Sooner Intel, Pt. I: News and nuggets

A bevy of OU news and notes from the recruiting trail.

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’s interest a surprise to Westbrook

OU fans were surprised by the offer last week to Brenham (Texas) Blinn Community College wide receiver Dede Westbrook, but nobody was shocked more than Westbrook himself.

When asked how much interest OU had shown before last week, the answer was simple – none. Friday was the first time OU had gotten in touch with Westbrook, and the offer was extended later that morning.

“My head coach at Blinn played football for OU so when he said OU was interested, I didn’t believe him,” Westbrook said. “Then I saw them follow me on Twitter and stuff like and I knew it was real. It came out of nowhere.”

The Sooners have taken eight wide receivers in the last two classes and have one for 2015 at this point with John Humphrey. The prevailing thought has been OU wants Aledo (Texas) High’s Ryan Newsome or nobody for the rest of the class.

So what’s changed? That is the question. It could be OU isn’t happy with the development of its younger players. It could be the Sooners are sensing that maybe Dorial Green-Beckham might look toward the NFL after this season. It could be a number of things, but it is clear exactly what the Sooners see in Westbrook.

“They said I remind them of Jalen Saunders and that means a lot to me,” Westbrook said. “I don’t know Jalen, but I watched him play a lot and it’s definitely a compliment.”

Westbrook has been among the best in junior college with receiving yards per game, but he said he’s also a talented punt returner and that, too, could be a reason why OU is looking in his direction.

It has been a busy time for Westbrook as the offers continue to pile in. He has already visited Utah, but it seems like the Big 12 is going to be his destination. West Virginia and Texas Tech are also in play for Westbrook, but he’s set to take his official to Norman for Baylor weekend.

Westbrook hadn’t heard from the OU coaches at all until last week, but now he said he has had multiple conversations with Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell.

“They have a great tradition, and you know they’re well coached,” Westbrook said. “You watch them and you know they have a ton of discipline.”

Westbrook is somebody who needs to make an immediate impact as he only has two years to play with two years of eligibility.

He said he didn’t want to go the juco route, but it has probably been the best thing that has happened to him.

“Coming out of high school, I wasn’t as mature as I am now,” Westbrook said. “I’ve matured a lot, and I know now I can go without my parents and be my own man. This has been the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Westbrook will enroll in his college of choice in January and said OU is expected to watch him play this weekend.

Wood steps up to the plate

McAlester (Okla.) High coach Bryan Pratt says the Buffaloes like to say big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games.

No idea if last Thursday would constitute a big game for McAlester but trying to bounce back after a rare regular season loss was important. And with the starting running back out, Dalton Wood had his number called over and over again.

Wood accounted for more than 400 yards of total offense and scored seven touchdowns. That was the start of his weekend as he also made his first trip to OU to see the Sooners last week. And in particular, Blake Bell.

“He played tight end the whole time, except for that one snap at quarterback,” Wood said. “I tried to watch him a lot and what he was doing.”

It’s not fair to put BellDozer 2.0 expectations on Wood, but there is a feeling he could bring that same type of skill set to Norman that Bell has brought.

Before Saturday, Wood had only met OU tight ends coach Jay Boulware, but he got to meet the whole coaching staff and said he enjoyed that.

“I had talked to Bob Stoops before on the phone, but it was cool to meet all of them,” Wood said. “They act like normal people. You can tell how much they want to win.”

But Wood has some unfinished business before coming to OU. After leading McAlester to the Class 5A state championship game last season, expectations are incredibly high for this season. Those expectations made the 27-26 loss two weeks ago even more surprising.

Pratt was quick to say it wasn’t because of Wood or the media attention he has been receiving. He’s still the same kid that loves hunting and has a humble mindset.

“Sometimes it takes a loss to realize what’s going on,” Wood said. “Sometimes you think you’re better than what you are. Can’t have that attitude, have to always work hard.”

Wood doesn’t mind the new attention, but it also hasn’t really changed his life. He gets a lot of questions asked, he answers them and moves on, he said. What is important is that he continues to do things right for McAlester here down the stretch.

“My coaches told me to play like a Division I player should,” Wood said. “Don’t play down to the level of the opponent. Show them why you’re going to OU.”

He certainly did that last week. Wood said he expects to take his official visit to OU sometimes after the season.

Bledsoe on OU’s radar

OU has been back on the offer market and has made a number of them to 2016 recruits. Some have been surprising, but the one to Lawrence (Kan.) High defensive lineman Amani Bledsoe absolutely wasn’t.

Bledsoe, a four-star prospect expected to be one of the tops in the state, was at OU’s camp in June and performed really well even if he didn’t leave with an offer.

He said that didn’t shock him because defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery said he wanted to see Bledsoe’s junior film before making the offer.

Montgomery has seen the film, and Bledsoe has the offer.

“I didn’t think they had moved on or anything,” Bledsoe said. “My coach said they had been asking about me for a while, and he said he did really well at the camp.”

Bledsoe said of all the offers that come his way like crazy in the last month, OU, Ohio State and Nebraska are the three offers that stand out the most right now.

Bledsoe has made unofficial visits to Kansas and Nebraska this season and said he is hoping to return to Norman for the Bedlam showdown in December.

His junior season has been a big success so far as he said is playing with a lot more confidence and is faster and stronger than he was last year.

It was only one day with Montgomery, and it was the day the weather forced the camp indoors, but Bledsoe said he liked what he saw.

“He’s very intense and active and has a lot of energy,” Bledsoe said. “I’m looking for a school that fits me and has good defensive linemen and good coaches. I know Montgomery is one of those guys.”

OKPreps kids starting to become priority

Last weekend appeared to be a pretty big weekend for OU in regards to some of the younger in-state prospects. Class of 2016 recruits like running back/wide receiver Quan Hogan (Norman North), quarterback Terry Wilson (Del City) and offensive lineman Sheldon Barnes (Jenks) were among those in attendance.

But OU losing sort of left those kids in an awkward spot. So instead of getting any quality one-on-one time with the players or coaches, all of them decided to go home.

It was Barnes’ second trip to Norman as he was also at OU’s game against Tennessee. Hogan was invited to OU-Texas but couldn’t make it. His relationship with Cale Gundy is starting to grow.

And one prospect for the Class of 2015 that is still a big question mark is Midwest City Carl Albert’s Dillon Lohr. Still without any offers, the three-star prospect has been to every single OU home game this season on unofficial visits.

Lohr said he is starting to talk with Cale Gundy more as well although nobody has any clue as to what his college position is going to be.

For the season, Lohr has sort of gone away from the defense instead has become the workhorse on offense. Lohr has rushed for 735 yards on 89 attempts with eight touchdowns and also has two receiving touchdowns as Carl Albert is 6-1 this season.

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