Recruiting takes center stage
As OU makes final tune-ups up for Bowling Green, (more on the Falcons tomorrow), we'll take a moment to re-cap OU' recruiting efforts as of August 28. The Sooners now have 12 commits and will sign 28, or – perhaps as many as 29 this year, as they have several ‘hold over' scholarships from last year that an be applied to JC kids at the end of this semester.
Let's examine who's in line for the remaining 16 scholarships. Make no mistake, Oklahoma is in on more top ranked players nationally than at anytime since the Switzer era. As we have stated, these national rankings are all based on junior performance and are getting ready to be shuffled like a deck of cards as the high schools begin play.
If any of you caught Barry Switzer on WWLS Monday, one of the calls was the question; "When do coaches start looking at HS players?" Switzer replied; "In their sophomore years they start getting an idea of who's who, in the junior year they compile a list, but then there's a quantum jump in development between the junior and senior year of high school."
Exactly what Stoops & Co have been trying to say for several years. Oklahoma only makes early offers to prospects that they KNOW are going to make it. Many more are on the fence. We have used Ada's Craig Roark as a well known example. Craig is solid for NU, (and that's fine), but OU chose to delay his offer until they could see him play his senior year.
One coach told us last winter that after the first eight or nine guys at each position nationally, they all tend to start looking the same. "We often disagree as a staff on a junior, but we seldom disagree on seniors." Switzer confirmed that even the great Earl Campbell did not start as a running back at Tyler until his junior year, before that as a linebacker, and people were still evaluating him when his senior year unfolded!
Recent OU commit Brody Eldridge is an example of a prospect that did not have the luxury of playing in a high profile program, was not ‘ranked' as a top recruit, yet was sensational when the coaches found out about him. We are confident that the OU coaches can evaluate talent, and they say Eldridge is as good as any DE in the country, and expect his rankings to soar as more people see him play. Regardless, there will be 50 Brody Eldridge's' emerge this September and October and suddenly everyone will be after them, including the Sooners.
Who will these 50 emerging stars be? That's the big question and all we can do at this point is realize that some will emerge and we'll all be asking our selves "WHO?" when a surprise commitment is announced by a major power.
OU's Chances on Twenty Five Top National Recruits
Although we can not speculate on which ‘unknowns' will surface over the next eight weeks, we do know who the top players in the country are and who the Sooners have on their board. What are the Sooners chances on these top players? We asked James Hale and credible sources about the Sooners chances on their top prospects, based on information known at this moment - we'll go out on a limb and tell you what we think, (player; position / national rank; vitals; OU's current chances to sign, (‘X' %); other schools).
1. Derrick Williams (WR 1); 6-0/193/4.40: Oklahoma 60%. Sooners may have a slight lead at the first turn. Others: Florida, Maryland, Florida State, Penn State, Texas, USC, Virginia.
2. DajLeon Farr (TE 1); 6-5/240/4.62: Oklahoma 40%. Farr needs to see Sooner TE used more this year. Others: LSU, Miami (Fl), Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, USC, Oklahoma State.
3. Callahan Bright (DT 1); 6-2/315/4.90: Oklahoma 20%. OU loves Bright, but he's expected to stay East of the Mississippi. Others: Miami (Fl), Ohio State, USC, Florida State, LSU, Nebraska, Texas A&M.
4. Averell Spicer (DE 1); 6-2/265/4.64: Oklahoma 10%. It'll be tough to turn down local favorite USC. Others: Michigan, Oregon State, LSU, Nebraska.
5. Luthur Brown (LB 1); 6-2/227/4.70; Oklahoma 25%. At the top of OU's LB board with Reynolds and Gino Hayes. Look for USC to again be the biggest obstacle. Others: California, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, Washington, Boston College, California, Kansas State, LSU, Nebraska, Tennessee.
6. Reginald Youngblood (OL 1); 6-5/285/5.36: Oklahoma 70%. OU gives Youngblood the best opportunity to play early. Others: LSU, Texas, Miami (Fl), Florida State, Tennessee, Nebraska.
7. DeMarcus Granger (DT 2); 6-2.5/325/5.20: Oklahoma 50%. Granger sits at the very top of OU's board. Others: Texas, LSU, Miami (Fl), Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Oregon.
8. Reggie Smith (S 2); 6-0/192/4.50: Oklahoma 75%. Smith is still OU's favorite DB. Kansas State, Nebraska, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC.
9. Eugene Hayes (LB 3); 6-1/218/4.62: Oklahoma 10%: OU loves Gino, but Gino also loves schools closer to home. Others: Florida State, Georgia, LSU, North Carolina State, USC.
10. Patrick Turner (WR 3); 6-5/210/4.65: Oklahoma 5%. Sooners have fallen lately as they like the WR's already signed, as well as Derrick Williams and D.J. Hord. A ‘No' from both would put Turner back on OU's Hot List. Others: Tennessee, Miami (Fl), Texas, USC, Vanderbilt.
11. Malcolm Kelly (WR 4); 6-3.5/190/4.55: Oklahoma 100%. OU is thrilled about Kelly and his WR mates already committed. Now if they could just get Williams . . .
12. Michael Oher (OL 4): 6-5/330/5.20: Oklahoma 50%. OU has played this one right – so far. Others: Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Florida State, LSU, North Carolina State, Clemson, Oklahoma State.
13. Vince Oghobaase (DT 4); 6-6/300/5.20: Oklahoma 25%. Others: LSU, Miami (Fl), Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma State.
14. Ryan Reynolds (LB 4); 6-2/220/4.65: Oklahoma 75%: A must ‘get LB' for OU at the top of the LB board for over a year. Others: LSU, UCLA, Washington, Wisconsin.
15. Ekom Udofia (DT 5); 6-1/290/5.10: Oklahoma 35%. OU strong, but there's plenty of competition. Others: Stanford, USC, LSU, Miami (Fl), Oklahoma State.
16. Rey Maualuga (LB 5); 6-2/235/4.50: Oklahoma 20%. West coast ties may be too strong, but Rey was born in Oklahoma. Others: USC, LSU, Michigan, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington State, Nebraska, Notre Dame.
17. Bryan Evans (CB 5); 5-11/177/4.45: Oklahoma 5%. It will be hard to overcome two Florida schools. Others: Florida, Miami (Fl), Georgia, LSU, Michigan.
18. Jonathan Hannah (TE 5); 6-5/255/4.85: Oklahoma 20%. Sooners are an even ‘one in five' here, but all others are closer. Others: Georgia, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Penn State, Virginia Tech.
19. Keenan Clayton (S 6); 6-2/210/4.52; Oklahoma 100%. Sooners have loved Clayton for a year.
20. Kade Weston (DT 7); 6-5/300/5.00; Oklahoma 5%. Weston will have to bypass other great programs to get to Norman. Others: Ohio State, Penn State, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Florida State, Maryland.
21. James McKinney (DT 8) ; 6-3/275/4.90; Oklahoma 35%; Sooners are strong here. Others: Michigan, Clemson, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami (Fl), Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee.
22. Curtis Lofton (LB 8) ; 6-2/225/4.65; Oklahoma 100%. Sooners are happy, Cowboys are sad. Will they make a final push?
23. Michael Ray Garvin (CB 8) ; 5-8/178/4.40; Oklahoma 25%. New Jersey's Garvin this year, Myron Rolle next? Others: Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, Rutgers, Colorado.
24. Eric Huggins (WR 9); 6-3/190/4.50; Oklahoma 100%.
25. Matt Hardrick (OL 9); 6-5/337/5.50; Oklahoma 40%. Florida State, Miami (Fl), Oklahoma, Florida, Nebraska, West Virginia.
Other Top Recruits by Position
Regardless of their national ranking, (or lack thereof), the following prospects are all high on OU's board. Sooner coaches believe that most of these players are the ‘late bloomers' we spoke about earlier and have confidence that most will end up becoming highly recruited.
1. Brody Eldridge 6-5/230/4.70; Oklahoma 100%. Coaches think Eldridge can be a Cody clone.
2. Will Powers 6-4/230/4.53 Oklahoma: 15%. Plenty of West Coast competition for Powers. Others: California, Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Nebraska, Notre Dame.
3. Auston English 6-2.5/220/4.65; Oklahoma 100%. Fast & strong, great nose for the ball.
4. Cordero Moore 6-2/260/4.95: Oklahoma: 30%. Others: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia Tech, LSU, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech.
1. Roy Miller 6-2/295/4.97: Oklahoma 100%. Sooners think Miller could be the steal of the century. This fall should tell.
2. McKinner Dixon (DT 11) 6-3/245/4.85: Oklahoma 50%. OU is strong at the moment. Dixon is a little light at the moment, but a top 10 – 11 talent at any position is too good to ignore. Others: LSU, Texas, Florida, Kansas State, Texas Tech.
3. Billy Blackard 6-3/292/4.90 Oklahoma: 100%. A big kid with heart and good feet, could play OG as well.
4. Jeff Owens 6-2/275/4.90: Oklahoma 25%. Owens looks far better on film than paper. He could move up the rankings. Others: Florida State, Miami (Fl), Georgia, North Carolina State.
5. Terrel Nemons 6-3/323/5.35: Oklahoma 40%. The Sooners are in pretty good shape here. Others: Florida, Kansas, LSU, Oklahoma State, Texas.
6. Kyle Moore 6-6/245/4.70: Oklahoma 10%: Others: Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan.
1. Brian Cushing (LB 10) 6-3/227/4.45: Oklahoma 10%. Another East Coast guy that may go west, Sooners would take him in a New York minute. Others: Miami (Fl), USC, Boston College, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia.
2. Nic Harris 6-3/210/4.60; Some say Harris is the best LB in the country, OU coaches think his stock will soar this fall. If Harris was a stock, we'd all buy it now. Others: LSU, Miami (Fl), Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas.
3. Antonio Clay (LB 12); 6-1/207/4.60; Oklahoma 25%. OU has always trailed Miami here, Clay is not yet 100% sure of anything, but had better hurry if he wants a crimson uniform. This LB class could leave the station without him. Others: Miami (Fl), LSU, Georgia, Maryland.
4. Adrian McCovey (LB 18) ; 6-3/218/4.65. Oklahoma 25%. Could be a huge West Coast ‘surprise get' for OU. Others: Arizona, USC. Oregon, Oregon State, Nebraska.
1. Alex Daniels 6-3/225/4.50; Oklahoma 50%. Mom says ‘OU,' friends and heart say ‘Ohio State.' Could happen either way at any time. Daniels is most likely an OLB in college.
2. Alton Dixon (CB 12); 6-0/190/4.48: Oklahoma 65%. Last great corner that OU would take tomorrow. Others: Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech.
1. Marques Slocum (OL 13); 6-6/335/5.00 Oklahoma 5%. If the Sooners get a visit they have a chance, but like other OL just as well. Others: LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Virginia.
2. Cory Zirbel (OL 15); 6-7/292/5.30. Oklahoma 25%; OU solid but behind leader Michigan Others: Miami (Fl), Michigan, Kentucky, Louisville, Vanderbilt.
3. Ben Barresi 6-5.5/282/5.00. Oklahoma 100%. Showed how he stacks up nationally at West Coast camp where he won OL MVP against the nation's best.
4. Chris Barney (OL 25); 6-5/315/5.45 Oklahoma 10%. Greta potential but unlikely to leave the area. Others: Miami (Fl), North Carolina State, Ohio State, USC.
5. Hivera Green 6-5/268/4.8 Oklahoma 25%. Sooners have been trying to figure a way to get Green in the picture. An OL offer may do it. Others: Michigan, Florida, Virginia Tech.
6. Curtis Crouch 6-6/315/5.2 Oklahoma 20%. Recent OU offer has Sooners in the picture. Others: North Carolina State, Virginia Tech and Tennessee.
1. Manuel Johnson 6-0/170/4.60, Oklahoma 100%. Coaches say, ‘watch this guy,' so far he's the most underrated prospect in the class. Led Texas juniors last year in receiving yards.
2. D.J. Hord (WR 10) 6-1/190/4.40. Oklahoma 20%. The newest Sooner offer. Could make this WR class one of the all time best anywhere. Others: Florida, LSU, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Kansas State.
1. Matt Clapp (FB), 6-2/235/4.72, Oklahoma 100%. Clapp was very high on OU's board from day one. Solid commitment both ways.
2. Terrius Purvey 5-10/177/4.50, Oklahoma 20%. OU has always been a big believer in Purvey. Others: Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M.
3. Richie Rich (RB 20) 5-10/181/4.43, Oklahoma 20%. One of two RB's recruited nationally by Oklahoma. Others: Florida State, Miami (Fl), North Carolina State, UCLA, Auburn.
1. Josh Portis (QB 12) 6-3.5/190/4.53, Oklahoma 5%. Best available QB that Sooners may be close to offering. Others: Washington, Arizona State, Kentucky, LSU, Marshall, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah.
The coaches are still smiling from Sunday's commitment of the state's number two ranked prospect, linebacker Curtis Lofton (6-2 225 4.6), of Kingfisher. Curtis called OU coaches early Sunday evening with the news. Until that moment they had no clue as to which way he was leaning, although he did give James a pretty big hint when he said, "I'm going to do what's best for me." (Cowboys hate hearing that line).
OU Insider asked Curtis what the biggest factor was in his decision for choosing Oklahoma. "Me and Coach Venables have a great bond. Plus, some of the players just signed by OU I already have a great relationship with. Marcus Walker and Adrian Peterson are guys that I am already good friends with."
When did you first know that OU was your school? "Earlier in the week I went to OSU for a couple of scrimmages and they told me to go to bed and think about OSU, and when I woke up see how I feel about OSU. Well, when I woke up I didn't feel so good about OSU. And then I went to OU, I felt great when I woke up the next day. I knew then I was going to OU."
How did the relationship with coach Venables get started for a life long OSU fan? "I met Coach Venables for the first time at the Jim Thorpe banquet. He went back to his office and watched film on me, and I guess he really liked how I played. He started to write me and when he called he invited me down to Norman. I started going down there to hang out and watch film and things, and I started to think that OU was the place for me."
What makes Lofton special? we asked; "Instinct and his hip movement. It enables him to get there a step faster, forget the forty time. If a guy can move his hips, he can get there faster and be in position to make a play faster than a player that has a better 40. And when he does get there - he absolutely destroys people." Uhh, OK. Anything else? "Teddy Lehman watched film on him and just said, ‘Wow. You can't coach that."
That pretty well sums it up.
Who's the next target at linebacker? Try Ryan Reynolds and whoever gets there next from the above hit list, with the ‘wish list' probably including either Luther Brown or ‘Gino' Hayes. Reynolds will try to visit OU next weekend.
Projected Line Up Changes
As reported, Carl Pendleton has won the # 4 (left) DT spot. Steve Coleman had a good camp, but will remain behind Pendleton for the moment. After a slow start, Remi Ayodele is now accustomed to the defense and ready behind Lynn McGruder on the right side.
Mono knocked Lewis Baker into a red shirt year and moved Rufus Alexander up to #2 behind Gayron Allen at WLB. It's ironic that Alexander had this spot almost secured when he tore an ACL in last year's spring drills. Over the early drills, Alexander has begun playing with the same intensity that got him noticed a year ago and now looks like he may be ready to challenge. Brandon Shelby and Jason Carter are now running ‘1 - 2' at nickel, while Tony Cade has looked great, but will still back Nicholson at SS.
On offense, Will Peoples is back 100% and #1 at wide receiver ahead of JeJuan Rankins. Peoples probably could win a Charles Atlas award for his work over the past six months. It should also show on the field, where Peoples was, as a freshman, the receiving star of this senior class. Other starters at WR are: Mark Bradley, who finally looks to be 100%; Brandon Jones and junior Travis Wilson, who has lost 5 pounds and regained his speed.
It's almost official
Along the offensive line it looks like the experiment of Davin Joseph and Wes Sims switching positions is now a reality, although still unofficial.
Coach Kevin Wilson commented on the move: "I'm not trying to out coach anyone or trying to be fancy. However, it's the same as when we looked at Eric Bassey at nickel back or looked at who is going to be the inside receiver. Now had a chance to look at it with Davin getting some reps and he might be our best offensive tackle."
Were you going to look at Davin at offensive tackle down the road anyway? "Yes, down the road. I was giving him reps to be the back-up or to bail us out if we had a problem in the future. With Jammal gone (family leave), we decided to just go right now. He had to go out there every day and we just wanted to see how it looked. He did well. Now he switches from the right side to the left - and it's a little back wards for him right now, other than that it is good."
Is there a prototype at tackle and guard? "Yeah, I think that is one of the reasons that Wes has been a tackle and Davin a guard. Davin is a little thicker and Wes is a little taller. However, for Davin to not be an overly tall guy, he's got long arms so he plays big. He doesn't play like a short guy playing tackle; his arm span allows him to do a nice job out there. He is very smart, very competitive and maybe that will make even Kelvin (Chaisson) a better player. Davin has been instrumental in helping Jammal last year become a good player. I think this might pick up Kelvin's play and with Wes and Jammal being two fifth year guys that isn't bad."
Junior Chris Chester moves to #2 center allowing junior Chris Bush to get some time at guard, where he'll start next year. Also, sophomore Chris Messner and RS freshman Akim Millington have switched sides, with Messner now backing Joseph at OT on the left and Millington backing Jammal Brown at RT.
The switch to fullback for Russell Dennison has been successful, although Dan Townsend technically still holds the#2 slot. Speaking of Dennison, look for Russell, Mark Bradley and Chijioke Onyenegecha to all star on special teams, (my advice – ‘fair catch').
We are ready to make an early call on Chijioke, the unofficial star of all Weekend Wrap Ups. OU Insider is now calling Chijioke the Sooner's #3 corner and it's likely that he'll back Antonio Perkins.
Apparently, under co-DC Bo Pelini, OU is getting away from the 'short side - wide side' corner designations used last year. We'll all have to study the first game to see what the corners 'read' when they move right or left. Regardless, CO and Jowahn Poteat have emerged as OU's top back-ups at corner.
Coaches apparently have some 'special plans' in store for offenses using Mr. Onyenegecha, but don't look for them to be revealed until the second week in October.
Several players have had excellent drills, on top of those mentioned above: Larry Birdine, DeMario Pleasant, Alonzo Dotson, Lenar Nixon, John Williams and freshman Corey Bennett. And freshman D.J. Wolfe has been very good in camp thus far. Despite the coaches not admitting it, he will red shirt it this year, but it's not because they don't feel he can play – Wolf has shown he can run, catch and block as well as anyone!
"D.J. is a great football player and I'm sure that we are looking to use him this year," said Coach Long. "That's going to be Coach Gundy's call, but he has run the ball very, very well and I think he is ready to play. He's picked up our system very quickly and the big thing for running backs is picking up the pass protections, and he has been outstanding in that area. We never go into a season planning to red shirt anybody. We have a good idea who we want to, but we get everybody ready to play and we just look at the end of the year and if they haven't played then they have red shirted. So, lets just see how the season unfolds. We always have a plan, but as the season gets underway that plans changes, so let's just wait and see what happens."
At TE, the Sooners now have three choices where James ‘Bubba' Moses has secured the starting position. Kevin Sumlin explained the key factor in Moses' start; "Bubba has really done some great things for us in the box with his ability to block. If you can do that then that will open up some things in the passing game. So, we are just looking to help the running game and become a force there and then to actually become a threat in the middle of the field in the passing game. That would take some pressure off the perimeter passing game and do some positive things for us. That's the kind of offense that Chuck wants to be and he wants to play with a tight end and I think we are on our way of doing that."
(Now will someone just get this comment to DajLeon Farr?).
RS freshman TE Joe Jon Finley has been very impressive, showing an amazing ability to hit the open field after a catch. Look for Finley to become a go to guy on short yardage, against a zone defense.
Coach Sumlin commented on his progress; "The key for Joe John is for him to just keep improving his strength and for him to continue to work on his size. He will be fine, but he's never going to be one of those guys who's going to look his weight. He will be 235 this year and people won't believe it. And when he is 250 they won't believe that either. They key for him will be strength kind of like Willie (Roberts)."
PS: Late notes from Friday evening practice:
Coaches have not ruled out playing D.J. Wolf this year. And Adrian Peterson, still wearing a blue jersey, has had some contact, and is expected to go full contact on Tuesday of next week.
Note: At WR OU will play six guys and all will get a significant amount of reps. If OU started three WRs right now they would start Mark Clayton, Brandon Jones and Travis Wilson. Then Will Peoples, JeJuan Rankins and Mark Bradley would back them. If the Sooners started the game in a two WR set then Clayton and Jones would get the first call, but OU will use the three WR set most of the time. Outside of Clayton who starts will depend on performance and who is practicing well.
OUInsider Weekend Wrapup 8/27
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