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.
Wood not worried about role at OU
There’s just something a little bit different about McAlester (Okla.) High athlete Dalton Wood. Committed to OU for nearly four months, he had only made one trip to Norman since his pledge and hadn’t taken his official visit until last weekend.
It was never a signal that anything was wrong, but it’s so rare to find in recruiting these days a kid that is completely patient and willing to stick to what his coaches’ advice is the whole time.
Wood was told after his commitment by the OU coaches to wait until after the season to take his official visit so Wood never worried about the fact he hadn’t been back to Norman. The long awaited trip was definitely worth it.
“It’s a pretty amazing place,” Wood said. “And it’s going to be even better once everything is built. They really treat the football players good down there.”
Wood was hosted by Sam Grant, and the No. 1 thing that stood out to Wood about Grant and all the players was how welcoming they were to him.
“It was great to hang out with them and get to know them,” Wood said. “Take a guy like Eric Striker. You’d think he might be not as nice to you, but they were all great and great people.”
The message was clear – it’s going to be a heck of a lot of hard work, but it’s all going to be worth it in the end.
The weekend was the first time Wood met offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. Tight ends coach Jay Boulware has been Wood’s main contact, but it was good for Wood to meet the future playcaller for the Sooners.
Wood said he enjoyed talking to Riley, who even though is new to the staff, was not shy about talking and getting to know all the recruits. He also had a message for Wood.
“He seems like a really good guy, and he told me ‘don’t worry, you will get used,’ “ Wood said. “To me, it doesn’t really matter because I’d play any position at OU. I’m just going to go up there and work hard and see what happens.”
Wood said the biggest advantage of waiting until now to do the visit was it allowed him to get to know the coaches and players better. Nobody was distracted with getting ready for a game so he was able to get to know the full OU experience.
So what stood out? The food.
“Man, they get fed real well down there,” Wood said. “They have all that food and all that equipment, you know they care about the players.
Wood said Boulware has visited him at school and at home a couple of times so he knew what to expect. He didn’t go on the visit with a lot of questions for Boulware or OU coach Bob Stoops. He came to have a great time, and that’s exactly what he did.
Wood is coming off another stellar season for McAlester. The Buffs were knocked out in the state semifinals, but Wood said it was the most rewarding season because he was able to go the whole season healthy.
Wood said he spent a lot more time during the offseason working on his strength and conditioning. And he said it paid off as he felt stronger during the latter part of the season.
With his commitment done and official visit in the books, what’s next for Wood?
“Relaxing, really,” Wood said. “Taking it easy and doing some weightlifting. I’m ready to head back.”
Stephens makes the call
Sometimes things happen in recruiting exactly the way they were supposed to occur. It did for OU with Dallas Kimball cornerback Antoine Stephens.
Stephens sure seemed like he wasn’t going to leave Norman last weekend without making his commitment, and that’s exactly what he did.
Originally set to commit last Thursday during an in-home visit, Stephens needed a couple of more days to make sure everything was exactly the way it needed to be. It was pretty clear it was so the wait was over.
“When I got there, it was just amazing,” Stephens said. “It felt like I was at home. I’m really excited and just felt comfortable with the environment.”
Stephens, the definition of a late bloomer, had narrowed things down to OU, Baylor and Texas Tech last week. Visits were scheduled for all three schools, but after the commitment to OU, Stephens said he is not going to visit any other program.
“I’m 100 percent a Sooner,” Stephens said. “Nothing else matters.”
Stephens was a wide receiver throughout most of his days in high school before switching to cornerback for this season. That worked out pretty well for the 6-foot-2 cornerback as Stephens had seven interceptions.
Stephens was hosted by Zack Sanchez and said he hit it off immediately with OU’s top returning corner.
“He’s a great mentor to have,” Stephens said. “He’s from the Dallas area just like me, and he gave it to me straight.”
Stephens went on the trip with his mother, and they both received all the answers they were looking for from Bob Stoops. In a word, they were satisfied.
With that feeling being strong for both of them, Stephens knew he was ready to let Stoops know he wanted to be a Sooner.
“I was in his office, and I was just like telling him I’m ready to commit,” Stephens said. “He was so excited and happy to have me as part of the OU family.”
Stephens is still being looked at by quite a number of schools, but it’s so hard to see that meaning anything right now. He has said all the right things, tweeted all the right things, and where OU sort of dropped the ball with Dwaine Thomas, it’s the exact opposite of what OU did with Stephens.
The Sooners knocked this one out of the park with a great recruiting job by Jerry Montgomery and Courtney Viney. No cornerbacks coach, no problem, said Stephens.
“I think they have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to do,” Stephens said. “I’m excited about it. They might wait a little longer, but I think it’s going to be great when it’s official.”