Truth is stranger than fiction . . .
Nothing would have shocked OU fans more this week than to see Donovan Woods, Bobby Reid and the OSU football team working out in Norman. But it could have happened. Showing that the childish non sense of the Les Miles era was now safely residing in Baton Rouge, good guy Bob Stoops called Mike Gundy and offered the OU practice field and facilities to the rain drenched Cowpokes. Gundy and his Pokes headed 40 miles north to Ponca City to practice for several days instead.
It probably will never be reported, and OSU fans would never believe it, but it's true. Much like the vast majority of Owen Field weekly cheering for the 'Pokes to win, and Kelvin Sampson publicly congratulating OSU and Eddie Sutton several years ago when the Cowboys reached the Final Four, the incident showed that the majority of Bedlam envy and hatred blows from the north.
As long as OU remains the dominant 'flagship' school of the state, that won't change. But with brother Cale on the OU staff, Gundy will probably refuse to participate in the typical envious OU comments associated with Les Miles, and the actions of fanatical fringe hate groups typified by Aggie extremist - blowhard Robert Allen.
Stoops made the first move, now the ball rests in the court of the Cowboys. It's said that Mike did appreciate the offer, and that's a great first step toward a mature relationship with the Poke contingent.
Two weeks away from Frog Legs . . . or a Purple Plague ?
Oklahoma is half way through pre season drills, and the TCU Frogs hop into Norman on the 3rd of September, just two weeks away. There are still plenty of questions, but let's get to the 'answers' first.
First and foremost, this defense could very well be much better than last year. A lot better. It's been hinted at for a couple of weeks and it was most evident Wednesday, when the defense stole the show in the third scrimmage of the fall. The 'D' picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recorded 11 sacks while holding the offense to just one score in 14 drives during the full-field portion of the scrimmage.
"I was pleased," said OU head coach Bob Stoops after the scrimmage. "I was real satisfied and pleased, more so defensively with our positioning on the ball. Structurally, we were very sound on all the deep balls. We tackled well. We had very few, if any, busted assignments, and our alignments were what they ought to be."
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables was not surprised, with the play of his defense. "I liked the attitude, I like how they were flying around," Venables said. "They were very confident. Again, a lot of it is that they are more than ever comfortable with routes and the formations that they see. They have an idea what's coming before it ever happens."
"We are not beating our chests by any stretch of the imagination, but we are continuing to make the kind of progress we had hoped to. We are getting an opportunity for young guys to get experience and reps under game-type adjustments and things of that nature. I am pleased with the effort, pursuing to the football - and for the most part, keeping the football inside and in front of them. I thought we did that all day."
"It helps the defense a little bit knowing what the offense is doing to a certain extent. The offense doesn't have J.D, A.D, and they don't have Kejuan in there. We're a different team when they are in there. The plays we call, the way we play-action and run in the game is totally different, along with the fact that we had some of our better receivers out early in the scrimmage. The 'D' is a little more aggressive in their rush knowing there isn't a threat of running, but we've done a good pressure," said Stoops of his defense.
Defensive 'Front Seven' Improved
Carl Pendleton is typical of the young DT's that were pressed into action last year by the absence of Dusty Dvoracek. Not only is Dusty back, but Pendleton has a year of experience and 20 additional pounds to work with. Remi Ayodele has also begun to look less like a JC tackle and is having a break out fall camp. Steven Coleman looks like a soild bet to also be in the rotation this year.
As for DeMarcus Granger, his hard work is paying off as his stamina increases almost daily. Still, a decision on his red shirt status is still two weeks away, and will probably be on of the last issues to be decided before kickoff on September 3rd.
Coaches would likely let Granger develop one more year if he has not edged Coleman or Cory Bennett out by September 1st. Privately, they wonder just how much better he could be by substituting some muscle for mass - so to speak. (The answer is - 'A Terror'). But make no mistake, DeMarcus is giving it his best shot, and that's nothing to discount. Still, if Granger plays this year, we won't see him at his best until sometime in October or early November.
C.J. Ah You, John Williams and the return of Calvin Thibodaux have made the DE position one of strength instead of worry. Ah You improves daily and should be a force where opponents were hoping there'd be a fall off this year. Williams has shot to the top of the depth chart, exceeding his expectations and 'Thibs' is playing like the leader he was last year when an injury set him out for the season. Add big play Larry Birdine to the mix and you can see why Venables and new DE coach Chris Wilson smile at the possibilities.
Obviously the starting trio at LB is still Rufus Alexander, Clint Ingram, and Zach Latimer, but it was another great week for Brent Venables' young linebacker crew, as true freshmen Ryan Reynolds and Curtis Lofton continue to press the veterans after only two weeks of drills.
It now looks likely that both will play this year, along with super sub Demarrio Pleasant, who could fill in at any LB slot. Fellow freshman Lamont Robinson also has shown flashes of brilliance, but at this stage, will probably Red Shirt, not so much because he's not done well, but why waste his talent?
"It's obvious how physical and aggressive they, (Lofton, Reynolds), are. A lot of it is instinct, they just have a feel for it. They're active from sideline-to-sideline and just seem to have a real good feel for the game."
As for Dusty, he feels great but has yet to be cleared by doctors to have contact at full speed, a requirement Stoops has insisted on. Dusty proclaims he's ready, but Stoops says he won't take a chance until he gets an official OK. That should come sometime in the next week or two, as Doctors will take another look on Monday. But whether it's by TCU, Tulsa or UCLA remains to be determined, but when the wraps come off, 'look out Little Rock.'
Although the front seven looks as strong as last year, at least with DD back, it's the improvement in the secondary that allows us to see a better OU defensive team this season. The unit has started to come together lately and had an exceptional scrimmage Wednesday. "I thought guys played a lot better. We had no deep balls, we had no busts," said secondary coach Bobby Jack Wright. "We had people in their proper spots, got good positioning and had very few missed tackles. I guess we had a few, but there were very few. All in all, I was pleased with everything," coach Wright said Wednesday evening.
Early on, the starters at corner will be Chijioke Onyenegecha and D.J. Wolfe. Wright has said several times that D.J. has been his best player in the secondary. D.J will man the wide side (or 'field'), CB while Chijioke will line up on the side closest to the sideline, ('boundary).'
At this time Marcus Walker, still limited with a tweaked shoulder, and Eric Bassey, both who started last year, will back up D.J and Chijioke respectively. Freshman Brian Jackson has shown enough promise that Wright may just play him this year as well warning that Jackson could move ahead of some people. "The guy who really stood out to me was Brian Jackson," Wright said this week. "I thought he had a heck of a scrimmage, and he has had a heck of a camp. Those other corners better start picking up their business. D.J. and Chijioke are really playing well, and now you have a true freshman that's pushing. So everybody else that is standing around looking better get moving because that guy had a heck of a day today."
Who are the big difference makers? Beside the sudden emergence of Wolfe, it's obviously Onyenegetcha. We've said several times this month that Chijioke is showing the promise that made several NFL scouts say he'd be OU's best DB last year. That was before Bo Pelini's spaghetti scheme 'D' had CO turned every way but loose. However, a return to the Stoops defense has salvaged his career and it now looks like he will star.
As we reported last week, Wolfe and 'CO' have allowed Reggie Smith to return to safety where both Lewis Baker and Darien Williams are playing well, but Wright says the position is not as clear cut as it is at corner. "There's no question that the competition is still wide open at the safety positions. I haven't really seen anybody step to the front. Now, down on the goal line in the short-yardage situations, Darien Williams and Lewis Baker really stood out down there. They were penetrating, attacking and making nice tackles down around that goal line.
"They really showed that they were committed to keeping them out of the end zone. I was really pleased with that aspect of it. Those safeties have a lot of work ahead of them and we are getting down to about a week left. Hopefully, somebody back there will make a push."
"As far as Nic (Harris) and those guys (Reggie Smith and Keenan Clayton), I'm giving them as many reps as I can give them to show or see if they can jump in and be a part of that fray also," Wright added.
All Eyes on the QB's . . .
A strong defense will cover up a lot of shortcomings on offense, and it could be another month before the offense begins to gel, but it all starts under center.
Through the first two weeks, Rhett Bomar has held a slight advantage over Paul Thompson in most practices, while Paul has had better scrimmages. It looks to us like both QB's are trying too hard to please. It seems that the only consistent occurrence is that the pressure of winning the job has strained both to sub-par performances any time the other looks like he's hot.
Maybe that's why coaches name a starter; as it takes the pressure off of all the candidates and lets each one play to his strengths instead of trying to outperform the other. In this case however, after the two weeks - it would be a shame for either candidate to finish second.
"They are both learning and they are growing in their experience," said Stoops after Wednesday scrimmage. "I'm not much for critiquing individuals in front of everybody. We'll watch it, grade it with them. Again, I think they continue to learn and grow. That's why we're doing these scrimmages. Not just for them, but there are a number of guys gaining good game experience out there learning without it costing us."
"In the end, we put a lot of strain on the quarterbacks just to operate in these situations, (without Runnels and Peterson). We are out there throwing it more than we normally would, in formations we normally wouldn't be in all the time. It's hard to really judge where we're at there," Stoops continued. "But I feel confident when we get all those guys in there at one time we will be able to do what we need to do."
OU Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long said Friday that Bob Stoops would probably announce a decision on the quarterback race next Wednesday or Thursday, 10 days before the Sooners first game. Stoops has threatened to hold one more scrimmage on Tuesday or Wednesday, and that might swing the decision one way or another.
Long said that is the way the Sooners like to do it when to comes to QB races, because it gives the quarterbacks time to get interviews out of the way, get their roles set and to start to get into game week. Long also said that the race was still too close to call, but that the coaches would sit down next week and come up with some kind of decision.
In the unlikely case that one does not clearly separate in the next week, we could possibly see this race determined by play during the TCU and Tulsa games, with the 'tentative' starter named Wednesday and the 'permanent' starter selected after the Tulsa game.
No matter who wins, we disagree with those that say the position will be a problem this year. It's true that neither is Jason White, but Jason could not do some things that both Thompson and Bomar are capable of either. Thompson will shock you with his improved ability to pass as much as Bomar will surprise people with his running acumen. It's true that Paul is one of the fastest Sooners, but Bomar is only a step behind, and in the open field possesses more moves that PT.
The bottom line is that Oklahoma will be very good with either, and in better much better shape than when Josh Heupel graduated.
Jacob Gutierrez appears to be having the best camp of any tailback. Obviously, Heisman runner up Adrian Peterson has been held out of most contact drills and senior Kejuan Jones has been sidelined with a nagging foot injury. Senior Donta Hickson has also shown well, but everyone in the country knows that AD will get most of the snaps. Regardless, 'Gute' has probably earned more playing time and has shown some remarkable 'Little Joe-like' moves.
Fullback is suddenly deep with the emergence of Dane Zaslaw and newcomer Matt Clapp pushing senior Russell Dennison for the back up spot. A week ago, all bets were that Clapp would be needed this year, but lately the play of Zaslaw has caused coaches to rethink that theory.
The coaches will use the fullback more this year, and no one is better than senior J.D. Runnels. Dennison is a force on special teams, and often the most dynamic, if not the leading tackler on kickoffs. He will certainly play. The coaches would prefer to redshirt Clapp, as they don't think they can find a fullback with his potential often, and the blossoming of Zaslaw might allow them that luxury.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
It's now safe to say that the Sooners will be solid at receiver this year, thanks to a couple of veterans and a slew of new comers. The young guys got a lot of work on Wednesday, as Travis Wilson and Jejuan Rankins played just two series and then were held out.Quentin Chaney led the group with four catches, while Wilson led the team in yards with 47 on three catches.
Redshirt freshman Lendy Holmes had one nice catch and run on a crossing route, and freshmen Manuel Johnson and Juaquin Iglesias also made several nice plays each. Iglesias, who caught three passes for 33 yards, also showed some flash, reminiscent of the great Mark Clayton, after making one catch near the 10 and working his way down to the one-yard line. Redshirt freshman Fred Strong and true freshman Malcolm Kelly did not scrimmage, due to injuries. Both are expected to return later this week.
"(All those guys) are getting experience," said Stoops. "Of course, we have Jejuan and Travis who have played for three years and have great experience out there. We are really evaluating those young guys. I think Juaquin Iglesias showed again today that he is doing an excellent job."
"Quentin Chaney and Lendy Holmes continue to improve. We still need to get Malcolm Kelly out there. He showed a lot of early signs of a guy that could really do it."
Offensive Line Still Unsettled
As expected, at this time, the offensive line has more questions than any other unit. Coming into the year, concerns included quarterback; receivers; defensive line; secondary and offensive line. While most of those questions have been satisfactorily answered, Kevin Wilson still has work to do on the offensive line.
Much of the uncertainty was expected, due to the fact that Wilson planned to experiment and move almost every player along the OL to find out who can and can not play certain positions. So the process has been somewhat methodical and deliberate. But Wilson sees the pre season drills as the only safe time to experiment. As we have said several times, Wilson is looking for eight players he can count on. Ten would be a luxury, but eight is a necessity.
Here are the current nominees for the top eight slots:
Davin Jospeh - simply the best lineman in the Big 12, one of the very best in the country and a future first or second round draft choice. The question here is; "Does he stay at LT or can Wilson move him?" Why would he move? Only an injury elsewhere would cause that to happen, and then only if there was no other capable replacement at the source of the injury. Wilson simply wants a contingency plan in place before the season starts.
Junior Chris Chester is incredibly strong, very quick and tough. Chester has been one of the best blockers on the team, and he has worked harder than anyone this summer to gain another 20 pounds and add strength as well. The extra weight should be a bonus this fall making Chester a safe bet to start at guard or center if needed.
Senior Chris Bush has been one of the best linemen on the team for the past couple of years and will be a very good collegiate center, but he has been slowed by a sore ankle.
Senior Kelvin Chaisson has a rare chance to be a three year starter at Oklahoma. He's not OU's best lineman, but he's a key ingredient to the success of the season.
Akim Millington was highly recruited and has lived up to everybody's expectations. He has become a starter by his redshirt sophomore year, and that is saying something at OU. He will be a very good player.
It's safe to say that those five will form the nucleus of the 2005 line, leaving several players for the remaining three slots. The candidates for those three are:
Chris Messner is a very good athlete that is still eating and lifting his way into an tackle and is getting closer. He weighs 290 and has played his way into the Sooners' No. 3 tackle and right now would backup either Millington or Joseph in case of injury.
As the season unfolds, it's possible that one of the two freshmen tackles could also help out. Duke Robinson and Branndon Braxton are the best set of young tackles at OU in the Stoops era. The Sooners would like to redshirt both, as both good lose some weight and gain conditioning, but both must also be ready to play if needed this year.
Coach Wilson and Merv Johnson both say that Jon Cooper is the best young center prospect they have seen in a long time, and Cooper could also be a very good at guard, and may end up there, as fellow freshman Jesse White has not disappointed anybody. Other guard candidates include J.D. Quinn and Ben Barresi, two outstanding young players in the program.
Quinn, who has been in the system longer and is further along than Barresi, will help out this year and is good enough to possibly be a three-year starter. Barresi probably needs a year in the weight room in order to make a solid impact next year.
As of now, Quinn and Cooper would be the first to back Chester and Chaisson. But our hats are off to Brett Rayl, who continues to work hard and improve, and the senior might allow Cooper to keep his red shirt as he now looks like he could back up either guard as well.
What should also be pointed out is the fact that the offensive line doesn't cut block in scrimmages, nor did they really have the threat of a major running game with Adrian Peterson and J.D. Runnels watching from the sidelines.
"We are in a situation when we are doing a lot of passing right now for the quarterbacks," said senior tackle Davin Joseph. "Realistically, that's not a game-type situation. From the offensive line standpoint, we really have to sit back and sort out all the blitzes, and that is tough on an inexperienced line. But we'll get it, we'll be alright."
OU has more depth than at any time under Stoops on the offensive line. Granted, the depth is inexperienced, but there is no question that is more athletic and talented and it will be interesting to see if OU is a great run-blocking team. Once they start cutting and playing by all the rules up front, their athletic ability should make a huge difference.
This week's Big News . . .
Things may be getting brighter on the Brandon Keith front. OU coaches have had several conversations with Keith, and some kind of word should be coming by tomorrow or Monday. Over the last couple of days, it seems to be more likely that Keith will be rejoining the team after dealing with a personal and emotional issue, one that is not necessarily serious, unless you're the party involved. Brandon, who is a very capable tackle or guard, could play this year, but also could red shirt.
OU Offer List - Receivers
As we said last week, OU has one opening for a wide receiver and at least one slot for a tight end, although they lose two seniors in 'Bubba' Moses and Willie Roberts, and make take two here. But whoever wants a crimson jersey might want to go ahead and mail in a reservation, because OU has shown that like Joe Don Looney, they will not wait.
Oklahoma extended and offer to Minnesota TE Jordan McMichael, (6-6 / 235 / 4.7), last week and to Tampa, Florida TE Trent Pupello, (6-3 / 255 / 4.7), this week.
"People tell me all the time I am more of a traditional tight end," said Pupello. "I am not sure what that means, but I get that a lot. I am a good blocker at the line of scrimmage, but I can catch the ball as well. I also hear that I am a throwback tight end. I started out in little league playing in the offensive line, and in my ninth grade year I actually played offensive tackle. My sophomore year, I started at offensive tackle. It wasn't until I transferred to Jefferson last year that I moved to tight end. I think playing in the offensive line has helped me with my blocking."
Pupello has been offered by Oklahoma, Florida State, LSU, Ole Miss, USF, Nebraska, Kansas, San Diego State and several others.
"My favorite right now is FSU, but I'm real interested in Oklahoma. They are one of the schools that I am going to visit," said Pupello. "I really don't know a lot about them so I need to visit there to find out what they are all about. I really don't follow football all that much, I just play it."
The tight end is back in college football and no longer is he just a hybrid receiver, he has to be a complete tight end that can block, catch and run, and Jordan McMichael can do all of that.
Last season, McMichael caught 30 passes for 414 yards and six touchdowns. He also doubled at defensive end where he finished with 80 tackles, 12 sacks and recovered one fumbled and returned it two yards for a touchdown.
"It doesn't really matter to me which side of the ball I play on in college," said McMichael. "People say I am better on offense, so most schools are recruiting me on the offensive side of the ball."
McMichael has been offered by Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Colorado and Boston College. "I'm looking at how good the football team is and how good academically they are," said McMichael. "Just as important, however, is for me to go to a school where I am going to be happy and where I can fit in. I am going to be there probably five years, so I need to pick a school where I am going to be happy." Right now I would say I have a top three or maybe a top four," said McMichael. "They would be Wisconsin, Boston College, Nebraska and Oklahoma."
"The Sooners are a top five program and have been for a long time," said McMichael. "I know they have a great football program, but I just need to check out the school and see what the deal is. I am going to visit OU on September 3rd when they play TCU."
Wesley Lyons is a national recruit at WR, as he's widely considered one of the top wide receiver prospects in the state of Pennsylvania. Lyons is looking at OU, West Virginia and Miami as well as Ohio State where his brother, Devon, plays. The Pittsburgh (Pa.) Woodland Hills standout was asked why people may believe he has more upside than some of Florida's top receivers. "I think my ability to get behind defenders is pretty good and I got good hands and quickness," he said.
At present, here is OU's offer list at WR and TE - 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)
Brandon Caleb (UR) (6-1 / 195 / 4.5), Atlanta, GA; (Committed to Oklahoma)
Terrell Reese - (13) (6-4 / 200 / 4.5), Pflugerville, TX;
Jermaine Gresham - (9 TE) (6-7 / 235 / 4.7), Ardmore, OK;
Damon McDaniel - (UR), WR / RB (6'0 / 195 / 4.4), Virginia Beach, VA;
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;
Jordan McMichael - (UR TE) (6-5, 230, 4.7), Minneapolis, MN
Wesley Lyons, (UR WR /DB) (6-5 / 205 / 4.5), Pittsburgh, (Woodland Hills), PA;
Trent Pupello, (UR TE) (6-3 / 255 / 4.7), Tampa, (Jefferson), FL:
Richard Dickson - (UR TE / DE) (6-4 / 238 / 4.7), Ocean Springs, MS;
Tony Wilson - (14 CB) (6-0 / 175 / 4.45), Dayton, Fla.
Markeith Summers (UR) (6-4 / 190 / 4.6), Olive Branch, MS;
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;
D-Back offer list - OU expected to take 4
'Number One' Sooner target, Myron Rolle has set a date: "I am going to announce on September 1st," says the nation's to recruit. Rolle added that the date is the only thing set in stone, and that several TV networks want to carry the announcement. "That's the question, we are not sure of what network or where yet. It might be at school, or in Atlantic City at a plaza, but we are not sure yet."
"My finalists are Miami, Penn State, Michigan, Florida, Florida State, and Oklahoma." OUInsider expects the announcement to be made in Atlantic City and we expect Oklahoma to be in the final three, with a decent chance for his signature.
Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) cornerback Devin Ross, (5-11, 180), was named the #2 ranked cornerback in the nation behind Rolle earlier this summer. And he shared his comments about that: "Actually, I think I should have been #1. When those post-season rankings come out, you can bet I'll be striving to be #1," Ross said.
Ross said from his current list of 17 schools, he plans to narrow it down to seven in the next few weeks. "I'm really wide open, but by August 31st, I'll know who my top seven are," Ross said. "I need to get some more research to decide who they'll be."
Though playing corner, Ross said he'd like to move to free safety if the coaches see fit. "I could play both, but I think I'll move to safety. I like to dish out hits," Ross said. You can bet that Sooner coaches would like to get both Rolle and Ross into Norman so that the debate could be settled on the field.
Los Angeles safety Jonas Mouton, (6-2 / 208 / 4.6), denies that he's set on a top five but acknowledges that Nebraska and Michigan will surely be in the finals and USC is also in a strong position. Oklahoma is in the running for one of the two remaining spots but may be slipping out of contention.
Like many other Blue Chippers, the only chink in Mouton's armor is a 2.6 GPA.
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;
Jashaad Gaines - (UR) (6'0, 198, 4.5), Las Vegas High, NV;
Jai Eugene - (1 CB) (5-11 / 185 / 4.4), Destrehan, LA ;
C.J. Gable - (6 RB) RB / DB (6-1 / 190 / 4.5) - Sylmar, CA;
A.J. Wallace - (UR) (6-1 / 195), Pomfret, MD.
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;
Darian Hagen - (4 CB) (6-1 / 186), L.A. CA;
OU Offer List - Defensive Line
With three commitments along the front defensive line Oklahoma is doing well, and has three slots open. Obviously, OKC Southeast product Gerald McCoy - (2 DT) (6-4 / 280), tops the list, and you can bet the Sooners will hold one here.
So who are the other most 'likely to commit' prospects at DE / DT? The Sooners are actively recruiting a dozen or so for the remaining three positions, and we heard from a few of them this week.
Kenrick Ellis is one of the top defensive line prospects in the state of Florida this season. He talked about what makes him different than a lot of other defensive tackle prospects from around the state.
"I don't wanna sound cocky or anything - but it's a mental thing for me," he said. "When I step onto the field, I only know one way and that's to beat someone up. The first play of the game, I'm out to destroy someone's confidence. After the first series, it's over. I'm in their heads. I'm talking smack, doing what I can. They start breaking down slowly and by the 4th quarter, it's over. That's another reason I wanna stay fresh, for times like that."
In addition to the three Florida programs, Ellis has his eyes on programs like Tennessee, Oklahoma, and LSU. The only knock against Ellis is that he 'did not get serious' about his school work until last year. Still, he should make it if he continues to show the improvement that he did as a junior.
Chaz Washington has been on the Sooner radar screen since January. Though many say Washington is destined for the OL, he disagrees and this summer did something about it. "I worked out all summer with strength and conditioning coach Tim Shaw, (New England Patriots). He improved my speed, and strength by leaps and bounds. I trimmed my forty time from a 5.0 to a 4.8 and I am squatting over 550 pounds now."
Washington got some great news last week; "I have been selected to the Army All-American Bowl, and I will announce there." As to where Chaz might be leaning: "Oklahoma has been my number one school for a while. They were the first school to offer me. I have been contacting them a lot and keeping in touch. Miami, USC and Ole Miss come after Oklahoma."
Texas defensive tackle Brandon Antwine (6-0, 271, 5.1), still says his top three schools are USC, Florida and Oklahoma--over Nebraska and Miami. "Those schools in my top three are pretty even right now. They are the three schools that I like the most and I'll probably end up making a decision on one of those three programs," said Antwine, who will play at Garland this year.
"Oklahoma is pretty close to home and I really like that. They're in there just in case I end up realizing that I'd get homesick if I went out to USC or Florida. They're a great program and they basically have what USC and Florida have…they're just closer to home," said Antwine.
"All three of these programs have great Business Schools. I've never been to any of them before, but I know they're my top three schools. I've gotten media guides from these programs and I've done a lot of research on all three."
Westlake Village, (California), defense end Jeff Miller, (6-5 / 225), has narrowed it down to seven schools. "I just got back from a tour of seven schools that I took unofficial visits to," said Miller. "I visited Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Arizona State, Oklahoma and UCLA."
Miller said he hopes to have his decision made by September 1st. If not, though, he will take some official trips. "I want to make a commitment relatively soon. But if I don't feel it, I'll wait and take some official visits until I know where I want to go. I don't have any set up yet. I do know I plan to go to the UCLA-Oklahoma game in September," said Miller.
Colorado Springs (Colo.) athlete Lamarr Houston, Jr. (6-2, 258, 4.9) said he's narrowed his list down to 10 schools: "My top schools are USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Michigan State, LSU, Arizona State, Tennessee, Arizona and Nebraska," said Houston Jr., from Doherty High School.
"Right now I'm open to all ten of those schools and I really don't know when I'm going to be able to narrow that list down. I was pretty much ready to commit recently. I thought that I wanted to go to Texas, but they've had a lot of commits and a lot of their positions have filled up. They wanted me at defensive end, and I don't really want to play defensive end in college," said Houston.
"Most of these schools are looking at me as a defensive end, linebacker and a fullback--a full combination of the three. I don't really have a preference on either position in college, but I know that I don't want to play defensive end," he said.
Sticking with his plans, South Carolina standout Adam Patterson, (6-3 / 255), has narrowed it down to the five schools he will officially visit this fall: "It's down to South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Auburn, and N.C. State," said Patterson. "Those were just the schools that really attracted me. All the schools that were recruiting me were very prestigious, but I just liked how these schools came out on top, (last season). They just looked like teams that I could possibly play for."
"I'm going to get in some official visits and some games and just see where it goes from there," said Patterson. "I think I'm going to take my officials after the season, sometime in December."
At present, here is OU's offer list at DT and DE - listed in order of signing possibility - as of this date:
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;
Derek Burton - (Top 25) (6-3 / 250), Muskogee, OK;
Chaz Washington - (Top 25 DT) (6-3 / 288 / 5.0), Destrehan, LA;
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;
Jeff Miller - (UR DE) (6-6 / 235) Westlake Village, CA;
Ellis, Kendrick (DT - OL) (6-5 / 320 / 5.0) West Palm Beach, FL;
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 / 4.8) , 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
Making the first major decision of his recruitment, Knowshon Moreno ranked as the nation's #10 RB, has scheduled his first official visit to Oklahoma for TCU. With plenty of offers to choose from, Moreno, a 6-foot, 205-pound tailback from Middletown (N.J.) South, has a lot of options for his remaining four official visits. However, he is completely clueless as to any candidates.
"I'm really not sure," said Moreno. "I'm looking at a bunch of schools and just trying to narrow it down now. I'm just really not sure. I'll probably start scheduling more visits after the Oklahoma one."
Although the Sooners are the only school Moreno has even considered officially visiting, Moreno claims they're "not necessarily" ahead of other schools.
Stafon Johnson just might be the most highly recruited player in all of Los Angeles. There isn't a school in the country that wouldn't take this 5-star (# 3 RB), rated athlete at either running back or at safety. Everybody wants him and he can choose offense or defense, including Oklahoma, but right now there is only one school that he's planning to visit.
"I will take one to Florida - but I am not sure when," said the 6-0, 200-pound star for powerful Dorsey High. "Yeah, Florida is the only visit I know I am going to take so far. They came all the way out here to visit me. I just thought I would take some time to go and see them. I wanted to show them the mutual friendship, and some love like they have shown me. I have never been out there (to Florida), so that will be fun."
Despite the possibility, Murray, Brown and Royster are all more likely to be the single Sooner commit here.
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;
Knowshon Moreno - (10) (6-0 / 195 / 4.5), Middletown, NJ;
LeSean McCoy - (2) (5-11 / 206 / 4.4), Harrisburg, PA;
Stafon Johnson - (3) (6-0 /200 / 4.5), L.A. Dorsey, CA;
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
Georgia linebacker Toryan Smith, (6-0, 241, 4.8) , will officially visit Oklahoma (9/3), Notre Dame, Michigan and Florida (11/26).
Dallas linebacker Mike Morgan, (6-3 / 195 / 4.6), sits on top of OU's wish list and says he's narrowed his list down to Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, USC and Florida State. "All of those schools that make up my top six are even for me right now," said Morgan, from Skyline High School.
Morgan, Lewis, Spikes, Bradford and Tatum still top OU's national shopping list.
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;
Toryan Smith (UR) (6-0 / 241 / 4.8) , Rome, GA;
Morrice Richardson - (UR) (6'1½ / 228 / 4.7), Atlanta (Westlake), Georgia;
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
Tampa (Fla.) offensive lineman Daron Rose, (6-5 / 310 / 5.4). has narrowed his list down to nine schools and plans to chisel it further in the coming weeks. "My top schools are Florida, Michigan, USC, Florida State, Notre Dame, South Carolina, South Florida, Maryland and Oklahoma," said Rose.
"Out of that list I don't have a leader or anything like that. I figure that I need to see all of these schools before I can start naming any favorites. I've got to be fair with all of them right now. I don't have the dates scheduled yet but I know for sure right now that I'm going to take official visits to both Florida State and Oklahoma," he said.
"With all of this, academics come first, and I want a good coaching staff around me, especially at my position. I'm also looking at the overall atmosphere of the school. Distance away from home will not play a real big factor in any of this at all," he said.
"Right now - Duke, Florida State and Florida are the three schools that are recruiting me the hardest. I'm on a constant level of communication with all three programs. We all send text messages to each other, and I get handwritten letters from all of them all the time. They also try and maintain communication with my parents and I really appreciate that," he said.
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.
Jim Barrie - (UR) (6-5 / 305), Tampa, FL;
Daniel Wenger - (Top 25) (6-4 / 285 / 5.3), Fort Lauderdale, FL;
Lee Tilley - (15) (6-5 / 321), Springfield, OH;
Maurice Hurt - (UR) (6'3½ / 340 / 5.7), Baldwin, GA;
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;
Andre Smith (1) (6-4 / 315), Birmingham, AL;
Matt Carufel - (9) (6-5 / 288) , Saint Paul, MN;
Daron Rose - (6-5 / 310 / 5.4), Tampa, FL;
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;
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;
2005 OU Pre-Season Practice Schedule
(subject to change)
Aug. 20 – Practice 9:30-11 a.m.
Aug. 21 – Off
Aug. 22 – First day of class
Aug. 24 - Probable Scrimmage - Open (or Aug 25th)
Sept. 3 – Season opener vs. TCU
OUInsider Weekend Wrapup (8/20)
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