Recruiting: Sooners land another top Texan

Argyle, Texas offensive lineman Ben Habern talks about his commitment to Oklahoma. Habern chose Sooners despite recent offers from Miami and Notre Dame.

BEN HABERN, OL, 6-3, 260, ARYGLE (LIBERTY CHRISTIAN), TEXAS:

JH: Talk about your decision to commit to OU today?

BH: "What it came down to is that I have been an Oklahoma fan all my life. Both my dad's brothers (Mike and Frank) went to Oklahoma and I have grown up watching Oklahoma football. When they offered me, I wasn't really set on Oklahoma and I wanted to look at some other schools. But when it came down to it Oklahoma was the school for me. I love the coaches there. They are really cool. All there facilities are incredible and I am just really excited to have a chance to play football at OU."

JH: You went through the recruiting process and got some great offers recently. Did you think hard about going to some other schools?

BH: "Yeah, I thought a little bit about Notre Dame and Miami . They are so far away that I really didn't want to go that far away from home. I wanted to stay close to Texas so that my family members can come and watch me play. When it came down to it, Oklahoma was just the closest and best place for me."

JH: Didn't you start liking Oklahoma a bunch before the start of your junior year?

BH: "Yeah, definitely. I have always watched Oklahoma games, but this year I watched every game. I went up to four to five of the games and I hung out with a bunch of the players. That was really a cool experience for me. That is when I really started to push for Oklahoma ."

JH: OU has had some great success in the offensive line recently with two first round draft choices and some great production up front. How much did the success of the O-line play into your decision?

BH: "OU has always been known for big offensive linemen and they have been more of a running team and a power team. I love run-blocking. For me, to be able to talk to Duke Robinson and some of the big offensive linemen that were already there was really cool for me."

JH: How much of a factor in your decision was the fact that you are going to be part of a heck of a recruiting class?

BH: "That was a big factor because I had talked to Justin Johnson before and when we went up there for the Junior Day he committed then. The whole day he was kind of pushing me and Stephen Good and some of the other guys to commit. It just helps a lot. R.J. Washington had already committed and some of the really big prospects in Texas have already committed to Oklahoma . It really helps a lot for me in deciding where I wanted to go. I want to play for a good team and it looks like this class will turn out to be a good team."

JH: OU is already putting together a heck of an offensive line with you, Good and Mitchell so far.

BH: "I have talked to Stephen a lot on MySpace and we have got to know each other pretty well. That is a good start to a good offensive line.

JH: Do you talk to the other guys quite a bit?

BH: "Yeah, I talk to Justin quite a bit. I got his cell phone number at Junior Day and we talk a lot. All of us are going up to the spring game this Saturday. I look forward to just hanging out with them and everything."

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Below is our interview with Liberty Christian Head Football Coach Mark Bowles, who says that Habern is the most heavily recruited athlete in his 25 years of coaching at Liberty Christian.

JH: Coach Bowles, what kind of player will OU get in the future in Ben Habern?

MB: "They are going to get a great one in Ben Habern. Ben has the size, speed and great feet. He has a real good motor inside of him and he is really aggressive. All of those things are great, but the thing that I think that separates Ben from a lot of other players with his size, ability and speed is just his character. He is a great young man. He is President of our junior class and a great student with a high GPA and a great SAT score. He has never ever been in any kind of trouble. He is the youngest of three boys and I have had the opportunity to coach all three. It is just a great family.

"His mom and dad are terrific people. His dad is the public address announcer of our football games and his mom is our dean of students. Ben has just earned the respect and admiration, not only of all the kids in our school, but of anybody that we play. He just really distinguishes himself with his character and his reputation. I like the influence that he is in our offseason program. The other kids look up to him, he just works so hard. This is just a great thing to happen for Ben Habern."

JH: Is he good at both run and pass blocking?

MB: "Yeah, he is good at both. There is also a possibility for Ben on defense. He was an All-State player for us on both sides of the ball this year. We played 14 games and won 12 of the 14. We lost two very close games, but we were a very good football team. He was probably the most dominant force on our team. I think, for us this year, Ben may make more of a contribution to our team playing defense. When you have a tackle, or when we put him down on the nose over the center, he is very intimidating when you have a high school player with his size and who is as fast as he is. He runs the ball down so well that he was a real force for us defensively.

"I know some of the schools, like Notre Dame, were talking to him about being a defensive end. This whole recruiting process started off with Ben with everybody thinking that he was going to be an offensive lineman. I think there is a real possibility that his young man could contribute on the defensive line somewhere."

JH: So his speed and quickness for his size is what sets him apart on both sides of the ball?

MB: "He has great feet. He has great feet on offense in pass pro or pass blocking. There are a lot of times on video that we are watching Ben and he either pancakes the guy or he is driving him off the screen. He gets in your grill and he doesn't get off. He isn't going to hit you once and turn you loose, he is going to drive you off the picture."



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