Sooner Intel, Pt. I: News and nuggets

It's a special (but not planned) offensive lineman edition of the Intel this 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.

OU major player for Wariboko

With every single week, it becomes more and more apparent Oklahoma City Casady offensive guard Josh Wariboko might end up coming back home to the Sooners.

Wariboko, ranked No. 2 in the state, was committed to OU for nearly a whole calendar year before decommitting in the spring. Slowly but surely, the Sooners have worked their way back into the picture.

OU has made its strong final push with multiple in-home visits, and Wariboko’s official visit to the campus a couple of weeks ago.

“It was very different from the other (unofficial) visits because it was about I can come in and help the program and make an impact,” Wariboko said. “I got to see things I never got to see on my unofficials. I had only seen the football facilities, but I got to see the business school.

“I got to sit down with Coach (Bob) Stoops for a really long time. Coach Heupel, Coach Bedenbaugh, it was a great visit.”

Even though OU’s season certainly didn’t go the way everybody hoped, it’s pretty tough for an offensive lineman to not be digging the Sooners right now.

Wariboko is definitely in that category. He admits he wasn’t happy how OU’s season turned out, but the line gives him plenty of reasons to smile.

“I’d say Oklahoma is probably the best offensive line in college football,” Wariboko said. “I have been watching that very closely, and that’s a testament to Coach Stoops and Coach Bedenbaugh. I was really connecting with what they had to say.”

Wariboko has knocked out four official visits with trips to Ohio State, UCLA, Louisville and OU in the books. He has one left, but first, he’s ready to decide.

Wariboko re-confirmed Thursday afternoon he is going to announce at the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2. Despite the commitment, he still intends to take his final official visit with California looking like the most likely to get the trip.

“There are a few places I still want to see despite my decision date,” Wariboko said. “I still want to check those places out and see what they have to offer.”

Wariboko has told all college coaches his plans and said he has been given the approval from those coaches for that final trip.

It was a crazy couple of weeks for Wariboko, who said coaches from OU, UCLA, Louisville and SMU all came by, mentioning the Sooners came by a lot. The Buckeyes, he said, are hoping to revisit things after the dead period.

Nobody is pressuring Wariboko to make a commitment, but he said he knows he’ll be ready to make the call in a couple of weeks.

“It has been pretty crazy, but I’m ready for it to end,” Wariboko said. “I feel pretty confident about everything, but I still want to talk it over with my family and go from there.”

There’s no order with his top three of OU, Ohio State and UCLA, but the consensus is this is yet another Sooners vs. Bruins battle. He has made multiple visits to both schools, all that’s left is his choice in a couple of weeks.

Ford solid with Sooners

OU pulled off a huge recruiting flip right before the beginning of the season when Pineville (La.) High offensive lineman Cody Ford switched his commitment from TCU to OU.

Based on the regular season, though, nobody would blame Ford if he started to rethink his decision with TCU going 11-1 and OU 8-4, including a loss at TCU in October.

But for Ford, that has never entered his mind. And likely never will.

“No, once I committed to OU, I knew it was going to be the school for me,” Ford said. “I’ve made a great decision. I’m not having any second thoughts at all.”

Ford said TCU continues to push and is asking Ford to make a trip to Fort Worth for an official visit, but Ford has been consistent with saying he’s happy where he is.

He has some ammo for that opinion as well based on his official visit to OU two weeks ago. Hosted by freshman Dwayne Orso, Ford said it was an incredible time.

“The feeling I got being there on game day is something I can’t describe,” Ford said. “It was pretty amazing. Dwayne told me once I get there, it’s going to be about working hard. But I already knew that.”

It wasn’t planned that way, but Ford’s official visit coincided with official visits from fellow linemen commits Dominique Hearne and Dru Samia. It was the first time Ford got to meet the other two lineman and said it was a great chance to get to know his future teammates better.

Even though Bedlam didn’t go the way OU wanted, Ford said his relationship with offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh continues to put the Sooners ahead of everybody else.

“I just feel more comfortable at OU than anywhere else,” Ford said. “I have more chemistry with Coach Bedenbaugh. We talk at least once a day almost every day. I gained a lot from the visit and know OU is the right fit for me.”

Ford, who can play either guard or tackle, said the biggest difference with his game this season was with his physicality. He played a lot harder this season, saying “I went all-out from whistle-to-whistle. It was a great season.”

Hearne ready to be at OU

As mentioned, Cody Ford wasn’t the only OU offensive lineman commit on his official visit two weeks ago. Lancaster (Texas) High’s Dominique Hearne was also making his first trip back to Norman since coming to OU’s camp in June.

Hearne looked a little smaller than a lot of OU’s commits in the summer, but he said he has improved since then in every way possible.

“I became a lot more physical this season,” Hearne said. “I wasn’t afraid to mix it up on the inside. I’m closer to 295 pounds. I didn’t really try to put on weight, but it happened.”

Hearne, a three-star recruit, said Mississippi State, Oklahoma State and TCU have been trying to convince him to look elsewhere, but he said he has no reason to look away from OU.

He was hosted by mammoth freshman tackle Orlando Brown. And as much as he liked a lot of things on his visit, his No. 1 thing, being an offensive lineman, was the food.

Hearne said it was great to get back to Norman and know that will be his future home. The camp allowed him to get to know the coaches better, but the visit gave him a chance to see Norman on game day.

“The fans there are crazy,” Hearne said. “OU pretty much dominated that game until the last five minutes. It happens. I really enjoyed watching the way they prepare and what they do. It got me really excited.”

Hearne said he spent a lot of time talking with OU target Josh Wariboko and said even though OU lost, it was clear all the linemen had a great time on the visit.


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