OU center Jonathan Alvarez is an example of a satellite camp success story

OU used satellite camps to its advantage often with Jonathan Alvarez being the most glaring example.

It has been a few days now since the NCAA’s ruling that has eliminated satellite camps for the foreseeable future.

The whole satellite camp idea came to national prominence basically because of the way Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh used it to go into non-regional places like Texas and Florida to increase the Michigan brand in other parts of the country.

The Big 12 did vote against satellite camps, but perhaps that’s because four of the member schools are in the state of Texas.

Oklahoma has always made a strong use of the camp circuit, and athletic director Joe Castiglione confirmed this weekend the university voted in favor of the camps.

OU has never gone crazy with the camps, staying in Texas. Usually the Sooners would hit the Dallas area and Houston, for sure, and San Antonio on an occasion.

“I think we’ve had good use of the ones we’ve had and taken advantage of it,” head coach Bob Stoops said. “I don’t know that it will affect us that much overall.”

But there will be an impact. It might change OU’s summer schedule as the Sooners already had scheduled their June camps. Now being unable to go into recruiting hotbeds like Dallas and Houston, Stoops might have to certainly consider adding another event in June or July.

Most of the time, yes, it’s true that OU didn’t hit home runs at the camps. What it did was allow the Sooners to have that one-on-one coaching with recruits.

It didn’t always pan out. John Bonney (2014) and Jason Hall (2014) went to Texas. Justin Dunning (2015) went to Texas A&M.

But it just takes one, and junior center Jonathan Alvarez was that one.

“In my mind, even if you found one guy, it was worth it,” Stoops said. “You might have 200 there and one guy is the one you offer. If he plays for you and does well, I think it’s a big get.”

Alvarez is that one guy, at least for now. An unheralded two-star recruit coming out of Mesquite (Texas) Horn, watching Alvarez work in the summer was one thing that gave Stoops and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh the confidence to make the offer down the road.

Alvarez, now set to be the starting center for the Sooners, certainly hopes the NCAA will reconsider its stance in the future.

Satellite camps are a huge thing for kids like me that were underrated coming out of big recruiting states like Texas,” Alvarez said. “Not very many people knew me, and satellite camps are what helped me. My parents took me to about 10 camps every summer with different schools just trying to get my name out there. I wish that they wouldn’t do this.

Alvarez said he hopes it changes not just because of what it did for him but because of what it could do for his younger brother, James.

James Alvarez is a 2018 offensive lineman at Mesquite Horn and camps will no doubt play a big role in his recruitment.

When you look at SoonerSquad17, two of OU’s commits were offered at the satellite camp in the Dallas area last year.

Mesquite Horn quarterback Chris Robison and Cedar Hill (Texas) High wide receiver Charleston Rambo were both first recognized by the Sooners last June.

Yes, most likely OU would have realized who those guys are anyway, but that day in June gave the coaches the opportunity to get to know them on a one-on-one basis and decide right then and there they wanted them.

When you look at the 2017 class, five-star prospect like Houston Bellaire Episcopal defensive lineman Marvin Wilson and Plano East linebacker Anthony Hines are notable satellite camp kids for OU last summer.

It’s not always possible to make it from Dallas or Houston to Norman. Family conflicts, transportation, financial situations, it’s no guarantee. Starting this summer, though, it’s going to be the only way for OU to evaluate recruits in the region in person.


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