Sooner Intel, Pt. II: News and nuggets

OU recruiting news and notes from an eventful week on the 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.

Calvary Baptist invasion

One of the bigger stories in the last month has been OU’s determination to make an impact at Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist. In particular, three defensive backs in Chanse Sylvie, Rodarius Williams and Andraez Williams.

Sylvie was offered first and attended OU’s initial junior day. Then the Williams twins were offered last month. Andraez didn’t make the trip to Norman, but Rodarius was there and Sylvie was there once again last weekend.

“I liked it a lot,” Williams said. “The stadium and the locker room. The locker room was great, just getting a chance to see it all.”

Williams said one of his favorite parts was the player panel where current players talked about why they chose OU. The theme was the same. As much as winning tradition was said, the bonds with the coaches that stretches beyond the field was brought up often.

It was the first time for Williams to meet defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks, and he said he seems like a pretty cool person. Sylvie said it’s clear how much Cooks knows about football and how he is able to develop his players.

Both had a great time, and with Sylvie’s second trip in the books, there was some real hope of at least one commitment. Once again, Sylvie said he’s not ready yet but neither ruled out a return trip to campus for the spring game.

It was Sylvie who convinced Williams to take the trip to Norman last weekend, and Williams said he’s glad he did.

Sylvie had some kind words about Bob Stoops that really resonated this week. He wasn’t shocked at all how Stoops reacted this week and stood by his players after the racial chant video went viral.

“I really respect him a lot,” Sylvie said. “He’s a down-to-earth guy and there was one thing I really noticed. The reason the team does so well, why they win so much is because he has his players’ back. All the time, he supports his players. That means a lot.”

Garrett close to the dream

Some recruits just get the process. They don’t delude themselves into thinking they’re something they’re not. They understand pecking orders and are able to not be offended if they’re not the No. 1 overall choice.

Nobody exudes that attitude more than Mustang (Okla.) High quarterback Chandler Garrett. He doesn’t have an OU offer, might never get one, but he’s enjoying the ride.

“You grow up as a kid in Oklahoma and the dream is to be the starting quarterback for OU,” Garrett said. “You’re wearing the Jason White jersey, and I’ve been around OU football forever. I started going to the games when I was 6, 7 years old.”

Garrett was one of four quarterbacks for the 2016 class that were at OU on Sunday. None of them received offers, but the message was clear from Lincoln Riley. They’re in the hunt and spring evaluation period could see the dream come true.

“It’s a big deal to come this far,” Garrett said. “I get it. I don’t have any offers right now. I trust what I can do, but I get it. This does mean a lot. You play NCAA and you create yourself on OU and want to be the quarterback. You want to be that guy.”

Garrett has worked a long time with former OU assistant coach Joe Dickinson, who has a tremendous relationship with Riley.

Garrett usually spends all winter playing basketball. This is the first year he has been on the sidelines and just focusing on football. He has missed out on a current undefeated run from the No. 1-ranked basketball team in the state, but it has allowed him to fix the nuances in his game.

He said that was evident a couple of weeks ago. Mustang coach Jeremy Dombek hadn’t seen Garrett throw in more than two months. He watched him here recently and had no problems telling Garrett he looks better than he has ever looked before.

Garrett’s interest is picking up across the board, but it seems like a safe bet he’ll wait as long as it takes to know the answer from OU.

“It’s like going after that one girl, and you think she’s completely out of your league. Then all of a sudden she gives you her number. It doesn’t mean it’s going happen, but there’s a chance.”

Jackson continues to build OU bond

Three days, three visits, that can be tough to take everything in. However, Houston Alief Elsik four-star middle linebacker Dontavious Jackson said it wasn’t tough to visit Texas A&M, OU and Oklahoma State on consecutive days.

He went three straight days of hearing about how great each school is, but he had a little help along the way.

“If you go in there with the wrong mindset, it can be tough,” Jackson said. “But I had someone with me, my uncle, that really helped me with everything. I feel comfortable at every school, but you have to do a lot more digging and research to find the best fit.”

The best fit has felt like it could be OU. Jackson has a childhood bond with Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and hasn’t had any issues saying his best coaching relationship is with OU linebackers coach Tim Kish.

Still, there wasn’t anybody who thought a commitment could come from last weekend’s visit, and Jackson certainly wasn’t considering it no matter how much Obo would love to bring him in the fold right now.

“I’ve known Obo for a long time, since I was in middle school,” Jackson said. “I talk to him a lot. He wants me to come to OU, but he wants me to take my time and make my decision. I’m one of those guys that doesn’t want to decommit. I want to make the right decision.”

It’s a decision some are worried might not include OU, especially after the racist chant video that went viral Sunday night. Jackson was outraged like everybody else, but he also said he cannot see it playing a role with his recruitment going forward.

“That can’t be tolerated at all,” Jackson said. “I have no respect for anyone in that video and anybody who thinks that is OK. It’s not just about my race, it’s about everyone.

“But I thought about it more, and you can’t blame the entire school for them. The action has been swift. Racial slurs and slams are going to be everywhere. The moves they’ve taken have shown me the whole school doesn’t think like that. It won’t be acceptable.”

Jackson’s relationship with Kish goes back quite a bit now, too. Most of the time, the two are constricted by NCAA rules with how long they can communicate. That was one big reason why Jackson loved his junior day visit.

“He understands the type of person I am and the type of player I am,” Jackson said. “He has been down to the school so many times, and I’ve talked to him on the phone so many times. But it helped to make that visit because we could talk as long as we needed. He showed me what he thinks I could do and how I would fit in.”

Jackson has scheduled a trip to Michigan on April 4, but he hasn’t ruled out a return trip for OU’s spring game. He said that’s still in the planning stages and nothing at all locked down yet.


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