Sooner Intel, Pt. I: News and nuggets

OU recruiting notes from the trail on another busy week for the Sooners.

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 doesn’t fall with Daniels

The very real worry about OU’s 2016 recruiting has been about how the loss of Jerry Montgomery is going to impact where OU stands with several Scout 300 defensive linemen prospects.

It’s a legit concern, and the answers probably aren’t there just yet regarding all of them. One where OU doesn’t have to question things is with Euless (Texas) Trinity defensive tackle Chris Daniels.

Daniels offered by OU last month was one of the few defensive linemen who made the trip for OU’s junior day two weeks ago.

“I really liked it,” Daniels said. “It felt like home as soon as I went through the door. It was great to speak to Coach (Bob) Stoops.”

Stoops sort of became the de facto line coach during the coaching search as the prospects needed someone to stay in contact with, and Stoops was that guy.

At the time, Diron Reynolds had not yet been hired by OU and really wasn’t even on the radar for the position when junior day occurred. All Daniels could go off of was the OU coaches telling him it would be taken care of in short order.

Daniels had no idea what to expect at the event, going there without a position coach. But he said he’s glad he visited.

“I thought it would be a lot different, but as soon as I got there, Coach (Cale) Gundy showed me the love Montgomery always did. It was just like normal.”

Daniels said OU started to show heavy interest following his junior season, and it didn’t take long for the Sooners to become one of his scores of offers.

The trip wasn’t just worth it for Daniels, but also for his father. The two had a series of questions for Stoops they needed answered. Daniels said they were both happy with the answers, and it really eased his father what Stoops was saying in terms of player safety on and off the field.

Nobody expected Daniels to even consider a commitment, and he definitely didn’t. As several top 2016 prospects make their decision, Daniels said rather bluntly that it’s just February.

“They’re in my top schools, but I’m not in any rush,” Daniels said. “I know about OU and its tradition, but I want to see where I fit in with the depth chart. I want to make an impact.”

Reynolds was hired just days after junior day, and the first thing Daniels did was do his homework and find out who the guy is. His conclusion? OU is going to be OK.

“OU is still going to be OU,” Daniels said. “Montgomery is a great coach, but it’s not like they’re going to replace him with someone that’s not good. I did a little research. He has a lot of NFL experience, spent time at Stanford. He sounds like a great pick.”

Jones gets first taste of OU

One of the in-state names OU fans had on their mind regarding an offer at the first junior day was Moore (Okla.) Southmoore defensive end Noah Jones.

Jones really hadn’t had much contact with the Sooners staff before junior day so he was hopeful things were going to start heading in the right direction.

The offer didn’t come, but he definitely enjoyed the experience.

“It was great, honestly,” Jones said. “They presented themselves so well with everything and how they would develop you as a player.”

Despite living less than 20 minutes away from the stadium, Jones said this was his first real trip to the campus to experience everything. He’s hoping it won’t be his last one.

“It’s a great place, really liked it,” Jones said. “The dorms were amazing, probably the best I’ve ever seen.”

Jones, being recruited at defensive end, was in that weird spot because the Sooners didn’t have a defensive line coach during junior day. Jones wasn’t sure who he should be talking to and said he talked some with Drew Hill, the director of player personnel.

Jones has been active and should continue that this weekend with a planned trip to Kansas State. It’s clear right now the four schools showing the most interest are OU, Oklahoma State, Kansas and the Wildcats.

Ranked No. 4 in the state by Sooners Illustrated this week, Jones is searching for that first offer and trying to remain positive through it all.

“It has been hard because you have these people saying I’m so good and should be getting offers,” Jones said. “It hurts a little bit, but I’m sure the time will come.”

Jones said he has added some weight this offseason because of weightlifting, but he would like to be around 250 pounds when spring football starts.

One early deterrent was nobody knowing his position because he brings a lot to the table. Jones, though, said he knows what he wants to be.

“Defensive end is where I would like to play,” Jones said. “It’s where I feel most comfortable and where I feel I can make the biggest difference.”

Quillen on OU’s radar

The Jenks (Okla.) High pipeline has been kind to the Sooners. It goes back to the first years of the Bob Stoops era, but it has become a yearly staple here lately.

Running back Alex Ross for 2012. Wide receiver Jordan Smallwood for 2013. Safety Steven Parker for 2014, and defensive tackle Marquise Overton signed earlier this month for 2015.

Four years, four Trojans becoming Sooners. If it’s going to continue for the 2016 class, the best bet could be with safety/outside linebacker Austin Quillen.

Sooners Illustrated ranked Quillen No. 16 this week in the OKPreps ranking, but it sure feels like he hasn’t sniffed his potential yet.

After not receiving a lot of attention from OU, things have picked up in a hurry with the Sooners and Quillen that included a junior day visit two weeks ago.

“It was awesome,” Quillen said. “I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t have any real contact with them before they invited me. Now I’ve been talking with the coaches more.”

The junior day was a chance for defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks to make a big impression, and Quillen liked what he saw and what he heard from Cooks.

But the biggest OU bond for Quillen remains Parker as the two have been friends for years and still talk on a regular basis. When Quillen wanted to know more about Cooks, he knew who to ask.

“I was asking Steven Parker, and he said he is enjoying him (Cooks) a lot since he has gotten to know him more and more,” Quillen said.

Quillen received that first offer a couple of weeks ago from Louisiana Tech. It was a complete shock for Quillen as he said he had virtually no contact with the school until the offer was made.

He has been invited to Tulsa’s junior day, but the school to watch is Northwestern. No ties to the program, but the Wildcats have been aggressive in pursuing Quillen. He said he hopes he can take a trip to Evanston this spring.

It was a change for Quillen this last season as he was moved from safety to linebacker, a transition he said he really liked and helped his overall game.

That could be a conundrum for Quillen going forward because he might not be big enough for linebacker or quick enough for safety. He talked with Mike Stoops about the issue.

“He talked to me about being a hybrid between a linebacker and safety,” Quillen said. “That’s what Mike Stoops said at junior day – called me a tweener.”

Quillen made tremendous strides as a junior and as vital cog in making sure Jenks took home another state championship, its third in a row. He said he feels a lot more comfortable with the game and this offseason is about adding to his strength and speed.

Quillen said he’s around 195 pounds right now and his other focus is his ACT score. He took it earlier this month and intends to take it again.

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