Sooner Intel, Pt. II: News and nuggets

Looking at an under the radar commit and a 2016 name to remember.

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.

Eboh a name on the rise

OU’s first home game didn’t have any official visitors and didn’t have a lot of noteworthy unofficial visitors. But there was one to keep an eye out on going forward.

Southlake Carroll (Texas) High four-star defensive back Obi Eboh returned to OU and said he was amazed at the atmosphere.

Eboh was there with teammate Robert Barnes, the son of former OU football player Reggie Barnes, and Eboh said he was able to spend some quality time with the coaches before the game.

“It was great,” Eboh said. “I got to go into one of the dorms and see how everything is. It was a really good time.”

Eboh was at strong safety last season but has moved to cornerback for this season. He said he has no preference because they’re both interchangeable at this point.

So far most of the recruiting has gone through offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, who handles that area of the Dallas Metroplex, but Eboh said he was able to get to know defensive coordinator Mike Stoops more.

Eboh has been offered by Rice, Duke, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Texas Tech and has heard from numerous top schools. The plan was for Bedenbaugh to watch Eboh last week, but things changed and Eboh said Bedenbaugh said he’ll return later this season.

His trip to OU in August was far from his first time. He’s pretty comfortable with Norman as he has been there before for basketball camps where he really got to see the campus.

“My mom really likes OU,” Eboh said. “Traditionally, you know, they’re always among the best teams in the nation.”

Eboh said he is taking an unofficial visit to Baylor next weekend.

Wood’s recruitment fast, furious and done

Over a bye week, there’s always a chance of landing a commitment. And there were a number of guys that could have been nominated for that spot.

Nobody would have predicted it would be McAlester (Okla.) High quarterback Dalton Wood as OU’s answer to the tight end class.

“I know he was getting a little worried about it,” McAlester coach Bryan Pratt said. “He was hoping to have a little more interest at this point. But it all worked out.”

There were a number of issues that kept Wood from fully bursting onto the scene. One issue was playing quarterback at McAlester when he knew his future would be at tight end.

But another important factor to consider was the health issues Wood has faced in the last couple of seasons. Heart surgery as a sophomore and a broken ankle as a junior so it was tough to get a lot film out there.

Wood fainted in the first game of his sophomore season and was eventually diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. More common than you think, it occurs in one in 2,000 people and causes rapid heartbeat that results in shortness of breath, dizziness and fainting.

Wood had a nine-hour surgery to correct the issue, and it hasn’t been a problem since. And he never got discouraged.

“Through all those issues, he never missed a practice,” Pratt said. “It didn’t matter what it was, he always wanted to be out there with the team.”

Things finally started to pick up earlier this season as Wood started to do more than just play quarterback, catching the eye of OU tight ends coach Jay Boulware.

The rest is history.

“It went from nobody talking to me to all of these coaches calling me or calling my coach in a couple of weeks,” Wood said. “I know this process can get pretty crazy, but for me, there wasn’t much thinking or anything to do. I knew what I wanted.”

Wood, who was 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds as a seventh grader, is now 6-4 and 255 pounds. McAlester is the No. 1-ranked team in Class 5A this season.

Under the radar and Stoops

The addition of Wood is just another example of OU finding that under the radar prospect that fits what OU is looking to do. Obviously Bob Stoops couldn’t talk about Wood by name this week, but he did offer some insight into the process.

“They are more like kids that fit us and that we like,” said Stoops. “Certain guys like Trey Millard or Dimitri Flowers, who are very valuable to a coach but maybe not to a scout out there. They are hard to find. We are watching tape constantly from any tip or lead. If we hear about them, we pull up the tape and look at them.

“Particularly in-state and Dallas (recruits). Anyone in about a two-to-three-hour radius, we are going to make sure. If we don’t go after a guy, we have watched him thoroughly, and for whatever reason, we didn’t feel like he was what we need or will work for us.”

One thing OU has always had a strong history of is not worrying about the number of offers for a kid. Wood is an example of that with OU being his first offer. Cornerback Tito Windham and defensive lineman Dwayne Orso were examples of that last season.

Defensive lineman Charles Walker is a great case of that. For the 2013 class, Walker was looking at schools like North Texas and New Mexico before the Sooners came into the picture.

And it can’t all be about tape. Have to pass the eye test, too.

“We are always diligent in seeing a guy in person,” Stoops said. “If they say they are 6-4, then I want my guy who is 6-4 to stand beside him. Is he 230 or 240? Is he big enough to do what we need him to do? Is he fast enough?

“Those things you can evaluate better in person. We are going to offer them if we feel they make us better or help us to keep doing the things we are doing well. We don’t care if someone else has offered or what a service thinks of them.”

And like guys such as Windham and Orso, usually an OU offer is followed by several more. And OU is always on the lookout.

“We often find that after we offer a kid he will get about five or six offers within a week,” Stoops said. “We may get a call from a coach and say a guy no one was looking at a year ago, look what he is doing now. Maybe he grew three inches. We look at that. We take the information and evaluate it.”

Whitfield on the outside looking in

One of those guys it felt like could potentially be an under the radar guy for OU is Spiro (Okla.) High athlete McKinley Whitfield.

Whitfield, a three-star safety prospect, picked up a number of offers in the spring but was waiting to see if OU, Oklahoma State or Arkansas would make that plunge.

So far they haven’t. He’s keeping some official visits open in case they do, but as of now, he’s just focusing on his senior season.

“It has been going great,” Whitfield said. “I think right now I have like 1,000 all-purpose yards, and we’re 4-0 so can’t complain. I’m playing quarterback and safety.”

Whitfield had a huge night last week going against ranked Roland, featuring Arkansas tight end commit Austin Cantrell. Trailing at halftime, Whitfield helped turn things around in the second half in a 32-21 victory.

Whitfield has made an official visit to Wyoming and has one tentatively set for Minnesota in two weeks. But those others, he’s keeping open.

“I’m not really hearing from OU, but Oklahoma State and Arkansas have been sending me letters,” Whitfield said. “Right now, I don’t have any favorites and am keeping all options open.”


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