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.
Buchanan ready for first trip
It’s the first major visit weekend of the season for the Sooners, and all eyes will be on the cornerback position.
One of the big names coming to town is Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge high three-star cornerback Baylen Buchanan.
Currently committed to Louisville, this will be Buchanan’s first official visit, and he’s ready to see all that Norman and OU have to offer.
“I want to see if this is a place where I can live the next four years,” Buchanan said. “I know what the football program is all about, and they look good this year. This trip is about learning more when it comes to the school and education.”
And catching up with old friends. Buchanan attends the same high school as OU offensive tackle Orlando Brown, and Buchanan said Brown cannot say enough good things about Norman or the program. Then again it’s probably easy to do so when you’re starting as a redshirt freshman.
Brown had a father who played in the NFL just like Buchanan does as his father is former NFL cornerback Ray Buchanan. Because of a scheduling conflict, Ray will not be making the trip and Baylen will be at OU by himself.
He said that’s a good thing.
“It’s actually better if I go alone because my parents aren’t going to be out there in college with me no matter where I go,” Buchanan said. “If there’s another trip, I know he’ll be coming.”
Buchanan has been locked in with the Cardinals for a while, but it does feel like Buchanan is open to all choices out there. He didn’t rule out flipping his commitment this weekend even though his family won’t be there. He said if it feels right, it feels right.
It has been graduate assistant Chip Viney and defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks doing the bulk of the recruiting with Buchanan. Cooks watched Buchanan in the spring but thought it wasn’t worth pursuing with Buchanan committed to Louisville, the same school his father played.
Viney was simply introducing himself via Twitter when it became clear to the OU staff that Buchanan, though committed, was 100 percent still in play.
“It’s crazy how fast things went after that,” Buchanan said. “Once they knew I was really interested, they offered me the next day. I talk to those guys basically on a weekly basis and talk with Coach Bob Stoops sometimes, too.”
The one thing that has come through in his talks is how much Cooks and Viney care about their players and care about the program. It’s a vibe that has been detected by his father and puts OU in a really good spot heading into this weekend.
“He definitely loves the coaches,” Buchanan said. “He is very impressed with what he has seen. He knows family is a big part of the deal.”
Buchanan finally finalized his visit earlier this week, but he knew he wanted to head to Norman. It was just filling out the necessary paperwork. No other official visits are planned although Louisville is sure to get one, but this trip to Norman had to happen.
“It’s a school I really wanted to go to as soon as I could,” Buchanan said. “I didn’t want to go too late in the season because I was really itching to go. I’m very excited.”
Offer official for Speights
The Sooners are officially in the Trevor Speights business. The four-star running back from McAllen (Texas) Memorial was offered Sunday afternoon, two days removed from running backs coach Jay Boulware watching Speights in action.
Speights was sensational with Boulware in attendance. He rushed 14 times for 330 yards and five touchdowns. He was confused why Boulware left at halftime, but a Sunday conversation cleared all that up.
“He said he had seen enough of what he needed to see,” Speights said. “He told me to call him so I did on Sunday. I talked to him and the offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. Riley was the one who offered me.”
Speights has two official visits set up, heading to Texas A&M and Stanford. But that could all change if he can make his way to Norman, a return trip since Speights went on his own dime for junior day in February back when he was committed to Arizona.
February was seven months ago. But an offer is an offer, and Speights said there are no sour grapes about OU waiting until now to make it official.
“I know they’re recruiting a lot of prospects,” Speights said. “And I know they’ve only offered like three running backs so it means a lot. There was a time when I thought OU was no longer in the picture, but it feels great.”
Speights has put up gaudy numbers through the first five games and said he was a lot more excited and amped up to play last week knowing Boulware would be in attendance.
Speights said his plan is to visit OU for TCU weekend (isn’t that the plan for everybody?). The one caveat to that is Texas high school playoffs. Speights is also hoping he will be competing in the state playoffs so it’s unknown how that will all shake out.
What is known is Speights’ interest in OU is real.
“It’s another big option for me,” Speights said. “They’re known as RBU by a lot of people. Any running back that plays there has a lot of success and has a good chance of getting to the NFL.”
Speights said if he can make it work, he would try to make an official visit during a week when Memorial plays Thursday night, but he’s not sure if that’s going to be possible.
Sooners battling the early kick
For the second consecutive home game, OU is the early one at 11 a.m. CST. Two weeks ago that didn’t matter when it came toward official visits.
OU’s big guns from Houston Spring Westfield, Tyrie Cleveland and Ed Oliver, were both on a bye weekend so there was no conflict.
This week is different. Every official visitor did play this week, making it a challenge for some recruits to make it to Norman in time.
With one of them, four-star safety Lamar Jackson, it eliminated the possibility altogether. He said Wednesday morning he had to cancel because he wasn’t going to be able to fly to Norman and make it in time for the game.
Baylen Buchanan is making the visit, but he’s definitely having to adjust his usual Saturday routine to make it work. His flight is at 6:30 a.m. CST on Saturday, not ideal by any means.
“I think I’m going to be excited,” Buchanan said. “It’s my first official visit. I’ll be up early and ready to go. I don’t think it will be a problem.”
It’s just not preferred. First-year defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks throws himself into that mix of people who would love to see a later kick for such a big recruiting weekend.
“You can still get your recruiting done if you're playing a 2:30 or 6 or 7 o'clock game,” Cooks said. “You can fly a guy up here and still have time Saturday or you can leave out Thursday after practice and get somewhere on Friday.
“It's not helpful, especially when you've got a kid coming from Florida or California or New York. That makes it tough.”
That is the case this weekend with OU bringing in multiple kids from California and Buchanan being from Georgia.
Asked Bob Stoops this question earlier this week, but he wasn’t biting. Instead, he chose to see the positive scenario of such an early kick.
“Last week it didn't (affect anything),” Stoops said. “They were all here, enjoyed the game and all went to my house for a recruiting dinner afterward. You can't come to my house and have a recruiting dinner at 2 in the morning when you play a night game. So hopefully they liked being over at my house. It seemed to be positive.”
The Sooners had a big birthday celebration dinner for Tyrie Cleveland two weeks ago. Not much OU can do about this kickoff now that it’s here, but of course, it will be interesting to see what the future slate is.
OU is not home again until Texas Tech weekend in three weeks. We’ll have a pretty good idea of just how much that game is going to mean, which could no doubt impact the scheduled kickoff time.
OU sitting pretty with Kelly
Regardless whether OU finds a fifth linebacker, it sure feels like the fourth one is in the bag with Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West five-star prospect Caleb Kelly.
Talking to multiple sources close to Kelly and close to Michigan, and it doesn’t sound like anything that happened on his recent official visit to Ann Arbor should give OU fans a cause for concern going forward.
All signs continue to point toward OU and one thing that also seems to be just about confirmed is he will not visit Texas, who was originally in his list of schools to get an official visit.
Not sure if that means Kelly just won’t take a fifth visit or if he’ll replace the Longhorns. With Michigan out of the way, the one to circle now is Notre Dame as the Irish have done a great job of recruiting Kelly in the last year.
Kelly is still set to make his third OU trip and official visit to Norman for TCU weekend. Again, there will be no commitment as Kelly has said he’ll be a signing day guy. But he’ll be a signing day guy OU fans will be happy to wait for.