OUInsider Weekend Wrapup (6/18)

An inside look at Oklahoma's most likely offensive prospects for the 2006 class. Las Vegas prospect DeMarco Murray (pictured above) is one of the Sooners top running back prospects.

Recruiting - An early look at Oklahoma's Most Likely OFFENSIVE prospects . . .

For several weeks we've told you who Sooner coaches evaluated and made scholarship offers to after more than a month of in-person evaluations. OU offered right at 140 scholarships to the very best prospects in all positions, and are expected to make about a dozen more over the next three months.

Athletics, Academics and Character

It's not all about strength and speed.

Besides ability, character and grades are also considered. With the new NCAA retention guidelines, academic risks carry a higher risk than ever. Athletic Director Joe Castiglione issued an edict last year for all OU sports to anticipate and adjust their recruiting practices to place Oklahoma above the NCAA standards. Bob Stoops and company did, and all the incoming 2005 freshmen qualified months ago.

There are several well known stories about fabulous athletes that Oklahoma passed on due to character and off the field problems over the past several years. Some of those players were indeed great athletes, but many have already been removed from schools that took a chance, and others should have been.

Castiglione explained OU's stance a few months ago: "We believe that a scholarship offer from Oklahoma is special. It's an awesome privilege to play here and have the tradition of America's most storied program placed into your hands. We can never foretell the future, but we can and will pay attention to the past. If a young man has a history of trouble, we will not invite him to join our program. This strict policy, including background checks, has been in place for several years, but with the new NCAA retention requirements it will be doubly beneficial."

Therefore, every athlete that has an OU offer will have their character and background examined well before any scholarship papers are sent to be signed. Obviously, not every prospective athlete, or student, is perfect. But if there are any indications of past trouble, all details are examined and a more thorough investigation is conducted.

We bring this up as one possible answer to: "Why hasn't OU offered this kid, or that kid, who says he has a great interest in them and is obviously a blue chip prospect?"

But make no mistake, 95 percent of 'on hold' offers are due to a question regarding talent or grades, or the fact that the staff is still evaluating. However, if we get to December and pass on a young man that has set the high school world on fire, you can bet that he simply failed to meet one, or more, of the requirements.

Still a Numbers Game

We can not say it enough: OU coaches see many prospects over the year that they'd like to offer, but can't due to scholarship limitations. The numbers (85/25) are cruel.

Here is the formula that they have adapted for the present time, with Oklahoma being a 'destination school' and on the shopping list of the majority of the country's top athletes. OU identifies 150 or so of the very best prospects nationally for their aggressive, athletic style of play. They know that MOST of these prospects will end up elsewhere, usually due to factors related to geographical proximity.

They realize that in order to get 25 commitments from this group, they'll need to land approximately one out of six, a 17 percent 'success rate'. There is not room for anything greater than that. So the entire process has to be managed by position. In a perfect year, Oklahoma will choose to take a full, balanced class (one player for each of the 22 positions). If they have more than 22 scholarships available, the additional offers will likely encompass athletes who can play multiple positions and/or specialists or positions where future depth may be a problem.

As prospects off of the initial list begin to commit elsewhere, the position coaches monitor their lists and offer prospects that fell just below those initially are offered. Make no mistake, there is almost no real difference between a player ranked (by OU), 20 at his position and the player at 21 or 22. The point is a cutoff has to be established somewhere, and in recruiting it's always determined by numbers.

To carry the scenario further, let's say an in-state player is the 22nd nationally at his position, and the coaches are offering 18-20, having room for just three commitments. You can bet that there is much debate and discussion in the staff meeting rooms about making the offer to in-state prospect (ranked 22nd). Sometimes feelers are sent out and the story comes back: "Even IF we did offer him, he's not quite ready to accept. He still wants to look around a bit."

OK, so what's the incentive for Oklahoma to offer now?

There are a couple of players on OU's list that fit this description. OU likely will offer later this summer, or in the early fall. But they are first committed to offering according to their evaluations, and then to the interest level shown them. It's a simple fact that the players that were judged as the very best get the very most attention, until they opt elsewhere.

The 'Most Likely' to Commit List (Offense)

What we are showing is a list, by position, with the prospects not ranked by name or athletic ability, but by OU's current chances of signing them. Be assured of one thing — this list will change dramatically over the next four or five months. As prospects see more campuses and get closer to their position coaches, names will move up and down the list. We can also expect that a few names will be added.

This week's report will focus on the offensive side of the ball.

Obviously, many times we have no idea who really leads on any given prospect. Some say one thing one day, another the next. But before we criticize the athlete, let's remember his age, and also that many times he just got off the phone with Coach 'X' at some school and suddenly he's thinking about the attributes that were just laid out in front of him. We're all susceptible: You just left a car dealership and yeah, that Mercedes SL looks pretty good right now...it has you thinking. Later, reason tends to take hold and those words fade with the new car smell as more practical choices are considered. You end up buying the Lexus sedan. It's a better fit, but you still like the SL.

Again, we ONLY report on prospects that OU has offered and mention those who we believe will get an OU offer soon. We do not, and will not, detail high school seniors that list Oklahoma as their favorite if they are not on the Sooner offer list at this time.

Quarterback - OU expected to take one

Sam Bradford (6-4/190/4.7), Putnam City North High School (committed to OU).

Almost every D-1 school prefers to suit up and travel four quarterbacks. The fact is that Oklahoma has only three scholarship QB's on campus, considerably fewer than most major programs. And, by the time this class gets here and ready to play, that number will be two, with Paul Thompson being a senior in 2006.

We expect Bradford to be OU's only pure QB taken since Rhett Bomar signed two years ago. However one interesting prospect is D'Vontrey Richardson (6-1/205/4.6), Leesburg, Ga., who plays quarterback in high school but is one of those kids that literally can play any skill position.

Richardson isn't ready to name any favorites and is wide open, but when pressed he talked about several schools that he will be taking a look at.

"I'm wide open right now, but if I had to name schools, I guess they would be Oklahoma, Clemson, Georgia, Marshall, Florida State, and Oregon."

Could Richardson be brought in to possibly play QB? Sure, as well as DB, WR or running back. He's just that good. We currently have Richardson listed as athlete, but he literally could be listed anywhere, including QB. Oklahoma, as well as every school in the country, would love to have him, and will pursue him.

Running Back - OU expected to take two

In a perfect world, OU would like to sign one speed back and one power back. Heck, another Adrian Peterson who can fit either description.

A close examination of these names will show that Oklahoma is in on the very best, as are other top ten schools. Running back, like quarterback, is an elite position and it is very unlikely that any two off of this list will choose the same school, so any commitment to any school from a prospect on this list will certainly impact the other suitors, and increase their chances with the remaining blue chips.

As of today, the most likely running back prospects that OU could sign are seen below, listed in order of OU's current chances:

DeMarco Murray, RB (6-0 / 180), Las Vegas (Gorman), Nev. (Favors: OU, USC, Florida State, Florida, Miami, Michigan, and Wisconsin).
Chris Brown, (5-11 /195/4.45), Alexandria, La. (Arkansas, OU, LSU, and Alabama).
Charles Scott, RB (6'1 / 225 / 4.5) Jonesboro Hodge, La. (LSU leads OU, USC, and Alabama).
Mon Williams, (6-1 / 190 / 4.5), Mesquite, TX (Florida, A&M, KSU, Texas, OU and OSU).
Evan Royster, (6-0 / 190 / 4.4), Chantilly, Va. (OU, Tennessee, Va Tech, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, FSU and Miami).
Knowshon Moreno, RB (6-0 / 195), Middletown, N.J. (Miami, Florida, Maryland, OU, Michigan).
Michael Goodson, RB (5-11 / 185 / 4.48) , Klein, Texas (A&M, USC, OU).
LeSean McCoy, RB (5-11 / 206), Harrisburg, Pa. (Georgia, Alabama, USC, OU, Tennessee, Penn State, Ohio State and Va Tech).
Javarris James, RB (6-2 /205), Immokalee, Fla. (Miami, USC, Florida, Nebraska, OU).
Stafon Johnson, (6-0 /200 /4.5), L.A. Dorsey, Calif. (Michigan, USC, Cal, Tennessee, Florida and Miami).

At the moment, DeMarco Murray remains OU's best bet for a top RB prospect. Murray claims he does not have a favorite among his top schools and will take his time making a decision where he'll commit. However, he does know what he's looking for in a school and their football program.

"I'm looking for school that has good academics, good team chemistry, a coaching style I'm comfortable with and a place where we can compete for national championships," Murray said. "I also want an opportunity to compete for playing time as a freshman."

Two Louisiana prospects, Chris Brown and Charles Scott, are at the top of OU's running back wish list. Brown, a former teammate of Nic Harris), has OU in his top five along with Arkansas, Alabama and LSU. TCU and Mississippi State are possibilities as well.

"Oklahoma is Oklahoma," said Brown. "They are the best. When someone like Oklahoma offers you a scholarship, even if you don't get a chance to go there, that is something to be proud of. I like the program that they have because they are around the national championship every year."

Scott said this week that LSU has the edge right now.

"The other schools are about even. When I was in Oklahoma I was loving it out there. They made an impression on me with the way their players acted towards one another and the coaching staff. They have a real cool campus. It has a small town feel. I really liked the atmosphere," Scott added.

Evan Royster also gave OU some reason to hope this week.

"I like the way Oklahoma's recruiting me. They've just done a really good job so far focusing on what's important to me."

Michael Goodson was again scheduled to visit Oklahoma Friday but did not due to summer school. OU believes he'll visit Norman before he makes a decision. Some say he may be the first to commit to USC, setting off a chain reaction among the nation's top RB's. Others claim A&M is the choice. As of this moment, we would give OU a slight chance here, totally depending on his gut feel after his visit.

LeSean McCoy is one of the top prospects in America and has the numbers to prove it. Over his sophomore and junior seasons, he has rushed for over 5,300 yards and 61 touchdowns. In regards to scholarship offers, McCoy claims to have between 45 and 50. For now, he likes Georgia, Alabama, USC, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Penn State, Ohio State and Virginia Tech.

"OU runs the ball well and I could sit a year and then take over for Adrian Peterson."

One more note on McCoy...in a recent interview in ESPN'S chat room, McCoy stated that OU was one of the schools that he was ruling out. But in talking to another reporter, he said OU was still a school that he was talking to. No matter how you shake it, you can say OU is a longshot here.

There are a couple of prospects, Brandon King, (6-2/235), of Doylestown, Pa. and Lamar Houston, (6-4/257/4.6), from Colorado Springs, Colo., who exclusively fit the fullback or power back mold. Both are also being recruited to play other positions, King at TE and Houston at DE.

Waiting In the Wings

It's been reported on the SCOUT network and other sites that Meridian Mississippi's Cordera Eason, (6'0/237/4.52), has an Oklahoma offer. Although he does NOT at this time, he eventually could if everything checks out. We'll list him as a viable possibility here.

Receivers - OU expected to take three or four

Oklahoma is after the cream of the crop, and perhaps the most amazing collection of talent is assembled is in this year's class of receiver prospects. OU will certainly uncork the champagne if they land any three off of this list:

Jermaine Gresham, (6-7/235), Ardmore, Okla. (OU, Nebraska, LSU, OSU, Missouri).
Terrell Reese, (6-4/200/4.5), Pflugerville, Texas. (OU, Nebraska lead several).
Adron Tennell, (6-5/195/4.5), Grand Prairie, Texas (Texas Tech, OU, A&M, Miss State, TCU).
Brandon Caleb, (6-0/195/4.55), Atlanta, Ga. (OU, Ga Tech, Va Tech).
Jeremy Maclin, (6'0/180/4.4), Kirkwood, Mo. (Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, OU, Michigan State).
Artrell Woods, WR/DB/RB (6-0/180), Bryan, Texas (A&M, OSU, OU).
Markeith Summers, (6-4 / 190 / 4.6), Olive Branch, Miss. (LSU, Florida, Ole Miss, OU.
Nate Byham, TE (6-4/220), Franklin, Pa. (Miami, USC, OU, FSU).
Damian Williams, (6-0/177 4.5), Springdale, Ark. (Arkansas, LSU, Florida, Texas, Missouri and OU).
Richard Dickson, TE/DE (6-4 / 238 / 4.7), Ocean Springs, Miss. (LSU, Miss State, Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, OU, Florida).
Damon McDaniel, WR/RB (6'0, 195, 4.4), Virginia Beach, Va. (Virginia, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida State, Florida, Miami and LSU).
Jonas Mouton, WR/S (6-2/212/4.6), Los Angeles, Calif. (Michigan, Nebraska, LSU, Arizona, Oregon, USC, OU).

The Sooners best bet here appears to be Ardmore's Jermaine Gresham, who may be doing the best Reggie Smith imitation since Reggie took OU down to the last moment last year before committing at noon on signing day. It would be a shock if OU does not land Gresham, who they have coveted for a couple of years. But at the same time, they are in on such quality that they may not be able to wait.

Down south there are three or four receivers who stan dout among a very nice crop in the Lone Star state. Texas has already nabbed South Garland's Phillip Payne, (6-1.5/189/4.5), and the electrifying CB/WR Kenneth Beasley, (5-9/165/4.4), but in our opinion the two best pure wide outs in Texas are Adron Tennell (6-5/195/4.5), Grand Prairie, and Terrell Reese, (6-4/200/4.5), of Pflugerville.

"I just like the fact that they (OU) always come out ready to play," Reese said this week. "I like their mentality, the never-give-up attitude and the fact that they send a lot of players to the League. And, they look out for their own."

The Sooners appear to be in the running for both Terrell and Adron at the moment, and you can bet that either one would make Darrell Wyatt a very happy man.

In our opinion, Oklahoma may lead on Brandon Caleb, (6-0/195/4.55), Atlanta, Ga., primarily because they are one of only a few schools that see Caleb as a NFL type receiver, while others insist that he'll play DB. We believe Caleb may be a candidate for biggest sleeper in the entire class of 2006 receivers nationally. We also think he's a bit taller than the listed 6-foot. Caleb has transferred from Virginia and will play his senior year in Atlanta where he will be hard to miss. An early commitment here may save the Sooners, as others will surely notice this guy come September.

Nate Byham suffered a fractured bone in his left thumb this week and could be out for as long as two months. It's doubtful that the injury will effect his recruitment. Byham, who hauled in 45 receptions for 883 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago, is a Top 100 candidate that currently holds scholarship offers from Iowa, Miami, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, USC and Florida State.

Nationally, Oklahoma has offered these receivers, but at the moment they all appear to be 'extreme long shots, although the Sooners will continue to call:

Sam Shields, (6-1/175/4.4), Sarasota, (Booker) Fla.
Justin Williams, (6-2/185), Folkston, Ga.
Brandon Heath, WR (6-1/195/4.5), Palm Beach, Fla.
Andrey Baskins, (6-4/200), Camden, N.J.
Anthony Summers, (6-3/200/4.5), Olive Branch, Miss.
Chris Slaughter, WR (6-3/165/4.6), Fort Valley, Ga.
Chykie (C.J.) Brown, WR (6-1/185/4.35), Galena Park, (North Shore), Texas
Brandon Warren, TE (6-4/235), Alcoa, Tenn.
DeAndre McDaniel, WR/S (6-1/180/4.5), Tallahassee, Fla.
Jamar Hornsby, (6-4/185), Jacksonville, Fla.
Kenny Britt, WR (6-3/180/4.5), Bayonne, N.J.
Percy Harvin, WR (5-11/182/4.4), Virginia Beach, Va.
Richard Jackson, WR (6-2/195/4.6), Clermont, FL;
Ricky Dixon, (6'2/208/4.5), East St John, La.;
Trent Pupello, TE/DE (6-3/250/4.75), Tampa, (Jefferson), Fla.

Offensive Line - OU expected to take six or seven

No where are the Sooners more in need of help than along the Offensive line. We have already outlined these outstanding OL prospects in earlier reports. Although some are listed at both OL and DL, Oklahoma feels like they are most likely to play on the offensive side of the ball in college.

Today we list them in the order of Oklahoma's chances to sign them:

Cory Bradford, (6-6 / 255, 5.1), Corsicana, Texas (soft OU verbal).
Curtis Bailey, (6-6 / 360 / 5.6), Dallas, Texas (USC, OU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Florida, Nebraska).
J.B. Walton, (6-3 / 270 / 5.1), Indian Head, Md. (OU, Florida, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland).
Ian Symonette, (6-9 / 330), St. Pius X HS, Houston, Texas (Miami, Texas, OU, LSU and USC).
Daniel Wenger, (6-4 / 285 / 5.3), Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Duke, Florida, Florida State, Miami (Fl), Nebraska, OU).
Jim Barrie, (6-5 / 305), Tampa, Fla. (OU, South Carolina, LSU, FSU, Florida).
Lee Tilley, (6-5 / 321), Springfield, Ohio (Arizona State, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, OU, Washington).
Maurice Hurt, (6'3 ½ / 340 / 5.7), Baldwin, Ga. (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Ohio State, OU).
Connor Smith, (6-6, 300, 5.1), Cincinnati, Ohio
Matt Carufel, (6-5 / 288) , Saint Paul, Minn. (Notre Dame, Iowa and Minnesota, OU).
Jovon Hayes, (6-2.5 / 320 / 5.3), L.A. Dorsey, Calif. (USC slightly over Arizona, Arizona State, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma).
Steve Schilling, (6-5 / 290), Bellevue, Wash. (USC, UCLA, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee, OU).
Kiante Tripp, (6-6 / 250), Atlanta, Ga. (Georgia and Florida followed by Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Notre Dame and OU).

We're also placing two surprising OL prospects on the watch list: Maryland commit Antonio Logan-El, (6-6/320/5.2), Forestville, Md. and Matt Allen, (6-3.5/280/5.3), an early LSU commit out of Klein (Collins), Texas. Either could bolt for a crimson uniform, and OU coaches have let each one know that they have an open door should they have any reservations about their first choice. We think OU has a great shot to get one of these.

If you've done the math that's about 15 players and one of six is not going to do it as the Sooners need 6 or 7 commitments. That's why we think there are more OL offers to come. We still predict that Jenks OL Chase Beeler, (6-3/275), will get a Sooner offer before the summer is over. And depending on who commits, Stillwater's Jacob Seacrest, (6-3/275), and Chad Roark of Ada could follow close behind. An offer for OL Doug Stroud, (6-7/345) from Evangel Christian in Shreveport, La. is also very likely.

OK, what's the deal with 'almost Sooner' Cory Brandon, who told James Hale last week: "I have decided to go to Oklahoma but my mom wants me to look around some more."

The truth is that mom really doesn't care where he commits. Cory's coach spoke at the Texas Tech clinic this spring and would like Cory to visit Lubbock. There is nothing here in any way suggesting that there may be some 'funny business' going on. It's not an unusual request at all. Tech does it, as do most schools, (including Oklahoma). Mom just wants Cory to do the polite thing for his coach and that's understandable.

Schools often target speakers at their clinics who may be coaching this season's top recruits. (The year before Rhett Bomar signed, his dad Jerry Bomar spoke at OU's clinic on developing quarterbacks). It would embarrass the coach for his top prospect to shun Tech and not even visit after speaking at their clinic. We do not blame Cory's mom and are in agreement that he should accommodate his coach with a visit to Tech. After all, you could do much worse than a meal with Mike Leach. Cory's official commitment should come upon his return from Lubbock.

Besides Brandon, OU has their sites set on two other outstanding Texas linemen, including Curtis Bailey who still has USC ahead of OU, and Ian Symonette, (6-9/330), St. Pius X HS, Houston, TX; who many say favors Miami over Texas and OU. Symonette dismisses the talk by simply saying; "No one leads," and instead says he'll focus on academics, St. Pius football, and being all that he can be, plus go through the recruiting process, and that's good news to Kevin Wilson and crew.

Dan Wenger, (Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas) may be one of the very best pure centers in the country, but he doesn't let that talk effect him; "I try not to get the big head when people tell me that I am the best in the country," said Wenger. "I don't know how people would know that. I just try to stay real humble about it and try not to worry about it."

Wenger has received between 25 and 30 offers, and he is intently studying all of the schools: "I'm trying to learn specific things about different schools, like who they are losing in the offensive line and who they have signed in the last couple of years. I'm trying to find out about their center positions and who they will have on their roster after this year." He recently made Oklahoma happy with a promise to take an official to OU this fall.

Springfield, Ohio offensive linemen Lee Tilley has trimmed his 36 college offers down to 12: Georgia, Auburn, Arizona State, Florida, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, LSU, NC State, Clemson, Washington, South Carolina, Virginia Tech. Oklahoma thinks they have a good chance to make his final five.

Maurice Hurt is another huge offensive guard prospect from Milledgeville (Ga.), who also plays defensive tackle. He has offers from LSU, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Florida, UAB, Mississippi State and Auburn, and right now says he's 'open.' How about Oklahoma? "OU is OU. They have Adrian Peterson and he may have been the best back in college football last year and I would love to block for him. They had a quarterback win the Heisman and they have won a national championship recently. It's a great school. I think I am going to make an unofficial visit there at the end of this month or in early July."

Jovon Hayes, (6-3, 320, 5.3) from Dorsey High School in L.A. says; "I'm gonna wait until I can take all my trips. I won't commit before then," said Hayes. "I want to visualize myself playing wherever I go. I need to be able to see it and that's why I need to take all my visits. I'd also like to play early." Hayes said he favors USC slightly over Arizona, Arizona State, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon and Miami. Only the Trojans haven't offered. If they don't OU may be able to jump right in the photo for Hayes.

Steve Schilling, (6-5 / 290), Bellevue, WA; still has Oklahoma among a list of hopefuls, including USC, UCLA, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, and Tennessee. Yikes.

Kiante Tripp is one of the best big athletes in the entire country, and the Sooners are in it, but it may be too tough to get him out of the SEC. "I like Georgia and Florida at the top. Then Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma."

A week ago Cincinnati, Ohio offensive lineman Connor Smith (6-6, 300, 5.1) seemed set on deciding between Michigan, Ohio State, and Tennessee. That was until Smith picked up two impressive offers recently. "I was just offered by both Oklahoma and Florida," Smith said this week. "I felt honored to be offered by two of the best schools in the country." Time will tell if OU got in on him quickly enough.

Aaron Brown, a 6-foot-6 and 283 pound tackle from Cincinnati (OH) Princeton, already has over 40 scholarship offers, and the Sooners are just one of many trying to get in on Ohio's number two ranked prospect. Brown, along with Sam Young and Houston's Ian Symonette will all vie for top OL in the country honors. It may be too late but there is still hope.

Also appearing on the OL wish list are these prospects that may need a bit more convincing before they become very interested in Oklahoma. Right now we'll reluctantly put our Extreme Long Shot label on them.

Alex Stadler (6-6/300), Bealeton, Va.
Andre Smith, (6-4/315), Birmingham, Ala.
Bartley Webb, (6-6/280), Springdale, Ark.
Butch Lewis, (6-7, 280, 4.8) , Denver (Regis Jesuit Hs), Colo.
Carl Johnson, (6-6/335), Durham, N.C.
Corey Hobbs, OL / DT (6-5/310/5.2), Oveido, Fla.
Cruz Barrett, (6-4/315), Daytona Beach, Fla.
Jeff Adams, (6-8/315); Kentucky
Daron Rose, (6-5/310), Tampa, (Jefferson) Fla.
Jared Odrick, (6-6/285), Lebanon, Pa.
Jermarcus Ricks, (6-4/285), Leighton, Ala.
Josh Hawkins, (6-7/295), Greenville, Ala.
Kenrick Ellis, OL/DL (6-5/320/5.1), West Palm Beach, Fla..
Marcus Gilbert, (6-6 / 280 / 4.9), Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Sam Young, (6-7 / 280 / 4.9), of Ft Lauderdale.

Next week: An early look at Oklahoma's Most Likely DEFENSIVE prospects.

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