Sooner Intel, Pt. I: News and nuggets

First Intel of the new year, and OU has been plenty busy on the recruiting trail.

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.

Humphrey’s rollercoaster week

The best thing that can happen for League City (Texas) Clear Falls wide receiver John Humphrey is to simply get to Oklahoma.

After the week he has had, the move would be the least stressful thing he has encountered.

Humphrey began talking with Sooners Illustrated last week, wondering if the rumors of former OU wide receivers coach Jay Norvell being fired were true.

At this point, it was all a rumor. A strong rumor, but still rumor. The bomb was dropped Sunday evening when it was reported Norvell was indeed out at OU.

The news broke around 6 p.m. CST Sunday, just two hours before Humphrey was to take the field in the Semper Fi All-American Game.

“I was listening to my music and then saw it everywhere on my Twitter timeline,” Humphrey said. “I didn’t believe it, at first, because it’s social media, you know. But during halftime, I saw that Coach Norvell had tried to call me.”

Norvell attempted to reach Humphrey on Sunday night, but Norvell called Humphrey’s family first to let them know about what had happened, too.

After the game and after Humphrey spoke with Scout’s Annabel Stephan, Humphrey did in fact talk to Norvell for nearly 30 minutes.

It was a tough talk, but a very necessary talk as Humphrey got the answers to his questions once and for all.

“It was a real emotional talk with Coach Norvell,” Humphrey said. “I could tell he was really said. Me him, you know, we were real tight. Most of the time he’d call and we would be joking and everything would be happy.

“This was different. He told me to keep doing what I’m doing and that he would do his best to try to watch all of my games in the future. He wished me the best.”

Humphrey said the conversation meant a lot to him. And even though he was losing a big part of the reason he chose OU, he knew late Sunday night he wanted to stick with the Sooners.

After getting off the phone with Norvell, Humphrey was being bombarded by OU coaches Cale Gundy and Courtney Viney to try to convince Humphrey to stay committed to the program.

He said he spoke to Gundy for about 20 minutes and to Viney for about another 15 minutes.

“They were just worried about me maybe looking at another school,” Humphrey said. “I knew I was going to stick with OU. I wasn’t about to move just because Coach Norvell left.”

Humphrey arrived home Monday in Texas and talked it over with his family before releasing his tweet that he was still 100 percent with the Sooners.

“I felt it was important to get the news out there,” Humphrey said. “I know that he’s (Norvell) gone but things like that happen. Change isn’t always a bad thing.

“I’m excited to get up there. They said OU doesn’t really have many wide receivers that can stretch the field like I can. I’m already packed up and ready to go.”

Humphrey leaves for OU on Friday morning and said his roommate is going to be fellow mid-year enrollee Rodney Anderson.

Humphrey’s senior season wasn’t what he was hoping it would be so the Semper Fi event gave him a chance to show why he believes he belongs with the best of the best. In Humphrey’s mind, it was mission accomplished.

“It meant a lot to me,” Humphrey said. “I can compete against the best of the best. I’m not just all hyped up through the media. I can play the game of football.”

Humphrey was officially introduced by OU as a member of the team Wednesday afternoon, erasing any thought of him looking elsewhere.




No visit, no problem for Anderson

Kept waiting and waiting and with every Katy (Texas) High win, it became more and more apparent Rodney Anderson was going to arrive at OU without having taken an official visit.

Anderson, ranked No. 137 in the Scout 150, spent three days in Norman back in June that culminated with his commitment but never actually got to take a real official visit because of Katy’s success.

It’s a fun note, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. Not to OU and not to Anderson.

“I’ve been up there quite a few times so I know what it’s all about,” Anderson said. “I would have liked to have taken the visit, but it’s not a huge thing for me.”

The No. 1 question to ask any running back interested in OU is if they’re ready to go through the competition to get on the field. Because it’s at least four-deep right now with Samaje Perine, Keith Ford, Alex Ross and possibly Joe Mixon.

None are seniors in 2015.

“There are a whole bunch of great running backs there,” Anderson said. “I hope to just learn from them and take in everything they have to offer. I’m going to go up there and do my best.”

Anderson at his best is tough to surpass. His ridiculous senior season included 2,684 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns in leading Katy to the state championship game once again.

Because Anderson signed the non-binding financial aid agreement with OU, it allowed Anderson the chance to talk to the OU coaches at all times during the last month. It’s another reason why not having the official visit didn’t matter.

“I would talk to them a lot,” Anderson said. “Every other day at least and then whenever I felt like I needed to call them or have them call me.”

The bulk of the conversation now has had nothing to do with football. Instead, with Anderson arriving this weekend, it has been all about adjusting to college life.

Lucky for Anderson, he does have someone to talk with. He said he has been in constant communication with OU defensive lineman Matt Dimon, also from Katy.

“I’ve been calling Matt a lot,” Anderson said. “Just asking him what to pack to bring to the dorms and stuff like that.”

OU’s season obviously didn’t go the way most had envisioned and other schools tried to get into the ear of Anderson. But Anderson let all of them know every time that despite appreciating the interest, his commitment was solid.

That commitment is solid thanks in large part to the relationship Anderson has with OU running backs coach Cale Gundy.

“We’re real open with each other,” Anderson said. “He says I’m going to have the opportunity to compete. That’s all that is promised to me. And that’s 100 percent fine with me.”

Anderson said he’ll miss his friends in Katy, but he’s ready to start the next chapter in his life as a Sooner.

“I’m really excited,” Anderson said. “I have a lot of support back home, but it’s time.”




Evans on the road back

It was a different role for Allen (Texas) High offensive tackle Bobby Evans during the latter part of the season. Sidelined by a torn ACL, Evans turned cheerleader and coach as he watched Allen win its third consecutive state championship.

Evans tore his ACL early in the season and learned a lot about himself and has been able to take some positives from it all.

“It was pretty weird and totally different,” Evans said. “I learned to step up to the plate and do whatever I needed to do to help the team. I tried to mentor those younger linemen and help them out however I could.”

Evans is one of three mid-year enrollees for OU, and he said he used the unlimited access because of the financial aid agreement to his advantage.

“I can text the coach, and he could actually respond,” Evans said. “He could call me back. Just little things like that. We talked every week.”

Evans’ bond is with offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh. Though OU lost two of its offensive coaches in Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell earlier this week, Evans said it played no role in everything because of his relationship with Bedenbaugh.

And Tay Evans. Obviously it’s a lot deeper connection at OU than just the coaches with his older brother, Tay Evans, completing a redshirt season at linebacker.

The Evans boys will be reunited as Bobby and Tay will be roommates once Bobby arrives in Norman on Saturday.

“It’s very exciting to get to live with him once again,” Evans said. “I know not a lot of people, not a lot of brothers get that type of experience at the college level.”

Right now the focus is rehab as Evans said he’ll be able to rehab twice a day once he gets to OU. He’s hopeful to be cleared for spring ball but all time on campus is valuable even if he can’t compete.

OU fans are hoping he’ll bring five-star quarterback Kyler Murray with him this weekend. Murray, committed to Texas A&M, has had a lot of rumors surrounding a potential flip to OU before the second semester starts.

“That dude is weird right now,” Evans said. “He’s still my dude. But anytime that subject is brought up, he changes it or goes quiet. I don’t know.”

What Evans does know is he’s doing all he can to be ready for spring ball. But he’s cautious because he knows he can’t rush into things, either, and set himself back with another injury.




Stoops happy with recruiting direction

A lot of the talk around the departures of Heupel and Norvell had to do with recruiting. Was it a sign OU wasn’t happy with the way recruiting had been going at those two positions?

And was making the moves now, before the dead period ends, a calculated move? Bob Stoops addressed those issues Tuesday.

“I feel we’ve done well,” said Stoops about OU’s recent recruiting. “I think we’ve got a lot of great young players in the program. I have a lot of excitement to see them in another year and where they’re at.

“The rankings, however accurate, I think we were in the top 15 a year ago and we’re rising up there this year and still have six or seven guys to finish with so I feel like we’re recruiting well.”

OU has some great recruiters on its staff with Jerry Montgomery anchoring the defensive charge and Cale Gundy doing the same with the offense.

Making the changes, though, were necessary because it would have been an easy tactic for other schools to use OU’s uncertainty against them on the trail.

If OU can get its offensive coordinator in place before Jan. 15, the Sooners can hit the ground running on the trail. And that certainly seems to be the plan.

“I think in what we’re doing now to recruit the rest of the year and the system we want to be in hopefully I can start visiting with some people and nail this down before we are back on the road that can contribute to us and fit that system a little bit more in finishing recruiting,” Stoops said. “I just didn’t feel it could wait.”

OU is in play for a few offensive targets that no doubt have questions about where everything is going right now for OU. Will be interesting to see how this all shakes out in the next week.


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