Sooner Intel, Pt. I: News and nuggets

Get caught up on the latest OU recruiting news from the last 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.

Wariboko, OU still on good terms

The summer feels like a long time ago regarding Oklahoma City Casady offensive lineman Josh Wariboko and the Sooners. Once completely out of the race, there is no doubt OU is in Wariboko’s final three even if he publicly isn’t about to release such a list.

Wariboko, a Scout 300 prospect and former OU commit, was at his first Red River Showdown battle three weeks ago to see OU’s win against Texas.

“It was awesome,” Wariboko said. “The atmosphere there. The state fair, being in the Cotton Bowl – it’s something really cool. It was a fun game, too.”

Interesting to note than even though he was committed to the Sooners during last year’s OU-Texas game that he actually hadn’t attended the game until this year.

Of course Wariboko also had a major visit two weeks ago with a trip to Columbus, Ohio, to see Ohio State for the first time.

“It was a lot of fun,” Wariboko said. “The people were awesome. I didn’t know what to expect going in, but it was great. Urban Meyer is a great coach and the way he leads his team says a lot.”

Wariboko was hosted by former high school opponent Demetrius Knox, which was crucial because it showed Wariboko that a kid from the Oklahoma/Texas could thrive with the Buckeyes.

But easily the biggest impression was made with Wariboko’s father. Following the visit, Wariboko said his father’s favorite college coach is now Meyer.

Oklahoma City Casady will finish its season in the next two weeks, allowing Wariboko to be more active on the trail. The only thing that is certain today is he will visit UCLA once again Nov. 22. Nothing is guaranteed, but he did say he believes Bedlam will be a good time to visit the Sooners once again.

“My relationship with Coach Bill Bedenbaugh continues to be really good,” Wariboko said. “There’s no problems at all.”

Wariboko said last month and reiterated it this week that his goal is to make his decision at the Under Armour All-America Game.

To go with OU, Ohio State and UCLA, USC and Oklahoma State are two schools to be on the watch for regarding the No. 2-ranked player in the state.

He said he noticed one major difference with the offensive lines of OU and Ohio State.

“OU has more pulling guards,” Wariboko said. “With Ohio State, it was more of a power running game, which is what I really like. I can pull, too, but you know all linemen just want to do the power attack.”

Barnes emerging for Trojans

Jenks and OU has been a nice combination, especially recently. It was Alex Ross for Class of 2012. Wide receiver Jordan Smallwood entered in 2013. Steven Parker was the No. 1 prospect in the state for 2014.

All Trojans at the high school level and Sooners in college. OU is poised to add another piece with four-star defensive tackle Marquise Overton, who has been committed to the Sooners since Jan. 3.

Four in a row, but what about No. 5? It could happen as the Sooners and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh have taken a strong interest in offensive lineman Sheldon Barnes.

Barnes first caught the eye of Sooners Illustrated last year, but it’s clear that now as a junior he has really found his groove.

“I’m a lot stronger for one thing,” Barnes said. “I know the system a lot more, and it’s helping me dominate on the field.”

Barnes has now been to OU’s last two home games against Tennessee and Kansas State. He said OU, Oklahoma State and Texas are among the schools sending him consistent letters.

But if his family has its wish, Barnes will be wearing the crimson and cream.

“Oh yea, my family is all OU fans,” Barnes said. “I really like the program, and they’ve been sending letters and stuff like that. I would definitely love to be that next (Jenks) guy.”

Barnes hasn’t had a lot of interaction with Bedenbaugh and didn’t attend any camps in the summer. His line of thinking was he’d attend camps heading into his senior season if schools thought it was necessary.

After seeing OU and OSU, however, Barnes said he sees an obvious difference with the linemen for the Sooners and Cowboys.

“I like how big they are at both schools, but OU has a lot of meat on them, too,” Barnes said. “They’re not just 7-foot giants. They have that physicality, too.”

Jenks was in a rare spot this season after having lost back-to-back games against Tulsa Union and Owasso. Coming off back-to-back state championships, it was a wakeup call for the Trojans. Message received as Jenks has been rolling ever since.

“That’s not how we do things at Jenks,” Barnes said. “We all sort of realized we have to step it up. That’s not how we want our season to go. It was a big turning point for us.”

OU playing the waiting game

You start getting into November, and you start to get into the official visits that really matters as recruits continue to narrow things down.

This is a huge visit weekend for some top OU targets, and all the Sooners can do is hope nothing materializes with this quartet.

Start at linebacker since that’s where so many OU fans are concerned with the direction of the program. Indianapolis Lawrence Central’s Darrin Kirkland is going to start making his trips, and it starts with Ole Miss when the Rebels welcome Auburn.

Kirkland had OU in his top five of the moment back in the spring before he committed to Michigan. Following Michigan’s recent struggles and uncertainty of the program, he is ready to see what else is out there.

Kirkland, a four-star middle linebacker, also confirmed Thursday he is going to take an official visit to OU next weekend for the Baylor game.

Up next is Orange (Calif.) Lutheran five-star linebacker Keisean Lucier South as he is headed to the Pacific Northwest and a trip to Oregon as the Ducks play Stanford.

Lucier-South has been to OU and Michigan already but most feel it’s the west coast schools that will give the Sooners a run for their money. USC and UCLA are both squarely in this picture although OU did everything it could during his visit in September.

Also keep an eye on Aledo (Texas) High wide receiver Ryan Newsome. Already having visited Ole Miss and Tennessee, Newsome is back on the road to UCLA this weekend.

Newsome continues to be a tough one to gauge because it’s obvious the OU interest is real. There’s no doubt about that, but other schools are making a huge splash.

Newsome will visit OU next weekend as well but will also make a trip to Texas sometime after his senior season. All five schools are legitimately in play as of this time.

Then finally it’s visit No. 4 for Waco (Texas) Midway safety Kahlil Haughton. OU has taken its shot as has Nebraska and Arkansas and now Haughton heads to Lubbock for Texas Tech and Texas.

OU coaches made sure Haughton knew how seriously they still are about landing the four-star safety as OU sent two coaches to his game last week.

Following this visit, Haughton will eventually visit Baylor and then it will be another waiting game. OU is in a good spot heading into this month.

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