OUInsider Weekend Wrapup (8/7)

A look back at the latest in Oklahoma Football and Recruiting.

August 7, 2005

Walker hurts shoulder: The Oklahoman

Peterson appears recovered: The Oklahoman

Preseason practice report: The Oklahoman

Clayton signs deal with Ravens: The Oklahoman

Birdine is Mr. Intensity: Norman Transcript

Mack as a beauty? Why Stoops would vote for UT: San Antonio Express-News

Sooners don shells for Saturday session: SoonerSports.com

[font size=1]Copyright by James Hale, Tony Sellars, Alan Hitchcock & the OUInisder Reporting staff [/font] Count down to Kickoff . . . 27 days . . .

You instantly realize that the TCU kickoff on September 3 is finally within striking distance as you watch the '05 version of Sooner football workout on the various practice fields. Like a mirage in a desert, every play in every practice seems to count for something, whether it does or does not, and you instantly project an outstanding catch or smashing tackle in shorts into a full fledged battle scene against Aggies, Longhorns, Bruins and Cornhuskers.

Sooner fans are often criticized, but not totally demented for dreaming of championships. At a school that produces more than anyone, (7 legitimate National Titles - 39 Conference Championships), it's easy to be optimistic, much to the chagrin of Jim Traber, Doug Gottleib and Co. History resides here - most of it good and that's got nothing to do with 'crimson' glasses.

Our first witness in this trial of 'justified optimism' is head coach Bob Stoops.

"We're not going to go away . . . "

Stoops began his seventh Media Day at OU on Friday morning by saying he was excited about the season and his team. "Watching them yesterday in their conditioning tests, in about a two hour practice out there, I was really impressed overall with the speed and ability of the skill guys, the number of them. When you insert this first semester class, guys that are just getting here, it's really a talented group of guys to complement what's already here. So it gives us a lot of depth, just looking at them in one day and it gives you a lot of confidence that you've got a lot to work with."

"We're excited about that as coaches. I really believe that if we do our job and these guys progress through the year, our expectations will be what they've always been — to pursue and compete in Big 12 championships and hopefully, if things go right, that we could find our way to a possible National Championship. That's what our sights are always on."

Stoops refuses hand over the hardware without a fight. "I've heard all the talk about how there's more questions this year. But last time I checked, we're not the only team in the Big 12 or in the country that's had players move on. That's natural. That happens all the time in college football. Others say that we've never had to answer that many questions before, and I beg to differ.

Our youngest and most inexperienced team and least talented team in the last five years was our 2000 National Championship team. We had 23 freshmen and sophomores in our 'two' deep and we did pretty well that year.

I remember starting early in the year with Derrick Strait, a redshirt freshman who hadn't played at all. Michael Thompson, who played very, very little the year before, so basically, he's a first year guy starting as a true sophomore at the other corner. And so on and so on. Although we struggled early in the year, (if you remember - KU lead us at half), we hit our stride in the Cotton Bowl and then continued to improve as we beat the top two teams in the country on consecutive weekends.

And I say that because that's what I believe this team will need to do. Wherever we start, we will have to mature, gain experience and improve and make strides as we go. And if we do, I have confidence that this is gonna be a really good team."

The good news for Sooner fans is that this is not some coach talk BS speech. Bob Stoops believes it as much as he knows the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. The better news is that he not only believes it and lives it, but that he's done it before, and is confident that he'll do it again, and again.

Our prediction: In the end, this years' edition of Sooner football should prove that 'experience is nice - but talent is better.'

Ten Things to Watch in August drills . . .

It all starts now . . . in the twenty something practices before the first kickoff. Or as Stoops says, "Twenty-nine practices, that's two spring balls. So, we've got a chance to get a lot done and that's where we'll find out what kind of attitude we've got, what kind of work ethic we have."

Meanwhile, as the coaches are finding those things out, here are the ten things Sooners fans should look for in the remaining pre season drills:

10. Punter:

For the first time in years OU does not have a punter named Ferguson. The race now is between sophomore Cody Freeby and newcomer Mike Knall.

It's not his fault, but a bad back in the spring caused Freeby to be plagued with inconsistency so out of character that the coaches called in help from the bullpen in Scottsdale Community College punter Mike Knall this summer. "I was all set, and pretty excited about going down to Tucson and playing for Mike at UA," Knall said. "But then OU called me. I just could not turn down this opportunity. Oklahoma is like a dream. It's something that you respect from afar, you're aware of who Oklahoma is, but it doesn't sink in until you come here and see this place," Knall said while standing on Owen Field Friday morning. "When you see the Switzer center, and then you step on this field, it suddenly just hits you like a wave and your appreciation just goes through the roof."

It's good to see newcomers appreciate the history of Sooner football. And it's probably even more obvious when you were punting for the Fighting Artichokes last year, and this year you'll be doing it on national television.

Freeby's back is better, but is it healed enough for him to win the job? If it is, can he still beat out Knall, who sported a 44 yard average last year at Scottsdale. If Freeby returns to his high school form, where he averaged 44.5 yards per punt, this should be a great race. Both are listed as sophomores, although Freeby has already burned a red shirt.

Our prediction: Probably too close to call. But you don't call in to the JC Bullpen to sit players on a bench. But the fact that Knall has a RS year to use gives Freeby a realistic chance. We'll go with Knall in a photo finish.

9. Tweaks in the Run Game:

OK, some preseason prognosticators are saying that OU will have to rely on Adrian Peterson, (28), even more this year as they have no OL and no experience at QB. Other detractors say Peterson won't have the year he did last year, and point to his shoulder as another cause for concern. But Peterson has his own thoughts on that:

"The shoulder injury made me realize that anything can happen. So, with a more positive attitude about the situation, I went in working harder to get stronger and prevent injuries like this from happening again." said Peterson.

If you're wondering what the result of Peterson's hard work was, Stoops has an answer: "He had an incredible summer. He's bigger, he's stronger, he's faster. Coach Schmidt can't stop talking about what a leader he is in the weight room and in their conditioning exercises, so he's had a huge summer and really couldn't wait to get on the field." Folks in Austin may not sleep after getting that news flash.

Peterson missed spring drills due to shoulder surgery, yet he looked impressive Thursday. He showed no lingering effects and Stoops was ecstatic with the work Peterson had put in over the summer. "He's just big, fast and strong," he said. "He's up to about 218 pounds and just as fast - if not faster than last year."

In the first two pad less practices, AD looked like a runaway locomotive as he cut through the line and rushed to turn the corner. We don't mean a 'Little Engine that Could' choo-choo. We're taking about a big - powerful - freaking - fire - breathing - bone chilling engine out of a Stephen King novel ! Sooner fans should mark their calendars for Monday 8th; Saturday the 13th and Wednesday the 17th to see if AD really is the reincarnation of Superman.

Our prediction: J.D. Runnels will drive defenses crazy as they line up to stop Peterson. A sprint out pass to the fullback - which Bomar and Thompson can both execute with ease, will be a weapon in big games, and a threat in any game. Peterson will top 2,200 yards and win the Heisman. Kejuan Jones and Jacob Gutierrez will provide a formidable change of pace.

And don't forget that a quarterback run game, non existent for several years, might further complicate things for opposing defenses.

8. Offensive Line - Eight is Enough:

Kevin Wilson is looking for eight top shelf players for his offensive line. The first two weeks of pre season drills will see moves and experiments, much like the switch last year of Davin Joseph and Wes Sims at guard and tackle. Some may be meaningful, or meaningless days afterwards, and fans should not jump to conclusions at the first sighting of a position switch.

Stoops explained yesterday: "With our offensive line, we just need more time out there. There's a lot of maturity in five seniors that have played a lot and have been together for a long time to hopefully start and set the attitude. And we have an influx of younger guys who really have some great range and size that we hope will come on and help us play to the level that we're used to."

It's obvious that Brandon Keith, (56), who delivers several years of promise with him, is the key 'wild card' figure along the OL in pre season. Keith, (6-6 / 330), brings massive size and excellent footwork (5.1 40), to the table. Look for Brandon to play at right guard this year and move to tackle next year, to possibly replace Davin Joseph, (77), on the left side.

We say guard because it's a bit easier assignment wise in Kevin Wilson's system. It would be natural to put any new guy between more experienced players. By Texas, either Keith or Chris Chester, (64), should have an edge here. If Keith can not move Chester, he very well could be tried to battle Kelvin Chaisson, (70), on the let side.

Also, the other guy that looks like a small hill would be 6'6" 330 pound Duke Robinson, (72). Coach Wilson will be looking for one freshman to step up and play some this year. If it's not Robinson, who naturally could be a year away at tackle, we look for true freshman Jon Cooper, (50), to be the surprise winner here, most likely at center.

At center, the spring ended with Chris Bush, (52), listed #1, J.D. Quinn #2. While Quinn is an absolute stud at guard, he had struggled at center. He has a strong preference to not play center and we think he'll likely get his wish, that leaves Chris Chester, (64), as the backup, but again, look out for Jon Cooper.

Some say Cooper was so impressive this summer that he could play this year. But that was only in strength and conditioning drills, not scrimmage scenarios where he will soon meet Mr. Dvoracek. If Cooper, (6-3 / 278), can continue to impress, he could help at center later in the season, where Vince Carter also started as a true freshman - at only 268 pounds.

If that were to happen, senior Chris Bush would start at either guard. Bush has been the glue that has held the OU offensive line together for two years, and certainly he is a true key element again this year, his last.

Our prediction: The 'great eight' will be: Davin Joseph; Chris Bush; Akim Millington; Chris Chester; Brandon Keith; Kelvin Chaisson; Chris Messner and Jon Cooper. J.D. Quinn is also a very viable candidate to break into the top eight this year, and very well could start next. Keith should start at one guard spot by Texas. His size is too big of an asset to ignore. Chester has added weight and impressive strength - but even at 295 is a good 30 pounds lighter than BK. On the other side, Chaisson is out weighed by nearly 40 pounds. Bush should keep the starting spot at center through the season, with Cooper his most likely permanent back-up.

7. Tight End:

Tight Ends and Special Teams coach Kevin Sumlin denies he has a lack of depth at TE, with three on campus. "I only need one," he says with his characteristic grin. Senior James Moses, (89), returns, as do twin towers - sophomore 6-6 Joe Jon Finley, (85), and 6-7 senior Willie Roberts, (88). Any of the three could play on any down.

The primary question in pre season will center around Finley, and whether he can continue to make progress in the blocking aspect of his game. Certainly, of the three, JJ is the most exciting TE the Sooners have out in the open field. If his blocking is close to the level of Moses, his PT should rise like a July thermometer. Meanwhile 6'6" Willie Roberts, has the best hands on the team, and would be a great 4th down threat in the red zone.

Our prediction: Bubba Moses gets the majority of the snaps, but JJ makes the highlight reels. Willie Roberts stars on a gutsy '4th and one' TD pass at some point in the season.

6. New 'Old' Defense - New Safeties:

Bobby Jack Wright brings some sanity, (and humor), to the defensive backfield, one that will definitely have a 'retro-Stoops' look as Wright, Brent Venables and Stoops visited Mike Stoops in Tucson for three days in mid April.

As Brent Venables said Friday; "We experimented with a few things last year, trying to get our best players on the field was what we tried to accomplish with playing left and right side corners, interchangeable safeties as opposed to field and boundary corner and a true free and a true strong. An analogy would be to have Clint Ingram in any particular game play the SAM, MIKE and the WILL.

The thing that we've been able to do is simplify things to a point where you still have enough options to be able to confuse and disguise - and still be able to run your defense with the same effectiveness that we have. I think a lot of our guys will be a little bit more aggressive and get really good at a few things instead of being average at a lot of things."

If he's worried about safety, Stoops didn't act like it Friday. "Our veterans, Darrien Williams, Lewis Baker, Jason Carter - all really had strong springs and a great summer. And then there's an influx of young guys that all really look good. It's as big and fast and talented a group of defensive backs coming in that I think that I've been around. So, we're gonna get those guys ready to play. I believe in the end, that's gonna be a strong group for us."

Much like the OL - there could several personnel and position changes here over the next three weeks. Newcomers Allen Patrick, Nic Harris and Keenan Clayton could be in the mix at either of the positions. Patrick says he expects to compete at SS and for a kick return slot and says he is 100 percent healthy and his leg has completely healed from his mishap of a year ago.

Perhaps more than any other position, this one will be totally determined by play over the next three weeks. FS candidates are: Tony Cade, (31); Darrien Williams, (41); Keenan Clayton, (9) and Brett Bowers, (14). At SS Jason Carter, (6); Lewis Baker, (16) and Allen Patrick, (23), have the best shot.

Can Baker hold onto the SS spot, or will he move to the 'Roy position?' Some of that will be determined by the play of senior Clint Ingram, (44), at SLB, who has become an excellent cover LB.

Don't count Baker out yet. Coach Wright, (who normally is not exactly a bubbling fountain of edification for young talent), said; "We love Lewis Baker. You can't help but love Lewis Baker. Work ethic, attitude, team guy, team player, do anything and everything that he can possibly do for the football team. We moved him from linebacker to strong safety in the spring. He struggled a little bit with the learning curve because he never had been there. But yesterday, and granted, we didn't throw the whole gamut at ‘em, but Brent will tell you he threw a lot at them, and Lewis was really solid, got all the calls, made all the checks, so I really felt good about him from that standpoint."

Our prediction: FS- Tony Cade or Darrien Williams; SS - Lewis Baker or Allen Patrick. Freshmen Keenan Clayton and Nic Harris should red shirt and challenge this spring.

5. Defensive End - Final Four:

It's always amazing that the talking heads give up before a game is played. Recently, you probably heard the funeral dirge for the defensive end position. D-coordinator Brent Venables acknowledges that the Sooners did lose two great players here. "We lost two very, very good defensive ends in Dan Cody and Jonathan Jackson, probably two of the smartest players who ever played for us." Before you bury the corpse, consider the second part of the statement.

"Obviously, everyone knows that Larry Birdine is back. But we feel good about guys like Calvin Thibodeaux, he was playing as good as he's played at any other time prior to his injury and has really rehabbed strongly. C.J. Ah-You is another player that's big and strong and explosive, just needs to play and learn our system. John Williams probably had the best summer of all of our defensive ends - a very strong, athletic kid who plays hard and we're counting on him."

OU fans should keep an eye on: 1) C.J. Ah You - who was brought in to start, (in a four man rotation), and provide the speed and power on the edge that will give Big XII QB's nightmares. It will be interesting to see if he has developed as promised. 2) The return of Thibodeaux and 3) the emergence of John Williams. A year ago at this point, Calvin actually had an edge on Birdine - while Williams was still lost.

Our prediction: The DE position will be fine. Larry Birdine, (92), is a star; and Ah You, (99), could be a perfect replacement for Dan Cody. There will not be any drop off with 'Thibs' or Williams in relief.

4. Linebacker - will young guys be ready?

While linebacker surprisingly may be the Sooners thinnest position, it's not the weakest by any means, and Brent Venables does not appear to be too worried. "I like our four returning linebackers. They're strong, they're explosive, they're athletic. They all have a fairly good understanding of the defense. Zach Latimer hasn't played, has been in our program now three years, he's been a defensive end and a linebacker, but we feel like he's got the range and mindset for it. He just needs to have an opportunity to play and gain experience. Our two outside guys, (Rufus Alexander and Clint Ingram), are as athletic , explosive and have as good of playmaking ability as anybody in the conference. Demario Pleasant is the wild card. He can play all three positions."

"Having Clint on the field is a strength. He's got more explosion, and every bit as much range of anybody else that's going to be in that spot. You know, last year, at times, his inexperience probably hurt him in certain situations - maybe he wasn't as consistent as you would like him to be. Right now, that's not a concern at all, based on where he was in the spring, the kind of summer he had and where he's picked up in yesterday's practice. We would expect to see him on the field a great deal. He's one of our best playmakers. I mean, he's just got a live, active body and he's all over the field making plays."

The primary question then is not 'who starts?' But who is the back up? Currently, sophomore Demarrio Pleasant, (51), is technically the second man at all three LB positions. The obvious answer then is, 'which of the three freshmen can mature and play immediately?'

So it's down to true freshmen Ryan Reynolds, (8), Curtis Lofton, (40) and Lamont Robinson, (30). Pre season drills will have to ID at least one to play this year. If not, Demarrio could become a fairly confused backup as he tries to remember coverages for three positions.

Our prediction: We'll let on the field play determine the freshman that will likely have to burn his 'shirt. It may be a race that, understandably, no one wants to win.

3. Wide Receiver:

Last week we made a bold statement and said; "6' 4" Malcolm Kelly, (2), would start at one of the wide receiver positions in a three receiver set." After two practices it's safe to say we may be on to something here. After witnessing Kelly, Stoops agreed with us and had this comment: "He's definitely a guy we'll see if we can get ready to go right away." 'Thanks' Bob.

Also impressive has been WR Juaquin Iglesias - who just may be another Bobby Jack miracle find, and is already the 'steal' of the class. Another wide out, Eric Huggins will likely red shirt to add bulk to his 6'4" frame, unless he makes Barnum & Bailey catches seem routine in the next 3 weeks. Will Quentin Chaney use his 6'6" height to exploit the secondary? Look for Lendy Holmes, (11), to do something spectacular, possibly in kickoff returns.

Our prediction: By October, this could be OU's most talented receiver corps - top to bottom - in school history. Lucky that Travis Wilson and Jejuan Rankins finish their senior year just as Pro Scouts now routinely look to Darrel Wyatt's WR crew for NFL talent.

2. Cornerback:

Almost as much, or more sad organ music for this position, as at DE - is seeping out over airwaves and in print. You'd think that the staff would be despondent over he lack of bodies. But Bobby Jack Wright says; "I feel good about that nucleus coming back. We've got three really good corners, (Marcus Walker, Eric Bassey and Chijioke). And any time any one team can have three good corners, I think you're at a real bonus."

"If those three were somewhere else, we'd be glad to have them. Naturally, two of them are going to be starters. You'd love to have four. Most places I've been during the 33 years that I've been coaching, you don't have four that are legitimate possible starters, but all three of those guys are potential starters."

"I would have to say that from the spring up ‘til now, the guys are able to become a little more consistent, a little more aggressive in their play with what we're doing through the simplification. Not to the extent where we're going to limit ourselves by any means. I mean, we're going to be multiple just like we've always been. We're gonna give people a variety of things to look at, a variety of things to have to defend."

"But our guys are feeling a little more comfortable with what they're doing. They're a little more settled in their positions. They're learning that position every day, the reps over and over and over, that just mounts up. Once you gain confidence, you're able to turn it loose and become a little bit more aggressive."

Stoops shares the optimism at corner; "We have a very talented group. I have to remind everybody that a year ago we started a great number of games with Eric Bassey and Chijioke Onyenegetcha. They both started and played the entire Texas game - and I believe that was a shutout. Those guys have experience, and Marcus Walker has four games playing and starting. You always graduate players and people go on and new guys come in. So those guys have been in our system, they understand the defense, they understand our program, they know how to compete, they know how to play at the level we want them to play at. I'm not worried about that. I feel good about those guys."

Stoops also praised D.J. Wolfe; "D.J. looks great. He was one of our fastest guys in our 300-yard shuttle. I believe he had a 44, for his average time, which is really running. So he's trained hard and continues to gain experience and feel for the position and I expect him to be a factor - a strong factor this year."

However the biggest eye popper at CB this week has been Reggie Smith, (1). Smith has the entire staff buzzing about his abilities. Smith could very well earn the start here by the second week in October. (Shudder to think what the Sooners might look like at future CB if favorite son Myron Rolle casts his lot with OU later this month).

Seldom does a top ranked recruit arrive as good as advertised. Marcus Dupree - 25 years ago, AD last year, and this year it could be 'back to back' with Smith taking the WOW award.

One OU coach was still amazed after seeing Reggie in his first ever day at CB. "He just has those natural instincts that can't be taught, like knowing exactly when to leave his guy and break on the ball. Imagine what he might look like after we can actually work with him for a few days."

Oklahoma will use a 'Boundary - Wide Side' corner set this year. Typically, the wide side CB is the faster, better cover player, while the boundary corner usually is more physical, and excels in run stopping. Chijioke is an example of a fast, physical CB and is capable of playing either side. As fall drills opened, Bassey, Wolfe and Smith are on the boundary with Walker and Chijioke on the wide side.

Our prediction: Reggie Smith may not start, but he won't red shirt. He's too good. Kick-off returns, punt returns, cornerback, safety - we can't think of a place that you would not want him. (Can he deep snap?).

1. Quarterback - One or Two?

Everyone else has had their say, let's hear from Bob Stoops: "Paul Thompson, Tommy Grady, Rhett Bomar, all have skill, ability. They're all guys that work hard, all have the respect of their teammates, and they're all bright guys. It's funny how from spring practice, when we haven't been on the field since then, that everybody in the news media has their opinion that there's a consensus that there's an order. That is not the case. We came out of spring and felt like they each had a scrimmage or two that they were really good at, one or two that they made some mistakes at, and each of them did that.

So, in our minds, there was not a separation. In our minds, going into yesterday's practice, there was not a separation, there wasn't a ranking, and I feel it's unfortunate that so many in the media have ranked them and have put them in place, that one or two players have to hear that the entire summer because it's really not fair."

"We're very aware of what they all can do, but fortunately, they all can do what each other can do. They're all athletic, they all can run, so really, to us, we don't see that there's much difference in what they can do. Now, there's a little bit of difference in speed here and there, but not significant in that you can't run a lot of the same plays with them. It's more important what they do on the field, making the right decisions, making the right plays, checking into the right plays and avoiding the ones that really hurt you. They just need more time out there to do that."

"Tommy missed practice yesterday and is working on a class in Intersession, so that will be a factor. How much? We'll see. Tommy's gonna work to be at meetings, he was at meetings yesterday, and to work his way on the field according to his schedule . . . We're gonna do our best to keep him up to speed, keep him in the competition. He is a very talented guy with a great delivery and a great arm, so we're gonna do our best to give him as much as he can handle and to keep him in the middle of that race."

Our impression after two sessions is that Paul Thompson has improved with his throwing ability. So mush so that he's clearly neck and neck. Bomar does have an edge in running ability, (not speed, but ability), and on several of the more complicated throws, (out routes, and over and between defenders).

There is simply no way for anyone not on the staff to determine who had a 'better day' by just watching practice. Sure, we can see completions and interceptions, but the coaches continually throw all kinds of distractions at these three from a defensive standpoint to see who handles the pressure and who can best check into the proper play to counter the alignment. We'll also not be able to monitor 'huddle presence' - or who most effectively gets the attention of the team.

OK, what then can fans look for in practice and the three scrimmages? What we should focus on is not completion percentage, but [u]who moves the chains, and who throws the fewest interceptions[/u]. Assuming that everything else is 'equal' - that's how to determine the likely winner.

Our prediction: Book it - the winner will be the QB that best moves the chains - and throws the fewest interceptions.

Other progress reports . . .

Brent Venables said, "We're going to have to have some young guys contribute in our front seven . Guys that we feel like will have an opportunity to do that? Demarcus Granger inside, maybe a Brian Simmons inside as well, and at linebacker, all three of the freshmen linebackers are going to have an opportunity to contribute if day one is any indicator. That's definitely going to happen and then they'll push for playing time right away."

DeMarcus Granger, (96), resumed full speed running two weeks ago and could be 100% ready to play by UCLA in mid September. Coaches would have liked to see Granger, (6-2 / 320), get closer to 300 by the opener. His stamina and performance in pre season drills and scrimmages could improve greatly by the end of August, and a Granger at 80 or 90% may be enough for TCU and Tulsa.

And speaking of 'inside play' along the front seven, look for a revamped and rededicated Dusty Dvoracek, (94), to be a candidate for every award possible as he tears through offenses beginning with a few 'warm up' reps vs TCU or Tulsa.

Stoops has noticed the change and said this about his off season surgery, "He's done most of his lifts throughout the summer. He's trained really hard, looks great. Doctors feel he's a few weeks ahead of schedule. It'll be a lot to hold him back, because I know how he is. He wants to practice and be out there. He's chomping at the bit to get out there and we'll have to restrain him from doing too much too early."

They may red shirt - but freshmen Nic Harris and Keenan Clayton certainly don't look like freshmen. Either - or both - could turn out to be four year starters. We questioned Harris' speed last week and one coach politely told us, "He's plenty fast when the lights go on. I guarantee you don't want to be in his sight lines."

Fred Strong is an example of why we do not make a big deal out of grade rumors. After being left for dead a week ago, Strong had a dedicated finish to retain his eligibility. It's not always a failing grade. Many times it's a missing paper, assignment or other issue that needs to be addressed and is not as serious as reports indicate. Our policy here is to not discuss grade issues unless the athlete or university tells us. For two reasons: It's a very personal matter, and many times people and rumors are just plain wrong.

This week's Big News . . .

It was a wild day on Tuesday for Kirkwood, Mo. receiver Jeremy Maclin. Shortly after returning from a visit to Texas Tech last weekend, Maclin told OUInsider that he was down to Oklahoma and the Red Raiders, with the Sooners slightly in the lead.

However, less than an hour later he decided to pull the trigger and commit to Oklahoma wide receiver coach Darrell Wyatt, only to say in a later interview that he was still planning on taking an official visit to Texas Tech. Finally Wyatt and Maclin talked, and Darrell told him what our definition of commitment entailed. After thinking it over for a bit, Maclin called back to say that 'yes, he wanted a crimson helmet.'

Maclin, (6-0 / 175 / 4.4), has been described as 'lightning in a bottle' and fills the Sooners annual need for one 'Mark Clayton type' receiver.

OU Offer List - Receivers

We said last week that OU's four top receiver prospects were: Jermaine Gresham, Terrell Reese, Jeremy Maclin and Brandon Caleb. With the commitment of Maclin Tuesday, that leaves two slots open.

In Norman this weekend is receiver Brandon Caleb of Fork Union Military Academy. Caleb (6'1, 195, 4.55). Caleb is one of the top receivers on the Sooners' recruiting board and he has the Sooners very high on his list over Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Florida. Caleb is serious about the Sooners and brought mom along to check out the opportunities at Oklahoma.

Caleb, who is not highly ranked nationally as a receiver due to the fact that his team seldom throws the ball, appreciates Darrell Wyatt's offer at the WR position, as others want him to play SS and linebacker where he also excels.

It may be that Caleb either commits now, or elects to roll the dice and see if OU has an opening in a month or two. Our guess is that he may decide to commit to a school that appreciates his potential at a position he prefers, if he finds everything in Norman to his liking today. If this scenario plays out - (and it is speculation), look for a mid to late week announcement in the Sooners favor.

We do say that Caleb and Reese are most likely to commit, but when you throw in Ardmore's Jermaine Gresham, someone could find themselves looking at a 'no vacancy' sign above the Sooners locker room if another receiver down the list calls and says 'I'll take it.' (Unless of course, Gresham agrees to be recruited as a tight end - where an opening is available).

That spot may be filling up as well. The nation's #3 TE prospect Na Derris Ward, cut his final list to five yesterday and has set up his 5 offical visits. Na Derris will visit Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, Washinton and Arizona. Na Derris also says even though he can't set up an offical visit he is still very interest in Florida St, and LSU.

And speaking of the TE spot, it's also being eyed by Mississippi's Richard Dixon, (6'4 / 245 / 4.7), who spoke to James this morning. Last season Dickson played tight end and defensive end and he is being recruited on both sides of the ball. "I have just as many offers at tight end as I do D-end," said Dickson. "I don't care which side of the ball I play on, I just want to make sure which one I go with gets me on the field the quickest. I really like them both and right now I can't tell which one I like better. I just started to play tight end last year and I really like it, so right now I like them both equally."

"I really want to get my decision down to two or three schools pretty quick so I can get it over with. I am looking at Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Miami and Florida State. Oklahoma is most likely one of the schools that I am going to visit."

At present, here is OU's offer list at receiver - listed in order of signing possibility - as of this date:

Adron Tennell - (16) (6-4 / 180 / 4.5), Irving, TX; (Committed to Oklahoma)
Jeremy Maclin - (UR) (6-0 / 180 / 4.4), Kirkwood, MO; (Committed to Oklahoma)
Jermaine Gresham - (9 TE) (6-7 / 235 / 4.7), Ardmore, OK;
Brandon Caleb (UR) (6-1 / 195 / 4.5), Atlanta, GA;
Terrell Reese - (13) (6-4 / 200 / 4.5), Pflugerville, TX;
Jeff Cumberland (4 - WR TE / DE/ LB) (6-4.5 / 221 / 4.47), Columbus, Brookhaven, OH;
Na Derris Ward - (3 TE) (6-5 / 245 / 4.8) Oakland, (McClymonds) CA;
Damon McDaniel - (UR), WR / RB (6'0 / 195 / 4.4), Virginia Beach, VA;
Wesley Lyons, (UR WR /DB) (6-5 / 205 / 4.5), Pittsburgh, (Woodland Hills), PA;
Jonas Mouton (4 - S) (6-2 / 212 / 4.6), Los Angeles, CA;
Markeith Summers (UR) (6-4 / 190 / 4.6), Olive Branch, MS;
Richard Dickson - (UR TE / DE) (6-4 / 238 / 4.7), Ocean Springs, MS;
Tony Wilson - (14 CB) (6-0 / 175 / 4.45), Dayton, Fla.
Konrad Reuland (2 TE) (6-6 / 240 / 4.7), San Juan Capistrano, CA
Andrey Baskins - (UR) (6-4 / 200 / 4.6) Camden, N.J.;
Jarred Fayson - (8 WR) (6-0 / 195 / 4.4) Tampa, FL;

OU Offer List - Defensive Line

The Sooners had the nation's second ranked DT - OKC's Gerald McCoy (6-4 / 280 / 5.0) at practice Friday. McCoy sits at the top of the Sooners DT chart and prefers to keep his recruitment as stress free as possible and the Sooners are abiding by his wishes.

It's been awhile sine we've checked in that Destrehan, Louisiana DT Chaz Washington and we also did that this morning when he said; "I had a good summer, I got my forty time down, and I'm in better shape going into the season. Now, I can play every down at 100 percent and play every play for four quarters. I have developed into a good leader as I am the first guy in the weight room and on the track and I am the last to leave. Right now I weigh 295 and I think I can run a 4.9 forty and I think I can keep that. I am benching close to 355 at this time."

"In recruiting, Oklahoma is still my number one right now. I am trying to get things focused for my season so I am trying to get my official visits set up. I have been researching a lot about them on the Internet and I think I can have an impact at Oklahoma as a freshman. I think I have the ability to go to Oklahoma and start as a true freshman or at least play a lot. I talk to Coach Chris Wilson all the time and he is a good guy. He is always talking to me about anything that I want to talk about. If I needed somebody to talk to about anything he always takes my call. He is always telling me that I can be a great player at Oklahoma and he is always giving me encouragement"

Pryce Macon - (Top 30 DT) (6-1 / 261 / 4.7), Corpus Christi, TX. (Committed to Oklahoma)
Jeremy Gibbs, (JC DT) (6'4 / 285 / 4.8), Northeastern A&M, OK; (Committed to Oklahoma)
Tim Johnson - (JC DE) (6'5 / 265 / 4.7), Northeastern A&M, OK; (Committed to Oklahoma)
Gerald McCoy - (2 DT) (6-4 / 280), OKC Southeast;
Chaz Washington - (Top 25 DT) (6-3 / 288 / 5.0), Destrehan, LA;
Derek Burton - (Top 25) (6-3 / 250), Muskogee, OK;
Ugo Chinasa (13 DE) (6-5 / 230), Richardson, TX;
Brandon Antwine - (14 DT) (6-2 / 270 / 4.8), Garland, TX;
Louis Holmes - (JC) (6-6 / 270), Scottsdale, AZ;
Ellis, Kendrick (DT - OL) (6-5 / 320 / 5.0) West Palm Beach, FL;
Jeff Miller - (UR DE) (6-6 / 235) Westlake Village, CA;
Greg Banks - (UR DE) (6-5 / 260 / 4.8), Denver, CO;
Jared Odrick (19 OL / DL) (6'6, 290, 4.9), Lebanon, Pa (also listed at OL)
Jermaine Cunningham - (14 DE) (6-4 / 220) Stone Mountain, GA;
Lamar Houston - (10 DT) (6-4 / 257 / 4.6), Colorado Springs, CO
Aleric Mullins - (15 DT) (6-2 / 295 / 4.9) Wendell, N.C.
Adam Patterson - (UR) (6'3 / 260 / 4.6), Columbia, South Carolina
Audie Augustine - (UR TE / DE), (6-3 / 226 / 4.6), Ft. Lauderdale, FL;
Josh Minton - (10 DE) (6-4 / 247) Pulaski Co, KY;

OU Offer List - Running Back

Talented Fairfax, Va. running back Evan Royster, (6'0, 200, 4.4), visited the Sooners Thursday. He hoped to spend two days in Norman, but travel problems in Chicago kept him from getting into Norman until Thursday. Royster is scheduled to visit Nebraska on Saturday. Tennessee and Alabama are two other schools that Royster considers as his favorites.

DeMarco Murray, (6-1, 190, 4.5), "My favorites would be USC, OU, Florida and Miami. I would say it is those four right now, but I don't have a favorite out of that group. OU has a great organization that has a great group of coaches. Coach (Bob) Stoops and Coach (Cale) Gundy, along with Coach (Brent) Venables, are a great bunch of coaches that I can see myself playing with and having great success with."

The OU offer list at running back, remains exactly the same as last week: It is listed below, again, ranked not by ability, but in order of the Sooners chances at an eventual commitment, as of this date.

DeMarco Murray - (8) (6-0 / 180 / 4.5), Las Vegas (Gorman), NV;
Chris Brown - (UR) (5-11 / 195 / 4.4), Alexandria, LA;
Evan Royster - (UR) (6-0 / 190 / 4.4), Chantilly, VA;
LeSean McCoy - (2) (5-11 / 206 / 4.4), Harrisburg, PA;
Stafon Johnson - (3) (6-0 /200 / 4.5), L.A. Dorsey, CA;
Knowshon Moreno - (10) (6-0 / 195 / 4.5), Middletown, NJ;
C.J. Gable - (6) (6-1 / 190 / 4.5), Sylmar, CA; (also a top DB)
Javarris James - (Top 25) (6-1 / 205 / 4.5), Immokalee, FL.
Mon Williams - (UR) (6-1 / 190 / 4.5), Mesquite, TX;

Linebackers - OU expected to take 3

Scout #1 linebacker has scheduled three of his five allowed official visits. Allen Bradford will visit Nebraska (9/2), Notre Dame (10/15), and Ole Miss (11/19). Bradford has California schools as his other favorites along with OU and Washington, so the Sooners are in position to get an official. Bradford had 129 tackles, 8 sacks, 4 caused fumbles, 6 fumbles recoveries, and 1 interception on defense as a junior.

OU's offer list at linebacker - listed in order of signing possibility as of this date:

Mike Morgan - (Top 25) (6-3½, / 185 / 4.6); Dallas (Skyline);
Anthony Lewis - (17) (6-2½, / 220 / 4.6), Haltom City, TX;
Brandon Spikes (12) (6-4 / 230 / 4.6), Shelby, NC
Allen Bradford (1) (6-0 / 222 / 4.5), Colton, CA.
Joshua Tatum (4) (6-2 / 220 / 4.5), Oakland, CA;
Morrice Richardson - (UR) (6'1½ / 228 / 4.7), Atlanta (Westlake), Georgia;
Tory Smith (UR) (6-0 / 241 / 4.8), Rome, GA;
Mark Johnson - (10) (6-3 ½ / 230 / 4.4), Los Angeles Dorsey
Jarrell Miller (9) (6-3 / 235), Highland Springs, VA;
Navorro Bowman - (15) (6'2 / 218 / 4.6), Forestville, (Suitland), Maryland.
Marcus Ball (7) (6-0 / 208 / 4.4), from Stone Mountain, GA.
Bo Harris - (18) (6-2 / 210 / 4.65); Conyers, GA.

OU Offer List - Offensive Line

At present, here is OU's offer list along the OL - listed in order of signing possibility - as of this date:

Cory Brandon - (16) (6-6 / 255, 5.1), Corsicana, TX; (Committed to Oklahoma)
Curtis Bailey - (Top 25), (6-6 / 350 / 5.6), Dallas Carter;
Ian Symonette - (3), (6-9 / 330), St. Pius X HS, Houston, TX;
Antonio Logan-El - (10) (6-6 / 320 / 5.2), Forestville, MD.
J. B. Walton - (Top 25) (6-3 / 270 / 5.1, Indian Head, MD;
Matt Allen - (UR) (6-3½, / 280 / 5.3), Klein (Collins), TX.
Lee Tilley - (15) (6-5 / 321), Springfield, OH;
Maurice Hurt - (UR) (6'3½ / 340 / 5.7), Baldwin, GA;
Daniel Wenger - (Top 25) (6-4 / 285 / 5.3), Fort Lauderdale, FL;
Jim Barrie - (UR) (6-5 / 305), Tampa, FL;

Kendrick Ellis - (DT - OL) (6-5 / 320 / 5.0) West Palm Beach, FL;
Jovon Hayes - (Top 25) (6-2½ / 320 / 5.3), L.A. Dorsey, CA;
Marcus Gilbert - (UR) (6'6½, 285, 4.9), Fort Lauderdale, (St. Thomas Aquinas), FL;
Butch Lewis - (13) (6'6 / 280 / 4.8), Denver (Regis Jesuit), CO;
Matt Carufel - (9) (6-5 / 288) , Saint Paul, MN;
Steve Schilling (2) (6-5 / 290), Bellevue, WA;
Aaron Brown- (17) (6-6 / 283 / 5.1) OT Cincinnati, (Princeton), OH;
Cruz Barrett - (UR) (6-4 / 315), Daytona Beach, FL;
Andre Smith (1) (6-4 / 315), Birmingham, AL;
Chase Beeler - (UR) (6-3 / 275), Jenks, OK; should get a Sooner offer before the summer is over.
Doug Stroud, (6-7 / 345), Shreveport, (Evangel Christian LA); expected to get an OU offer.
Adams, Jeff (6-7 / 300 / ) Cadiz, KY;

D-Back offer list - OU expected to take 4 - 5

The nation's top player, and OU recruit of three years, Myron Rolle will most likely decide on his college choice later this month. Meanwhile the #2 ranked CB, Destrehan (La.) cornerback Jai Eugene, (6-0, 195, 4.4), has got his list down to a probable 10. "No leader," he replied. "When school starts I am going to start narrowing things down to 10 schools that I am going to start working with: LSU, Miami, USC, Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Georgia all have a good shot," he said.

OU's offer list at defensive back - listed in order of signing possibility as of this date:

James Henry - (7 - S) (6'2 / 205 / 4.5), Schertz (Clemens), TX; (Committed to Oklahoma)
Jonathan Nelson - (13 CB) (6'0 / 175 / 4.4), of Mansfield, TX; (Committed to Oklahoma)
Myron Rolle - (1 overall / 1 - S) (6-2 / 210 / 4.5), The Hun School, Princeton, NJ;
Perrish Cox - (5 CB) (6'0 / 175 / 4.4), Waco, Texas:
Terrance Anderson - (UR) (5-10 / 161), Houston, (Aldine Nimitz), TX;
Jai Eugene - (1 CB) (5-11 / 185 / 4.4), Destrehan, LA ;
Jashaad Gaines - (UR) (6'0, 198, 4.5), Las Vegas High, NV;
C.J. Gable - (6 RB) RB / DB (6-1 / 190 / 4.5) - Sylmar, CA;
A.J. Wallace - (UR) (6-1 / 195), Pomfret, MD.
Darian Hagen - (4 CB) (6-1 / 186), L.A. CA;
Reshad Jones - (13 - S) (6-2 / 177 / 4.5), Atlanta, (Washington), GA:
Jonas Mouton (4 S) (6-2, 212, 4.6), L.A. CA;
Devin Ross - (2 CB) RB / CB (5-11 / 180 / 4.4), Rancho Cucamonga, CA;

2005 OU Pre-Season Practice Schedule
(subject to change)

Aug. 8 – Scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. (stadium)
Aug. 9 – Practice at 7:45 a.m., practice at 6 p.m.
Aug. 10 – Practice at 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 11 -- Practice at 7:45 a.m., practice at 6 p.m.
Aug. 12 – Scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. (stadium)
Aug. 13 – Off
Aug. 14 – Practice at 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 15 -- Practice at 7:45 a.m., practice at 6 p.m.
Aug. 16 – Practice at 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 17 – Scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. (stadium)
Aug. 18 – Off
Aug. 19 -- Practice at 7:45 a.m., practice at 6 p.m.
Aug. 20 – Practice 9:30-11 a.m. (last open practice)
Aug. 21 – Off
Aug. 22 – First day of class
Sept. 3 – Season opener vs. TCU

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