Note: Now that in person evaluations are concluding, we once again begin our Weekend Wrap Up series. The entire staff contributes to these reports that run weekly from June and continue through February.
Again, for newcomers, our mission is not to report on every HS Senior that is interested in Oklahoma. It does our subscribers no good and only wastes their time to cover and report on prospects that OU does not have any interest in signing. Our focus in recruiting has always been - and will remain on prospects that the OU staff is actively pursuing.
(Forty times are not listed unless confirmed in camp or in person, and most of those listed this early are 'self-reported.' Some caution should be observed when quoting them at this time).
Returning from evaluations
Today the OU coaching staff wraps up the most hectic month of the year as they return to Norman after evaluating hundreds of athletes all over the country.
Typically, the Oklahoma staff prefers to wait and evaluate 'in person' before any offer is made. Certainly, some players have been evaluated in camps and have been on the radar screen for a year or more, (Myron Rolle, for example). However, aside from these superstars, many who just had the advantage of the 'stars lining up' for them their sophomore and junior years, most prospects are not a known quantity until in person evaluations are made beginning in Mid April.
Now the task is to narrow the field a bit. Recruiting meetings will dominate the agenda for the next few weeks as coaches decide on who to go after and why. A position ranking chart will invariably emerge over the next month.
There has been much speculation over the nations 'top 100' high school prospects. Some schools are so confident in who those players are that they are already more than halfway finished with their class. Texas, for example, is gouging themselves with a heaping 'all you can eat' portion of 17 commitments. Meanwhile OU remains with one solid commit, (a good one), in Texas DB James Henry, (6-2, 190, 4.5) Schertz, Texas.
Horns getting Fat - Time to Panic?
The OU - Texas disparity in early commitments has caused some Sooner fans to panic. First, a few observations about the Longhorn class, (and by the way, please do not run and post this on their board). Out of the 17 UT commitments, OU offered five. And don't expect all of these commitments to hold. Many schools are still calling a few of them, and 'Mack speak' does tend to wear thin come October.
Regardless of the outcome of that game, what Texas is doing is a huge gamble. They are betting that there will be no late bloomers, no summer camp surprises, (there always are). And by filling their class this early, they are effectively eliminating themselves from most of these prospects.
If the scholarship limits were 35 - 40 instead of 25, the Texas strategy could be understood. But with only 25 (at best), available, this leaves UT with only eight more selections. One OU coach recently said; "Let 'em go ahead and fill up now, the sooner the better. We'll gladly pick from the leftovers. They're overlooking some awfully good kids."
Look at it this way: If the remaining eight UT commitments are all players who will be offered by OU, that's a total of 13. How many years would we be happy to only lose 13, (mostly Texas prospects), to the Longhorns?
But let's forget the paranoia that permeates Mack Brown's reign in Austin for a moment, (and that of Sooner fans not used to the waiting game). Looking at a few other top programs, as of today - many have no commitments, (including USC and Florida State), and most have only a few: Texas A&M (9); Georgia (6); LSU (6); Alabama (3); Florida (2); Miami (2); Nebraska (2); Ohio State (2); Tennessee (2); Michigan (2).
You think Bob Stoops gets a bit tired of hearing about Texas recruiting? As he said a few years ago, (when Mack was still the acknowledged 'King of February),' Stoops bristled when he was asked about UT 'out recruiting' Oklahoma every year. Stoops just starred at the offending reporter for a moment and then said, "Print this: We'll line up our best 22 against their best 22. Our 22 will not only be better, but we'll beat their 22." The bold statement turned out to be true. And what will it be now that OU is getting recruits equal to or better than the Longhorns?
OK, so as of this moment in time, who's at the top of OU's board?
Without question, Myron Rolle remains the top prospect, regardless of position, for 2006. OU Insider first introduced Sooner fans to Myron in August of 2003, as Bob Stoops made his first ever offer to a then New Jersey high school freshman, several months before he entered his sophomore year! Since that time, the talented defensive back has disappointed no one, and should be named the nation's number one recruit when the initial rankings come out next month.
Regardless of where he ranks, he is OU's number one prospect, and a player the OU coaching staff would be crushed to lose. At this time, most believe that the race will narrow down to Michigan and Oklahoma, but there are other schools being seriously considered and anyone of them could make a major jump as this race heads for a late summer finish line.
But everyone knows Myron Rolle. Who else is being targeted to get a crimson Sooner jersey?
First - Up Front, the OL . . .
As always, the OU staff prefers to recruit a full class, but there are always critical positions that must be filled in an upcoming class. Those this year may be along the offensive line. If you remember last year, the OL was the last position to be evaluated. Contrast that to this year where Kevin Wilson and the staff will have offered over 25 OL scholarships by next week!
Why the change?
OU feels that there are only a handful of elite OL's, perhaps five or six nationally. Beyond that small list, there are another 20 that could play for anyone - anywhere. These are the 25 that Oklahoma has offered, and the first five or six to commit will get the bacon.
Obviously there are favorites here as well. Cory Brandon, the giant (6'6-255), OT from Corsicana, Texas heads the OU wish list. All Brandon needs to play now is another 30 pounds, and his frame is easily capable of handling that and more. He possesses outstanding technique and could be the top OT in that area alone. The Sooners are currently in good shape here, as Bandon told OU Insider this week that: "Oklahoma is still my No. 1 school right now." OU needs to land Brandon this summer and if they do, a major piece of the future OL puzzle begins to clear.
Look for OU to go heavier on offers to tall OT's as opposed to 'inside guys'. One, you can usually move an athletic tackle to guard, but to play OT at the level OU is at, height and long arms are a huge asset.
Among OL's offered by Oklahoma - as of May 21, 2005, (alphabetically): Kentucky's Jeff Adams, (6-8 / 315); Curtis Bailey, (6-6 / 360), Dallas Carter; Jim Barrie, (6-5 / 305), Tampa, FL; Cruz Barrett, (6-4 / 315), Daytona Beach, FL; Aaron Brown, (6-6 / 283), Cincinnati, OH; Matt Carufel, (6-5 / 288) , Saint Paul, MN; Charles Deas, (6-4 / 326), Lauderdale Lakes, FL; Clifton Geathers, (6-7 / 280), Georgetown, SC; Josh Hawkins, (6-7 / 295), Greenville, AL; Maurice Hurt, (6-2 /325), Milledgeville, GA; Carl Johnson, (6-6 / 335), Durham, NC; Butch Lewis, Ol, 6'7, 280, 4.85, Denver (Regis Jesuit Hs), Colorado; Jared Odrick, (6-6 / 285), Lebanon, PA; Daron Rose, (6-5 / 310), Tampa, (Jefferson) FL; Jermarcus Ricks, (6-4 / 285), Leighton, AL; Steve Schilling, (6-5 / 290), Bellevue, WA; Andre Smith, (6-4 / 315), Birmingham, AL; Alex Stadler (6-6 / 300), Bealeton, VA; Ian Symonette, (6-9 / 330), St. Pius X HS, Houston, TX; Lee Tilley, (6-5 / 321), Springfield, OH; Kiante Tripp, (6-6 / 250), Atlanta, Westlake; J.B. Walton, (6-3 / 270), Indian Head, MD; Bartley Webb, (6-6 / 280), Springdale, AR; and Sam Young, (6'7 / 280), Fort Lauderdale, FL.
In addition to those mentioned above, several more OL prospects should get an Oklahoma offer. Those with the best chance are: Doug Stroud, (6-7 / 345), Shreveport Evangel; Chase Beeler, (6-3 / 275), Jenks; Cody Pope, (6-5 / 275), San Diego, CA; Chad Roark, (6-3 / 285), Ada; Myron McKinney, (6-4 / 300), Putnam City North; and Stillwater's Jacob Seacrist, (6-3 / 275).
Around the recruiting ranking board, by position
This recruiting 'take' list is still just now coming into focus. At this moment, before the final input of last week's evaluations, here's who we have at, (or near), the top of each position recruiting chart. Look for more names to be added, possibly to the top, as final in person evaluations are weighed and analyzed.
Forget depth, the heart and soul of a Stoops' defense will be the guys at DB who allow the front seven to play like wild men. The Sooners need two, but could take as many as four or five DB's.
Put Myron Rolle (above), up at the top and circle that name. He's a clear number 1 - and '1A.' After that, many Sooner fans do not understand the importance of the lone OU commitment: James Henry, (6-2 / 190). According to some, Henry is shooting up the charts both for outstanding athleticism and his infectious personality. He very well could end up being a top 10 player in Texas before the season is over. He's that good!
Behind these two are six standouts that the OU staff covets, including: Terrance Anderson, a small (5-10/161), but electrifying CB prospect from Houston's Aldine Nimitz. Two Californians, C.J. Gable, (6-1 / 190), from Sylmar and LA's Darian Hagen (6-1 / 186). Three east coast guys are also on the elite list, Antwine Perez, (6-2 / 200), from Camden, NJ, Darrin Walls, (6-1 / 175), from Pittsburgh, PA and A.J. Wallace, (6-1 / 195), who hails from Pomfret, MD. Obviously several more could be added due to an outstanding performance at OU's summer prospect camps.
Oklahoma needs two, and could take three or four, as many DE's eventually grow into DT's. At present there are three at the top of the list:
Ugo Chinasa, (6-5 / 230), Richardson, TX; Derrick Burton, (6-3 / 250), Muskogee; and Jerry Brown, (6-5 / 260), St Louis, MO, (Vashon HS). Right behind those are: Brandon Spikes, (6-4 / 230), Shelby, NC; Josh Minton, (6-4 / 247) Pulaski Co, KY; Dedrick Epps, (6-4 227), Huguenot HS - Richmond, VA; Brandon King, 6-2 /235), Doylestown, PA; John Paul, 6-4 / 250), Immokalee, FL; and Ricky Sapp, (6-5 / 225), Bamberg, SC.
Current long-shots at the DE position include: Jermaine Cunningham, (6-4 / 220) Stone Mountain, GA; Levirt Griffin, (6-4 / 235), Modesto, CA; and Junior College standout Louis Holmes, (6-6 / 270), Scottsdale, AZ who is considering OU along with Arizona, Arizona State, Kansas State, Louisville, Nebraska, UCLA, and USC. Possible offers could go to DE's: Bailey Johnson, (6-4 / 240), Flossmoor, IL; Myron Curry, (6-3 / 200), and Bruce Campbell, (6-7 / 265), Hamden, CT.
Just as offensive line was the last position group to come together last year in recruiting, the defensive line picture for Oklahoma will not be fully developed until later in the year.
We'll know far more about Sooner DL targets a month from now, but at the moment, the top prospects are: Chaz Washington, (6-3 / 288) , Destrehan, LA. (We'll stop here and say that Washington is a 'soft verbal' to Oklahoma, which is almost meaningless, but can become far more important if and when Chaz decides to quit taking visits). As with every recruit in the Stoops era, if you keep taking visits, the Sooners keep recruiting your position. Still, as long as OU is number one with Washington, they have a great shot to turn a soft commitment into a solid one.
OU's other top DL prospects - at the moment - are: Gerald McCoy, (6-4 / 280), OKC Southeast; Micah Johnson, (6-2 / 277), Fort Campbell, KY; Leslie Stirrups, (6-1 / 270), Tampa, FL; Al Woods, (6-4 / 327), Elton, LA; and Josh Minton, (6-4 / 247), Somerset, KY.
While it's a good year for quarterbacks coast to coast, it's still nothing compared to the Rhett Bomar year - where literally, five or six QB's were at the top of the charts, not just in their year, but possibly for the decade.
Nationally, most 'experts' liked Matt Stafford as this year's top Dawg. Perhaps it's fitting that Stafford last week elected to play for family favorite Georgia, shunning Mack Brown and Texas, who still need a quarterback as badly as any top program on the planet.
Oklahoma could also be found QB short, after electing not to get excited about anyone last year, the Sooners are down to three QB's on scholarship. However the fact that Bomar is a freshman and Grady only a sophomore in eligibility, makes the matter far less stressful.
Still the Sooners would like to sign and begin to develop a QB in this class. Their short list of favorites at this time include: Mitch Mustain, (6-2 / 198) , Springdale, AR; Josh Freeman, (6-5 / 218) , Grandview, MO; Alex Cate, (6-2 / 200), Salt Lake City (Cottonwood) Utah; Jeremy Ricker, (6-2 / 205), Bishop McDevitt HS, Harrisburg, PA; and Sam Bradford, (6-4 / 190), Putnam City North, who received his OU offer last week.
Freeman and Mustain appear to be the best of the group, and are the highest thought of at this time. Mustain is the new Longhorn QB target, after being shunned by Stafford (Georgia), and Stephenville's Jevan Snead (Florida) last week. Of course the 'Horns think if they pull Mustain from Arkansas, they would also bring standout WR and Sprigdale teammate Damian Williams, (6-0 / 177), along for the 'Austin' experience. Wishful thinking, but as the UT faithful learned last year with All Star QB Ryan Perriloux, blood is thicker than water on signing day.
Sooner coaches agree that Mustain and Williams would be a nice package, but they are not ready to put all their eggs in one basket. Utah's Alex Cate is one quarterback that intrigues the Sooner coaches. Last season, Cate finished with 3,500 yards passing and 40 touchdowns against only 11 interceptions while completing over 60 percent of his passes. He may end up as the favorite at the QB position if the others decide to play hard to get.
"Who wants to back up the next Heisman winner for a year and then start?" That's the bottom line as the Sooners go searching for a top level volunteer. OU coaches feel like they can again choose among only the nation's finest, and there are several out there they may be up to the challenge.
At this time, Michael Goodson, (5-11 / 185 / 4,48) , Klein, Texas, is the clear cut favorite for top RB honors in Texas and perhaps nationally as well. If he can keep his eyes off of A&M, the Sooners would have an excellent shot.
Also in the Goodson class are DeMarco Murray, (6-0 / 180), who played with All-World Linebacker and new Sooner Ryan Reynolds last year at Las Vegas Gorman. LeSean McCoy, (5-11 / 206), Harrisburg, PA; and Charles Scott, (6-0 / 226), Jonesboro, LA. are also both very close to Goodson's ability. OU coaches would welcome a commitment from any of these four and would be confident that any of the group would be ready to step in after Peterson's career is finished.
Other top tailbacks appearing on the Sooner radar are: Javarris James, (6-2 /205), from Immokalee, FL. - who may be the closet to Peterson in both size and speed; Knowshon Moreno, (6-0 / 195), Middletown, NJ; Artrell Woods, (6-0 / 180), Bryan, TX; C.J. Gable, who we mentioned above as a top DB, is also a possible top pick nationally at running back, and would be a great pickup at either position.
Usually, running back is the one position where the top candidates have all been identified before their senior season, and very seldom does a Barry Sanders emerge. It is most likely that the next great Sooner tailback will be one of the nine names listed above.
Fullback may also enter the picture this year, and among the better candidates are: Cordera Eason, (6-0 / 234), Meridian, MS; and Luke Schmidt, (6-4 / 230), Jasper, Ind.
Another position that Sooner coaches feel like they can be very selective with. At the moment the thinking is, "why bring in anyone unless he's better than what we have?" When you're on top you can afford to at least start out with that attitude, and time will tell if it pays dividends in February.
While there are many possibilities here, we'll cover the marquee players in this report. Up first is the phenomenal Brandon Caleb, (6-0 / 195), from Fort Union, VA. Most have Caleb listed as a DB, and he certainly can play there, but he is most exciting to Sooner coaches on the offensive side. Caleb may be the top 'pure' target at receiver. If he's not, we'll introduce two names, both from the Lone Star state: You've heard plenty about Adron Tennell, and he may indeed be the best in Texas at 6-5 / 195. If he's not the top Texan, the honor might just go to Terrell Reese, (6-4 / 200), from Pflugerville, TX. Reese, who has missed some time with an ACL, has suddenly burst back into the forefront to challenge Tennell as the top WR in Texas.
As a sophmore - Reese made Texas track headlines in both the high jump and 100M. The Sooners would be happy with either Texas recruit, but likely would only take one of the two to make room for favorite son Jermaine Gresham, (6-7 / 235), who hails from Ardmore, OK.
Many try to slot Gresham as a TE because of his enormous size, but until he does put on another 20 pounds, Gresham remains a wide receiver, although admittedly giving defenders a slightly different look than you might get from a Mark Clayton. Call him what you want, Gresham remains at the top of the Sooner board for 2006.
There have always been brother acts in football, and the Sooners have had their share of brother combo's: (Selmons, Owens, Tabors), but the newest duo hails from Olive Branch, Mississippi in the form of Markeith, (6-4 / 190 / 4.6), and Anthony Summers, (6-3 / 200 / 4.5). Are they a package deal? Who knows, but the Sooners have offered both.
We also mentioned Sprigdale Arkasas' Damian Williams, (6-0 / 177 4.5), and as much as they'd like to get him, the Sooners are very aware of the propensity for Arkansas natives to buckle to the local pressure of playing for the Razorbacks.
Also near the top of the Sooner receiver board, although all might be considered long shots as of this date, are: Andrey Baskins, (6-4 / 200), Camden, NJ; Ricky Dixon, (6-3 / 210), from Reserve, LA; Jamar Hornsby, (6-4 / 185), from Jacksonville, FL, who is also listed as a top DB prospect; and Justin Williams, (6-2 / 185), from Folkston, GA. The Sooners have offered all three.
The Sooners top Tight End prospects - at this time are: Brandon Warren, (6-4 / 235), Alcoa, TN; Nate Byham, (6-4 / 220), Franklin, PA; Brandon King, (6-2 / 240), Doylestown, PA; Luke Schmidt, (listed above as a possible Fullback or 'H' back). All have offers from OU. The Sooners are also courting Anthony McCoy, (6-4 / 220), from Fresno, CA.
Next Weekend Wrap Up: Refining the Scholarship Offer List.
Footnote: Sooner February signee Duke Robinson, OL, 6'5, 325, 5.7, Atlanta Booker T. Washington, Georgia.
We had a chance to talk to Duke Robinson's coach in person a few weeks ago. He told us several amazing stories about what this young man has overcome in order to succeed. He says Duke is the best high school player he's ever coached and will be an All American at OU. At first our thought was 'sure,' but the more the coach told us about Duke the more excited we became that the Sooners won out on signing day. He sealed the story by telling us the names of the All Americans he has coached in his career, and says Duke remains his favorite.
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