Mini-Sooner Intel: News and nuggets

Looking back at the week that was for OU on the recruiting 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.

Mbanasor excited about Cooks arrival

It was a reunion and an introduction all in the same weekend for OU’s spring game. For the first time, all defensive back signees were at OU together. And for the first time, at least for some of them, they were getting to meet first-year coach Kerry Cooks.

All three cornerbacks P.J. Mbanasor, Antoine Stephens and William Johnson were there (with Johnson already enrolled and playing in the spring game). All three safeties Will Sunderland, Prentice McKinney and Kahlil Haughton made the trip as well.

“I needed it,” Mbanasor said. “Needed to be around football again. It was a beautiful day, great being in that environment again. I saw what I needed to see in person from a competitive standpoint.”

Mbanasor was the first defensive back commitment for OU last June and stuck with the Sooners throughout the process. One way name he constantly mentioned was McKinney, who was a Notre Dame commit at the time.

McKinney took an official visit the final weekend before signing day and eventually signed with OU on that day. Nobody was more excited than Mbanasor.

“It was a nice addition, but it has nothing to do with our friendship,” Mbanasor said. “It’s nice for the whole defensive class. He’s a playmaker who has a good football IQ. He’s somebody who can make a difference.”

Mbanasor has been tight with McKinney and Haughton for a long time and will be roommates with Haughton.

The big shakeup is obviously with Cooks. But back when Cooks was at Notre Dame, he recruited a lot of these same guys and offered a lot of them. Mbanasor remembers it well.

“I respect him a lot back from when he was at Notre Dame,” Mbanasor said. “I sent him film one day, and he offered me that same day. You don’t forget things like that.

“I’ve talked to him several times since he took the job, and it was great to spend more time with him during the spring game.”

Cooks made it clear he feels cornerback is one spot where somebody can make that transition from high school and be an immediate difference maker in college.

Mbanasor, ranked No. 103 in the final Scout 300 for the 2015 class, could certainly be that guy and has enjoyed his talks with Cooks.

“I think he’s a really bright guy,” Mbanasor said. “He’s very technique sound. He wants a guy who is going to come in and work hard and ball out. So far his message to me has about taking care of business in the classroom. Think about the future and be a smart kid.”

Since his senior season has ended and since signing on the dotted line, all Mbanasor has been thinking about it being a Sooner. He’s eager to show what he can do.

“I’ve been working on everything you can imagine,” Mbanasor said. “I got my book from the coaches and I’m preparing myself.

“Incoming freshman is a title, but you can’t let it be a label. I can do this thing. I know I can make a mark.”

Bucktrot always been an OU guy

The Semper Fi regional camp in Oklahoma City last weekend definitely had a few quality offensive linemen in attendance.

Offered prospects like Oklahoma City Heritage Hall’s Luther Harris and Lexington (Okla.) High’s Tyler Brown both lived up to expectations.

But nobody was better than Stroud (Okla.) High’s Tiller Bucktrot. No offers, no real interest, all Bucktrot can do is do what he did last weekend – keep competing and hoping things can change.

“I just want to let colleges know I want to play,” Bucktrot said. “I want to get my education. This was a chance for me to get my name out there.”

Perhaps things will change for Bucktrot, who said outside of Sam Houston State, no coaches have come by Stroud, and he’s received a few letters from schools.

He has been active on the camp circuit, having done the deals at OU, Oklahoma State and Tulsa, and the hard work seems to be paying off for the 6-foot-4, 335-pound prospect.

If he had his wish, the answer would be clear.

“It’s Oklahoma,” Bucktrot said. “It’s always been Oklahoma for me.”

Bucktrot said he would talk to offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh during the camps and said it meant a lot to be coached by Bedenbaugh during those three days.

Coincidentally or not, since winning the Offensive MVP at the camp, Bedenbaugh and coaches from Houston have started following Bucktrot on Twitter.

Now the offensive line class for OKPreps is ridiculously deep for 2016, and there’s no telling if Bucktrot will start fielding some legitimate interest or if OU will eventually end up offering any of the in-state prospects. But he certainly didn’t hurt himself with the way he performed last weekend.

George ready to emerge

When talking the in-state class for 2016, it’s all about depth. There could end up being a record number of recruits offered and signing with Division I schools.

When talking 2017, you might be leaning toward the top-heavy group once again. Collinsville linebacker Levi Draper already has five offers with Vanderbilt coming this week.

Midwest City defensive back Evan Fields got on the board with an offer from Arkansas State on Wednesday night.

And if you’re looking for a quarterback, Jones’ Brandon George could be the guy. George has already participated in the Rivals camp and the Semper Fi camp and seems poised to hit the summer camp circuit in a big way.

“Visibility is important,” George said. “I’ve been working on my feet – that’s one of the most important things as a quarterback and working on being a field general.”

George started his high school career in Florida before transferring to Jones prior to his sophomore season. Jones has had success with quarterbacks in the past, most notably with Daxx Garman and David Cornwell.

And like a lot of OU targets for the 2016 class, George is another Joe Dickinson product. George said he has been working with the notable quarterback teacher for the last two years and has seen big strides in his game.

“He helps with everything,” George said. “Just today, I had a throwing session, and he was there to point out what I need to improve on going forward.”

George said there hasn’t been any contact between him and the Sooners so far, but that’s bound to change now that he’s in OU’s backyard.

He visited Kansas last weekend and received a call from Florida earlier this week. At 6-foot-1 and around 190 pounds, he’ll be a name to watch. And when you combine that with Joe Dickinson’s connection with offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, wouldn’t be shocking to see things develop.

George is planning to camp at OU and has also accepted a camp invite to Ole Miss this summer.

“I would love to play for OU,” George said. “That would be incredible.”

He should get some help on the high school circuit being paired with 2018 wide receiver Sean Shaw. Already 6-4, Shaw is going to be another Jones name to watch in the future.

Last season, starting as a sophomore, George threw for 2,314 yards and 21 touchdowns, while rushing for 724 yards and 12 more scores.

He’s found a home in Jones.

“It was a huge culture shock to go from Jacksonville to Jones,” George said. “But it has been really good, they’ve taken me in as part of the family. I’m really happy with how things are right now.”

Week in review

OU was busy this week of the spring evaluation period. Here’s a mini-summary of the week that was for the Sooners.

Tyler (Texas) JC WR Ryan Parker

OU landed its fourth commitment with Parker, someone who is still getting comfortable playing football. An under the radar guy at the time, don’t be surprised if Parker ends up being a four-star prospect when he gets evaluated. This is not OU reaching for a recruit, this is more about finding him first. Parker said he wanted to stay pretty close to Keller, Texas, since he has a daughter and OU fits the bill nicely.

Wichita (Kan.) East DE Xavier Kelly

Another quality offer here by OU. Kelly has blown up nationally, now around 30 offers. Sooners are coming in a little later than some of the bigger boys, but OU’s proximity should make it tough to beat if both sides are truly serious. Diron Reynolds talked to Kelly last weekend, and Kelly said Reynolds is expected to visit the school next week.

2017 Brownsburg (Ind.) High QB Hunter Johnson

Lincoln Riley is done for the 2016 class so he begins work for the next one. Johnson seems like another Riley-like quarterback, but he’s going to be tough to pluck out of the Midwest. Schools like Michigan and Notre Dame appear to be going all-in with Johnson as well. A summer visit would go a long way toward it feeling like OU is in the game.

Mississippi State CB commit C.J. Morgan-Walker

This might be the only offer of the week that isn’t quite resonating right now. He has been committed to the Bulldogs since January and not sure that’s likely to change. And if it does change, seems even more unlikely that it’s OU that makes it happen.

Duncanville (Texas) DT Marcel Southall

OU hit the Dallas Metroplex with a couple of offers that have the Sooners in on the ground floor with some rising prospects. One of them was Southall, who received three of his four offers on the same day this week with OU, Baylor and Illinois. Too early to tell where things stand, but OU definitely has positioned itself well.

Coffeyville (Kan.) CC CB JaMarcus King

Kerry Cooks was busy offering a couple of juco cornerbacks, and King is already ranked a four-star prospect. Originally from Alabama, Auburn has already come calling. No reason to think he’s an SEC lock just yet, but also no real reason to think the Sooners can get him. Like with Kelly, proximity to OU with Coffeyville is an advantage.

Kilgore (Texas) CC CB J’Markus Rhodes

OU and Missouri offered on the same day, Wednesday. Another juco cornerback offer as it feels like Cooks is getting a great understanding of what he likes and what needs improvement on the campus right now. Originally signed with SMU out of high school.

Lewisville (Texas) OL Denzel Okafor

This one has been brewing for a while. Bill Bedenbaugh has been in regular contact with Okafor and finally made the offer Wednesday night. OU and Texas were both in the house for practice and Okafor earned offers from both of the Red River Rivalry schools. Despite his location, Okafor has not made a trip to Norman. If that changes, a commit watch could be on for OU.

Dallas Wilmer-Hutchins S Demarkus Acy

The Big 12 really likes Acy and is hoping to keep him a secret from everybody else. A safety with tremendous size, the holdup has been about seeing him in person and seeing if he can move with that nice frame. Turns out he can, and OU was the latest school to offer Thursday afternoon.


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