It seems to happen once a recruiting cycle or at least once every couple of years. There is going to come a point where Oklahoma makes an offer to some virtually unknown under the radar in-state kid and fans will be divided.
One camp is going to be questioning the move because not much is known about him, or because he doesn’t have the star rankings most recruits have. Then there’s going to be the other that does a little fist pump because OU isn’t neglecting its home territory and is finding that kid that wants to be a Sooner.
Sometimes it’s early in the process, sometimes it’s later down the road – but it happens. The most glaring example is always going to be Ronnell Lewis from Dewar (Okla.), who at the time played eight-man football.
Lewis walked into OU’s junior day in 2008 an unknown and two days later everybody knew who he was because he was an OU commitment.
Fast forward seven years, and it happened again Sunday for OU with Tulsa (Okla.) Victory Christian linebacker Jon-Michael Terry.
No offers, no previous junior days attended, and then boom offered and a part of the “OUDNA” for the 2016 class.
As Terry’s film is reaching more people, it’s clear OU got in before everybody else. And that’s exactly what you would expect for any recruit from a smaller school in the state. It should be OU’s domain.(Dalton Wood, like Terry, was an under the radar in-state gem)
When this happened last year with McAlester’s Dalton Wood in September, then-tight ends coach Jay Boulware spoke a lot about the process and about finding that diamond in the rough.
“It’s about what does the film say, first and foremost,” Boulware said. “Once you identify a guy on tape, then you go out and see what he looks like physically in person. Can he play at this level physically?
“If those two things check out, then it doesn’t matter whether, excuse my language, some reporter has labeled this kid as a four- or five-star. What matters is what we see as coaches.”
OU had evaluated the Terry tape. He said linebackers coach Tim Kish has been the one doing the homework. But OU was unable to get him to campus throughout the 2014 season to see if he was legit in terms of his size.
Once he passed that eyeball test, the offer was issued and the countdown was on. Listed at 6-4, 230 pounds, Terry had 103 tackles and 20 sacks last season. Victory Christian coach Brent Marley said he also uses Terry as a wide receiver. That worked, too, to the tune of 50 catches for 645 yards and five touchdowns.
Terry, Wood, Lewis, all recent examples of the “slash.” Position is something you can figure out later, more important to get him signed first.
“We labeled him (Wood) as a tight end/H-back/fullback, but that’s subject to change,” Bob Stoops said. “He’s got two slashes. H-back and fullback are pretty much the same.”
The 2012 class had a couple of examples although one more prominent than the other. Alex Ross was assumed to be a huge star so OU just jumped in there first. Michael Onuoha, on the other hand, is in that same Terry/Wood/Lewis mold of knowing something is there even if you’re not sure what.
Another word used often when talking about those guys is freak. Lewis was a freak of nature playing eight-man football. Wood was a freak who was able to be so strong so physical running the ball yet so accurate passing.
And Terry seems to fit that mold, too, according to his coach.
“He runs the second leg of our 4X100 relay team,” Marley said. “He looks like a freak in his track uniform. He can pretty much do it all.”
The 2016 in-state class seems to be a little bit different than the previous years. There are no clear-cut Scout 150 players like D.J. Ward or Steven Parker or Deondre Clark or Josh Wariboko or Will Sunderland.
Instead, it’s a group built on depth. And when that comes into play, it’s about the relationships the coaches have within the state to help do the work.
“We’ve been here so long and you have like Coach (Cale) Gundy, Coach (Bob) Stoops, Coach Bobby Jack, we have guys who have connections all over the state,” Boulware said. “Coach Gundy played quarterback here.
“We actually played against each other in college. That’s how long he goes back to being in this area, just think about how many people he possibly knows.
“The same thing … I have a bunch of people that I know down south. When you have that many contacts and you have people calling you all the time saying ‘hey look at this guy.’ When the right guy calls you and all the sudden you turn on the tape, you’re like ‘wait a minute, that might be a guy.’ “
OU coaches like to say they know it when they know it. Sooners are hoping to get another one of those in-state diamonds with Terry.
“I love that the offer is for defense,” Terry said. “Offense is fun, but I really love playing defense. That’s my favorite. I don’t care if it’s inside or outside linebacker.”