Josh Proctor (© Greg Powers)

Mini-Sooner Intel: OU news and nuggets

Intel returns with a behind the scenes look at OU's 2018 class and in-state recruiting.

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.

Can’t be down in the dumps. Can’t be woe is me. All you can do is pick up the pieces and move on when you don’t catch recruiting breaks.

The Sooners are attempting to do just that. It looked like April would be a great month for OU, but it went the opposite direction.

Three targets who visited for the spring game ended up committing elsewhere and the quarterback commit has flipped his allegiances in the Red River Rivalry.

Everybody has sources. Team sources. High school sources. But sometimes nobody knows the pulse of what’s going on than the kids themselves. They know what’s up.

When asking about that for OU’s 2018 class, it’s all about Tulsa (Okla.) Union’s Patrick Fields. A high three-star commit, Fields is the social media face of #SavageTeam2K18 and was able to give some insight as to what has gone down.

Bixby OL Bryce Bray (committed to Oklahoma State)

Recruiting writers were surprised by this one, but Fields wasn’t. Fields said he talked to Bray at a track meet during the spring and could get a feel that Bray wasn’t about the Sooners. He was going to be a Cowboy. Bray grew up an OU fan, but it was OSU who offered first. The Cowboys also have signee Brendon Evers, a former teammate of Bray’s at Bixby.

Owasso S Josh Proctor (committed to Ohio State)

This one hurt. Two weeks later, and you can still feel the sting in Fields’ voice when bringing up this recruitment. Proctor was at OU’s spring game, and Fields said Proctor was all-OU and was talking about committing and just waiting for the right time. It came as a huge shock to Fields the following Saturday when Proctor committed to the Buckeyes. Fields said there is still time to put in that work and try to convince him otherwise.

OKC Putnam City DE Ron Tatum (committed to Texas)

Right there with Proctor. Fields said Tatum had been as adamant about committing to OU than anybody when at the spring game. Fields said he could start to see the tide turning Monday and then heading into Tuesday when Tatum stopped responding in the group messages. Fields never heard from Tatum on Wednesday but assumed Tatum was headed to the Longhorns. Like Proctor, Fields said it’s up to OU and guys like himself to show Tatum why Norman is the right spot.

Newbury Park (Calif.) High QB Cameron Rising (flipped to Texas)

Fields said the in-state guys were always a little skeptical about Rising just because he was from California and didn’t have the local ties. Fields said Rising acted like he was all-in with OU when at the spring game. But Fields could tell something was up when Rising stopped answering in the group messages as well.

The interesting part about the Rising/Casey Thompson dilemma seems to be a lot of people coming out of the woodwork saying this was just a miscalculation by offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.

Rising jumped first so he got the nod back in August, but multiple in-state recruits and coaching sources believe 100 percent if Riley would have waited it out, Thompson would be committed to OU and the Sooners would be in the process of sweeping the in-state offers.

The prevailing thought in speaking with multiple in-state recruits and coaches is that Thompson commands the respect of the state and everybody would have come along with him. Now besides the whole hindsight is 20/20 argument, the one thing nobody could predict is if/when Thompson would have committed to OU.

Waiting can be a very dangerous game in recruiting, especially at quarterback. It’s an interesting thing to consider. Riley gave them the choice, let them know the score, and Rising jumped. Can second-guess it until you’re blue in the face, but it was a fair proposition.

Thompson had every right to wait. Riley had every right to not wait. But now? Well, it’s Riley having to pick up the pieces.

Thompson, Rising and Tatum are all currently riding with the Longhorns. Fields is a good person to talk with concerning this because Texas was a legit choice and the Longhorns were in his final three.

Fields isn’t all aboard the train with Tom Herman yet and said his image of Texas wasn’t as positive as the ones being portrayed now by recruits.

“When I visited, it felt like the Texas priorities were the Texas guys,” Fields said. “When Ron visited, he was by himself. I think it gave him a greater image of Texas.”

You can spend all day trying to decipher what has led to Texas’ momentum within the state. Complacency by OU? Herman’s infectious energy? Any combination of those or other things could point toward it.

But it’s a put a dent on the in-state crop. Fields said once upon a time there was a group message of Fields, Proctor, Tatum, Jordan Kelley and Jalen Redmond. The trend was all of them were going to be Sooners. Heck, they were all together at OU’s spring game three weeks ago, giving off that vibe.

Now? Proctor’s a Buckeye. Tatum’s a Longhorn. Redmond is undecided. Fields and Kelley are the in-state Sooners to go with Moore Southmoore five-star offensive tackle Brey Walker.

 “Me and Jordan, personally, we take a lot of pride in going to OU,” Fields said. “This is our home state, and want to bring a national championship to OU. We’ve been through it all. The good times, the bad times, we’re living our dreams out together.”

Redmond is someone OU is still hoping for. A Scout 300 prospect in his own right, Redmond has been busy visiting TCU, Nebraska and Kansas State in the last month. He said he plans on narrowing things down soon.

Redmond was at Tatum’s announcement, decked out in OU gear. Really, whenever you see Redmond, you see OU, according to Fields.

“I know his mom loves OU,” Fields said. “We just have to keep trying.”

Fields has embraced being the face of #ST2K18, and obviously the coaches have as well. Fields said assistant coach like Calvin Thibodeaux and Lincoln Riley have been among the OU staff members to ask Fields to reach out to certain recruits.

Fields won’t have to do it alone for much longer, it seems. Fields said Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy running back T.J. Pledger is starting to get a lot more involved, especially after last week.

“He’s pretty cool,” Fields said. “He’s saying there’s nothing to worry about. To not even trip and just sit back and relax.

“He’s an IMG kid so he has the respect there and has been talking to kids there. But he’s from Cali so he has a lot of respect with kids out there, too.”

That first sign came earlier this week with Pledger tweeting Thompson about staying home and staying true to your city.

It’s an overstatement to say this class is at a crossroads. It’s clearly not going to be as smooth as #SoonerSquad17, but the wakeup call has been heeded. #SavageTeam2K18 won’t fall apart, said Fields, but it is going to get stronger.

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