Head coach Bob Stoops welcomed perhaps his most talented recruiting class to Norman Sunday as 27 newcomers reported. They will immediately begin practice Monday morning at 8:45.
Among the 27 freshmen are 22 from this year's recruiting class signed in February. (Lance Mitchell and Pasha Jackson, two outstanding junior college linebackers, have been on campus since January). The 22 freshmen include:
Noah Allen, (6-4, 215, 4.6), this big athletic quarterback from Pearland, Texas showed why he may have been the best in Texas last year as he threw for 200 plus yards in almost two quarters of action this week in the Texas All Star game. Paul Thompson, (6-4, 190, 4.6), another quarterback from Leander, Texas has the size and athleticism to play several positions.
Jeff Lebby, (6-4, 283, 5.1), the All Star lineman from Andrews, Texas and Steve Taylor, ( 6-7, 320, 5.6), from Purcell, Oklahoma are blessed with the size and skill that coaches like to see in offensive linemen. Chris Messner, (6-7, 240, 4.8), Fredrick, Oklahoma, is perhaps the most athletic lineman signed by OU, (Chris started at six different positions during his high school career, including quarterback), but will need a year to add the bulk required to play in the line.
Another lineman worth watching is Abner Estrada, (6'3, 273, 5.2), from Carrollton (Turner), Texas. Davin Joseph, (6-3, 265, 4.9), of Hallandale, Florida insists that he will play on the defensive line at Oklahoma, yet most recruiters were shocked at the phenomenal skills he exhibited at offensive guard in the California — Florida All Star game where he kept California's all star DT Manuel Wright in check, and showed excellent pass protection skills as well.
Linebacker Wayne Chambers, (6-3, 235, 4.5), from Grandview, Missouri was ignored by many Sooner fans, but came in earlier in the summer and impressed coaches in several areas.
Rufus Alexander, (6-2, 215, 4.49), from Baton Rouge (Christian Life), Louisiana surprised everyone this summer as he showed more speed and strength than many expected from an incoming freshman. He was so impressive that he could even play this season.
Also turning heads in summer workouts were two Texas newcomers from Carrolton. Michael Hawkins (6-1, 170, 4.4), a true corner with safety size, from Turner HS, and perhaps the top receiver in Texas last year, Travis Wilson (6-3, 202, 4.4), who starred for Creekview HS. Both could push for playing time this year, and Wilson may also get a chance to punt.
Larry Birdine, (6-5, 243, 4.65), a defensive end from Lawton Eisenhower dominated the Oil Bowl and made believers out of the remaining skeptics. Birdine is the younger brother of former Oklahoma State star and current Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker Jason Gildon.
Ask folks in Houston who was dominate on the defensive line last year and the name Calvin Thibodeaux (6'1, 240, 4.78) from Houston Westbury always comes up. Another spectacular DE prospect is Zach Latimer (6'3, 218, 4.5) form Aurora (Gateway), Colorado. Zach, the Denver Post defensive Player of the Year, played a variety of positions on defense and offense — including quarterback — in his four-year career at Class 4A Gateway. He may also play at linebacker early.
Jason Carter, (6-0, 170 4.4), the ‘do-everything' defensive back from Jenks, Oklahoma and Brodney Pool (6'3, 193, 4.5), also of Houston Westbury, are two more reasons why Oklahoma may have signed the best defensive backfield class in the nation last February. Add Aaron Miller, (6-0, 186, 4.5) from Fresno (Edison HS), California, to the DB group. Miller, one of the top players on the west coast, is known for his ball-hawking and kick blocking skills.
Laenear Nixon, (6'3, 210, 4.5), from Miami (Carol City), is the son of former OU star Freddie Nixon and is versatile enough to play the TE or ‘H' position. Likewise for J.D. Runnels, (6'1, 234, 4.52), the tough-as-nails playmaker from Midwest City, who propelled his Carl Albert team to the state championship.
Also joining the Sooners Sunday are two of the most versatile 'skill' players in the country. DaBryan Blanton, (6'0, 170, 4.27), from Forney, Texas was The Dallas Morning News Offensive Player of the Year. Blanton is considered by many to be the fastest prep player in the nation. Another freshman with outstanding skills is JeJuan Rankins (5'11, 160, 4.49), of Windsor (Bertie), North Carolina. Some say he reminds them of Joe Washington at receiver. Rankins also excels at punt and kickoff returns.
The Sooners must find a kicker and have two prospects coming in today. Josh Roberts (6'0, 185, 4.6), of Malta, Montana and Steven Sarubbi of Hancock Junior College (California), will compete for the spot left void by the graduation of Tim Duncan. Both are considered to be among the top ten prospects in the country.
'Invited' non schloarship walk-ons reporting Sunday include: TE Grant Hulsey, (6-4, 220) Tuttle, OK; TE Todd Nelson, (6-3, 245) Barnsdall, OK. (tr from US Military Academy); OL David Walker, (6-3 275), Ft Gibson, OK; SN Jacob Rice, (6-3 225), Norman, OK; as well as PK Steven Sarubbi. More walk-ons may join the squad after undergoing physicals and interviews with coaches.
The freshmen will work at 8:45AM and 4:30PM Monday and Tuesday before the varsity reports on Wednesday. Regular scheduled drills start Friday with a 5:15PM "Welcome Back" practice, and two-a-days begin next Saturday with Sunday off. Two-a-days continue next Monday and Tuesday and the first full pad practice is scheduled for August 14th when OU coaches would like to scrimmage. All practices will be held at the intramural fields, two blocks southeast of the stadium.