Sooner Intel: OU news and nuggets

Intel returns with a look at the visitors for the final weekend before signing day for OU.

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The Sooner Intel, created by Bob Przybylo in 2011, 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.

If you follow Oklahoma recruiting, then you know the phrase about it being a marathon instead of a sprint. Usually applicable for the Sooners recruiting classes because OU would tend to start slow and close with a bang.

When you look at 2017 and the highly touted SoonerSquad17, things get interesting. What if you start fast? How do you finish? That’s what we’re about to find out with five days left to signing day, and the Sooners gearing up for the final visit weekend before the big day.

To say OU has been on the sidelines for the first two visit weekends of the January contact period would be putting it kindly. Outside of defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux, there hasn’t been a reason at all for any of the other coaches to even come back to Norman.

Two weekends. Two visitors. That’s it. OU seems like it’s about to strike gold with one of those visitors as Ardmore (Okla.) High three-star defensive lineman Tyreece Lott is set to announce sometime Friday between OU and TCU.

After being committed to Frogs for more than a month, all signs point toward the Sooners, who could use some good news after Thursday.

OU received a huge blow with the departure of Nashville (Tenn.) East Literature’s Jacob Phillips, flipping to LSU.

OU went down to 24 commits but might have opened a spot for someone to come here in this final weekend.

A weekend where OU is done sitting on the sidelines. A confirmed five visitors will head to Norman this weekend. Two commits. Two uncommitted prospects and one Scout 300 commit to another Big 12 school.

The Sooners also had a mid-week visit by Arkansas commit Troy James, who was offered by OU in the fall but never did make it to Norman before his initial decision date.

James is a defensive lineman, and once again the overall theme of this weekend is going to be about Thibodeaux trying to find some difference makers.

Temple (Texas) High DE Taquon Graham

Graham has been committed to Texas since Labor Day weekend, excited by the Longhorns victory against Notre Dame that now seems like ages ago. Graham visited Texas earlier this month and was at TCU last weekend. Now OU gets the last stand. Does that matter? OU is only getting this visit because of Graham’s great relationship with Thibodeaux. Seems to be a recurring theme for the cycle in that Thibodeaux has built the bond, but will he close? Graham is another one of those question marks that can’t be answered until after this visit is in the books.

Katy (Texas) High DL Corey Bethley

When you’re talking about OU moving to a four-man front instead of a three-man, Bethley is one of those guys that comes to mind. He appears to be a guy who would thrive in a four-man front as he gets ready to make his first trip to Norman. It was a bit of a surprise when OU made Bethley’s final three earlier this month, and as we head down the stretch, it actually feels like a final two between OU and TCU. Bethley has been incredibly quiet throughout the recruiting cycle that there’s no way to accurately know where he’s headed right now.

Weatherford (Texas) High DT Zack McKinney

The OU commit is finally coming for his official visit. McKinney spurned an offer by Texas last month to pick the Sooners and became one of OU fans’ biggest favorites right off the bat by talking why OU trumps Texas in just about every way. McKinney was huge for Thibodeaux to get on the board at defensive tackle and has allowed Thibodeaux the opportunity to pursue more targets, knowing he’s got at least one good one coming to Norman.

Fort Smith (Ark.) Northside CB Tre Norwood

Coming off a visit to Notre Dame last weekend, Norwood knew South Bend wasn’t for him. He wasted no time in committing to the Sooners on Monday evening and will now make his first visit to Norman. Norwood is the exact type of cornerback defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks seems to love in that he’s smaller but shiftier. Norwood said he had no idea OU would ever be in the picture, but he knows he has found his future home.

Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek ATH Ryan Jones

Surprise, surprise. If you want to unearth a four-star gem at this time of year, Jones could be that guys. His attitude issues a thing of the past, Jones has apparently fallen into OU’s lap at just the right time. Jones is someone who can start at receiver or at safety, but right now it’s Cooks doing the heavy lifting to give the perception defense will be the call. Before the attitude issues, Jones was a Scout 300 prospect and arguably the No. 1 prospect in terms of talent in North Carolina. The Tar Heel State has been kind to OU lately and could be again with Jones.

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