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.
Cooks, Reynolds talking recruiting
One thing that is always interesting when new coaches are in the mix is their recruiting philosophy. What worked for one coach won’t necessarily work for another. And approaches, obviously, can vary from coach-to-coach.
And when you’re Diron Reynolds, there’s nothing to really compare things with. He was only allowed to do on-campus recruiting at Stanford, and it has been nearly 15 years since he has been on the road in a full-time assistant capacity.
That was at Indiana, and it’s obviously a different story when you’re in Norman. He admits he’s still finding his way.
“The Twitter-verse is amazing,” Reynolds said. “I think it allows guys to believe their own hype, which is kind of sad at that age. It becomes more about the whole bravado and the making themselves the big ol’ thing instead of focusing in on what kind of decision you need to make to go to school.
“I try to tell all the guys, you come to Oklahoma, it’s not a four-year decision, it’s a 40-year decision. We’re talking about relationships you’re going to build and not just the football aspect.
“You might be sitting in the classroom with the next guy who’s going to invent a Facebook or something like that. So build those relationships because you never know. If you come into it for one thing, you’ll only get one thing out of it, and you might not get that.”
It’s a new day for Reynolds, but it’s familiar territory for someone like Kerry Cooks. He always fared well at Notre Dame, and now coming closer to home, he should make OU an even bigger factor in the Dallas Metroplex.
Even before he coaches a game, it was shown with getting Prentice McKinney at the last minute that Cooks can deliver the good.
But what exactly is Cooks looking for? What’s his mindset toward recruiting?
“Speed, ball skills, smarts, toughness,” Cooks said. “I’m looking for guys that can come in and help us right away. I believe there are two positions on the football field you can do that.
“One is running back and one is cornerback. I’m looking for guys that can run, that are athletic, that are tough, that are smart and love to compete at a high level. The competition level is probably the No. 1 thing I’m looking for and I’m trying to elevate being here. You have to be able to have guys behind you and in front of you that are competing every snap because that makes everybody better.”
Rodgers back in the mix?
The plan being for the Sooners to land two in the high school ranks and two in the junior college waters. One of those could be Iowa Western CC offensive tackle Na’Ty Rodgers.
If that names sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Rodgers was a top OU target at the position for the Class of 2013. OU was able to get him for an official visit (a loss to Kansas State), and the Sooners made his final five.
In the end, Rodgers picked South Carolina but things deteriorated during his time with the Gamecocks. Now at Iowa Western, the offers are starting to pile up once again from a variety of schools and conferences.
Back when he was being recruited by OU, it was Bruce Kittle doing the heavy lifting with offensive tackle recruiting. It will be very interesting to see if the Sooners start to turn up the pressure, what will happen now that Bedenbaugh is in charge.
OU could certainly use some immediate help at the tackle spot, and Rodgers is certainly someone to be keeping tabs on here going forward.
Roberts: ‘It’s all up to me’
Defensive line coach Diron Reynolds is searching for his first 2016 recruit, but he might end up getting on the board with the 2015 class before anything else.
Miami (Okla.) Northeastern Oklahoma A&M defensive end Austin Roberts is still on the market, and OU feels like the clear team to beat. In fact, the Sooners might be the only team in the race.
Roberts, originally from Georgia, seemed destined to head to an SEC power. He had the offers from some of them for the 2015 class until he hit a snag. Roberts has been at multiple junior colleges, and he said the SEC requires you to be a junior college three semesters to transfer.
In other words, for Roberts to be play in the conference, he was going to have to lose a year of eligibility and be a 2016 recruit.
He said he didn’t want to do that. Roberts has a redshirt year left to go along with two years of eligibility, and he wants to maximize them.
The one place that could happen is at OU as Roberts made his first visit to Norman a couple of weeks ago for a spring practice.
“I liked it, love the history,” Roberts said. “Ever since things can’t work out with the SEC, I’ve been talking to OU a lot. And SEC coaches have been telling me what a great school it is. They’ve been saying how Coach (Bob) Stoops is the right guy who can get you where you want to go.”
The message has been clear that if Roberts heads to OU, he won’t waste his eligibility and will get his chance to show what he can do.
Based on his visit with Stoops and Reynolds, Roberts absolutely agrees OU can be the spot for him. He said the coaches were straight up guys, telling him the sky is the limit. He said he loved the environment and the players.
For Roberts, his destiny is in his hands.
“I’m going to graduate in June,” Roberts said. “I have to knock out these online classes. It’s all up to me to handle my business and get the job done.”
Roberts said his strength is as a pass rusher and said he is 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds right now. He can stop the run, but he loves to rush the passer.
He’s hoping to return to Norman in the next couple of weeks and continue to build that rapport with Reynolds.
“It’s developing really well,” Roberts said. “Talking to him, and I feel like he can be a great coach for me. I’m excited.”