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.
Mo Chan finally a Sooner
Good things come to those who wait, right? Maurice Chandler has been waiting a long time for his opportunity to come to OU.
Chandler, now at Miami (Okla.) Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, was a star at Lawton during his high school days. He committed to Texas Tech, but it became pretty obvious he wasn’t going to academically qualify.
Still believe had Chandler made the grades for the 2013 class, he would be a member of the Sooners right now.
Chandler was offered on his unofficial visit to campus two months ago and immediately built that bond with first-year defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks.
OU made four offers to juco cornerbacks and all of them have a home now. It started two weeks ago when Jamarkus King committed to Auburn. He looked like an Auburn lean the whole time.
Then things got incredibly interesting when J’Marcus Rhodes committed to Arizona State following his trip to Tempe last weekend.
Rhodes and Chandler seemed to be OU’s two most logical and legitimate targets for the junior college spot. With Rhodes out of the picture, Chandler became the unquestioned No. 1 guy.
Chandler has track speed and should be a great lockdown corner for the two years he’ll be in Norman. He has always had the size and the speed, and he has worked hard to piece it all together.
Unfortunately, can’t quite get in touch with Chandler right now. His phone is off, and he said it probably won’t be on again until this weekend. Once things are up and running again, Sooners Illustrated will connect with Chandler again to figure out how it all went down.
Roberts says he’s on track
Of course Chandler wasn’t even the first NEO product to commit to the Sooners this month. Two weeks ago defensive end Austin Roberts gave his commitment to first-year defensive line coach Diron Reynolds.
The sticky part of the situation has been OU’s reaction toward everything. There were no #OUDNA tweets from the various coaches, sort of a play it safe approach.
In talking to Roberts earlier this week, it’s clear he believes everything is good to go, and he will arrive in Norman on July 26.
“I felt for a while like it’s the best school for me,” Roberts said. “I get along great with Coach Reynolds. He’s telling me everything that I need to hear. Not all of it is what I want to hear, but it’s what I need to hear.”
Roberts has felt like a commitment just waiting to happen for the last couple of months. The issue has always been his academic standing. Because really after his visit in April, he was mentally committed to the Sooners.
He put in the work during the spring semester and things appear to be heading in the right direction. Roberts said he has two classes this summer, an English class and a history class, that he needs to pass to make it official.
The good news? Roberts said earlier this week he has a “B” in both of those classes. These are not the classes that give him trouble, but school definitely has not always been easy for Roberts.
“Juco is a struggle,” Roberts said. “But if you get your grades right, then you’ll be straight. School has always been tough for me. College has been different because I’ve really hit the books hard. Math has always been a problem for me, but I got that out of the way early.”
Roberts, originally from Georgia, seemed to be destined for SEC country until realizing he would have to be a 2016 recruit to play in the SEC. Because he has already been at two jucos, the SEC requires you stay at the second juco for a second season.
The Big 12 has no such requirement so schools like Georgia and Auburn went out the window and the Sooners came into focus. And Reynolds has helped seal the deal.
“I’ve been around this enough to know when a coach is telling the truth,” Roberts said. “He doesn’t want me because of my name. He’s real. He’s genuine.”
Roberts said OU is moving to a 4-3 defensive front, which is entirely possible. In that alignment, Roberts said he’s going to be an immediate impact as a pass rusher.
He has a redshirt season remaining and has two seasons’ worth of eligibility left so it will be interesting to see if he can work his way onto the field in the fall or have to wait until 2016.
It’s not a road taken often, but it’s one that has found Roberts a home in Norman.
“When I found out I couldn’t go to the SEC, it did disappoint me a bit,” Roberts said. “But I’m a guy that believes everything happens for a reason. If I go to OU, my dreams can still come true. I can’t wait to get started.”
Mittermeier grows bond with Bedenbaugh
More junior college talk here in regards to Butler (Kan.) CC offensive lineman Quinn Mittermeier and the job offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh did to earn his commitment.
Mittermeier is a little different than a lot of juco kids. He had to go to juco not because of his grades but because of his opportunities.
Originally from Topeka, Kan., Mittermeier received little-to-no attention as a Class of 2014 recruit so he made the choice to head to Butler in a decision that would change his life.
“I’m so grateful for that opportunity and for everything the school and the coaches have done for me,” Mittermeier said.
Mittermeier said following his commitment Bedenbaugh was basically there from the start. In the winter, Bedenbaugh first started to notice Mittermeier but there were questions about if he would be a 2015 recruit or a 2016 kid.
Mittermeier initially was going to be a 2016 kid before deciding in order to help his family out the most, it would be better to be a 2015 recruit.
And Bedenbaugh pounced. OU seemed to be trailing Florida, but Bedenbaugh was able to change all that on Mittermeier’s official visit two weeks ago.
“Offensive line – we’re weird guys,” Mittermeier said. “I can’t describe what it is about offensive line coaches that makes you want to play for them. To coach offensive line you have to be a little bit different.”
Mittermeier isn’t sure if he’s 6-5 or 6-6, but he knows he’s around 310 pounds. Bedenbaugh hasn’t quite laid out his plans on if he’s a tackle or guard. Mittermeier has his reasons for wanting to be a tackle.
“It’s your job to keep the quarterback healthy,” Mittermeier said. “I like that responsibility. I love being on that island. It’s one-on-one. It’s great, especially when you win the battles.”
Mittermeier reiterated he is fine academically, and he can’t wait to get to OU next month. The wait is almost over until when he can do what he does best.
“I’m a finisher,” Mittermeier said. “I finish plays, go until the whistle blows. I’m just taking the right steps right now and getting my body where it needs to be.”
OU in the hunt for Leavitt
It’s pretty obvious right now OU is taking at least one junior college offensive lineman for the 2016 class. Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh has done a good job of picking the targets and added another here recently with Hutchinson (Kan.) CC tackle Tate Leavitt.
Leavitt, originally committed to Ohio out of high school and is from that area. He was going to attend the school as a greyshirt until he got his grades in order.
But after he thought he had gotten his grades in order, it turned out the NCAA and Ohio had miscalculated his GPA so Ohio placed him at Hutchinson.
While at Hutchinson, though, plenty of new schools entered the mix. One of those being the Sooners. He said Bedenbaugh first started to show real interest in February. He was hoping for the offer then, but it didn’t happen.
Bedenbaugh came up for a spring practice but still no offer. Then Leavitt made the trip to Norman two weeks ago and the offer came a couple of days later.
“I’m definitely excited about getting it,” Leavitt said. “It’s one, I don’t want I was waiting on, but I was expecting it because of the relationship I’ve built with Coach B.”
Leavitt decommitted from Ohio right around the turn of the calendar year, saying he thought it was in his best interest to see what else is out there.
And he’s been busy finding out. Leavitt said he made eight visits in one more and is getting closer and closer to finalizing a list. A process that became even more difficult this week following an offer from Auburn.
Despite all of the visits in such a short time, Leavitt said distinguishing between them all hasn’t been a problem because he won’t allow it to be.
“You have to lock in and really focus on what you want out of the school,” Leavitt said. “You can’t compare one school to another while on a visit or else you lose your focus and lose your eyes on the visit. You have to let your thoughts calm down.”
Leavitt’s OU visit wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. He didn’t meet with Bob Stoops, but Leavitt said part of that blame goes to himself. He visited on a Saturday and said he let the staff know for sure he was coming that Thursday.
Instead he was shown around campus by Bedenbaugh and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. That’s a good combination for OU.
“I’ve gotten to know Coach B for the last few months now,” Leavitt said. “His track record speaks for itself. He always gives credit to his players. Coach Riley seems very laid back and calm. Both seem like great men to be around.”
When Leavitt says he knows about OU’s history of tackles in the NFL, he means it. From guys like Trent Williams to Phil Loadholt to OU getting both of its tackles drafted this year, there’s a strong history of success.
Leavitt said ideally he would like to take all five official visits before his season starts and is hoping to start taking some of them when his mother arrives from Ohio.
Internally, Leavitt certainly has some favorites. He’s not ready to release anything because of situations like OU and Auburn.
“It throws a wrench into things,” Leavitt said. “But it (OU) is definitely one I’m interested in taking an official (visit).”
Leavitt is perfect for what Bedenbaugh likes, describing himself as nasty and playing with an attitude and a non-stop motor.
He said the No. 1 factor is going to be playing time, followed by the comfort factor with the campus, coaches and players. OU is sitting pretty, but there’s still a long way to go.