It can be tough to admit you need some junior college help because it’s basically admitting that somewhere along the way, you missed.
If you were doing well at all phases of recruiting, a juco player is never needed. But Oklahoma hasn’t always struck it big, especially when it comes to defensive line.
Defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux appears to be in agreement with that and is now attacking the junior college circuit, namely Independence (Kan.) CC defensive tackle Emmitt Gooden, who is 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds.
Gooden, originally from Tennessee, said he is going to make his first trip to Norman this weekend, arriving Saturday and spending the entire day at OU.
He will be in his sophomore season this fall, meaning he will have three years to play two seasons’ worth of eligibility, and though not from the area, seems like the OU offer meant something.
“OU surprised me,” said Gooden about what offer was shocking. “With that fan base and that tradition, that means a lot. And hearing from Gerald McCoy.”
That’s not Gooden misspeaking. Former OU star and current Tampa Bay Bucs star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy tweeted to Gooden a day following his offer. Gooden thought it was a joke at first until he saw it was the real deal. He saw all the Twitter notifications and had no clue until he checked it out.
Gooden isn’t quite sure yet who will see the campus with him, either a teammate or his father, but he’s definitely ready to see what OU has to offer.
“I want to see the facility and get a feel of Norman,” Gooden said.
Thibodeaux hasn’t been in the picture long, but he’s making it up with how frequently he’s there now. It was two weeks ago when Thibodeaux got in touch with Gooden and said he would be visiting the school the following week.
Last Monday, Thibodeaux arrived at Independence and officially made the offer.
“I kind of knew it was coming, but it still meant a lot,” Gooden said. “We talk every day now. Every day. Text. FaceTime. I know they’re lacking defensive tackles, and Coach Thibs said I’m a top guy and one of their big targets.”
Gooden doesn’t have a timetable in his head right now. He’s coming off a trip to Arkansas and will see OU this weekend before closing up shop. He said he wants to make all five of his official visits before making the choice with no plans of making any in the summer.
But there’s a qualifier in there. Gooden said the last time he felt everything fell perfectly into place was when he was a sophomore in high school at junior day for Tennessee. He committed to the Vols. If the OU visit goes well, then what?
“I don’t know,” Gooden said. “I’m looking for fit and family. Last time around I think I got caught up in the hype. This time around I’m going to be picking the right school to me.”