What a wild week!
Lets start off by talking some recruiting. Obviously, with 25 possible scholarships, three commitments would represent over 10 percent of the class committing in a 24-hour period. But what a trio!
We first got word that Malcolm Kelly was ready to verbal on Sunday. But we were sworn to secrecy so that he could have the announcement go according to his plans. Then late Tuesday morning we got word, but only one hitch remained. He still had not contacted Bob Stoops to tell him first. (Obviously, Bob was fighting off 99 stupid questions about Jason White and why OU lost the two final games more on that later).
At 5:40 p.m. Kelly finally reached coach Stoops, who was just about to board a plane for DFW. Obviously, Bob chose to take Malcolms phone call and reportedly was ecstatic over the news. Suddenly, the obnoxious reporters and stupid questions didnt matter anymore.
For anyone still in the dark over who Kelly is: Malcolm Kelly, 6-4, 190, 4.5, Longview, Texas. Malcolm is ranked as the No. 4 wide receiver in the nation by SuperPrep of TheInsiders. Heres what his coach Pat Collins said; "Malcolms the real deal. He's special, big-time. If he continues to improve he's going to be really special, just a tremendous athlete. He's the next Roy Williams. He's a natural."
Sooner fans can be excused if the next Roy Williams, remark didnt exactly make us do cartwheels. Around here, 'hes the next Michael Clayton,' might ignite more excitement. But what Coach Collins means, naturally, is that not since Roy Williams has the Lone Star state produced a wide receiver of this size and caliber.
James asked Malcolm why Oklahoma just minutes after he talked with Stoops.
"The second I left Oklahoma I knew where I wanted to play my college football. It's just a great football program. The style of play fits me perfectly on offense. Plus, the playing time is something I just can't turn down. They graduate five receivers and have some others that may not be back, leaving only five on scholarship when I arrive.
"It's just the perfect situation for me. I talked on the phone today with Eric Huggins , (6-3, 190, 4.5, Conway, SC), and we're going to be real tight. He and I have already become good friends, and we can't wait to win championships at Oklahoma."
A team player here guys. The fact that he called Huggins shows how much this staff thinks of South Carolina commit Eric Huggins. Theyve told Malcolm that this receiver class it shaping up to be USAs best, and that Huggins and Gilmers Manuel Johnson will make great complimentary players.
More on Malcolm. I was browsing through the 'We Are SC' magazine on the plane back from KC last night reading a story on recruiting written by the Trojans version of James Hale. He lists the twenty top USC recruiting targets regardless of state, in his story. Their top receiving target? At No. 6 overall, Mr. Malcolm Kelly from Longview, Texas.
Folks that says it all.
On the Oklahoma board, the Sooners have already knocked off three of their top five wide receiver targets, (Huggins, Kelly, Johnson), and were still in July. Personally, the value of Darrell Wyatt is readily becoming apparent. Some people quietly wondered if the former OSU-Baylor-Wyoming receiver coach would be up to the recruitment of the nations elite. Think theyre still wondering?. Another terrific hire by Bob Stoops.
Of course, the consensus No. 1 recruit in the nation this year is Marylands Derrick Williams (6'0" 193 4.4). Im sticking to my story, (WW #1 that the season Florida has will effect OU's efforts here almost as much as how the Sooner's season unfolds. (i.e. with Williams and Tennesseean Patrick Turner (6'5" 210 4.65). Long shot prediction: Williams to Oklahoma, in a tight neck-and-neck battle with Florida, Turner to Tennessee, as Rocky Top gets in youre head and causes you to do strange things.
The Sooners want to give out four receiver scholarships, but would likely stretch that to five if Williams or Turner would commit, and probably would make room for Howard Morrow (60 187, 4.6 Keller, TX) as well. Again, its a numbers game and to not take Morrow would be almost a crime. But I predict theyll figure a way.
That friends, would be the best all-time receiver class since Sherman burned Atlanta.
The news of the Sooners first OL commit came a few minutes after Kelly committed just as we were trying to post the Kelly story. (Sometimes we have a good reason to not get something up as soon as it happens). We all knew Ben Barresi , 65.5, 282, 5.0 (Edmond North), was close after getting a post-camp offer from OU. But the news of his commitment Tuesday made Coach Stoops very happy twice in a span of ten minutes.
Barresi is a great example of what OU coaches said back in March when discussing recruiting strategy for OL.
Offensive linemen will be the last group we evaluate and offer this year. They will have to be patient because we need the very best we can get, and we dont know at this time who the very best are, outside of a handful of national guys.
Many of the top (OL) players are right in there together. What we need to do is find the guys that best fit our system tall, athletic, able to do more than just take up space. Well do in-person evaluations in April and May and probably get as many into prospect camp as possible. After that, well re-evaluate and then begin to offer the cream of the crop in mid-summer.
Barresi was always thought to be a good prospect, but that was before he attended a west cost camp earlier this summer and walked away with the top OL award. All he did to earn it was dominate some of the best defensive line prospects in the country. Although still not rated nationally, we think Ben has a great chance to be on the next list after that single performance. But he didnt stop there. OU coaches said; prove it to us in our camp, and he certainly did. The rare OL offer followed.
"I am very excited," said Barresi Tuesday evening. "I have always wanted to play for OU for the right reasons. One of the big reasons was because of my father (John) played at OU during the 1973 and 1974 seasons at defensive tackle. He has always told me that OU had a great impact on his life and that the tradition of OU football was something that he loved being a part of, and that I would appreciate it and love it as well.
"My dad always said that OU was a great school and that he still takes great pride in the fact that he played at OU. He said there was nothing like putting on that OU uniform and stepping on Owen Field at Memorial Stadium and playing for the Sooners. He also said that playing against Texas in the Cotton Bowl was a lifetime experience that I would never forget."
"I have been an OU fan since I was four or five years old," Barresi continued. "That had a lot to do with my decision, but I really just realized recently how much I wanted to play at OU. It wasn't until recently that I learned for myself how much of a great school OU was and how good of an offensive line coach Kevin Wilson is. He is regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in country, and I realized recently that he will make me the best offensive lineman I can be. After thinking things over the last few days, I just realized that OU is where I always wanted to play and it was the best situation for me."
The timing of the third commitment surprised me, (but naturally not James). I thought Keenan Clayton (61 198, 4.5 Sulphur Springs, TX), was close to committing, but expected him to take another month.
Apparently a report elsewhere that he was waiting on a Texas offer, pushed him over the edge, right into the Sooners thankful arms.
"I really had my mind made up a long time ago, but tried to hold out because I was hoping to play in the Army All-American game in San Antonio and I thought I had to announce there," said Clayton from his home Wednesday afternoon. "Then I talked to a reporter (on a rival network, not TheInsiders), at the seven-on-seven camp and he said that I said that the only reason I had not committed was because I was waiting on an offer from Texas. That is an absolute lie and that reporter is a liar. That guy never got that from me and he totally made that up. I thought if people were going to make up lies about me then I should go ahead and commit, because I didn't want OU to get the wrong idea."
Clayton first got the attention of OU coaches early this winter. On film, they saw a monster DB who roamed from sideline to sideline with the awesome mentality and play of a Roy Williams (OU version), now the standard by which all DBs are measured).
"I have always loved my visits to OU and I just love their team," said Clayton. "They always have a great team, they are always winning, they have a great coaching staff and OU always plays great defense. OU has a great winning tradition and I am looking forward to keeping it going."
Clayton is ranked as the number seven (7) safety nationally. But OU would beg to differ. On their board, two players dominate the safety position: Keenan Clayton No. 1 at SS and Mr. Reggie Smith (60, 192, 4.5 Edmond, Santa Fe HS), No. 2 at FS. There are no others even close.
OK, how about JC commit Allen Patrick? Patrick is a hybrid Roy type (again references to Roy Williams), and OU would like to do all kinds of things with him over the next two seasons. Short-term, his ability at least takes the pressure off of Clayton to come in and start after only a few weeks on campus and will allow him to redshirt.
Lets do a quick recruiting recap as July winds down. Just to relieve some collective anxiety, well start with the big boys up front.
The Sooners are seriously in on probably a dozen top OLs, and naturally youll get less than 20% in an average year. Best targets with the best chance? Lets start with the nations No. 2 ranked OL, Reginald Youngblood (65.5 285, 5.3 Houston, TX, Washington HS). Anything could happen here, but as of the moment it looks like the Sooners are right in there with LSU and those lovable Longhorns. Outside, but serious contenders also include the Florida trio and Tennessee.
Our next best shot at a top OL could possibly be No. 4 ranked Michael Oher (65, 330, 5.2 Memphis, Briarcrest, TN, Christian HS). Oher presently has Oklahoma on his lists and could move them up with more impressive visits and possibly success in the season. But just looking at his top choices, it looks like Michael is most likely to stay in the SEC or Florida. A better bet would be the No. 9 ranked OL, Matt Hardrick (6 5 337 5.5 Orlando, Edgewater, FL). If OU does indeed land a Florida recruit, it could very well be that Hardrick as the most likely at this point.
Top TE candidates are No. 1 ranked DajLeon Farr (65 240, 4.62 Galena Park, North Shore, TX), who the Sooners hope will study their increased use of the TE this season, No. 4 ranked Jermichael Finley (64 215 4.60, Diboll, TX), and No. 5 ranked Jonathan Hannah (Hope Mills, NC). OU also likes unranked (at this time) Nate Prater (64 250, 4.8 of Omaha, Central, NE). Tight end is one position where we could easily see someone have a great SeptemberOctober and snare a Sooner offer, particularly if those at the very top seem uninterested.
At running back, the Sooners would love to get Terrius Purvey (5 10 177 4.5 Gainesville, TX ), who as we told you in March, had the attention of the OU coaches who rated him the No. 1 RB in Texas regardless. (Purveys stock has been rising since). While tailback is not critical, coaches think the fullback position is, and most covet Arizonas Matt Clapp (6-3, 235 4.6, Paradise Valley, Phoenix) and LAs George Hypolite (6 2 230, 4.7, Loyola, Los Angeles, CA).
Coaches would prefer to wait until the season is under way to see if a QB rises to the top. But theyd take Todd Walker (61 174, 4.3, Pflugervile, TX), the No. 1 QB on the The Insiders rankings, in a split second.
At linebacker, the visit Tuesday of Curtis Lofton (62 225, 4.65, Kingfisher, OK), was a very pleasant surprise and hopefully will keep Curtis away from an early commitment elsewhere. Lofton is currently ranked as the No. 8 LB nationally and No. 2 on the Sooners board, right behind Ryan Reynolds (62 220, 4.65, Las Vegas, Bishop Gorman, NV).
Reynolds fought off crazy rumors himself this week as some had reported a soft commitment to Wisconsin. James received a rather quick reply when Reynolds was asked about the rumor: James Hale: "Ryan, another INTERNET recruiting service is listing you as a soft verbal to Wisconsin. Is that true?" To which Ryan responded, "There is absolutely no truth at all in that. Mr. Hale, I don't know who would say that. I'm not even planning to visit Wisconsin."
Behind those two there are probably a dozen more potential prospects, including: No. 1 ranked Luthur Brown; No. 3 Eugene Hayes; No. 5 Rey Maualuga; No. 7 Todd Cox; No. 10
Brian Cushing; No. 12 Antonio Clay (soft OU verbal); No. 14 Rico McCoy ; and Jenks star Phillip Dillard (62 240, 4.6).
Obviously, Oklahoma would be in great shape with any three from this group, and probably would land the best LB class with three of these as commitments. We told you when everyone was jumping up and down over Antonio Clays commitment to hold off, and now it looks like the Sooners trail Miami as expected, but still could wind up with Clay in the end.
At DT the Sooners are in on the every best. Can they hold one or two of them? Thats a huge question. But the top prospects are: Callahan Bright (62 312, 4.9 Bryn Mawr, Harriton, NJ), ranked No. 1; No. 2 ranked DeMarcus Granger (62.5 320, 5.2 Dallas, Kimball, TX); No. 4 Vince Oghobaase (65.5 300, 5.2 Alief, Hastings, TX); and No. 5 ranked Ekom Udofia (61 290, 5.1 Scottsdale, Chaparral, AZ).
One of these guys would be great news, and two would take care of a lot of worry and likely make DT a pretty solid position in the future.
The Sooners are going to be very picky at DE, and right now most look toward Averell Spicer (62 265 4.65), No. 1 ranked DE from Rancho Cucamonga, CA, and currently unranked Auston English (62.5 220, 4.65 Canadian, TX). Spicer is a longshot, but the Sooners are hanging in there. English has been thinking his offer over and could jump on it before his season starts, knowing the Sooners are only going to offer two to three at most, and he knows the other guys on the board are pretty stout. Others include: No. 3 DE J.B. Paxson; No. 6 Raymond Henderson ; No. 9 Henry Melton ; No. 14 Paul Freeney; and No. 15 Will Powers .
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