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 still weighing his options
Oklahoma didn’t waste any time at all in trying to go after Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist safety Chanse Sylvie, and it was a smart thing, too.
Since OU offered four months ago, slowly but surely other top quality programs from around the nation have entered the mix. In other words, it won’t be a slam dunk for OU to land the coveted safety.
One thing the Sooners do have in their favor is the fact Sylvie has already taken two trips to campus. And though he was hopeful to have made another for the spring, don’t read it as a negative that he was unable to attend.
“I just couldn’t get transportation that one weekend,” Sylvie said. “That’s something that I usually have to sit down and talk about with where we can really go.”
With that in mind, Sylvie is up in the air regarding his summer plans. He would like to take a couple of visits, but it’s too early to know for sure right now.
What is known for sure is the great relationship that is forming between Sylvie and OU first-year defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks.
Sylvie visited OU for both junior days, which has given him that one-on-one face time with Cooks so vital in building recruiting relationships.
Add in what graduate assistant Courtney Viney is doing for OU as well, and the Sooners are sitting as well as they can at this point.
“My relationship with Coach Cooks is good, but I actually talk to Coach Viney the most,” Sylvie said. “I actually just talked to him the other night (Monday) for about 40 minutes. We’re in contact almost every day.”
As SEC schools start showing more recognition toward Sylvie, that’s a big thing for the Sooners to have that constant presence. It sure looked like things were going to be easier last month as all indicators pointed toward teammate Rodarius Williams committing to OU.
But in a shocking twist, even to Sylvie, Williams committed to Oklahoma State the day before he was supposed to make his second trip to OU. Sylvie said Williams’ commitment shouldn’t factor into his recruitment whatsoever.
“It really doesn’t matter to me about playing with my teammates,” Sylvie said. “I’m really happy for him and glad he found a great spot. But I’m interested in what can help me the most.”
Sylvie said he has noticed a change in his game, saying he has been able to react quicker to everything. The game has slowed down for him, and he feels great heading into his senior season.
Not so much about recruiting, though. Despite visits to various schools in the last four months, Sylvie said he is not ready to narrow anything down much less make a decision. He did say why OU is in such a good position.
“A lot has stood out about OU,” Sylvie said. “There’s that consistency – that’s something Coach Cooks brings up a lot. He brings up OU a lot and compares it to other schools. There’s a lot to like.”
And there’s a lot for Sylvie to like, too. He was recently among the 400 names nominated for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl earlier this week and said he finished his junior year of school with a 3.9 GPA.
“I’m just thankful that all the hard work is paying off,” Sylvie said.
Carmouche figuring things out
There has arguably never been a class where OU has needed more linebackers. And to go along with that line of thinking, there has arguably never been a year where OU has been in such a good position with top targets than right now at linebacker.
There’s still a strong chance the Sooners might need as many as five linebackers before this class is all said and done. With already one on board, there are at least 6-8 guys who could fill those four spots.
One of them is certainly Manvel (Texas) High’s Jordan Carmouche. Ranked in the Scout 300, Carmouche is being recruited by the best of the best in the area. But OU was already able to land a visit to campus when Carmouche was in Norman for junior day.
He had plans to make it back for the spring game but was unable to do so. Still, linebacker coach Tim Kish is making a good impression on Carmouche.
“Our relationship is really good right now,” Carmouche said. “Things are going really well, and I know he’s a good coach.”
OU hasn’t fared too well with Manvel here lately. The Sooners have gone after a number of top kids from the school in the last two recruiting cycles and haven’t netted one. The last Manvel kid OU earned with Austin Bennett for the 2013 class.
The 2016 group at Manvel might be the best yet, at least in terms of recruiting. Two are pledged to TCU with another to Texas so OU has its work cut out for it.
The only reason OU is able to stick around right now is Manvel wide receivers coach Greg Bennett, the father of Austin. Even though Austin has yet to produce in a huge way on the field, so far, he has been giving nothing but positive reviews about his time at OU.
That honesty has allowed the elder Bennett to still talk up the Sooners with Manvel kids even if hasn’t led to any signatures just yet.
Carmouche could change that, but we’re still a long ways away from anything happening. The goal is for a top five in the summer, he said, but as happens often with recruits this time of year, he’s still not sure what his summer schedule looks like.
“I’m just trying to find out who’s serious about things and who is being real,” Carmouche said. “And who I’m serious about.”
OU is certainly in the mix as Kish has done a great job so far of recruiting kids in the Houston area for this class but a return visit would certainly help the Sooners chances going forward.
Introducing J.K. Dobbins
The Sooners are still in the thick of trying to find that 2016 running back, but OU is in a great position right now with its only 2017 running back offer.
LaGrange (Texas) High four-star back J.K. Dobbins was offered by the Sooners at the spring game last month. He has made a lot of trips since that occasion, including to schools Texas A&M, TCU and Texas. But asked about his favorite one, and Dobbins didn’t back down.
“It was my favorite trip,” Dobbins said. “The coaches – I like them a lot. The facilities are great. I think I’m already getting in tight with the coaches.”
Dobbins said he talks to running backs coach Jay Boulware at least once a week and said he believes Boulware is a real genuine guy.
Dobbins had been hearing from OU, but he wasn’t for sure the offer was going to come when he visited with his mother last month. Boulware took Dobbins and his mother to Bob Stoops’ office where Stoops made the offer.
Stoops talked about what a special player Dobbins is and where he can fit, but then he focused on his character. Stoops has done that with some recruits in the past where he really feels the character of the players trumps even the best of what they do on the field.
“It was pretty surreal – just to be there talking with Bob Stoops,” Dobbins said. “He knows my name, knows all about me, is talking about my character. It was special.”
Dobbins, despite barely being 5-foot-9, had an incredible sophomore season. He rushed for 2,243 yards on just 181 attempts, averaging more than 12 yards per carry with 37 touchdowns.
Other big offers have come in since, including the Aggies. But the one offer he is waiting for is Texas as Dobbins was quick to point out the Longhorns are the dream school for him.
So it won’t be easy for OU, but when Dobbins reflects on his OU offer, he said that was the offer that let him know any school is going to be possible.
OU has already visited Dobbins twice during this spring evaluation period. The first time it was Boulware and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. The next time was just Boulware. He hopes they’re liking what they’re seeing.
“I feel like I’m a lot more of a leader this year,” Dobbins said. “I’m bigger, stronger and faster, but it’s more than that. I know I have to improve my blocking because our quarterback is going to be new to varsity this year.
“I’m a very patient runner, but I think the biggest strength of my game is that I can stop on a dime and get back to top speed in no time. I have the ability to make anyone miss in space.”
Dobbins is hoping to be active on the recruiting trail although he’s not quite sure what schools he’s going to see. He said OU is one of them as well as return trips to A&M and TCU.
As for who’s showing the most interest? Another easy question.
“OU, for sure,” Dobbins said. “A&M, Duke and TCU are there, too, but it feels like it’s always OU.”