December 7 marks the first major weekend of visits for the Oklahoma Sooners. For the past two weeks the Sooners coaches have been on the road selling the Oklahoma program to some of the top prospects in the country. The coaches have been working to regain the momentum lost in that shocking loss to Oklahoma State. It's well known that recruiting is a ‘What can you do for me now' type of business. Recruiting after an upset loss against an unranked team that cost you a shot at a national title is in no way in any shape-or-form a positive situation.
However, Oklahoma is still 10 and-2 and just one year removed from a national title. The Sooners are once again a magical name in college football and that doesn't evaporate with one loss. OU is still playing on January 1st and that means something to college recruits.
Oklahoma goes into this weekend knowing they have lost the race for defensive end Bryan Pickryl of Jenks, Oklahoma, the top player in Oklahoma. To make matters worse, the Sooners lost him to arch-rival Texas. It's ironic isn't it that a year ago the Sooners went to Texas and stole the top player in the Lone Star State in Tommie Harris of Killeen Ellison, Texas. Harris proved to be as good as advertised starting in every game this year and earning a reputation as one of the top 100 players in the country as a true freshman. Pickryl is heading for shoulder surgery and odds are he won't be a factor at Texas for two years. So, who got the better end of the deal?
If the Sooners are going to continue to be a factor for the national title they have to sign more players in the mold of Harris. Currently, the Sooners have committed a group of athletes thus far that most feel compile a top ten recruiting class. However, the Sooners still have several great players on the board that can turn this class into a top five group. OU is involved with several players who have the same pedigree as Harris and now all they have to do is sign them.
This weekend the Sooners bring in several of their top prospects. I believe defensive end Larry Dibbles (6'2, 275, 4.6) Lancaster, Texas is Oklahoma's top recruiting prospect. He is an incredible talent that defies the laws of physics. Dibbles carries his weight well and has been timed at 4.58 in the forty-yard dash. Throw in a 360 bench and you have this year's Tommie Harris.
"I know Tommie Harris and I have to admit he is my favorite player in college football," said Dibbles. "Tommie is a humble guy, but realizes he has been blessed with great talent and he doesn't waste it in on the field. He dominates and you can't block him with one man and most of the time you can't block him with two. I think I am going to be a similar type player."
I believe Dibbles recruitment is going to come down to another Oklahoma-Texas battle. Notre Dame is still in the picture, but their unsettled coaching situation is putting the Fighting Irish behind in this race. Dibbles visits Oklahoma this weekend and Texas the next. Odds are Dibbles will know where he is going to go to school following that visit to Texas.
Offensive lineman Justin Blalock (6'4, 325, 5.0) of Plano, Texas is another that is torn between Oklahoma and Texas. Regarded by many as the top offensive line prospect in Texas, Blalock knows what is at stake as his visits get very serious.
"I have been waiting to take my visits before I starting making my decision," said Blalock. "I am really looking hard at Texas and Oklahoma and they have been my top two schools. I have already been to Michigan and now I will look at both Oklahoma and Texas on successive weekends. If I still don't know where I want to go then I will visit Florida and Nebraska in January. I have been impressed with how Oklahoma played this year and I know they need offensive linemen. I have lived in Texas all my life and that is something that I can't ignore. So, the next couple of weeks should go a long way in helping me make my decision."
Oklahoma also hopes that tight end Curtus Justice (6'7, 210, 4.5) of Perry, Oklahoma is taking a second look at the Sooner program. Miami has been the leader for Justice for the longest time, however it appears the Sooners are closing the gap.
"Oklahoma and Miami are in a deadheat right now," said Justice, who is still rehabbing from surgery to repair a broken leg and torn ligaments in an ankle. "I know that Oklahoma is going to use their tight end more in a traditional way next year and that appeals to me. Both Oklahoma and Miami use their tight end a lot, which is also something that impresses me. I am also looking at Michigan, but I would have to admit that my decision is probably going to come down to OU and Miami."
The Sooners feel they had a great visit with Justice in his home this weekend and now feel they have a great chance to sign the coveted tight end.
LeQualan McDonald (6'6, 325, 5.1) of Waco, Texas is an offensive lineman that is high on the Sooners recruiting board. The Sooners have good luck with offensive linemen out of Waco (Vince Carter) and love McDonald's size and athletic ability. McDonald is coming off a hometown visit to Baylor and the Bears may be the Sooners competition.
"I had a great time and a great visit at Baylor and they are certainly in the hunt," said McDonald. "It's OU and Baylor right now and they are my top two schools. I am going to Oklahoma State next week and then LSU (1-11). However, right now I really like Baylor and Oklahoma and we will see how it goes."
You have to like the Sooners chances against that trio.
Linebacker Kai Parham (6'4, 230, 4.5) Virginia Beach Princess, Virginia is giving the Sooners an opportunity. That is really how you have to look at it. Parham still admits the Sooners are not in his top three, but he liked his unofficial visit over the Thanksgiving Holiday and he has developed an excellent relationship with Sooner assistant coach Jackie Shipp.
OU will work to crack Parham's top three of Virginia, Tennessee and Florida.
OU hopes to sign at least one and possibly two great safety prospects this year and the first to come in is Brodney Pool (6'3, 195, 4.5) of Houston Madison, Texas. Poole is coming off a visit to LSU, which he liked, but he is really looking forward to his visit to OU.
"OU, LSU and Kansas State are my top three schools right now with OU slightly out in front," said Poole. "OU won the national title last year and they gave it another run this season. They have a great coaching staff and a great corp of players coming back."
The Sooners love Poole's ability and he says he is leaning towards visiting Colorado over Texas on January 11th.
Joining Poole on his visit is teammate Calvin Thibodeaux (6'1, 240, 4.6), a defensive end that has been offered by LSU and Auburn. The Sooners offered Thibodeaux this week.
The Sooners also trip one of their top two-cornerback prospects in Jason Carter (6'0, 170, 4.4) of Jenks, Oklahoma. Carter still says he is a lean to OU, but also says he could wind up going anywhere. Carter has been to OSU and has an official visit set with Tennessee, South Carolina and he is still talking to Michigan.
The Sooners also bring in coveted Texas top 100 linebacker Marvin Byrdsong (6'3, 235, 4.6) of Longview, Texas. Oklahoma (12-7) and Arkansas (1-4) are Byrdsong's top two schools and he travels to Norman.
"I have a cousin (Clint Ingram) who plays at OU, but that is not the only reason why I like them," said Byrdsong. "I have a great relationship with Bobby Jack Wright and Oklahoma is still going to be good enough to win the national title over the next four years."
Texas, Texas A&M, LSU and Florida State have also offered and are asking for visits.
Last, but not least the Sooners are bringing in their top running back prospect Selvyn Young (6'0, 195, 4.5) of Houston Jersey Village, Texas. Young rushed for 1,146 yards and 16 touchdowns this past year and has already be a slight lean towards OU.
"I have been watching OU pretty close," said young. "I am trying to keep an open mind, but I have to admit that OU, UCLA and Arkansas are a little out in front of everybody else and OU is a little big out in front of them. I am also talking to LSU, Texas A&M and TCU. I am looking forward to this weekend to see what OU is like up close."
Also visiting the Sooners are quarterback Paul Thompson (6'4, 195, 4.4) of Leander, Texas, offensive lineman Steve Taylor (6'7, 335, 5.2) of Purcell, Oklahoma and offensive lineman Jeff Lebby (6'5, 270, 5.0) of Andrews, Texas who have all committed to the Sooners. Thompson said earlier in the week that he was considering visiting OSU, but OU has since talked to him and that is now doubtful.
Wide receiver Travis Wilson (6'3, 210, 4.5) of Creekview, Texas, cornerback Michael Hawkins and offensive lineman Kareem Brown of Miami Norland, Florida all had to cancel this weekend, but are looking to reschedule. Wilson and Hawkins are solidly committed to the Sooners, while Brown is taking his test for the first time this weekend.
RECRUITING: Sooners have big weekend planned
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