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.
We have arrived. No more talking about the BBQ event at OU on Friday. It is finally here. This is yet another showcase of Oklahoma changing its tactics in recruiting.
For years, fans have wondered why the Sooners haven’t done anything in recruiting toward the latter half of the summer. Schools nationwide do these special invite-only events and net big gains because of them.
OU is on that bus now with the first-ever invite-only BBQ event Friday evening. What should you be watching? Offers? Commits? Surprises? OK, let’s get to it.
It’s a SoonerSquad17 reunion
The joke was The Opening was a SoonerSquad17 reunion with a then-eight commits for the Sooners at the all-star showdown earlier this month.
This actually is a reunion with 15 of the 16 commitments confirming they are going to be in Norman. The lone commit not making the trip is junior college ATH Marcelias Sutton, who confirmed to Sooners Illustrated earlier this week he will be making it to Norman for his official visit but that’s probably it.
The good vibes should flow strongly and freely with 15 commits in town, including all 12 currently ranked in the Scout 300. Should be an atmosphere of “jump on now before it’s too late,” which shouldn’t hurt matters.
The one easy name to be on the watch for is De Soto (Texas) High offensive guard Xavier Newman. Although he has been committed to the Longhorns for a while, the last month seems to have been in name only.
He was pretty pumped about the OU offer late last month and once Creed Humphrey picked Texas A&M, the door opened in a major way for Newman.
Following a change in ranking, Newman is the No. 6-ranked center in the country, and it would surprise nobody to see him flip to OU this weekend.
Conversely, more people would be shocked if Newman isn’t a part of SoonerSquad17 when everything is all said and done this weekend.
Oh, there are plenty. Not with 2017, but there are no doubt some 2018 names to be keeping tabs on regarding offers.
A couple of in-state that jump off the page are Midwest City DE/OLB Jalen Redmond and Tulsa Union safety Patrick Fields.
Redmond has an offer from Memphis despite not having started a varsity game. Redmond is an athletic freak who showed those talents during the camp season in late spring.
He also has the backing of Midwest City recruiting coordinator Jason Sexton. Again, you can’t stress enough the relationship Sexton has with Mike Stoops and Cale Gundy. When Sexton vouches for somebody (Will Sunderland, Evan Fields), strong chance he’s going to make it.
Redmond was unable to camp at OU in June because of basketball, but everything is in place for him at the BBQ so the coaches can at least see him in person.
Fields is one of several safeties to keep an eye on in the state for 2018. He did camp at OU last month, and he did fare very, very well.
His profile is on the rise, highlighted by an offer from TCU last weekend. Fields has been pretty clear about this process. He doesn’t want to be dragged along for the ride by OU. It’s too early to say it’s Friday or bust, but Fields seems to have a clear idea of how he wants things to shake out.
Staying in the secondary with Rockwall (Texas) Heath defensive back Tanner McCalister. Scout loves his game, giving him a ranking of No. 12 cornerback in the entire nation.
His offer sheet doesn’t suggest it so the Sooners could absolutely come in and become the school to beat with an offer Friday. Maybe not a commitment, but at least Kerry Cooks once again planting those seeds for the future.
Who’s the top 2018 QB?
This didn’t even seem like a question following the offer to Moore (Okla.) Southmoore quarterback Casey Thompson back in May.
It was, like, duh, it’s Thompson. Not so sure anymore. The one word Thompson has used to describe his relationship with offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley has been honest so maybe Thompson knew Riley wasn’t done looking.
Riley actually offered Newbury Park (Calif.) QB Cameron Rising a month before Thompson, and Rising and his family were in Norman last week.
Rising seems to understand quarterback recruiting as well as anybody in realizing you have to act now and act earlier at quarterback than at any other position in recruiting.
Coming off a great trip to Norman, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to say the Sooners are in the lead for Rising, who is actually ranked a little higher than Thompson although both are currently in the Scout 100.
So Thompson, who hasn’t been shy of visiting campuses across the country, is headed back to Norman on Friday. Will that honesty show up once again? And what type of questions will Thompson ask and Riley ask Thompson? The two have never been afraid to speak their true feelings.
OU will unlikely get commitments from either of these guys at the event itself, but this could prove to be the start of the push for OU to land Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Elkins linebacker Kenneth Murray and/or Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab offensive tackle Adrian Ealy.
Murray is someone we’re going to know much sooner than later. He has already decided he’s making his choice Aug. 10, and it would appear that Norman is going to be the final stop for Murray before he makes his call.
Texas and Texas A&M are 100 percent still in the mix for Murray and now is OU’s chance to make its pitch and see where things go. OU doesn’t have a commitment from an outside linebacker yet so that’s one spot where you know moves are going to be made here pretty quickly.
Ealy, ranked No. 255 in the Scout 300, seems to be leaning more and more toward OU with each passing day. Ealy is expected to bring his family, which would obviously be a great sign. There is some belief that if the vibe is that strong, Ealy could make the call.
Ealy stated Thursday he will announce a top five Aug. 7 (his birthday), but we all know how quickly plans can change in recruiting.
Again, it’s about first impressions. Murray said he grew up with OU as a childhood favorite so maybe seeing the campus is enough. Ealy seems like the clear-cut No. 1 priority for OU at offensive tackle so maybe that makes the most sense.
No doubt these are two to circle this weekend.
This will also be the first trip to OU for H-Back commitment Jeremiah Hall. He has been waiting on this one for a while so we’ll see if OU/Norman are every bit as good as Hall is hoping.
No Hines… but that’s OK
The one name a lot of people assumed would be in Norman (again) is Plano (Texas) East linebacker Anthony Hines.
Never a stranger to OU, Hines is actually bypassing this one. Now hear me out. That’s not bad because Hines, instead, will visit Norman with his mother and father on Monday.
Now why is this big news? Because everybody seems to understand his father plays a big role in Hines’ decision. Nobody disputes that. But the wild card has been the mother. And multiple sources have said the schools who really know Hines know the mother must be involved.
So this will be a chance in a laid-back, one-on-one setting for the family to ask Bob Stoops, Mike Stoops, Tim Kish anything and everything they can possibly think of regarding their son.
There was some scuttlebutt about Hines making his choice before the season, but his father told Sooners Illustrated on Thursday it’s all up in the air.
The one thing that is clear is Hines is a mid-year enrollee for one thing. And another? Texas sources feel like Hines is slipping away from the 40 Acres and leaning more and more toward the crimson and cream.
OU has worked really hard to try to earn a foothold in the Peach State. No easy task, but perhaps the Sooners are cracking through just a tad.
OU has the commitment of Scout 300 running back Trey Sermon from Georgia and a bunch are expected in Norman this weekend.
Sooners Illustrated admits it has been murky about who is all confirmed. 2019 WR offer Dominick Blaylock (son of Mookie) seems to be one you can circle, but other names keep changing.
In the end, expect around 5-7 recruits from Georgia to be on campus with the bulk of them being underclassmen for the OU coaches to start building that relationship with right now.
It wouldn’t be a big-time recruiting event without a surprise or two, right? Well, as of now, tough to confirm any of those surprises but there are two major names if you want to play the speculation game.
Galena Park (Texas) North Shore defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson is the first. OK, you have to play an “if” game to see where this is going.
If OU gets CeeDee Lamb, then it will get Chaisson. If OU gets Lamb and Chaisson, then that’s the only hope (to go along with Calvin Thibodeaux) of standing a chance with Marvin Wilson.
The first part happened Monday with Lamb re-committing to the Sooners. Now Chaisson is not expected to be in Norman. He made the trip last month, and there hasn’t been one hint of him returning this weekend.
Except for a little birdie on Twitter. A couple of weeks ago Chaisson tweeted about the July 29 date. Nothing to really read into it unless, of course, you’re an OU fan.
OU fans have known July 29 is the BBQ date for quite some time, dating back to Jeremiah Hall’s commitment in June. So you start putting the pieces together of how much Chaisson, Lamb and Wilson talk over social media as a good thing, right?
Chaisson had so many OU fans asking/celebrating about the tweet that he had to clarify he wasn’t committing on that day. But he has also deleted all mentions of that conversation so he either didn’t realize how many OU fans were pumped, or it really was much ado about nothing.
The Sooners are the clear leader for Chaisson so if he is anywhere near Norman on Friday or Saturday, well, you’ve been warned.
The other one is another familiar face in Lancaster (Texas) wide receiver Omar Manning. With Lamb back in the fold, the BallOutBoyz are back once again, but it doesn’t mean the search is over.
The Sooners have been high on Manning for a long time and the interest is certainly mutual. There’s no doubt about that. The #WeWantOmar hashtag has been seen quite a few times from OU’s SoonerSquad17 commits.
TCU is definitely in the mix, but at The Opening, Manning was flanked by OU commitments and spent the majority of time with them as Robert Barnes continues to be the ringleader for all things in the Dallas Metroplex.
Now you add in the fact 2018 Lancaster defensive back Jordon Austin has already pledged to the Sooners, and that’s another thing to consider.
If transportation is an issue, you would think Austin and Manning could simply ride together with no issues, right?
Again, nothing has indicated Manning will be in Norman. But when you’re basically three hours away, who knows how it will all shake out?