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.
Parker taking aim with Cali targets
No matter how you slice it, the biggest recruiting news of the week is still the commitment of Pittsburg (Calif.) High four-star cornerback Jordan Parker.
Seems like ages ago since he made the call Saturday night, but it puts OU on the board as it pertains to the Scout 300 for 2016.
Parker is OU’s fourth four-star commit of its 11-member class, but strangely enough, he is the first to crack the top 300.
Heading into his visit, there was a feel that something like this could happen. Despite Parker being pretty adamant about Nov. 1 being his commitment date, you could get the sense that if things went really well, he’d leave a Sooner.
OU couldn’t have asked for a better set of circumstances on the field, and it definitely carried over into the rest of the visit when Parker committed while having dinner at Bob Stoops’ house.
“It was just being around all the players and coaches,” Parker said. “The atmosphere was crazy, and it felt like it was the right place. I was talking to Coach Stoops and decided. Everybody was real excited the rest of the trip.
Of course the 11 a.m. CST kick wasn’t without its issues. Parker boarded his first flight at 12:55 a.m. PST and was delayed on his second flight so he didn’t get to Norman until around 9 a.m. CST.
It was a long weekend, but it turned out to be worth it for Parker and for the Sooners. Spending the weekend in Norman, Parker got a pretty good idea of what to expect and gave some insight as to why OU is the choice for him.
“The coaches are bringing out the best in each player,” Parker said. “All the coaches – from the strength coach to the head coach – everybody wants the best.”
Parker was hosted by redshirt freshman running back Joe Mixon. The two got to know each other through the years via the camp circuit. This is the first time Mixon has hosted a recruit, and it’s clear what happened last year has no bearing on Mixon’s feelings about the program.
“Joe told me this is the place to go if you want to be the best,” Parker said. “Nobody is going to play favorites just because of what you did in high school. You’re going to have to earn every single thing here.”
Parker visited by himself so there was a question about whether or not he would wait so he could discuss things with his family. Turned out his family was as surprised as everybody else as Parker let them know after his announcement.
OU obviously has attacked Cali hard ever since the 2010 class, and Parker said seeing the success of the Cali kids did play a role. He knows he’ll get a fair shot, and it’s up to him to make the most of it going forward.
Parker hasn’t been 100 percent this season, battling a nagging shoulder injury. He said it won’t be a problem in the long term, just frustrating right now.
Some of that frustration was taken away by the commitment.
“A lot of stress is off my shoulders right now,” Parker said. “Now I can go finish my senior season and not worry about anything.”
His focus is now on bringing top Cali targets to Norman with him. Parker wasn’t shy in saying he has his list. He won’t stand back. He wants five-star linebackers Mique Juarez and Caleb Kelly to join him as well as four-star safety Brandon Burton. Burton was also on his official visit last weekend.
Parker said he has no other visits planned. He’s a Sooner.
Williams waits for medical clearance
The dream senior season for Mustang (Okla.) High tight end Blake Williams continues. Finally healthy after battling an autoimmune disease, Williams is making the most of his final year.
And made the most out of his trip to OU last weekend. OU tight ends coach Cale Gundy was in attendance last week for Williams and saw him snagged a 38-yard touchdown reception in a blowout victory. Williams watched Gundy on Saturday.
“It was honestly the best atmosphere I’ve been around,” Williams said. “The pregame was awesome, and you could hear West Virginia talking. What really got to me was the flyover after the National Anthem. I got the chills.”
OU head coach Bob Stoops came over to Williams and introduced himself and called Blake by his name. Williams said he felt like the big man on campus at that moment. The bulk of his time was spent with Gundy and getting an idea of where he stands right now.
Williams said Gundy said he likes Williams’ ability, both as a receiver and as a blocker. The qualifier will continue to be his medical standing. OU won’t take it lightly. Just because Williams is cleared now, OU is going to perform exhaustive tests going forward to make sure he would be fit to be a Sooner.
OU has lost players at tight end before because of injuries so the Sooners will take their time, and that’s fine with Williams.
“It’s looking pretty good (in terms of getting an offer) as long as all the medical stuff turns out to be OK,” Williams said.
Interest continues to increase for Williams, who has also visited Oklahoma State. He would like to visit Arkansas and hopes he can find it in the budget for a trip to Indiana. TCU, Houston and Texas Tech are also showing more interest.
Williams has four touchdowns through five games and has become that weapon he thought he would once he was healthy. Still, that emotion of that first touchdown you would think would be there really wasn’t.
“It was weird,” Williams said. “With my emotions, there wasn’t a lot for that one. I just have to do my job is how I see it. I’ve gotten a lot of my confidence back, and I knew I could do this when I was healthy. It’s a great feeling.”
Dobbins returns to Norman
There was a lot of excitement surrounding the 2016 class last weekend, but OU also had one crucial 2017 target in attendance in La Grange (Texas) High athlete J.K. Dobbins.
Ranked as a four-star athlete in the Scout 100, Dobbins sure feels like he’s going to be an OU-Texas battle until the very end. Getting him back to campus was key.
“That was amazing,” Dobbins said. “It was a great atmosphere. The team had a great win, and you can tell they’re playing really well right now.”
Sometimes on unofficial visits it’s hard to get one-on-one time with the coaches but that wasn’t the case for Dobbins. He said he talked to Stoops, Lincoln Riley and Jay Boulware often before and after the game.
Dobbins did pick this game for a reason. He knew West Virginia would be a good opponent, and he wanted to see how the Sooners would do against a team like that. He obviously liked what he saw.
Dobbins was offered back in the late winter/early spring, and he seems ideal for what OU wants to do at running back going forward in a Lincoln Riley-led offense. Known for his explosiveness, Dobbins said the key for him this season has been getting tough.
“I think I run a lot more physical now and I’m a lot more patient,” Dobbins said. “I’m not surprised so far with how things are going. That’s what I expect from myself.”
Dobbins has been racking up big game after big game, and he’s no doubt a major target for the Sooners and the Horns. He said he grew up a huge Texas fan and a lot of people already expected him to be committed to the Horns.
But Dobbins said he hasn’t put much thought into recruiting whatsoever. His trip to Norman was put together at the last minute, and he said that’s the way it will be done for the rest of the season.
He hopes to make other visits this season, but he has no idea where or when. What’s clear is the impression Boulware has been making.
“He’s just so genuine and just a great guy,” Dobbins said. “I could definitely see myself playing for someone like Coach Boulware.”
OU back in New Orleans
The Sooners had some official visitors fall off because of the early kick, but it did lead toward OU getting some unexpected visitors with New Orleans McDonogh 35 defensive linemen duo Sci Martin and Stephon Taylor.
Martin, ranked as a three-star defensive end, made it clear the Sooners see him as an outside linebacker at the next level.
“I like OU a whole lot,” said Martin earlier this week. “They’re definitely in my top 10 right now, and when I cut it down again, they’ll be there again.”
One thing Martin said that is definitely true is the need for depth at outside linebacker for the Sooners, especially with Devante Bond and Eric Striker both graduating.
Martin said he didn’t know what to expect from his trip to OU, but it was definitely better than what he envisioned.
“The chemistry is something that stands out,” Martin said. “The chemistry going on with the team and how everybody relates with one another and communicates.”
Martin said he was impressed with the defense and spent a lot of the day watching Striker and Bond. By watching them, he said he could definitely see himself fitting in with this OU defense.
It feels like a three-school race with TCU, LSU and OU. The Sooners were a distant third entering the weekend but have definitely closed the gap.
“It was a great environment,” Martin said. “Great fan base, great tradition. I was not expecting their fan base to be that great. The visit changed my mind in a big way, like them a lot more leaving than I did coming in.”
Taylor, a four-star defensive tackle, echoed a lot of those same sentiments. The biggest thing for him has been the developing relationship between himself and OU defensive line coach Diron Reynolds.
Headington Hall has been around for a couple of years now, but it’s still an eye-catcher for first time visitors. Taylor said the dorm rooms were one of the biggest highlights of the trip.
Taylor said he has no timetable for when he will decide. But like Martin, once he cuts down his list even more, OU will make the cut.
The intriguing to watch with Taylor is where he stands with other SEC schools. Most had him pegged for Alabama, but it’s possible Taylor has waited too long to make that happen. OU didn’t come in with much of a shot entering last weekend, but the Sooners are sitting pretty right now.
Buchanan, Moore update
One official visitor could not track down was Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge cornerback Baylen Buchanan. Usually incredibly easy to get in touch with, Buchanan hasn’t opened up yet vocally about his trip to Norman.
Text messages indicate he had a great time and talking to sources, it feels like a countdown toward when Buchanan flips from Louisville and commits to the Sooners.
But we’re almost a week removed from the visit and as time progresses, you start to wonder why things aren’t picking up at this point.
It’s possible Buchanan is having second thoughts. His father played for Louisville, he would be a big-time legacy commitment. It’s just unclear as to where his head is at right now. OU gave him a lot to think about.
And despite Parker’s commitment, it does feel like OU would accept Buchanan should he decide to make that call.
Another notable unofficial visitor was OKC John Marshall offensive tackle Tramonda Moore. It was his first trip to OU this season, and the Sooners did everything right.
Everything is trending toward Oklahoma State for Moore so it was crucial for OU to make that type of impression with Moore.
Still feels like we’re a ways away from his decision, but we know what’s next. Moore is going to take an official visit to Missouri this weekend. The Tigers are an interesting one to watch in this race.
Almost every school has him pegged as an offensive tackle, but Missouri actually sees him more at defensive line, which might be why the Tigers are getting the visit.
It still feels like a clear Bedlam showdown with no clear-cut favorite at this juncture.