week with the offensive line and the two uncommitted prospects in the Scout 300 in the state. Oklahoma City Casady’s Josh Wariboko received his Under Armour All-America Game jersey on Tuesday, while Lawton (Okla.) High’s Jalin Barnett got his Wednesday.
Wariboko still hasn’t been able to make any official visits this season, but he did return to OU a couple of weeks ago for the Sooners’ victory against Tennessee.
“It was great, atmosphere was incredible,” Wariboko said. “Get a chance to see a great SEC team like Tennessee going against probably the best team in the country, Oklahoma, why not?”
He said he is still down to his eight schools, but he’s hoping to narrow it down to five next week. Never looked like it would be the case in June, but it seems pretty obvious OU is going to make that cut as the relationship with offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh is back.
“I talk to him every day in some way,” Wariboko said. “Text or Twitter, something every day. I’m really not that surprised we’ve been able to rebuild the relationship. I already had that great relationship with him. We’ve just been staying in constant contact.”
When Wariboko started playing football in eighth grade, one of his goals was to make the Under Armour game. It was a special scene Tuesday at Casady, flocked by his friends, family and coaches. It could also be the scene for his commitment.
“I want to commit at the Under Armour game,” Wariboko said. “I’ve talked to them about it. I don’t think it will be hard for me to wait that long.”
The Under Armour game is Jan. 2 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Wariboko had to deal with a lot of recruiting attention last fall as an OU commit making visits to other schools. That has helped him deal with the recruiting attention this time around.
“I think I’ve been able to handle it really well,” Wariboko said. “I’m focused on my recruitment, but I’m worried first about what’s happening on the field. I’m going to make my senior season memorable at Casady.”
The Cyclones are 3-1 and Wariboko has noticed a lot of improvement with his pass protection and conditioning.
Barnett being swayed by Hogs?
As OU’s chances have seemingly increased to once again land Wariboko, things took a hit this last weekend regarding its pursuit of Barnett.
For the last few months, it has felt like Barnett has been a silent verbal to the Sooners with Arkansas on the outside looking in.
But in a bit of a shock, Barnett’s first official visit was to Fayetteville last weekend. And it could not have gone any better.
“He loved it,” Lawton coach Randy Breeze said. “He said everything went great, better than he could have imagined.”
And the other schools did a no-no on the visit. Barnett’s family was irked at OU and Oklahoma State coaches checking in with Barnett on his visit with the Hogs.
Barnett texted earlier this week saying he would like to have his decision done before his senior season is completed but still no word on when a potential visit to Oklahoma will take place.
As for the first few games of the season, no complaints so far. Losing the 20 pounds during the spring has given him a lot more explosiveness off the ball and in the open field.
He received his Under Armour jersey Wednesday morning and has made at least one highlight play of the week.
“The local news asks us every week for a play of the week,” Breeze said. “I told them I had one because we had our 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman led the way and got out onto a safety. Once he caught up to him, he pancaked him good. I don’t know if they (news) liked it, but we sure did and it was our highlight of the week.”
No way OU lands Barnett, Wariboko and junior college offensive lineman Martinas Rankin so it’s going to be intriguing to watch the latest developments with all three of them.
Humphrey at home in Norman
Offensive line is still a mystery, but wide receiver is about as simple as it gets. League City (Texas) Clear Falls receiver John Humphrey made sure of that last month with his commitment.
Humphrey and his family returned to OU two weeks ago for his official visit to Norman that once again assured him he is making the right decision.
“Aw man, that visit was crazy,” Humphrey said. “It was so cool. They showed the recruits a great time. It was a great atmosphere. I’m looking forward to being there so much.”
It seems obvious to say OU’s stadium is a huge difference from high school ones, but Humphrey really was in awe of it on his visit.
Used to being in games with about 2,000 people in attendance, he said it was amazing to be there with 85,000 fans.
“It blew my mind,” Humphrey said. “I don’t know how those guys do that. I think I would have had all sorts of breakdowns before the game.”
Humphrey was hosted by redshirt freshman Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. The biggest thing Humphrey learned from Obo and being around the other players was how much they treat it like a job.
Humphrey said the players know how to have a lot of fun, but when it’s time to work, they are all business.
“The players would be out there interacting with each other and having fun, but once they stepped on the field, it was straight business,” Humphrey said. “No games, no nothing. Focused on the game, every single one of them.”
Humphrey picked the Sooners over Notre Dame and a number of offers but that didn’t mean the interest stopped. He said schools like Oklahoma State, N.D. and TCU were still pursuing him. Humphrey said he would tell them he’s 100 percent with OU and then they would no longer call.
One of his goals since committing has been to try to help others make the same decision. Aledo (Texas) High’s Ryan Newsome has been his No. 1 target. Newsome is the only other wide receiver OU will accept for the 2015 class.
On the visit, Humphrey zeroed in on Midwest City (Okla.) High safety Will Sunderland so like all the OU coaches, Humphrey was pumped when Sunderland committed to OU.
“It was just a great vibe all over the place,” Humphrey said. “We created a great bond with the commits and the other recruits. It was real special.”
Unfortunately his senior season has taken an unexpected detour. Clear Falls lost its starting quarterback in the first game, and it has been a struggle to get Humphrey going in the passing game. He has been facing double and triple teams throughout the first few games.
It’s not going well for his final season, but he gets more upbeat when talking about heading to OU. Humphrey still intends to enroll early and said his family has no doubts after the visit.
“My family definitely felt more comfortable about everything,” Humphrey said. “We all felt like we are more a part of the family than before.”