Sooner Intel, Pt. II: News and nuggets

After a quiet first part of July, OU is turning up the heat to close out the month.

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.

OU in great spot with Jefferson

Former co-defensive coordinator Jerry Montgomery really helped open the doors to Louisiana for the Sooners, and now OU is trying to make a nice home there.

It was once again on display Thursday afternoon with the commitment from Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist three-star safety Chanse Sylvie. And the Sooners remain in a strong position with New Orleans Easton Charter linebacker Pernell Jefferson.

Jefferson, ranked as a three-star defensive end by Scout, is certainly being recruiting at linebacker for the Sooners. He was able to make a trip to Norman for junior but has been unable to return in the last five months.

No fear, though, as Jefferson hasn’t really gone anywhere. Instead, he has been focused on getting his game right for his senior season.

“Things have been good,” Jefferson said. “I’ve just been working out and running. I wasn’t really looking to make any visits or anything like that.”

Jefferson was quick to say he has no idea who his top five is, but he said he knows one of those official visits is going to be a return trip to see the Sooners.

Jefferson is from the same school as freshman linebacker Arthur McGinnis. This is the week the freshmen go home, and Jefferson said he is hopeful to be able to spend time with McGinnis and get his thoughts on his first couple of months.

Sooners Illustrated spoke to Jefferson on Tuesday so it’s possible Jefferson and McGinnis were able to connect later in the week. McGinnis did tweet to Jefferson on Thursday evening, “waiting on you bro,” which could be in reference toward waiting for Jefferson to commit to OU as well from Louisiana.

Jefferson is making a move this year from outside linebacker to middle linebacker, essentially replacing McGinnis from last season. The move could have been tough for Jefferson, but considering he has been starting since he was a freshman, he feels pretty confident.

“I’ve picked it up really quickly,” Jefferson said. “At this spot, you have to know every position on the field and know what they’re supposed to be doing. I feel comfortable.”

Jefferson reiterated he doesn’t have any favorited but when pressed further, he said he intends to at least visit OU, TCU and Texas Tech. And when asked what schools are recruiting him the hardest, it was OU, Nebraska and Arizona State.

A big reason why McGinnis signed with OU is his relationship with linebackers coach Tim Kish. That relationship has carried over with Jefferson.

“He’s a real nice guy, a laid back type of coach,” Jefferson said. “He really wants to win. He really reaches out to the community. We have a good relationship.”

Jefferson won’t wait too much long if everything goes to plan. He said he is hopeful to commit in the beginning of the season or in the middle of the season at the latest.

OU, of course, needs several linebackers to round out this class so it’s incredibly tough to envision a scenario where the Sooners wouldn’t accept Jefferson’s commitment.

Gutwald the No. 1 target

The question has been asked repeatedly. OU has one interior lineman wrapped up with Harrah (Okla.) High’s Logan Roberson. But who is going to be the other one?

Parker Boudreaux was the heavy favorite, almost only recruit the Sooners were going after. But after picking Notre Dame, it was back to the drawing board.

The drawing board has revealed the next major target, at least if you believe Dublin (Calif.) High offensive guard Matthew Gutwald.

“He says I’m the top prospect on their offensive line board for interior linemen,” said Gutwald about where he stands with OU offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh.

Gutwald is technically a Cali kid, but he lived in Oklahoma City for 10 years and even played football with walk-on quarterback Connor McGinnis when they were younger.

His summer has been quite intense with trips to Arizona, Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Oregon. Heading into August, it feels like it’s between the Wildcats and Ducks among his offers.

But his offer total could increase as he said OU, Stanford and Notre Dame have begun to show a considerable amount of interest, and he would definitely love to look at all three schools.

Gutwald said Bedenbaugh first started to show interest in late May/early June but is now in contact with Bedenbaugh almost every single day. Bedenbaugh’s trick? To send Gutwald a new stat about OU and/or the offensive line every single day.

“It’s good because it definitely gives you a lot think about,” Gutwald said. “And I feel like I don’t have to ask any questions because he’s answering all of them for me.”

Gutwald said he is now 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds. Not bad size for an offensive guard, but when he thinks about where he was as a freshman, it’s still a little shocking.

He said he was 5-8 and 160 pounds walking into high school. He knew the growth spurt was coming, but he had no idea it would be this intense. With that in mind, Gutwald is pretty dang realistic about what’s in store for his future.

“I want to redshirt wherever I go,” Gutwald said. “I developed so late that I know I’m still learning how to use my body. I still have a lot of work to do with my strength numbers, and I think I can definitely carry 300 pounds.”

A big advantage, said Gutwald, about being so little when he was younger is that it taught him to be the meanest player on the field. Soft spoke and articulate off the field, Gutwald said he has that nasty in him when he’s on the field because he had to be that guy.

He was the nastiest at 5-8 and 160 and now he’s really nasty at 6-4 and 285. Despite growing up in Oklahoma City, Gutwald said Notre Dame is his dream school. The Irish reached out to him earlier this month although no offer is on the table.

He did like OU growing up but not nearly as much as Notre Dame. Of course childhood favorites sort of go out the door when it comes to recruiting and determining where your future is going to be.

Gutwald is coming off a great visit to Arizona, and he said a return trip to Tucson could be in the works. As for other official visits, OU, Notre Dame and Stanford are right up there. It’s too simplistic to say whichever of the three offers is going to land Gutwald, but it could very well end up that way.

And with the relationship he has developed with Bedenbaugh, OU is right where it needs to be heading into Gutwald’s senior season.

Is Youngquist next?

It did not take long for Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist safety Chanse Sylvie to endear himself to OU fans. Just hours after his commitment, he was asking for fans on Twitter to reach out to Los Oso (Calif.) High linebacker Bryce Youngquist.

Youngquist, a four-star prospect, is set to decide between OU and Oregon at 6 p.m. CST Friday. After months of the Ducks being the team to beat, ol’ mo has switched to the Sooners.

Will it be enough? We will find out, but if Youngquist does pick the Sooners, it would be an incredible shot in the arm heading into August.

OU entered July 30 with just six commitments. And if it could leave the month with the 32nd-ranked safety and 25th-ranked outside linebacker, it would be a huge boost for the Sooners.

OU was able to turn this tide with a simple visit two weeks ago to the day. Youngquist spoke repeatedly about how comfortable he felt in Norman and how it made his decision increasingly difficult.

Speaking with multiple sources Wednesday and Thursday, it’s all good news. You never know about a change of heart in the 11th hour, but OU can rest comfortably knowing it did everything absolutely right in this recruitment.

From an early offer to constant contact to getting him to campus, nothing more the Sooners could have done with Youngquist.

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