Sooner Intel, Pt. II: News and nuggets

Getting the lowdown on OU recruiting on a pivotal weekend.

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.

Campbell impressed by OU passion

If there was one prospect where it really felt like the Sooners were about to earn another commitment, it was with Yazoo City (Miss.) High defensive end Gabriel Campbell.

A high three-star prospect, Campbell said OU is his dream school. Following the visit, absolutely nothing has changed, but he wants to give other schools an opportunity.

Add Campbell to the list of prospects who said OU hasn’t really been hurt too much because of the disappointing loss.

“The defense fought so hard,” Campbell said. “It was just a couple of plays here and there. But they stayed together as a team through it all.”

Campbell was hosted by Chuka Ndulue, and all Ndulue could tell Campbell was how much he loved playing at Owen Field and how much he has loved being a Sooner.

That love goes beyond the players, though, as Campbell talked about one situation with Ndulue and OU coach Bob Stoops.

“Chuka said he (Stoops) brought all the seniors together, and Chuka said Stoops sort of got teary-eyed just talking about what they mean to him and the program,” Campbell said. “To me, that showed just how much he really cares about them and loves them.

“I’m so happy Chuka told me that story.”

Campbell’s impression of Stoops was the exact opposite of who he turned out to be. Campbell said you were never allowed to talk to Alabama coach Nick Saban or go into his office unless you were told you could enter.

Stoops, however, was completely different. Stoops’ door was always opened, and Campbell said Stoops said his door and his phone are always going to be open for anything Campbell might need going forward.

“His door is always open,” Campbell said. “I love that.”

OU in mix for Smith

Linebacker continues to be a sore spot for OU recruiting, but there could still be hope. OU made its most recent offer earlier this week to Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Oakland linebacker Josh Smith.

Smith, a three-star outside linebacker, is committed to Vanderbilt, but there’s no question things are starting to get interesting for him.

“It’s a great offer,” Smith said. “It’s a great opportunity and something I’ll have to think about. It came out of the blue.”

Smith said it’s too early to say he’s going to take an official visit to OU, but it sure sounds like it could be in the cards for next month.

It has been an intriguing month for Smith as he continues to see one major coaching change after another with the Commodores. Strangely enough, though, Smith seems like he was certainly expecting it.

“Things happen like that,” Smith said. “It’s a business, no doubt about it. You have to do what’s right for the team and sometimes that means making changes.”

OU isn’t the only school looking to try to flip Smith as he said he is looking forward to visiting Kentucky as well before making his decision.

Smith’s profile is on the rise following a great senior season, and he said he definitely noticed the difference this season.

“I was a lot more explosive this season,” Smith said. “I was playing with my length more. And I think my biggest strength is my hustle.”

Overton goes out in style

It’s the dream of every high school player to close out the career with a state championship. Jenks (Okla.) High defensive lineman Marquise Overton saw it in 2012 with wide receiver Jordan Smallwood.

It was a repeat in 2013 with safety Steven Parker. He was able to make it a three-peat with a victory over Tulsa Union in the Class 6A-I state championship last week.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Overton said. “I’m just happy to go out as a senior and winning the championship. This one is a lot more emotional since this is my last year. And it helps playing Union.”

Jenks didn’t look like the best team in the state after the first few weeks of the season. After the back-to-back title, Jenks was 1-2 this season before rolling off 10 consecutive victories to add another gold ball to the case.

Overton, a four-star OU commit, said he finished the season with 90 tackles and 12 sacks. Not too bad when taking into account all the double and triple teams he faced.

“Ever since sophomore year I’ve been getting used to that,” Overton said. “This year was about playing like I’ve never played before. I was thinking too much in the first couple of games, but I played balls out the rest of the season.”

Overton had been to every OU home game this season but was unable to make the Bedlam trip. He didn’t have to experience the disappointment in person, but he was fuming while watching it on TV.

“There’s always time to bounce back,” Overton said. “It’s a Bedlam game, you can’t get any better than that. Those things happen. You just have to bounce back and move on.”

Overton has been committed for nearly an entire calendar year, which has really allowed him to just enjoy his senior year at Jenks. He is said he hasn’t had any in-home visits from the OU coaches but obviously expects that to happen next month.

For Overton, it’s time to head back to the mat and hope to add a heavyweight wrestling championship to his mantle. Overton said he’ll be ready to participate this weekend in Jenks’ first tournament.

“I’m back down to cutting weight,” Overton said. “It helps with leverage, that’s the main thing. It helps with my speed and agility and footwork. I went through it last year, and I’m ready to get the state championship this year.”


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