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.
Dalton emerges as target
It’s a cornerback thing this weekend at OU as the Sooners are hosting at least five cornerback offers on official visits.
Some names are well known and ones OU fans have been excited about for weeks and months. Others, though, have only recently materialized.
In the latter category is where you would put Houston Cypress Falls cornerback Nate Dalton. A quarterback until this season, the offers are starting to flood in for the 6-foot-3 prospect.
“It has been really exciting,” Dalton said. “I have to do my research on all of them before I decide everything. If I really like a school, I’m going to take a visit.”
His research has been done with the Sooners, and he’ll arrive in Norman on Friday. On the surface, it feels like an open-and-shut case for OU. His only other official visit was to Liberty.
Couple of problems, though. One, Dalton was pretty adamant about taking as many official visits as possible. He has one scheduled for Kentucky next week.
Issue No. 2 is with OU. How many cornerbacks do the Sooners really see themselves taking for this class? And what happens Sunday if multiple ones are ready to pull the trigger?
All the hypotheticals can be debated later, what is known is Dalton has been on constant contact with cornerbacks coach Bobby Jack Wright and is ready to see what OU is all about.
“I just want to see what OU can offer me,” Dalton said. “I know they have a great football program. I want to make sure they have my major (accounting) and see how they can help me get to the next level.”
Dalton was seeing some mild interest as a quarterback, but the position switch has opened up so many doors that you’ll have to excuse Dalton if he wants to enjoy the process just a little bit.
He’s not coming alone, either. Dalton said teammate Du’Vonta Lampkin is also making the trip. Lampkin, a Texas commit, has a history of doing this. He has visited Texas A&M a couple of times this season when he’s locked with the Horns.
This could feel a little different since Lampkin was committed to OU for six months earlier in this cycle and has a great relationship with defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.
Dalton said after his Kentucky trip, he would like to take two more trips in January and then decide. But you never know in recruiting. Dalton has definitely positioned himself for a nice couple of months.
“My biggest strength is I make plays,” Dalton said. “I’m a real clutch player. The transition wasn’t too tough once I started to feel comfortable, and I try to use my quarterback knowledge to help me at corner.”
OU enters Turner picture
OU has already been able to secure one Baltimore native for this class in junior college cornerback Will Johnson. The Sooners are hoping to add a second with Los Angeles Pierce CC safety Ezekiel Turner.
Turner, ranked among the best juco safeties available, right now is the only OU official visitor from two weeks ago not pledged to the Sooners.
Turner, who got his start in the Baltimore area with mentor Cory Robinson, didn’t really see OU as a legitimate option. Following the visit, though, it’s clear the Sooners are going to be there until the end.
“He has had some visits (Arizona State and Washington) scheduled for a long time so he’s not about to back out of those,” Robinson said. “But he did have a recent visit set up with Penn State that he canceled. The OU visit had a lot to do with that.”
Turner isn’t like a lot of junior college recruits in a number of ways. For one, his grades were never an issue. He qualified fine out of high school. But he played at a school that didn’t emphasize recruiting, and he never sniffed an offer.
Also, Turner could be in Norman for a while. He has four years to play three years of eligibility. And after a great season at Pierce, he has a lot of options.
“He’s a missile,” Robinson said. “He always has his nose to the football. He has great size, speed and length, and he’s so physical. When you get somebody that long, that athletic and that smart, it makes sense.”
Robinson is slowly building the Baltimore pipeline to OU. It, of course, all started with Charles Tapper for the 2012 class. Nobody had really heard of Tapper, but his positive impact at OU is being felt on the east coast in a major way.
“Tap has opened up a gateway to the east coast and our region,” Robinson said. “When he decided to commit to OU, he became an ambassador to others and put the east coast on the map for the Big 12 and Oklahoma. He’s the one that has paved the way.”
OU and Robinson are hoping for the same from Johnson, a virtual unknown before committing to the Sooners two weeks ago. Robinson joined both Johnson and Turner on their visits to Norman, which gave him another chance to catch up with Tapper.
“I’m always overjoyed and excited with Tap,” Robinson said. “Seeing him today and the level he is at – I get more excited about the man he is becoming than just the player.
“Hearing about how he’s approaching the game. Hearing from his academic advisors about what a great job he is doing. I always believed in him as a football player, now he’s becoming the man I thought he could be.”
OU is in the hunt for Scout 300 and Baltimore native defensive lineman Rahshaun Smith for the 2016 class, and Robinson, who knows Smith well, said Smith definitely recognizes what OU is doing with kids from the area.
“They’re all indebted to Tapper,” Robinson said. “He’s forever going to be that guy.”
Doolittle makes the call
In all the craziness of football recruiting, the Sooners actually added No. 2 for 2016 basketball class with Edmond (Okla.) Memorial’s Kristian Doolittle.
“I was coming to my first game of the season and just wanted to get it out of the way,” Doolittle said. “I had made up my mind before that I wanted to go to OU.”
Doolittle said the visit that sealed the deal was when OU hosted Northwestern State a couple of weeks ago. Even though the weather was awful in the Oklahoma City area, Doolittle drove himself down to the game and watched it. He said he felt like he needed to be a man of his word.
It was clear Doolittle was on OU’s radar, but don’t think anybody realized how serious things were going to be. The Sooners were constant visitors to Edmond Memorial when recruiting Jordan Woodard. His senior year at Memorial was Doolittle’s freshman season.
From that point on, he started to grow a great rapport with OU coaches Chris Crutchfield and Kruger, and he was offered by OU at the end of his sophomore season.
“Me and Coach Crutch see eye-to-eye on a lot of things,” Doolittle said. “The conversations we have always go really well.”
He was also offered by Tulsa, but he sort of always knew he wanted to head to OU. Woodard played a little bit of a role in that.
“I always thought it would be cool to play with him again,” Doolittle said. “Jordan has always been a great player, and he would have played anywhere he went. I’m glad he’s at OU, and I can get that chance.”
Doolittle has had to adjust his game throughout the years. He’s no longer than 6-2 point guard, and it took him a while to realize that. He said he could still grow at least another two inches, which would put him around 6-9. His days on the perimeter are done, and he’s finally embracing it.
“It used to always be about ball handling, but now it’s more about posting up,” Dooittle said. “I don’t like it all the time, but I’ll do anything it takes to help the team win.”
Doolittle said he had a little attitude problem over the summer, but he’s good to go and ready for a huge junior season for both himself and Memorial.
Committing to OU was just part of the equation for Doolittle, who averaged 16 points and nine rebounds as a sophomore.
“I’ve made a bunch of progress, and I’m ready to show what I can do,” Doolittle said. “I’m a lot stronger than people give me credit for, and I’m going to show that this year.”