Sooner Intel, Pt. I: News and nuggets

Get caught up on a busy week on the trail 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.

Draper finally gets the OU call

All the talk about the 2015 and 2016 classes, but it’s a 2017 recruit that probably made the most noise this week with Collinsville (Okla.) High linebacker Levi Draper.

Draper first started to blow up on the recruiting trail late in the winter and has become a legit Scout 100 target to watch during the spring as one big school has offered after another.

But you know who hadn’t heading into Wednesday? The Sooners. In a puzzling situation, it seemed like the parties were never going to get together.

Do believe the natural assumption was for Draper to camp at OU last week and earn the Sooners offer in person. We’ve heard that story so many times about how OU likes to see kids in a camp setting and then make the offer extra special by offering.

The trouble is OU didn’t show enough interest to guarantee Draper would even camp in Norman. Instead he visited Kansas and was offered by the Jayhawks.

Then the weekend came and things got really dicey for OU fans as Draper was offered by Alabama on Saturday and Florida State and Clemson on Monday.

A disconnect was there. Draper finally received the OU offer on Wednesday afternoon, but the Sooners have work to do to patch up this relationship.

There was a time truly think Draper would have committed to OU right on the spot. He camped at OU last year. He visited for a spring practice and then came back the following week for the spring game. Had the offer happened then, might be singing a different tune.

But it didn’t. And other major schools jumped into the hunt. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops did check in with Draper during the spring evaluation period but no offer was made.

Again, it’s really not about the offer. An offer is nice, for sure, but it’s about relationships. OU didn’t build this one correctly. It’s too early to say the damage is done, but when schools like the Tide and Seminoles get in there first, there’s some real explaining that has to be done.

You just never know with OU. Sometimes it feels like no real evaluation is needed like with 2018 Moore (Okla.) Southmoore offensive lineman Brey Walker, who was also offered by Alabama last weekend. Walker was offered by OU in March.

Other times it feels like almost too much evaluation is done. How else to explain why it took so long from Southlake Carroll (Texas) CB Obi Eboh to earn his offer when he’s a legit Scout 200 recruit?

It’s all up to Draper and the coaches to see how he responds to this offer and to see how the coaches try to build that bridge back. Will be very interesting to see here going forward.

Familiar ground for Epenesa

Sticking with the 2017 theme, it was huge for OU to get Edwardsville (Ill.) High defensive end A.J. Epenesa to campus for OU’s elite camp.

Epenesa is already a four-star prospect, but it wouldn’t surprise anybody if he ended up as a five-star prospect when more evaluation is done.

If you saw him at OU’s camp, then you know why. Have never seen 6-foot-5, 265 pounds look so young. He has so much growing left to do that it’s scary to think how he could pan out.

Add to that with his quickness and natural instincts, and Epenesa is going to be one heck of a recruit to follow going forward even if he doesn’t like to be vocal about it.

He wasn’t alone on the trip as his father, Eppy Epenesa, came along for the ride. It was a trip down memory lane as he’s another Iowa boy just like Bob Stoops and Mike Stoops and has an incredible connection with offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh.

What was interesting to hear was how Epenesa is only going to the camps of schools he’s legitimately considering. Notre Dame and Iowa are definitely in that mix, and it’s going to be tough for OU to lure him away from those Midwest powers.

But the elder Epenesa said they had a fantastic time in Norman and look forward to coming back. He wants his son to make the best decision possible, and it’s pretty clear the Sooners made the best impression they could at this stage of his recruitment.

OU makes Boudreaux’s cut

More work being put in on the recruiting trail by Bill Bedenbaugh. This time the focus is on Orlando Bishop Moore offensive guard Parker Boudreaux.

With a reported 70 offers, Boudreaux cut that list down to five Wednesday afternoon. No shock OU was in the mix with Clemson, Notre Dame, Florida and Georgia Southern.

Obviously Georgia Southern sticks out like a sore thumb, but Boudreaux has mentioned repeatedly his great relationship with those coaches.

In the end, sure feels like an OU-Notre Dame battle. Boudreaux took a two-day visit to Norman in March that essentially put the Sooners in the picture. Well, Boudreaux did the same last weekend at Notre Dame.

Bedenbaugh made it clear following the commitment of Harrah (Okla.) High offensive guard Logan Roberson, Boudreaux is next.

Of course he cannot talk about that, but he tweeted with the “405” in the fold (Roberson), now it was time for the “407” (Boudreaux) to join him.

As it stands right now, looks like OU will be gunning for four offensive linemen for the 2016 class. Two guards, one juco tackle and one tackle coming out of high school.

We learned late Thursday night that tackle could end up being Oklahoma City John Marshall’s Tramonda Moore, a monster at 6-6 and at least 330 pounds. Has earned offers from OU and Oklahoma State in the last week.

Boudreaux and Roberson would be the ideal one-two punch for Bedenbaugh and the Sooners, and it’s clear Bedenbaugh now working on Moore, too.

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