Sooner Intel, Pt. I: News and nuggets

The Intel returns with a two-part look at a number of updates from OU's first junior day.

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.

Sylvie gets it straight at OU

There are a few common threads about what recruits describe is their favorite part of junior day at Oklahoma.

Some prospects love getting the chance to put on the jersey and the equipment and dream about one day being a Sooner. Some recruits love the one-on-one time with the coaches, especially how approachable Bob Stoops is in person and take that away with them.

Others love the question-and-answer panel with the current players, an informal session of getting it straight from the guys there right now. Put a check mark to that spot for Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist safety Chanse Sylvie.

Sylvie, a three-star prospect whose offer total is increasing on a weekly basis, made his first trip to OU last weekend and said the panel stood out the most, especially for this one question.

“My favorite part was talking to the new recruits and asking them what made them choose OU,” Sylvie said. “He said the coaches aren’t two-faced. They really do care about you and the team. It was great to hear.”

Mid-year enrollee John Humphrey was one of those players on the panel although Sylvie couldn’t remember if it was Humphrey or not who said it, but it certainly made a lasting impression on what was a solid overall trip to Norman.

It started last month as though OU was searching for a defensive backs coach, graduate assistant Courtney Viney stepped in and did a great job on the trail. He started following Sylvie on Twitter and not long after, the offer was made.

Sylvie made the trip last weekend, and obviously OU has found its answer in the secondary with former Notre Dame defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks taking over for the Sooners.

“I’ve been talking to him for a while now, but it was good to meet him,” Sylvie said. “He’s a great guy. You can tell he’s got a lot of experience and knows the game of football.”

Sylvie hasn’t been too active on the junior day circuit, which was one reason some OU fans were hoping he would end his recruitment last weekend. Sylvie said that was never the plan, but he did enjoy his time at OU.

Sylvie has also been at TCU’s junior day and plans to be at Tulsa’s in a couple of weeks. Sylvie’s offer total also increased this week with Baylor getting into the mix.

“The last month has been hectic trying to manage workouts and recruiting,” Sylvie said. “I’ve been trying to do a lot of research on schools and hoping to list my top ones soon.”

Safe to say, even if OU isn’t his clear No. 1, the Sooners will be included in that list.

“It was a great trip,” Sylvie said. “It was a great experience to be at such a prestigious place like that and break down the defense and see where I fit in and seeing the dorm rooms. It was a great overall experience.”

OU in Okudah mix

The most shocking thing to OU’s junior day was the commitment of Tulsa (Okla.) Victory Christian linebacker Jon-Michael Terry. That illustrated a positive surprise.

But one that was a bit unexpected was the lack of an offer for South Grand Prairie (Texas) High defensive back Jeffrey Okudah. The 2017 four-star prospect seemed like a shoo-in to receive an offer from the Sooners.

All he had to do was wait 24 hours. He called OU defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks on Monday night, and the offer was officially extended.

“It was understandable,” Okudah said. “He said he watched my film again and really liked what he saw. It was my first time meeting him, and I think he’s going to do a really good job at OU.”

Okudah is not a new name to OU’s board as defensive coordinator Mike Stoops first started asking about Okudah following his freshman season.

But despite the attention, Okudah had never made it to Norman before last weekend. It’s clear he’ll be back again.

“I really liked the campus, and you could tell they were all about the tradition,” Okudah said. “I didn’t have a perception about OU before the visit, but it was really worth it for me.”

With still two years before signing day, it would be ridiculous to ask who his favorites are. He said schools are all about even, and he’s just going on one visit after another to try to get a grasp of everything and get to know the coaches.

One thing he said he does like about OU is Cooks’ role. It’s not set in stone what Okudah is going to grow to be, but he likes that Cooks coaches the whole secondary. He’s the guy for both spots.

Okudah, though, does have bigger dreams. He doesn’t want to just stop at being a top defender. He sees himself making an impact on both sides of the ball.

“I can see myself at safety, but I really think I could be a guy like Adoree Jackson (USC) and have a role on both sides,” Okudah said. “Right now I’m working on my coverage skills and just trying to get better.”

A familiar name has stepped in. Ever since his sophomore season ended, Okudah has been working with QuickTwitch’s Clay Mack to help his hip movement and his footwork.

Okudah is set to visit Baylor next week and is talking about going to Texas. Sooners Illustrated will get a chance to see him live at the Nike Football Training Combine event next month in the Dallas area.

Harper hopeful for OU offer

Continuing the defensive back theme, Arlington (Texas) Lamar cornerback Madre Harper returned to OU once again last weekend.

Harper first became a name to watch during the second day of OU’s camp last summer, and he also returned for an unofficial visit during the fall.

It has certainly been a little different for him, though, after originally being recruited by Bobby Jack Wright and Mike Stoops to now having Kerry Cooks run the show.

Harper was hopeful he was going to leave Norman with an offer, but in a bit of surprise, it’s still a waiting game for him.

“I’ve gone to the camps and visited a couple of times,” Harper said. “I honestly don’t know how much else I can do.”

The offer disappointment aside, it was still a fun trip for Harper. Seeing Headington Hall was among his highlights as well as getting to see the weight room. The player panel struck a chord with him as he said he appreciated hearing how the players manage academics and football.

Harper’s offer total is slowly starting to rise, including a recent offer from Oklahoma State while at OSU’s junior day. He has been to OU, Baylor, North Texas, SMU and OSU, and he said right now the Cowboys are showing the most attention.

Harper obviously wasn’t alone as three of the Arlington Lamar fab four were in Norman. Wide receiver Kofi Boateng and offensive lineman Chris Owens were both in town, while it is assumed quarterback Shane Buechele will come to OU’s second junior day March 7.

“It’s really exciting being able to take all these trips together,” Harper said. “I just want to see my friends succeed. It doesn’t matter where.”

At OU’s camp, Harper was a little big gangly. He said he looks back at that now and doesn’t recognize that kid. He admitted he has spent a lot of time putting on weight and muscle and said he is going to continue doing all he can and visit as many schools as possible.

Boateng, WRs playing waiting game

It didn’t go unnoticed that despite OU bringing a whole bunch of quality wide receivers and defensive backs, the Sooners didn’t make one 2016 offer at either position during junior day.

One of the favorites for that offer was Arlington (Texas) Lamar wide receiver Kofi Boateng. Call it a case of playing catchup for Dennis Simmons because it’s clear he’s only now starting to find out really who some of these kids are.

Boateng said that was the first legitimate interaction with Simmons at the event, and he said it was a strong first impression. The lack of an offer didn’t bother him too much because Simmons stressed he just hasn’t seen him in person.

That seem to be the common thread with players like Boateng, Wichita Falls (Texas) Rider’s T.J. Vasher and Southlake Carroll (Texas) High’s Zach Farrar. OU wanted to bring them in and size them up and spring evaluation period is when the offer is going to happen, if it will happen.

The question, whenever this approach happens, is if OU is waiting too long. Boateng, just this week, added offers from Ole Miss and Arizona State. As other schools beat OU to the punch, it will be interesting to see what impact, if any, it plays going forward.

Boateng said he does like that OU has two separate receiver coaches. With Cale Gundy focusing on inside guys and tight ends, Simmons’ lone responsibility is with the outside guys. That fits Boateng’s style because he’s definitely a pure outside guy.

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