Weekend Recruiting Preview

Chicago OL Roland Martin headlines six talented prospects heading to Norman this weekend.

The Sooners go into this recruiting weekend in good shape as everybody has the Sooners ranked in the top four in the country. However, while the early results on the class are tremendous, the Sooners remain in the hunt for some of the best talent in the country that could make this class much more special than it already is.

OU will bring in six athletes this weekend and unfortunately it is supposed to rain all weekend. Oh well, OU has had bad weather it seemed on every weekend they have brought in recruits and so far the results have been great.

Four of the recruits the Sooners are bringing in have already committed. Top 100 national linebacker Chris Patterson [6'2 1/2, 220, 4.5] of Chicago Hubbard, Illinois; Top Texas 100 defensive tackle Corey Bennett of [6'3 1/2, 255, 4.7] of San Antonio Roosevelt, Texas; and top Texas place kicker Garrett Hartley [5'9, 176, 4.8] of Southlake Carroll, Texas; and top Oklahoma wide receiver Quentin Chaney [6'6, 203, 4.5] of Tulsa Washington all take their officials visits already locked in the Sooners corner. However, OU will bring in two athletes, who have not committed at this time, but who could really enhance the Sooners 2004 recruiting class.

OU already has three offensive linemen in the class, but still need to add a big time offensive tackle or two too really make the class. In fact, rounding out the class is not as important as getting more talented offensive tackles into the Sooner program immediately. OU will graduate both Wes Sims and Jammal Brown after next year and the next great offensive tackle has not emerged at this time. Thus, finding the next great offensive tackle is a high priority among the Sooner coaching staff.

Roland Martin [6'6, 345, 5.2] of Chicago Harper, Illinois is the fifth-rated offensive tackle in the country. He has the size, range and athletic ability that make the best pro offensive tackles millionaires on the next level.

The Sooners have been on Martin hard since August and they have steadily moved up his recruiting list. Martin, his mom and auntie started the drive to Norman Thursday after school. They plan to make it to Kansas City before stopping for the night and then drive the rest of the way on Friday.

It is the opinion of those in the recruiting world that the fact that the Martin family is driving in for the visit shows they are seriously interested in the Sooners. You don't go through the trouble of driving if you are not seriously trying to find out how tough of a drive it is going to be if he signs at that particular school. Thus, this proves that Martin has a serious interest in the Sooners. And without question, the Sooners are a serious player for his services.

Martin has already been to Michigan State, and after this weekend's visit to OU he will visit Tennessee the following weekend. Many around Martin believe his decision is really down to OU and Tennessee, so the next couple for weekends will go a long way in determining where Martin will go. However, those at Michigan State still feel they are very much in the hunt. I don't agree with them, but sometimes where there is smoke there is fire.

By the way, Martin is flying to Tennessee and he is not sure if his mom is going to make the trip with him.

The Sooners will hold their breath as another great offensive tackle prospect takes his visit to the Sooners' toughest competitor. Herman Johnson [6'6, 395, 5.3] of Denton, Texas, goes to LSU this weekend. For a long while, OU and LSU have been the two major schools in the battle for Johnson. Johnson has already been to Oklahoma and he loved his visit. Since then he has played in the Army All-Star game with OU commitments Rhett Bomar and Adrian Peterson and has developed a friendship with both.

That helps the Sooners because the fact that OU is not too far from home also is as positive. The fact the Sooners need offensive tackles badly means something in their favor. LSU gets bonus points because Johnson has family who live in Louisiana and his mother is considering a move to the Bayou Country to be closer to that family and to find better employment opportunities. However, the move is not set in stone and it is only a possibility at this time.

LSU just received a commitment from two prep offensive tackle prospects ranked in the top 35. Ryan Miller [6'5, 315, 5.1] of Lake Charles Barbe Alfred High, Louisiana is ranked as the eighth best offensive lineman in the country and he has been committed to LSU for some time.

So, LSU is loading up on offensive tackles, while OU is still looking to sign their first prime time offensive tackle prospect. A quicker opportunity could help the Sooners in their recruitment of Johnson. Johnson plans to visit Houston next weekend and he is has already been to OSU, but the Cowboys are not a solid contender.

Johnson visited with OU coaches in his home on Thursday and had a great visit. One key for Oklahoma is that Johnson really likes the guys on the team and the players that are committing in this recruiting class. That will be a key in his recruiting. Also, I know that when Johnson took his unofficial to LSU he didn't like it very much.

What really keeps LSU in this race is the fact his mom has family in Louisiana, but his mom also says she loves her job in Denton, so at this point I think she can go either way.

The second non-committed recruit this weekend is defensive tackle Emmanuel Dunbar [6'5, 265, 4.7] of Deerfield Beach, Florida. Dunbar has already been to South Florida and will visit Virginia Tech and Florida State the next couple of weeks. Dunbar has always liked OU a great deal, but in recent weeks there has been a growing concern whether Dunbar would actually go to OU because of the distance.

Dunbar is good friends with Davin Joseph, who has to deal with the distance away from Florida, and I am sure he can give Dunbar some insight how it can be done. So, the big key for OU this weekend is to convince Dunbar that OU is such a good program that it is worth the traveling and worth living away from home. Right now this is a tough recruiting chore for OU, but they will give it their best shot this weekend.

Two other key recruits take big visits this weekend. Rhyan Anderson [6'6, 270, 4.7] of Oak Creek, Wisconsin visits Miami this weekend. Anderson's decision is down to Miami and OU and this weekend will go a long way in determining where he will sign. This may come down to whether Anderson wants to play for a school in a big city or go to a program in a true college town. He has lived in Norman before and has friends in the area, but he has family in Miami. His mom feels it would be better for him to go to school in Norman, but whether she debates hard on this issue or not.

All-American cornerback Marcus Walker visits LSU this weekend. I don't think the Tigers are a real factor and Walker will commit to either OU or Florida State Tuesday or Wednesday. Walker grew up a Florida State fan and he made some friends on the team. That is making this decision tough for him, but he has had a longtime friend currently starting at center on the team and Waco is much closer to Norman than Florida State.

Without question, Florida State has made this decision tough, but he talks to the OU coaches all the time and I think when it all said and done he will sign with OU.

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