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.
Newsome not judging wins and losses
There is this image of Aledo (Texas) High wide receiver Ryan Newsome that has been sort of projected via social media. He seems like a flashy kid.
But it’s not who he is, not by a longshot. In every interview, Newsome has talked about his faith is the biggest driving force in his recruitment. And it’s that connection through faith that has helped OU coaches Bob Stoops and Jay Norvell with Newsome.
Following OU’s loss last weekend on his official visit, Newsome saw a different Bob Stoops. It’s a Stoops few recruits, if any, have probably seen.
“He was just different, but in a good way,” Newsome said. “I don’t know what he’s going through right now, but I’m praying for him and know he’ll be OK.”
Newsome said some head coaches will try to get in your ear with social media and stuff like that, but Stoops has never been that way. Heck, Stoops reiterated that point during his Monday press conference saying he doesn’t have time to worry about social media.
When it comes to Newsome, however, Stoops is a different guy. Nobody was looking forward to Newsome’s visit more than Stoops.
“He kept telling me in the last few weeks how happy he was about me coming back there,” Newsome said. “He’s not somebody that wears his feelings on his shoulder so when he opened up to me like that, it meant a lot.
“He told me how much he loved my family and character. He talked about how he hasn’t really recruited anybody quite like me with my character and personality and how I’m a huge priority for the class.”
Newsome is right as that’s about as much heart-to-heart honesty as you’re going to hear from Stoops toward a recruit. It’s not too surprising since that has been the foundation of Newsome’s relationship with OU – a strong faith-based relationship.
That relationship was only strengthened through his bond with Sterling Shepard, his host for the weekend. Newsome said he’s not sure if Shepard is going to skip his senior season, but either way, he’s ready to be the next Shepard at OU.
Newsome also got some time to spend with suspended running back Joe Mixon at Fuzzy’s Tacos after the game.
“I can tell he’s a good dude,” Newsome said. “He’s made his mistakes, but he’s going to return better than ever. He is very focused.”
Other schools are focused on Newsome. Four of his official visits are in the books with only Texas left. But a huge development emerged earlier this week with TCU getting back into the picture.
Said OU didn’t hurt itself in the loss, but the Horned Frogs have made themselves a national factor because of their wins. None more impressive than the one against Kansas State last weekend that has a lot of prospects wondering if they can head to Fort Worth.
It’s still too early to say TCU is going to play a huge factor in the Newsome race, but it does illustrate that OU’s recruiting got a lot more difficult this season because of the success of TCU and Baylor.
Either way, once Newsome commits, it’s game over.
“I’m not one of those dudes that can commit and then decommit,” Newsome said. “This process is already tough as it is. I’m not going to add to it by doing something like that. When I commit, there will no more visits. No secret visits or anything like that.”
Lockett’s Manvel connection
Newsome’s flights for his official visit included another top target in Manvel (Texas) High’s William Lockett. Both were on the same flights Saturday and Sunday.
Going into the visit, there was a lot of chatter about Lockett possibly flipping his commitment from UCLA to OU. It can still happen, but he’s going to wait out the process.
Circle next weekend as Lockett will be one of several top targets heading to see the Bruins in their showdown against USC.
“I’m going to talk things over with my mom and see how things go,” Lockett said. “I need to wait a little bit so I don’t make a big emotional decision.”
OU did all it could with his host Zack Sanchez, who has quickly developed a quality reputation as a host. And has an ace up its sleeve with Lockett every single day at Manvel.
Former Manvel product Austin Bennett is a sophomore wide receiver at OU and continually talks to Lockett about how much he enjoys Norman and the players and coaches there.
The two never really interacted that much, but Lockett does get to interact with Bennett’s father, one of the Manvel coaches.
“His dad is one of the coaches, and I really trust his dad,” Lockett said. “He wouldn’t tell me to go to OU just because it’s what he wants. He really believes it’s a great school and would be a great fit for me.”
Lockett said he didn’t get a lot of time to talk with Bennett on his visit, but everything was the same. He said Bennett is still really happy with everything and Bennett would love if Lockett joined him in Norman.
OU probably could have turned up the pressure in a huge way with a strong outing last week. Instead, the Bruins should be considered the favorite. And if the visit goes well for him, don’t look for him to waver on that commitment.
Alexander talks about swallowing the pill
It’s bad enough to be beat on the field like that, but then you have to find a way to put a smile on your face and host a recruit. Not enviable, but OU sophomore linebacker Dominique Alexander was up to the task and was excited about the chance.
“It’s pretty tough,” Alexander said. “Nobody likes losing. I hate to lose more than I like to win, but it’s something I had to do for our team in the future. You have to swallow that pill so we can be a better team.”
Alexander hosted Indianapolis Lawrence Central four-star middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland. Alexander being the host was huge because it was Kirkland’s first trip to the state. His only impression was going to come off of what happened in those 48 hours and with Alexander.
“If I was a recruit, I wouldn’t want to have a bad time because the team lost,” Alexander said. “I told him we’re a great program. You don’t see days like this ever, but if you don’t want to see it like this, come here and help us. We’ll contend for the national championship again.”
Alexander would know about going on a visit when the team loses as he did exactly that for his OU trip. He was in town for OU’s loss to Notre Dame in 2012, but he said by the time the visit is over, you’re not dwelling on the game.
“You pretty much just remember the experience more than anything else,” Alexander said. “It’s about the connections. Those are the people you’re going to be around the most. The connections you build with the coaches and players says more than just a single game.”
Alexander said it took him a while to get out of the funk Saturday evening. But by the time it came to do what a host does, he was ready.
“I take a lot of pride in that (being asked to host),” Alexander said. “I’m trying to land every recruit they give me. I got to show them a good time and be honest with them. It’s only fair because it’s the exact same thing that happened with me.”