On the way? Three relatively little known recruits took center stage this week:
Suddenly everyone's talking about Alex Daniels, (6-3 230 4.4), pounds who stars on both sides of the ball for Columbus (Ohio) Marion-Franklin High School. Impressive numbers, yet the one that smacks you in the kisser is a vertical jump of almost 40" - that's 40" for a guy weighing in at 230 pounds!
Daniels is a two-way standout who played both running back and safety last season when he rushed for 800 yards and 8 touchdowns and had 72 tackles. "My sophomore year I had more tackles than my junior year because everybody was double teaming me my last year," said Daniels. "I had something like 70 tackles my sophomore year, but then everybody started looking out for me and then the double teams came."
Naturally everyone, (including Alex), thought Daniels would end up at Ohio State, whose campus is only a mile or two from his home. But that was before Bo Pelini visited Alex and now Daniels is seriously thinking Boomer Sooner ."Oklahoma opened my eyes when it comes to colleges. Coach Pelini was great when he came to see me, and when I talked to Coach Stoops they talked and showed me how they could take advantage of my great blitzing ability. Their defense is great and they seemed so fired up about it. I'm in an interesting situation because I want to leave home, (but it would be tough to leave my mom). I am really thinking hard about OU, and OU is really in the mix. "
Daniels, who is transferring to Columbus, Brookhaven this year, likes running back and the strong safety position - but his build and continued growth most likely will dictate a move to OLB at the college level. Ironically, his size and ability to play many positions has actually been detrimental to his ‘ranking' this year. Most recruiting analysts don't know whether to put him at DE, SS, OLB, Tailback or Fullback. But everyone agrees Daniels will play somewhere.
We get mixed signals from Alex, a sign that right now he's torn. In some ways he'd like to end the process now, commit to the 'safe bet' - Ohio State Scarlet.
Yet he remains fascinated with the possibilities of a life outside of his current situation, which has not always been a good one, and literally could wake up and just decide to go OU 'Crimson' instead.
Naturally another safety is not what OU needs if they hope to sign Reggie Smith, their top DB prospect this year. Although smaller than Daniels, coaches think Smith is best suited to play safety though they agree that this amazing athlete can also play a corner, and he remains the difference maker defensive back they covet.
Also getting attention. . .
Nic Harris, (6'3 205 4.5), Alexandria, Louisiana is another ‘low star' player getting rave reviews. "He's exceptional. On film one of the best I've seen this year," one recruiter said.
But the question again is where? Harris is another tall prospect who, with an additional 20 – 30 pounds, could play any number of roles. "He's going all the time, that's the most impressive thing; he's dynamic on the field because he just wants it 100% of the time. There's always a place for a guy that plays that way." Apparently others agree as Harris has been offered by 22 schools at this point, (no solid leader).
Where does Harris think he'll play? "The way I look it if my offensive team won't throw me the ball, then I will get the other team to throw me the ball when I am on defense," said Harris chuckling. "I'm going to get somebody to throw me the ball. I will do whatever I can do to help the team."
Harris can bench 275 pounds, squats 405 and he has posted a 36-inch vertical jump. Harris went to the NIKE camp at LSU and responds to the question about his supposed allegiance to the Tigers. "My options are open," Harris said. "I'm not going to be biased and say that I am just going to stay in-state just to stay in-state. I'm going to go where it's the best for me. I realize there is life after football and I have to consider that as well. So a lot of thought has to go into this decision."
Good timing . . .
Earlier this week Oklahoma State came within a few hours of getting La Cygne, Kansas defensive end Brody Eldridge , (6'5 230 4.7), to commit. But about the time he was getting ready to call Stillwater, the word came that 'another offer' might be on the way.
(Remind us to tell you what Eldridge said when he heard that the Oklahoma Sooners would be offering).
Eldridge, a little know defensive end from Prairie View High School, now feels a little like an overnight rock star. (Before you ask, no - he's not been to Boulder). "At first, when I didn't get any calls or attention I was getting worried," said Eldridge. "Now I am getting quite a bit of attention and I am enjoying it. It hasn't gotten old yet." He has now been offered by TCU, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, KU and Arizona, and more offers are surely on the way, one rumored to be coming from Manhattan, Kansas.
Although Eldridge, a four-year starter, will once again play inside linebacker, he realizes that a move to college defensive end is his most likely destination. "That's fine with me," said Eldridge. "All I know is that I want to play defense. I figured with my size that I would probably play defensive end in college. I have good closing speed and I think that will help me at defensive end in college."
"Right now I like both of the Oklahoma schools and Arizona," said Eldridge. "I can't complain about KU either, they have treated me real well. They just aren't as good as the Oklahoma schools right now. I'm really considering Oklahoma and Oklahoma State a lot.
I've been to OSU, but I haven't been to Oklahoma. I hope to make it down there next week. I went to camp at OSU and liked it a lot, and now I want to see what OU is like."
Here's hoping he can tell the difference, (and the fact that he's already qualified is one hint that he'll be able to).
How Many Stars?
How do these guys suddenly appear on the radar screen? (We know you're going to ask), so we naturally thought we'd ask someone who could tell us – and it started off with a simple question: ‘Coach, some of these guys we're in on – are you guys sure you want to pass up some ‘top rated' kid for one of these guys on the second level?' The response was quick; "Sometimes I laugh when I see these rankings. Who's doing this anyway? Some of these so called ‘big time' players look like Tarzan but play more like Jane!"
Then, as we discussed the process, he only grew more animated and said; "I totally refuse to get involved with something so meaningless – I swear, have you seen some of these so called experts?" he asked laughingly. (He's got a point).
OK, then how do we know who's who? " I'll tell you how. It's easy. If we offer ‘em - they're damn good. Better than the ones we don't offer – because we only want the best. If you don't believe me, believe everyone else, because as soon as we offer a kid – the ‘whole circus comes to town.' People know the kind of quality this staff recruits and it's easier on 'em if they just follow us around."
That should answer everyone's "How's this kid ranked?" questions.
In the bag. . .
Malcolm Kelly, who by the way is a ‘five star' prospect, really loves being a Sooner and continues to prove it daily.
Last week Kelly went to Austin spend some time with his brother, (who plays for UT), and spent several days there, shopping and spending time on Sixth Street.
However, Kelley is not stupid and realized that somebody would likely spot him and interpret that to mean that he was either visiting UT or thinking of switching his verbal. So, he called the OU coaches to alert them before they saw an internet rumor of his visit and let them know why he was heading that way.
OU coaches told Kelley that phone call meant so much to them, because it shows how much loyalty he already has for the Sooners and how much love he has for the program. It also shows that he understands how the recruiting game is played and that he is mature beyond his years.
It's funny how we always think that all people share similar opinions of prospects. Mention the stellar wide receivers already on board and opinions do differ! One highly placed source says WR Manuel Johnson, not Malcolm Kelly, is the best WR in this part of the country. Why?
"He's got sure hands. He can get open and catch the ball." Sounds easy, but apparently Johnson has made it an art form. Last year Johnson was the top producer among junior wide outs in Texas with 85 receptions, nearly 1,400 yards and 15 TD's.
It seems that, depending on who you talk to, Eric Huggins, Kelly and Johnson all posses the highest level of skills and winning intangibles necessary in a wide receiver, and each is a slight favorite of someone in authority.
There's apparently some friendly ‘smack' among the coaching staff and it's good to see that these guys really get attached early to the players they evaluate and recruit.
The bottom line is that all three are great kids that will get along well and form the best group of wide receivers in the country. Good news for Bomar, Grady & Thompson.
Now let's go get #1 ranked Derrick Williams and get this party started early!
Rising Stars. . .
Speaking of the dreaded rankings - sorry coach, but they are looking like a pretty accurate gauge on at least two Sooner recruits signed in February. After a grueling summer of workouts, players are still talking about Adrian Peterson and Rhett Bomar.
When asked to describe AD, almost everyone attributes his great attitude and work ethic, but the thing that amazes his teammates is his effortless speed. One starting OU DB; "He's outrun some really fast people on this team. I mean we'll be running sprints and giving it all we've got and he's out in front by ten yards - but he's not sprinting, he's just striding!
If I'm lining up against him, I'm going to hit him as soon as I can, hold on and let him drag me. Because if you let him outside of you an inch, it's all over - you'll never catch him."
Bomar is apparently a born leader, and has earned the respect of the upperclassmen who have worked out with him this summer. The players love Paul Thompson as a friend, team mate and leader, and most would fight to the death for him. So any newcomer, especially at quarterback, had better prove himself to this group of veteran players. Bomar did, both on and off the field. Rhett has impressed many of the players with his off the field kindness and willing personality. He's smart capable and talented, yet cockiness is not a problem. We can talk about Jerry Bomar the coach, but obviously he and Patty have done a pretty good job off the field as well. ‘Yes sir' and ‘No sir' kids like Rhett just don't fall off the tree.
And there is still a stunned reaction to the game Rhett had in Houston last week where he led his North All Star team to a 51 -25 win over the South All Stars and earned MVP honors as well . . . Bomar is determined to show that the game and his MVP award wasn't a fluke; "I know I'll get very limited snaps in two-a-days - maybe just a few each day. So I have to make sure that every single move I make is perfect. My snap, my turn, my handoff or throw has to be impressive."
OK Rhett, please give Brent Rawls a call and pass along a few tips for us. . . (318 742 HELP).
What about Tommy Grady? Talk to any member of the receiving corps and you'll always get rave reviews of Tommy's NFL arm and ability to throw it when and where needed, (‘ On target and on time Tommy' ). Want another opinion? "Competition at quarterback is going to be great for a while because Tommy Grady has an NFL arm" - Jason White.
Work Out with Davin. . .
Catching up with Davin Joseph, (who looks like a million bucks at 6-4, 295), the junior starting right guard is always good for a few quotes. "We've had a great summer as a team, " Davin said Tuesday. "Each one of us (OL) has posted record numbers individually, and we're probably a little hungrier than last year. The up coming season definitely has our attention."
Who in particular has impressed you?
"No question, Wes Sims. I can't brag enough about him. He's a totally different player. I can't wait to see the year he has this season."
What do you think about being ranked second?
"We're a little pissed off about it to tell you the truth. We return the Heisman trophy winner and 17 starters, yet people think USC is better? Sure they'll be undefeated, but against who? I mean if they make it to the national championship game, OK, but if a team like LSU or Georgia goes through their schedule undefeated, that's an accomplishment, now that'll get my attention."
"I'm not sayin' USC's not talented - they are. But they're no more talented than we are. They have great athletes. But so do we, and more of them. I mean, Tony Cade not starting? And no one's even seen Rhett Bomar or Adrian Peterson yet!"
What happened late last year, was it our sudden reluctance to run the ball?
"Yeah man, last year we got away from that, the pass was just too easy. We (the offensive line), lost our identity and got away from that. Against LSU we were just kicking them in the forth quarter, and we needed to just stay with it. Our success was starting to energize the line. The run game is physical, and run blocking is just fun. It's really what's gets us going in the pass game. When we're bleeding, beat up, keyed up - we're feeding off the energy – we almost develop a ‘pack mentality. We're not going to let Jason get sacked. "
"Personally, I'm ready to ‘kick some ass' – I'm not a bit happy with last year. You ever go swimming and remember just treading water? It was like that for me. I played OK, but I could never get into the groove. I will definitely kick some butt this year."
Please Davin, Trent Smith graduated, no bulletin board material, OK?
Next! Schmidt's take . . .
Bob Stoops says it every year and it is never going to change. According to Coach Stoops, one of the main reasons why the Sooners have returned to dominance in college football is because of the strength and conditioning program of Jerry Schmidt.
Coach Schmidt, how did your guys do this summer?
"Very well - we felt good about it. I don't think I have had a team since I have been in college football that has passed the conditioning test like these guys did. To be able to run the test (workout), recover and be mature enough to handle the demands that I have put on them during our conditioning period was very impressive."
"I think with the maturity of the team helps us as strength coaches, because guys like Dan Cody, Lance Mitchell and Mark Clayton have been through it and they know exactly what we want. Their commitment rubs off on the rest of the team."
Did the freshmen show up and do as well as you'd hoped for?
"Yes, we had everybody here, including a good number of freshmen. Rhett Bomar has excellent work habits coming in, we just have to teach him how to handle the ‘volume' at a very high level and Adrian Peterson was outstanding as well. I can't say enough about all the freshmen who came in at a good level. We can build on that."
What is your assessment of the overall athletic ability of your freshman class?
"It was really good. I heard so much about guys like Adrian Peterson, Marcus Walker and Rhett Bomar coming in, but I was impressed by their maturity level, and coming in and fitting in with our older players both mentally and physically. Marcus Walker is 5'10, 185 pounds and he runs 4.4 the first day he is on campus!"
"Normally those guys have been traveling and they in an unfamiliar area so it is tough to test well, but he was great. I was so impressed with how those guys tested. It was just their mature attitude of wanting to fit in and normally a freshman will be behind physically, but these guys fit in with our older upperclassman guys. I was really impressed with their mental toughness and their overall attitude all summer."
Another Heisman run?
We then turned our attention to Jason White: Jason, says that at some point in his life he is going to come back and take all of you out to dinner or deep sea fishing or something. He has certainly come a long way from his two knee surgeries hasn't he?
"We took the approach that Jason is one of those guys that you have to slow down a little bit, because he is going to work extra hard with extra stuff. We were just smart about it this summer as far as contact and a lot of abrasive stuff on his legs. "
"We trained really hard and he didn't do anything different than the rest of the team. We were smart as to when we did jumping we were cognizant no the pounding that his legs were taking and we help him back a little bit. We used pullies to take a little pressure off and we used the sand a great deal. I told him at the beginning of the summer that I needed a little feedback and early in the summer we were all smart and allowed him to train at a high level."
"At the end of the summer his legs were well trained, yet we didn't we didn't do things that were going to beat him up, which would have given him some swelling or some problems. I think mentally he feels good. His body fat is lower than it has ever been and he is weighing 225. I don't think people realize how big Jason White is. Jason is a guy that has just worked all his life laying bricks with his dad and Jason is a big naturally strong guy that has really worked himself into being a great athlete and an excellent leader."
Jason says he's running sprints?
"Yeah, this summer I threw him in with DB's and wide receivers which made him work a little bit harder during his sprints and run a little bit faster. That's something that he could always do, but we were all a little bit tentative early and we needed him to get over that and realize that his knees are better than they have ever been. That allowed him to realize that he was ready to go and he was going to get through the summer as a better athlete."
"Jason has set himself up for a great year."
And a great year for Sooner fans as well. . .
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