OUInsider Weekend Wrapup 6/4

A look back at the week's Oklahoma Football recruiting news and notes.

NOTE: As we roll into June, we'll try to update a few positions that we have lightly covered in the first two editions of WW 2006. There have been quite a few new offers, and the Florida boys are finally showing up on OU's radar. Here's Volume 3 of Weekend Wrap Up 2006.

Refining the Wish List

After a month of in person evaluations, and ten days of staff meetings, OU's ‘wish list' for 2006 is slowly shaping up – and changing. It's not uncommon for members of the coaching staff to disagree on just who are the top targets and why. But in most cases, a consensus is reached, and usually the position coach gets more say than others. Sometimes however, the head man has to cast the deciding vote, and it's never easy.

The numbers are staggering. Less than 1% of HS football players will earn a college scholarship. Of those 3,000 or so excellent athletes, a school like Oklahoma will offer 4 – 5% but take less than 1%. So obviously a program must decide not only who to offer, but also – of those offered, who to pursue most diligently.

Beside athletic ability and talent, other elements of the equation, (from a school's point of view), are character; grades and of course, geography. As we said last season, next to talent, geography has had more to do with who signs where than any other factor. However, with increased exposure of the nation's elite programs, and more efficient means of transportation, geography is becoming less of a factor than in decades past.

Still, Sooner coaches know that it's hard to say ‘no' to mom on the night before signing day. Part of every evaluation is family concerns over their son playing 1,000 miles away. Some families are well equipped to handle those situations, others are not.

For example, last year OU coveted the signature of Houston Washington's Reggie Youngblood, who was easily the top OL on the Sooner board. Youngblood decided on Miami after a whirlwind visit.

When we ran into his parents months later – the recruiting hype had ended and they were dealing with Reggie preparing to leave home for four years. Did that bother them? "No," they said. They thought it might be good for him to get away, and ‘yes', they were prepared to miss many Miami games. However, Reggie's father pointed out, most of games involving the top ten programs are televised, and for those that weren't the family was prepared to fly to several games a year, as a friend worked for Continental airlines and reasonable airfare was available. Obviously, not all families fit the Youngblood situation, but it does point how that geography has far less hold than it did 25 years ago.

Perhaps so, but it pays to know your subject. In the case of national recruits, OU coaches try to find out if parents feel similar to the Youngblood's, or if momma has put her foot down and the chances of junior going more than three or four hours from home are remote. Of the young men that OU has offered, you'll see evidence of both types.

From sea to shining sea

In the minds of OU's coaches - there must be a lot of Youngblood's out there this year, because prospects coast to coast, not local players, dominate the top spots on OU's current charts. To date, OU has offered only four Oklahomans: QB Sam Bradford, (OU commitment); WR - TE: Jermaine Gresham of Ardmore; DT Gerald McCoy of OKC Southeast; and DE Derek Burton of Muskogee.

Only seven other Oklahoma players have a decent shot at a Sooner offer. They are: DB Dominique Franks of Tulsa Union, (widely reported by some to have received an OU offer, yet as of June 3, it has not occurred); Chad Roark of Ada, (who has not been hounded, or hyped, near as much as big brother, but who may be a better prospect); OL Chase Nelson of Tulsa Union; OL Jacob Seacrest of Stillwater; OL Chase Beeler of Jenks; LaRon Moore of Midwest City; TE Bradley Dedeaux of Midwest City, and CB George West of OKC NE Academy.

Defensive Lineman get OU offers

There have been a slew of new offers in the last week, as coaches go over each and every player and his evaluation. We have said that this year, prospects along the ‘D-line' will be evaluated last.

A handful of DL players had already received Sooner offers, and more joined the list this week: Jeff Miller, (6-6 / 250) DL Westlake Village, CA; Corey Hobbs, DT (6-5 / 310 /5.2), Orlando, FL; Greg Banks DE, (6-5 / 260 / 4.8), Denver, CO; Audie Evanstine DE, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Lamarr Houston, DE (6.4 / 257 / 4.6), Colorado Springs, CO; and Kerrad Baysin, DT Tampa FL.

Previously we've mentioned: Ugo Chinasa, (6-5 / 230), Richardson, TX; Derrick Burton, (6-3 / 250), Muskogee; and Jerry Brown, (6-5 / 260), St Louis, MO, (Vashon HS). 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. Along with ‘long-shots': 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.

Also, primary DT prospects already holding OU offers are: Chaz Washington, (6-3 / 288) , Destrehan, LA; Gerald McCoy, (6-4 / 280), OKC Southeast; Micah Johnson, (6-2 / 277), Fort Campbell, KY; Leslie Stirrups, (6-1 / 270), Tampa, FL; and Al Woods, (6-4 / 327), Elton, LA.

New Offers along the OL

OU has made several new offers to offensive linemen in the past ten days, but none bigger than the one to Sam Young, (6-7 / 280 / 4.9), of Ft Lauderdale. How good is Young? Easily one of the top five in the country, and right now OU feels like they have a shot. Let's move him to the top of OU's OL wish list along with Curtis Bailey, Cory Bradford and Ian Symonette of Houston. Who's next? OU coaches feel that all the offered can play, and could possibly take as many as seven offensive linemen this year.

Of course there have been other OL offers as well, most prominently from Florida, including: (alphabetically),Marcus Gilbert, (6-6 / 280 / 4.9), Fort Lauderdale, FL; Zack Handerson, (6-7 / 248 / 5.2), Jacksonville, FL; Jevon Hayes, (6-2.5 / 320 / 5.3), L.A. Dorsey, CA; Connor Smith, (6-6 / 300 / 5.1), Cincinnati, OH; Phillip Taylor, (6-4 / 340 / 5.5), Brandywine, MD; Daniel Wenger, (6-4 / 285 / 5.3), Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Previously we've told you the Oklahoma has offered these offensive line prospects: 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, (6'7, 280, 4.8), 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; and Bartley Webb, (6-6 / 280), Springdale, AR.

Roy Miller rides again?

Who could forget Roy Miller - the excellent, early, OU DT commit last year who said many times he was solid for OU. As you remember, he committed to OU in the summer, when he was wowing camps all over Texas. UT was shut out because they showed no early interest. Finally, Mack Brown got to the family with this line, "We care more about our players than OU does," (the ones he keeps anyway), "I have all their parents cell phone numbers saved right here on my personal cell phone," (shows phone and smiles).

Apparently the line worked, for on the in home with coach Stoops a few days later, the family asked him if he kept the parents numbers on his cell phone. Obviously, Stoops could have lied and said ‘yes,' but the truth cost the Sooners a great player was had been an early, solid commitment.

Does OU ever go after other team's commits? Yes, when and if a prospect makes it known that he may be wavering, they do indeed. Here's two OL commits that OU is going after: OG Matt Allen, (6-3.5 / 280 / 5.3), an early LSU commit out of Klein (Collins), TX; and Maryland OL commit Antonio Logan-El, (6-6 / 320 / 5.2), Forestville, MD. There is also one DE commitment that the Sooners are talking to, but it's way too early to divulge that one, should we alert the home team, so to speak.

Receivers get offers

New wide receiving offers went to Sam Shields, (6-1 / 175 / 4.4), of Sarasota, (Booker) Florida and to Ricky Dixon, (6'2 / 208 / 4.5), East St John, Louisiana.

Ricky Dixon is one of those great athletes that could play any number of positions, but OU coaches believe he excels at wide receiver and safety.

"I start at receiver on my high school team and I am the back-up quarterback," said Dixon. "I go into the game at safety on third downs or when we go to our nickel package. I think most college coaches are recruiting me to play wide receiver, and that is where I want to play."

Dixon broke into the starting lineup his sophomore year at safety and then last year moved over to offense at wide receiver, while still playing some at safety. Dixon finished last season with 66 catches for 1,373 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also added another 450 yards rushing at quarterback, on reverses and at halfback.

"I have about five schools that I like a lot right now," said Dixon. "I like Florida, LSU, Tennessee, UCLA, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. I also talked to the coach at Oklahoma and they have offered me. I like them because they throw the ball a lot, but those other schools are showing me the most interest right now. I would say that LSU and Florida are my top two schools right now.

Sam Shields is a typical Florida star that brings a lot of speed to the table. But will he leave the Sunshine state?

Shields, who also returns punts and kick-offs, will be a three-year starter this year at wide receiver. Last season, Shields caught 20 passes for 586 yards and eight touchdowns, and that was with a sprained MCL during the first five games of the season. As a sophomore, Shields caught 24 passes 989 yards and 15 touchdowns. Shields was also spectacular on kick-off returns a year ago taking two back for scores from 80 and 74 yards out.

Shields can bench 235 pounds, squats 315 and he starts in baseball at third base. He runs the 100M (10.7), 200M (22.7), 4X100 (second leg) and also participates in the long jump (21'11).

Shields made it to the Florida junior day and he hopes to camp at Alabama this summer. He has been offered by at least 20 schools and he is hearing from more and more programs all the time. "My family is in Florida and they want me to stay in state." Perhaps the Sooners can annex a bit of the state.

Linebacker List shakeout

There was one new linebacker offer this week, going to Marcus Ball, (6-0 / 208 / 4.4), from Stone Mountain, GA. Ball is a vicious linebacker who plays his game off of speed and explosion, starts at both outside linebacker and strong safety, is being recruited to play both in college.

"I am being recruited as a combination outside linebacker/strong safety I guess," said Ball. "Coaches like the fact that I can get after the quarterback at linebacker, but I run well enough that many feel I can play safety. I really don't know where I like playing better. I guess I play linebacker better, but I have a real soft spot for playing safety."

Ball finished last season with 122 tackles, 78 solo stops, eight sacks, four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

"My sophomore year I had four interceptions, but last year teams didn't throw my way much."
Ball can bench 295 pounds, squats 415 and he has a 34-inch vertical jump. He has been clocked at 10.72 in the 100-meters and he has run a 22.4 200-meters.

"I am wide open, but I have schools that I like. I am trying to keep an open mind," said Ball. "I like Oklahoma and Texas, but Texas hasn't offered me yet. I like the three Florida schools, Tennessee, Ohio State and N.C. State. All of those schools, other than Texas, have offered me."

"I like Oklahoma a lot," said Ball when asked about his interest in the Sooners. "They are a pretty good school to be at. I think I would fit in well there. Oklahoma is a National Championship home and a NFL home, so you can't go wrong at OU. Oklahoma is another school that is recruiting me as an outside linebacker and strong safety."

We know the Sooners have offered Ball (above) and the following dozen: Blake Collier, (6-1 / 210 / 4.49); Justin Northwest; Bani Gbadyu, (6-1.5 / 203 /4.6), Gaithersburg, MD; Brandon Spikes, (6-4 / 230 / 4.6), Shelby, NC; Jarrell Miller, (6-3 / 235), Highland Springs, VA; Joshua Tatum, (6-2 / 220 / 4.5), Oakland, CA; Mike Morgan, (6-3.5 / 185 / 4.59); Dallas (Skyline); Sergio Kindle, (6-3 / 220 / 4.6); Dallas Woodrow Wilson; Bo Harris, (6-2 / 210 / 4.65); Conyers, GA; Tory Smith, (6-0 / 241 / 4.8), Rome, GA; Anthony Lewis, (6-2.5 / 220 / 4.6), Haltom City, TX; Akeem Hebron, (6-2 / 198 / 4.5), Wheaton, MD; and Allen Bradford, (6-0 / 222 / 4.55), Colton, CA.

Last week's top 5 candidates on OU's Butkus list looked like this: Texans Blake Collier, Mike Morgan and Anthony Lewis along with North Carolina's Brandon Spikes and perhaps the nation's top linebacker, Oakland California's Josh Tatum.

This week we're moving Bani Gbadyu to the top of what we suspect is OU's LB list. Obviously, we have six names and only five ‘top' spots. Something has to give and Blake Collier will move off the list, but he could easily come back to the top after a strong showing at OU's camp.

Allen Bradford is another one that could grab the top spot, It's that close and these guys are that good. Of course these are the top thirteen linebackers in the USA, so to say there's even is a top five list is almost humorous. All 13 of these guys are national recruits with a ton of offers. To get any three would enough to make Brent Venables break out the champagne.

Obviously, it's too early to say which of these 13 really are the top prospects, we'll have to see how their senior seasons unfold, but make no mistake, these 13 don't need to wait until then to commit. Oklahoma will be taking the first three and happy to get them.

Myron Rolle watch

No Weekend Wrap Up is complete without a Myron Rolle update. If you've been of the planet the last two years - we'll have to tell you that Myron is the Sooners top prospect for 2006. Here's the latest:

"As far as Oklahoma, specifically, nothing has changed. I still feel very strong about that school, the program and Coach Stoops. I know Coach Stoops said to me that he wishes that Oklahoma had gone last in my line of visits because he doesn't think anybody would have been able to match what they did as far as all the things that I was able to do on my visit. He feels they would not have thought about all that, which is true. The power of the internet got around and other schools have tried to copy what Oklahoma did, but like I said in the past Oklahoma has set the bar really high and they came out swinging."

"I have great respect for them for (being the first to offer), and I have always had great respect for Oklahoma because they were the first team to get this whole recruiting process for me started. After their offer my sophomore year, recruiting started to snow ball and things got really crazy. They were the first team to identify how good I was and I will not forget that."

"I talked to Coach Stoops Tuesday — the last day in May. That conversation was very good. He said that he wanted to be the last one to call me and that is why he waited for the last day in May. He waited late at night to call me so that we could make sure that we did get a chance to speak. I also talked to Coach Wright and he put me on the phone with the No. 1 golfer in the country who plays at OU (Anthony Kim) and he told me that I needed to come to Oklahoma and that it was a great place to be a student/athlete."

OK Myron, take it from us, this guy Kim is on the right track.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories