Sooner Intel, Pt. II: News and nuggets

More news and notes from an interesting week on the trail for OU.

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.

Kirkland enjoys OU first impression

OU was in the hunt for Indianapolis Lawrence Central middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland in the spring before he decided to commit to Michigan.

The Sooners never bothered Kirkland again, or at least never directly tried to bother him after that. Kirkland said OU would send him notes of congratulations when he was selected for The Opening and was named a U.S. Army All-American.

But once Kirkland parted ways with the Wolverines, OU knew it wanted to get back into the mix with the four-star prospect.

Linebackers coach Tim Kish has ramped it up with Kirkland and was able to get Kirkland to visit the campus for the first time last week.

“I really didn’t have any expectations,” Kirkland said. “I went in knowing OU has a great program and tradition and expected nothing less than that. It was an awesome experience to be a part of. The pregame atmosphere was great.”

It’s unfortunate for OU that its first impression with Kirkland was in an embarrassing loss, but Kirkland said that hasn’t influenced him at all. Kirkland said you don’t win them all in high school, either.

“Who hasn’t been there before?” Kirkland said. “It won’t affect me all. They still have a great team. They caught on the bad side. Been there before, know that goes when the game just gets away from you. That’s the game of football.”

Kirkland was hosted by OU linebackers Dominique Alexander and Eric Striker. The two didn’t want to come off as saying OU was in trouble, but they did practically say Kirkland is somebody who could come to Norman and help immediately.

“It’s a great opportunity to come in as a freshman, and I’m going to be an early enrollee so that’s good to know,” Kirkland said. “There are a lot of opportunities for me with the depth chart the way it is right now. I know nothing is going to be given to me.”

It just sort of worked out that way that Kirkland and four-star wide receiver Ryan Newsome were on the same visit. Kirkland said he has developed a great relationship with Newsome. Both were invited to The Opening, and Kirkland said he could see the two of them playing together.

Both have visited Ole Miss, and both have plans to visit Texas. Kirkland has locked down his official to Austin for Dec. 5, while it has been expected Newsome will take the same trip. Some of that could be altered by the playoff run Aledo and Newsome make in the next month.

Since he had no expectations about the visit, Kirkland had no idea how OU coach Bob Stoops was going to be, especially after a loss.

“He’s a great guy,” Kirkland said. “A real big family man. You could see that right away. Being over at his house for dinner was a great experience. It was nice to meet him, he’s a very personable guy.”

Kirkland said he has respected the way OU has handled his recruitment the entire time. When he was committed to Michigan, never stepped out of bounds. And now that he’s open, Kish has made sure Kirkland knows how much OU wants his signature.

Kirkland is set to commit Jan. 3 at the U.S. Army game in San Antonio. His father will be at his side then just as he has been on his side on the visits.

“My dad had a great time. He just wants the best opportunity for me,” Kirkland said. “He has been my go-to guy during his whole process. Some questions that don’t come to my mind, and he’s there to ask them.

“I’m looking for a great opportunity to play football and get my business degree and go into law. All I’m doing is taking it one day at a time so I can make the best, most informed choice Jan. 3.”

Overton already feels like a Sooner

The weekend was a big one for OU targets, but the Sooners had a couple of commits on hand as well. One of them was Jenks (Okla.) High defensive lineman Marquise Overton.

Overton, a four-star prospect, said he was going to try to make every OU home game this season. He has done that so far, including his official visit last weekend.

“I knew this visit would be a lot of fun,” Overton said. “It was a chance for me to spend more time with the coaches and players and talk about what to expect when I get here.”

Overton’s hosts were D.J. Ward and Dwayne Orso, who both told him to be ready to work hard and just how tough the workouts are going to be when he arrives.

Saturday’s performance didn’t sour Overton on OU one bit, but it did bring about some passion in him when talking about the Sooners.

“I was getting really upset at the game,” Overton said. “I’m not on the team yet, but I felt really bad and wanted to go out there and help.”

Overton will get that chance next season. For now, though, the focus is trying to add another state championship to his accomplishments. After starting an uncharacteristic 1-2, Jenks has been on fire in its seven-game winning streak and begins its quest for a three-peat this weekend.

Like a lot of recruits, Overton wasn’t sure how the visit was going to go after the way the game unfolded.

“They were upbeat and positive,” Overton said. “They took some time and then everything was fine. You know you lost, but you got to move on and go to the next one. That’s going to happen sometimes, you just have to keep doing work.”

Overton has been dominant by all accounts his senior season despite facing double and triple teams the majority of every single game.

The Haughton wheel keeps spinning

Crazy three weeks for Waco (Texas) Midway safety Kahlil Haughton continues with his fifth and final official visit, going to Texas Tech this weekend.

Haughton, a four-star prospect, has been engulfed in an interesting triangle the last three weeks. It started two weeks ago when he didn’t visit Lubbock, opting to head to Baylor for his official visit with the Bears.

Then it continued last weekend when Haughton made a surprise unofficial visit to OU to watch the same Bears and Sooners.

And now it’s to Lubbock to watch the Red Raiders and the Sooners again. It will be Haughton’s third time seeing the Sooners this season, and he has made five trips to campus since February.

Haughton said it’s a little strange doing this, but he knows the coaches understand that it’s all part of the process.

There is no doubt how big of a priority Haughton is for the Sooners. When OU was on its second bye week, both Jerry Montgomery and Mike Stoops were at his game.

Haughton wasn’t about the recruiting thing last weekend, texting that he basically just kept to the coaches and that’s it.

OU won’t get a second chance with a lot of those official visitors, but the Sooners can get a bit of redemption if the secondary goes out and plays well against the Red Raiders on Saturday.

Haughton made his official visit to Norman for OU’s dominant win against Tennessee, which now feels like was ages ago and not just the two months it has been in reality.

The only other visit to keep tabs on is with Brenham (Texas) Blinn CC wide receiver Dede Westbrook as his crazy two weeks are about to start.

This weekend he will visit Oklahoma State before hitting up West Virginia in the middle of the week and ending at OU for the Kansas game. The week after that will be a trip to Kansas State, whew, take a breath and be ready to make a decision. Westbrook will enroll in January.

But a quality development for OU was the announcement by Scooba (Miss.) Eastern Mississippi CC offensive lineman Jamal Danley saying he is not going to visit Florida and #BoomerSooner in the tweet.

Danley is expected to visit Auburn and Mississippi State, but it’s starting to look a little bit more like the Sooners are going to end with Danley after all.

Barnett weighing his options

If there was one “Boom” OU fans were hoping for Sunday it was that with Lawton (Okla.) High offensive lineman Jalin Barnett.

The weekend came and went and no boom was to be found. Barnett, who has said in the past, he wants to visit his top four schools, looks like he is actually going to follow through with the plan.

Barnett, the No. 1-ranked prospect in the state, has been down to OU and Arkansas for a while. However, a recent unofficial to Oklahoma State has put the Cowboys into the mix, too.

Oregon State feels like a token finalist, but the Beavers should get a visit from Barnett. Oregon State has done so well in Lawton that it should happen. Two defensive starters, Tyrequek Zimmerman and Jabral Johnson, are both former Wolverines.

Interesting to note Barnett said his host for the weekend was actually Josiah St. John because that’s who Barnett wanted to host him. He said he just felt comfortable with him.

Arkansas took its best shot with Barnett in September. OU has returned the favor this last week. The only thing that’s clear is Barnett will not commit at the Under Armour All-America Game, saying that gets done too much.

Lawton begins its quest for a state championship this weekend. The Wolverines are one of the favorites to claim the first ever Class 6A-II state championship and might have to beat Tulsa Booker T. Washington and Midwest City to claim the title. Should be a fun race to watch and Sooners Illustrated will be there down the stretch.


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