Weekend Wrap Up Vol 4 #20 05-19-07
Copyright by James Hale, Alan Hitchcock, Jim Ross and the OU Insider Reporting staff.
Note: Normally, the OUInsider Weekend Wrap-Up runs each weekend from June 1 until mid-February. Because the OU staff is actively recruiting several months earlier for next year, we will continue to run the WW each weekend, focusing primarily on recruiting until the start of summer workouts in June.
Finals Finished . . .
With finals finished a good number of the Sooners have gone home for a quick break before they return to Norman for summer school and the infamous Jerry Schmidt workouts.
The break has also allowed a few team members to get some minor corrective medical attention, and one of those was redshirt freshman cornerback Jonathan Nelson, who had minor surgery on his left wrist. Nelson is expected to miss very little time this summer and he should be good to go in three to four weeks.
OT Phil Laodholt (toe) is reportedly coming along well, and sophomore linebacker Ryan Reynolds, a key to this year's defense, is ahead of his rehab schedule and is off crutches and has started some running.
Recruiting -- Evaluations Continue . . .
The OU staff was reassembling this week and began finishing the evaluation process by carefully looking at notes and film on prospective athletes. As always, it's a game of numbers, as the Sooner staff will try to bring in a totally 'balanced' class of 22 players, ('balanced' referring to roughly one prospect capable of filling each of the 11 positions on offense and defense).
A review of the numbers showed that Oklahoma had offered right at 50 scholarships, prior to the evaluation period that began four weeks ago, and we anticipate slightly less than 100 total offers this year, about 25-30% less than what are normally given out. That number is due to the fact that 8 scholarships have already been accepted, leaving approximately 14 available.
The staff expected about two dozen offers to come out of the evaluations and that is exactly what the process now unfolding will aim to due. Eleven of those were extended over the last month and the final dozen or so will be offered after the stafff meets and decides who best fits the anticipated needs, both immediately, and in two to three years as well.
We should see another 10 - 12 offers in the next 30 days with at least that many held back for fall surprises, and there will always be some.
While interesting patterns are developing and vary slightly by position, generally the staff is working from the 'top down.' By that we mean that the very best athletes are getting the initial offers, and as they either commit elsewhere or show little interest, they are replaced on the charts with others just below them in projected talent.
(And, when we say 'best nationally,' we have to qualify that to 'best known nationally.' Naturally, if a staff is intent on only offering kids that they have seen in person, then the earliest offers will be geographically skewed somewhat, as it is more likely that prospects in this region have been seen by Sooner coaches).
By Position . . .
There are also differences by position. Oklahoma, under Stoops, has developed a practice of not offering a position until a clear top level candidate(s) emerge. For example, this year in the case of quarterback there was only one slot available, and no mistakes could be made.
Josh Heupel wanted to make sure that his only offer went to the best first. As the early weeks of 2007 rolled by, many fans grew impatient as no QB offers were extended. But Heuple wasn't just 'taking his time.' Much like waiting for a receiver to come open, he was methodically evaluating the prospects and would not be forced into rushing the process and making a mistake.
As we know by now, Josh evaluated Artesia's Landry Jones as the top QB available, and the Sooners were fortunate enough to get a verbal from him a coupe for weeks afterward. It also looks like Josh was correct in his assessment -- now many believe Jones will be the nation's best prep QB this fall. Regardless of the accolades extended by others, Heupel is confident that Jones was and will be the best fit for the OU offense over the next five years.
Unlike quarterback, most positions have more than a single slot available. However, like the process applied by Heupel, it appears that this year defensive tackle and defensive backs will undergo the same strict evaluations, and we may not see all the offers in these two areas until early fall.
Here is what has happened so far at those two positions.
At defensive back, Oklahoma has offered the nations' best from coast to coast, only the rather obvious choices make up the collective 'offer' lists at those two positions as of now. OU is confident that the dozen that they have offered are the best in the land. But they also realize that these are all high profile prospects, recruited by the world, and except for Guthrie's Kyle Staley, none have Oklahoma ties, and only two, (Keanon Cooper and Joseph Ibiloye), are from Texas.
The available 'crop' can also change recruiting patterns. For example, this is not a good year for great cornerbacks in Texas. Sure there are some, but much fewer than in a normal year, and they are likely somewhat unknown at present and playing at a smaller school.
One of the goals of the last few weeks was to find that great corner residing somewhere in Oklahoma or Texas. Now that the coaches are back, there will be several candidates discussed and it will be interesting to see if any CB offers emerge from the region. Cyrus Gray, playing quarterback for Desoto this year -- probably is the highest rated Texas (potential) CB on the Sooner board.
A similar situation exists at defensive tackle. The best way to say it is that all the votes have not been counted. So far, OU has five DT offers outstanding, and they are to five great ones. But like DB, only one, Muskogee's Stacey McGee, has Oklahoma ties. DT may be the last position this year that offers will be finalized, and that could come as late as August.
Character, Interest Level Counts . . .
We always think 'talent' as the focus when we envision eight assistant coaches going coast to coast to look at kids each Spring. And while that may be the initial qualifier, it's certainly not the last. Part of the evaluation process is character, academic success and interest.
It does no good to court prospects that are known to have deficiencies in character or grades, and part of the evaluation process is to dig as far as allowed into these areas.
It is also fruitless to continue to waste time on athletes that are not seriously interested in playing at Oklahoma. With the relatively new theory of going after the 'cream of the crop' nationally first, there is bound to be greater attrition in the process, just due to the fact that numbers alone predict that your chances of landing an athlete with three offers is greater than getting a commitment from one with 30.
Even talent is sometimes questioned. "Combine numbers and test results are sometimes like fools gold," one staff member said. "You can get caught up in a guy that turns a 4.4 '40' and has a 34" vertical, but the question is, 'can he play football'?
"We have guys on our squad right now that will blow you away with test times and numbers. But in some cases, a few of those guys have not transferred that into the ability to make plays. Some will -- and we're not going to give up on them, but sometimes a guy that can play football is just that, a football player.
"J.D. Runnells is a good example. Not the biggest or the fastest, but one heck of a football player. He made every play. That's what we're out there looking for. Every team has a slew of '4.5 guys' that the TV announcers can 'ooh and awe' over, but some of those guys are not even average players."
OU Signing Class of 2008 . . .
Projected: 21 - 22 / Current Commitments: 8
Oklahoma is off to a fast pace out of the gate, as the first eight future 'Sooners to be' all have a chance to be Parade and High School All Americans. They are:
R.J. Washington, (DE) (6?4, 235, 4.7), Fossil Ridge, TX
Daniel Franklin, (LB) (6-3 / 215 / 4.6) Mount Airy, GA
Justin Johnson, (RB) (6'2 / 210 / 4.5), Gilmer, TX
Stephen Good, OL (6?5 / 285 / 5.2), Paris, TX
Jermie Calhoun, RB (6-0 / 200 / 4.4), Van, TX
Britt Mitchell, OL (6'7 / 300 / 5.5), Roscoe, TX
Landry Jones, QB (6-5 / 215 / 4.7), Artesia, NM
Ben Habern, OL, (6-3, 260, 4.9), Dallas, (Liberty Christian), TX
OU coaches will now try to fit the best 14 remaining prospects into the voids that remain it what could become of the Sooners best ever recruiting classes.
As we go through the prospect lists by position, we'll generally see a pattern develop where the OU staff has identified the very best prospects in the country that they believe can contribute on the field and do well in class. This is a slight departure from past years, where classes have been more geographically determined by distance, and is possible due to the quality of the initial eight commitments.
The committed talent has allowed the Sooner staff to take chances on the remaining top players nationally -- knowing that they will probably be turned down by nine out of ten. But, with only 14 slots available, it is the most efficient way to fill those remaining holes with the very best prospects, regardless of location.
Projected: 3 / Current Commitments: 1
Daniel Franklin, (6-3 / 215 / 4.6) Mount Airy, GA (Committed to Oklahoma)
Here are OU's top linebacking prospects coming out of the evaluation period,. (Official offers in bold).
Arthur Brown, LB, (6-1½ / 225 /4.5), Wichita East, KS
Brandon Beachum, LB, (6-0½ / 220 / 4.6), Youngstown, (Cardinal Mooney), Ohio
Ethan Davis, LB (6-3 / 195 / 4.6) Grapevine, TX (Possible future offer)
Sean Fisher, LB-DE, (6?5 / 210 / 4.6), Omaha (Milliard North), NE (Future offer probable)
Taylor Hill, LB (6?2 / 205 / 4.6), Youngstown, (Cardinal Mooney), Ohio
Lynn Katoa, LB, (6-2 / 220 / 4.6), Salt Lake City, (Cottonwood), UT
Uona Kaveinga, MLB (6-1 / 235 / 4.7) Lawndale, (Leuzinger) CA (Committed to UCLA)
Brandon Magee, LB (6-0 / 225 / 4.6) Corona, (Centennial), CA
Jon Major, LB, (6-4 / 230 / 4.6), Parker, (Ponderosa), CO
Michael Mauti, LB, (6-2 / 215 / 4.6), Mandeville, LA
Jonathan Meyers, LB, (6-1 / 220 / 4.5), Greenwich, CT (Offer Pending)
Kyle Prater LB, (6-2 / 220 / 4.5), Kerrville, (Kivey) TX
Spencer Reeves, LB, (6-2 /195 / 4.6), Dallas, (Skyline) TX (Future offer possible)
Michael Zordich, LB, (6-1 / 230 / 4.7), Youngstown, (Cardinal Mooney), Ohio
The potential linebacker class could be one of the best in school history. There are several possible Butkus winners on the list, but make no mistake, the top LB prospect has been and still is Wichita's Arthur Brown, (6-1½ / 225 /4.5).
You know it's serious when Bob Stoops, defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Brent Venables and recruiting coordinator -- running back coach Cale Gundy are all in Wichita to watch a workout, and that occurred at Wichita East High School on Wednesday of this week. The session included the Brown brothers; WR Chris Steadman; linebacker Demonti Hill and sophomore DE Shaquille Reed.
Only trouble with this picture is that the OU staff had plenty of company, as Urban Meyer, Pete Carroll, John Blake and KU coach Mark Mangino were in attendance along with coaches from at least a dozen other schools were on hand as well.
That alone should be enough to convince you about the potential of the Brown brothers, but even Arthur was surprised by the gallery.
"It was bigger turnout that I expected, and that's a good thing. It is always great for kids to get the opportunity to be noticed and to get looked at. That was the great part about it. It was just basically a workout, and we do this workout four days a week, every week. It was really routine for guys from our team.?
?It was a great thing to have all those other coaches there and it is just a blessing to be in this situation that I am in right now. For us to be able to bring this kind of attraction to Wichita and to give other kids an opportunity to workout for those coaches, it is a great thing. I did not grow up watching college football and now I am beginning to understand what it is all about and how big of a business it really is.?
Brown was more or les 'discovered' at the OU camp and still has an appreciation for OU because of it and says he'll make another trek to Norman this summer, but this time it won't be for camp:
"I'm very, very, very interested in Oklahoma. I am looking forward to taking another trip down there this summer. I am not sure when, but I do plan on taking another trip down there to Oklahoma and getting more in-depth. I want to meet more players and I want to interact with the players, coaches and people around the program and see how that goes.?
Brown reports a 3.0 GPA and is preparing to take the ACT with plans on graduating early next year.
Connecticut is not known as the home of a lot of great college football prospects, but linebacker Jonathan Meyers, (6?1 / 220 / 4.5), of Greenwich, is certainly an exception to that rule of thumb. Meyers is a legit speed guy who has good size and can play all three linebacker positions. And he also has a bonus package of what Brent Venables always wants, brains and an innate 'feel' for the game.
The normally modest Meyers talks about his game when prodded, ?I guess you could say that I have a pretty good nose for the ball,? Meyer said. ?I also watch a lot of tape and we go over our gameplan in practice a lot and you kind of work it down to muscle memory almost. You know what play is happening and it is almost subconscious. It is part instinctual and part hard work.?
Last he finished with 127 tackles and 10 sacks. And on offense, he rambled for 1,140 yards on 135 carries and 23 touchdowns. Those totals and a dominating presence on the field and attracted a lot of attention to Greenwich.
?It is great to get a lot of attention through the whole recruiting process,? said Meyers. ?The publicity is all really fun, but it is important to stay grounded. I have to realize that it is all kind of a byproduct of all the hard work that I have put into it. It is all the weight room stuff in the off-season that I use when I get down on the field. As fun as it all is, it is important to stay grounded and realize that I am here to play football. The recruiting process is just kind of a byproduct of all that.?
?I've been ('officially') offered by Florida, Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern, UCLA and there are a bunch more of those schools,? said Meyer. ?I am getting a lot of interest from Penn State, Miami, Michigan and Oklahoma. I am getting verbals from a lot of those places, but nothing in writing from them yet. I am hearing from a lot of good programs now, especially in May period."
One of those programs was Oklahoma, and Meyer says he does have some interest:
?Oklahoma said they are going to offer,? said Meyer. ?Coach Venables said he is going to come out here and meet me. He said before he offers a player he likes to meet him and see him in person. He said that he is wants to scholarship me off my tape, but he just has to meet me to get the OK. Once that happens, he says the offer is there. I think Oklahoma is a great school. I think the tradition there and the quality of football they play is second to none.
"Oklahoma is always a top tier team. I have met Coach (Bob) Stoops a bunch of times and he is always exhibiting a winning attitude. He always has a winning aura about him. He is a winner and nice guy. A lot of programs are going to be reflective of their head coach and that is something that I will take in consideration with any school.?
Jonathan?s father, Glenn, played nose guard for Florida back in the early 80?s, so the Gators are a team that he has followed his whole life. But Meyer says he won't choose a school based on where anyone else played:
?I can?t say that is going to have a big effect on me and my college plans, whether I am a fan or not. When I look at a school it is really going to be the kids, coaches and quality of football they have there. It is not going to come down to teams that I have followed my whole life. I don?t have a favorite right now and I am going to be narrowing down my list of schools at the end of May. Then I will start to make plans for this summer and try to take in some camps.
Projected: 2-3 / Current Commitments: 0
We've said for several weeks that Oklahoma is being very selective here, confidant that Landry Jones' commitment will brings receiver benefits along with it. OU has offered who they believe are the top dozen receivers in the country, knowing that they will get turned down by most, but also realizing that a couple of commitments is all that they need to make top gun Landry Jones a happy man for four years.
The top receiver prospects on the Sooner chart are: (Official offers in bold):
Joe Adams, WR, (6-1 / 175 / 4.4) Little Rock, (Central), AR
Jeffrey Fuller WR (6-4 / 195/ 4.5), McKinney (Boyd), TX
DeSean Hales WR (5-10 / 170 / 4.4), Spring, TX
Omarius Hines WR (6-1 / 183 / 4.5) Corsicana, TX
Josh Jarboe, WR (6-3 / 193 / 4.4), Ellenwood, (Cedar Grove) GA
Julio Jones WR (6-4 / 212 / 4.5), Foley, AL
Tavarres King, WR, (6?1 ½ / 174 / 4.4), Mt. Airy (Habersham Central), GA
DeJuan Miller, WR (6-5 / 200 / 4.6), Metuchen, NJ
Carl Moore, WR (6-4 / 220 / 4.5) Sierra CC, CA (Future offer probable)
Jameel Owens, WR, (6?2½ / 206 / 4.5), Muskogee, OK
Taylor Stockemer, WR (6-4 / 200 / 4.5), Van Buren, AR
Chris Toliver, WR, (6-0 / 195 / 4.5), Rayville, LA
Deion Walker, WR (6-3 / 185 / 4.4), (Christchurch School) Christchurch, VA
Jarius Wright, WR (5-11 / 175 / 4.4), Warren, AR
Deion Walker, (6-3 / 185 / 4.45), who hails from Christchurch, Virginia received an OU offer two weeks ago and says he's thinking seriously about OU.
?I definitely like Oklahoma,? said Walker. ?I saw the spring game on ESPN and I definitely want to get out there and check out that environment. When I visit Oklahoma this summer, I am also going to check out Oklahoma State. I definitely want to get down there and check out both schools.
"I liked what I saw of Oklahoma ?s offense. I definitely feel I can fit into their offense. My coach told me that they don?t have very many receivers when my class comes in, and that they are definitely looking to boost their receiver corp up when my class gets there. I am definitely up for trying to play there.?
Walker, who is generally regarded to be one of the top 100 players nationally, is electric in the open field and is so versatile that he can play any skill position. At Christchurch, he has played quarterback, receiver, running back and cornerback. And that has made him a must-get for an incredible number of college programs across the country.
It is amazing what is going on with me right now,? said Walker. ?It is an incredible feeling, I just love everything that is going on right now. I am very blessed to receive so much attention and I hope to continue to work hard to justify all of it."
Walker had not played much receiver before last season, but it didn?t take him long to catch on. He finished his junior season with 47 catches for 732 yards, eight touchdowns as well as another 300-yards rushing yards from the quarterback position.
Walker can bench 225 pounds, squat 435 and he has posted a 37-inch vertical jump. He also starts in hoops (13 ppg, six rebounds, seven steals) and he is running the 100M (state qualifier/10.9), triple jump (46?1) and long jump in track.
It is not surprising that this great athlete has over 40 offers at this time.
?I haven?t narrowed down my choices because I haven?t closed off offers yet,? said Walker. ?Some of the schools that have offered me are Southern Cal, Florida, Penn State, Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Cal, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. I have offers from all over the place.?
Walker also talked about the commitment Oklahoma received from Landry Jones, who is one of the top quarterback prospects in the country.
?I just found that out recently,? said Walker. ?That is another thing that is really exciting about Oklahoma ? they have a great quarterback coming in with this class. Oklahoma always has a great quarterback, but it is great that they have another one coming in with this class.?
Walker has lived in North Carolina and now in Virginia, so he is not be afraid to go to college anywhere in the country.
?I don?t have any ties in any particular place,? said Walker. ?I have family in California, Texas and New York. Really, I have family all over the place. So I don?t have any ties necessarily to Virginia, although I am looking at schools in the area because they are close to me. Distance will not come into play in my decision.?
This summer, Walker plans to visit a number of different schools. He may even attend a camp or two and he promises he will make it through Oklahoma to see OU and OSU.
Projected: 4 / Current Commitments: 3
Stephen Good, OL, (6?5 / 285 / ), Paris , TX (Committed to Oklahoma)
Britt Mitchell, OL, (6'8, 309, 5.5), Roscoe , Texas (Committed to Oklahoma)
Ben Habern, OL, (6-3, 260, 4.9), Dallas, ( Liberty Christian), TX (Committed to Oklahoma)
Here are the most likely candidates for the remaining OL scholarship. (Official offers in bold - we expect the others listed to likely receive an OU offer after an in person evaluation).
Daniel Campbell, OL, (6-4½ / 324 / 5.5), Aldine, TX
Leroy Chevalier, OL (6-4 / 285 / 5.0), Houston, (Yates) TX
Tyler Love, OL (6-7 / 285 / 5.2), Mountain Brook, AL
Ken Page, OG (6-3½ / 285 / 5.2), Columbia, (Flora), SC
Vinston Painter, OL, (6-5½ / 315 / 5.3), Norfolk, (Maury) VA
Zebrie Sanders, OT (6-6 / 273 /5.4) Clayton, (Northmont), OH
Zach Schlink, OL, (6-4 / 292 / 5.2), Peoria, (Centennial) AZ
Last week we talked about how tough it might be to get a great player out of Alabama now with Saban in charge in Tuscaloosa. The Sooners are recruiting three great players in that state this year and the latest to receive a scholarship offer is Tyler Love, OL (6-7 / 285 / 5.2), of Mountain Brook.
Blessed with great size, Love also has great quickness and had some dominating performances as a junior. But Love admits all the recruiting attention that is pouring his way has caught him by surprise.
?I really didn?t think much about it following my junior year,? said Love. ?I thought I had a good year and everything, but I just didn?t think that much about being a high-profile recruit or anything. I am honored if a Division-III or a Division-I coach will call me. That means a great deal to me, and I listen to everything they have to say.
Love is being very modest when he talks about his effort last season. If you watch him on film, it looks as if he is a man among boys who is putting on a show every time he takes the field.
?As a team we didn?t do that great,? said Love. ?I guess as an individual I did a lot better than I expected, but our season was just fair. At our school, we are really big on team and not on individual accomplishments, and that is why I said things were only fair for me last year. Because as a team we didn?t do as well as we hoped or wanted to. We finished 5-5.?
Love will be a three-year starter and he has played both guard and tackle, but he lines up at left tackle right now. He finished with 120 pancakes last season and has over 30 offers up to this point. But right now he is keeping an open mind.
?I don?t have things narrowed down or a top 10 or anything right now,? said Love. ?My coaches and family want me to focus on spring training. My coaches and family are going to go through everything after spring training is over with and we are going to write out all the pros and cons to all the colleges that I am interested in. Then we will go from there.?
?I do have a good understanding of certain schools so that I can point out leading schools at the moment,? said Love. ? Oklahoma is a school that I am very interested in. Oklahoma has been putting so many offensive linemen into the NFL. When you think of Oklahoma, you think of offensive linemen and right now they are developing offensive linemen better than any other school. Oklahoma is a great football program and they win, which is important to me. I don?t know how many years they have been to bowl games in a row or to BCS Bowl Games over the last three to four years, but it is a bunch.
"Florida is very impressive under Coach (Urban) Meyer and they just won the National Championship. I am from Alabama and the University of Alabama is really big. Georgia is hitting me hard just like LSU, Florida State, Clemson and Virginia. It is really overwhelming how many schools are recruiting me. I is going to be a long process to get through them to evaluate them.?
Love does have Alabama on his list and since he is one of the top players from Alabama, you have to wonder what kind of interest he has in staying in-state?
?I was born in Alabama and I was raised an Alabama fan, but I am not leaning toward anybody,? said Love. ?I want to go national and I want to take what I have right now and broaden my search. I just don?t want to simply be an Alabama guy. I want to search out everywhere and see what is available for me as an individual, not just because all my friends want me to go to Alabama. At the end, I am going to be the one working my butt off to get better and to get playing time. It is my decision and I want to think things through and look at all my options.?
Projected: 2-3 / Current Commitments: 0
The Sooners want at least two versatile play makers in the class of 2008. While several qualify, they have their eyes set on five who they believe can be 'difference makers' in a game early on in their careers. Those five will get the fist scholarship opportunities, and are:
Cornelius Douglas, Ath (5-9 / 180 / 4.5) Lawton, OK (Future offer probable)
Cyrus Gray, Ath-CB (5-11 / 190 / 4.3), Desoto, TX
Lamar Harris, ATH/DB (6-3 / 185 / 4.4), Gilmer , TX (Soft Commitment to Texas A&M)
Reggie Hunt, RB (5-10 / 180 / 4.4) Daphne, AL
LaMichael James, ATH, (5?10 / 180 / 4.3), Texarkana (Liberty-Eylau), TX
Sam McGuffie, ATH-RB, (5?11 / 190 / 4.3), Cypress , (CY-Fair), TX
We mentioned above that it's not a great year in Texas for cornerbacks, but there is a great potential CB in DeSoto's Cyrus Gray, (5-11 / 190 / 4.3), who will play quarterback this year for DeSoto. On top on being an NFL potential CB, Sooner coaches see a great athlete who could also star on special teams.
Along with Gray, the OU staff seems to favor Reggie Hunt, (5-10 / 180 / 4.4), of Daphne, Alabama and Sam McGuffie of Cypress, Texas, but also know that those two will be tough to land.
Cornelius Douglas (5-9 / 180 / 4.5) of Lawton, is close to working back into the picture. Why? Well for one, as a corner he's better than all but two in Texas. As an athlete he's as good as many, with his (5'9") stature being the only draw back.
Douglas will again play QB for the Wolverines this fall after a junior season when he completed 67 of 131 pass attempts for 1,033 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also rushed the ball 104 times for 612 yards and 11 touchdowns. Douglas can bench 230 pounds and squat 440. He has run the 440m in 49.0 seconds.
Projected: 4 / Current Commitments: 0
Like quarterback, the Sooner staff wants to be very selective here, and in the past month the offers have started going out to the top ten DB's in the country, (as judged by this staff), and it will interesting to see if OU's torrid start will transfer and resonate with any of the national stars.
T.J. Bryant, CB (6-0 / 175 / 4.4), Tallahassee, (Lincoln HS) FL
Keanon Cooper, S, (6?0 / 195 / 4.5), Dallas (Skyline Hs), TX
Dee Finley, S, (6-3 / 198 / 4.5) Auburn, AL
Joseph Ibiloye, S/OLB (6-3 / 202 / 4.5), Garland, (South)TX
Patrick Johnson, CB (6-1 / 190 / 4.4), Pompano Beach, (Blanche Ely HS), FL (Soft Commitment to Miami)
Dan McCarthy, S, (6-0, 180, 4.6), Youngstown, (Cardinal Mooney) OH
Darrell Simmons, S, (6-2 / 194 / 4.6) College Park, (Banneker), GA
Jamoris Slaugher, S, (6?1 / 180 / 4.45), Tucker, GA
Kyle Staley, Ath-S, (6-0 / 200 / 4.5) Guthrie, OK
Brandon Taylor, CB (5-11 / 175 / 4.4) Franklinton, LA
Charles Whitlock, CB (5-11 / 180 / 4.4) Chester, SC
Tallahassee Florida's T.J. Bryant, (6-0 / 175 / 4.4), appears to be the most dominant corner nationally at this stage. But if the Sooners are going to get their quota here, the staff will likely have to keep searching.
The best way to say it is that there are just not too many who have the combination of size and speed. There is one in Oklahoma, (above) that would easily qualify on skill, and would already have an OU offer if he were 2" taller. With the trend toward taller receivers, it forces a team to play a corner in the 5'11 - 6' range at minimum. And those guys are hard to find. It could be that the Sooners just offer on talent alone if the top four repel their offers.
Projected: 1-2 / Current Commitments: 0
We've said that DT may be the last position this year that offers will be finalized, and that could come as late as August. We look for the evaluation process to continue through June, although it will no longer be done off campus.
The known contenders, at present, are:
Tevita Finau, DT/DE (6-5 / 290 / 4.8) Phoenix JC, AZ
Templeton Hardy, DT (6-4 / 280 / 5.2) Sardis, (North Panola), MS
Willie Mobley, DT (6-2 / 263 / 4.9), Eden Prairie, MN
Stacey McGee, DT/DE, (6?3 / 285 / 4.9), Muskogee, OK
Joel Ross, DT (6-1 / 290 / 4.8), Houma, (Vanderbilt Catholic), LA
Casey Walker, DT (6?1½ / 290 / 4.9), Garland, TX (Offer pending)
We said last week that several players would be offered within a few weeks of the coaches reconvening in Norman and believe that Casey Walker will be among those. And coming out of the evaluation period, OU may not be the only school leaning towards the big block of Granite at Garland.
Walker finished his junior season with 35 tackles (13 behind the line of scrimmage), four sacks and one fumble recovery. He can bench 405 pounds, squat 600 and he owns all the Garland High strength records. He has also posted a 24-inch vertical jump.
?Oklahoma is telling me that they are close to offering,? said Walker . ?They are really interested in me and they are working to find out more information about me. I talked to Bob Stoops and he said that they really like me and that they are real close to offering me. Coach Venables is recruiting me and he said he likes me. He is the one that got Coach Stoops interested in me.?
Walker is finding out a lot of schools want to talk to him. Walker didn?t play much as a sophomore because of his minor knee surgery, so he went into last season somewhat of an unknown player and is just now getting on the radar with some schools. However, the more those schools see him the more they like him and more and more attention is coming his way.
?I try to not let that kind of stuff get to my head," said Walker on the attention he's getting from college coaches. "I try to keep a level head and I am always trying to maintain and stay humble. It is great that my name is out there for college coaches, but I try to not that let get to my head. I try to stay humble.
"I know that it does open some doors for me and I appreciate that my name is getting out there. College coaches call and text and are now trying to recruit me, so the fact that my name is now getting out there is not a bad thing.?
The recruiting game is relatively new to Walker, but he still has a top five.
?Right now my top five would be Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas, LSU and Colorado,? said Walker . ?I really love Oklahoma, I love the program. I talked to some of the players when I was up there on Junior Day. I talked to Gerald McCoy, and all the players are great. They just make you feel like you are home. The coaches are wonderful. I really liked it at Oklahoma. Right now Florida and Oklahoma are my leaders. I think both teams are close to offering me.?
Projected: 2 / Current Commitments: 2
Justin Johnson (RB) (6'2 / 210 / 4.5), Gilmer, TX (Committed to Oklahoma)
Jermie Calhoun, RB 6-0. 200, 4.4 Van, TX (Committed to Oklahoma)
OU's two commitments, Johnson and Calhoun are both in the elite category nationally at running back and either could end up being named the nation's best, the Sooners will now look to a fullback. The two star commitments will not prevent them from trying to sign the 'game breaker athlete' that we have talked about above.
The prospects at fullback include:
Michael Abernathy, FB-RB, (5-11 / 235 / 4.5) Russellville, AL
Projected: 2 / 3 Current Commitments: 1
R.J. Washington, (6?4, 235, 4.7), Fossil Ridge, TX (Committed to Oklahoma)
Oklahoma has extended a few new offers at DE, and now at least eleven prospects are in line for the single DE slot left. This position is very similar to the situation at receiver where OU has offered the nation's best and needs only a single 'taker' to accept before the door shuts tight. The only way that two off of this list may make it is for one to be projected as a DT.
The prospects are:
Chancey Aghayere, DE, (6-3½ / 245 / 4.7) Garland, TX
Chase Clement, DE/TE, (6?6 / 245 / 4.7) Thibodaux (E.D.White), LA;
Alfred Dupree, DE, (6?3 / 210 / 4.6), Dallas Skyline
Tevita Finau, DE/DT (6-5 / 290 / 4.8) Phoenix JC, AZ
William Green, DE (6-5 / 208 / 4.6) Hoover, (Spain Park), AL
Glen Harbin DE (6-6 / 229 / 4.7) Mobile, (McGill-Toolen), AL
Taylor Hill DE/LB, (6-0½ / 208 / 4.5), Youngstown, Ohio (Cardinal Mooney)
Damien Holmes, DE (6-3 / 244 / 4.7) Colton, CA
David King, DE, (6?4 / 240 / 4.7), Houston, (Strake Jesuit) TX
Simi Kuli, DE (6-4 / 265 / 4.9), El Camino JC
Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE, (6-4½ / 227 / 4.8), Weatherford, TX
Stacey McGee, DT/DE, (6?3, 285, 4.9), Muskogee, OK
Damian Square, DE, (6?3 / 262 / 4.7), Houston (Yates Hs), TX
Projected: 1 / Current Commitments: 1
Landry Jones, QB (6-5, 215, 4.7), Artesia , NM (Committed to Oklahoma)
OK, if Jones is the man why are OU coaches looking at other quarterbacks?
Well, first, Jones is THE man. There is no debate. But it's a fact that many teams put their best player at QB. It never hurts to have someone on the squad who can play the position in a heartbeat, if called upon.
The Sooner staff is not looking for someone to come in and compete with Jones. They are looking for an athlete that may be able to play if recent history should repeat itself. For a couple of years ago who would have thought OU would need any more than Tommy Grady and Rhett Bomar on the roster?
Coaches know how close a call it was this year and were thankful that Paul Thompson possessed the talent and leadership to carry the team who suddenly found themselves with out their main man four weeks before the season started.
Projected: 1 / Current Commitments: 0
Tight End is another position that we had slated for a late spring early summer completion. As of now, the leading candidates at TE are: (Offers in bold).
Chase Clement, DE/TE, (6?6 / 245 / 4.7) Thibodaux (E.D.White), LA
James Hanna, TE (6-4 / 215 / 4.5) Flower Mound, TX (Offer pending)
Tanner Hawkinson, TE (6-6 / 235 / 4.8), McPherson, KS (Future offer possible)
Dion Jordan, TE (6-6 / 210 / 4.6), Chandler, AZ
Spencer Ladner, TE (6?7 / 238 / 4.7), Kansas City (Pembroke), MO
Nick Plato, TE, (6?6 / 227 / 4.8), Edwardsville, IL (Future offer probable)
Ryan Wallace, TE, (6?5 / 230 / 4.8), Bowling Green, KY (Future offer probable)
Quentin Williams, TE (6?3 / 225 / 4.75), Pittsburgh (Central Catholic), PA (Future offer probable)
The Sooners need one TE and one great possibility is now off the boards as the coaches feel that Brandon Moore, (6'6 / 225 / 4.6), from Trotwood, Ohio will stick with his recent commitment to Michigan.
However, the evaluation period did uncover a couple of prospects that has everyone in the Switzer Center looking at film. One Spencer Ladner, of Kansas City has already gotten the official offer, and we expect another one to go out within the week to James Hanna, (6-4 / 215 / 4.5) of Flower Mound, TX.
When you see Hanna, you see a tall, rangy guy that translates into a tight end at the next level. What you miss, if you don't see him run, is his excellent speed and athleticism. He has 4.53-speed in the 40 and had a 4.17 time in the shuttle. What people also miss is that Hanna played wide receiver in high school. Last year, Hanna had 20 catches for 320 yards and two scores.
Hanna has unbelievable speed and is projected to grow into a bigger TE within a couple of years. Apparently the OU coaches were not the only staff that saw Hanna and is now seeing a potential star, as his receiving skills rank at the top of any tight end nationally.
Hanna just picked up four offers within the last week, (Louisville, Nebraska, Arizona and Kansas) and held offers from Oklahoma State, Illinois and Minnesota previously. Hanna also said that Wisconsin might be close to offering as well. And it appears that Wisconsin, Oklahoma and possibly Texas will soon join the parade.
"I want to go somewhere that I feel comfortable. I think that I want to go to law school, if I don't go on to play football after college, and I think that I want to get a good education to go to law school."
"I think that I want to go somewhere that the temperature is decent. Someplace that has a good climate. Distance isn't a big thing for me. Those are really it."
Kansas City's Spencer Ladner, (6?7 / 238 / 4.7), was offered officially by the Sooners after his personal evaluation, and is another TE prospect that can catch.
?I actually play wide receiver in high school and a little bit at tight end,? said Ladner. ?I have always been in the receiving area. In middle school, I was a quarterback. I actually threw three touchdown passes this year. They put me in at quarterback and I went 4-for-4 for 160 yards and three touchdowns. They have a few set plays for me at where I can throw the ball. It is kind of like a pitch back to me when I am right behind the line of scrimmage, then I lob it out to either of our wide receivers.?
Ladner had 620 yards worth of receiving last season and 10 touchdowns, but didn?t line up much as a pure tight end. He has proven that he can be an effective blocker, but in many respects the jury is still out on him in this area. Despite the fact he lines up mostly a wide receiver, Ladner is still considered one of the best tight ends in the country.
Ladner has been offered by Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Clemson, Wisconsin, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Duke, Illinois, Colorado, Washington State, and Michigan was his latest of offer.
?I have about 15 offers right now and I am pretty sure the list is going to continue to grow,? said Ladner. ?I don?t have a top five right now, but I would say that I can?t visit all of these schools. The schools that I am definitely going to visit are Cal, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska again. Other than that, I would have to say Oklahoma and Iowa are two other schools that I am definitely going to get up to.?
?I know they (OU) are a great program that's always going to be competing for a National Championship,? said Ladner. ?As far as I know, it is a great program and produces a lot of great players. As far as tight ends go, I know they kind of use them for both passing and run blocking. They have a balanced offense. I know they do spread out the tight ends occasionally to the slot, but not a lot.
"I haven?t visited Oklahoma yet, but I do have some interest in them like I do with some of the other schools. Because it is a big, national program I will take a close look at it.?
Ryan Wallace, (6?5 / 230 / 4.8), of Bowling Green, Kentucky impressed the Sooner staff during his evaluation, and other schools as well; and Wallace is elated at the attention that has suddenly come his way.
?This has been such a good spring. We have had a lot of coaches track through here this spring,? said Wallace. ?We have had some of the top programs in the country come by our school. Oklahoma has been in here and so has Tennessee, Alabama and places like that. Louisville and Kentucky, of course, have been in here and then Purdue, Oklahoma State and Stanford. So we have had some top notch teams come in here.?
?I never expected to be receiving this much attention," said Wallace. ?When I was a freshman I was 5-9 and I really hit my growth spurt between my sophomore and junior year. Going through my junior year, I got so much better. I spent this past season just growing into my body. I have really changed a lot. I am so much more athletic than I was when I started the year that it is not even funny.?
This season, Wallace will go both ways as he will continue to play tight end and then switch over and play defensive end as well. And it appears that he has the confidence of his head Coach Kevin Wallace, who happens to be his dad.
?It can be tough sometimes,? Wallace. said on playing for his father ?I like it sometimes because it is good to have a coach that I can talk too and who I can relate to a lot more. Obviously, he is tougher on me than he is other people. But that forces me to do my best and he is making me a better player. I actually get my athletic ability from my mom (Dana, who was a 6-foot-2) who played on two Final Four teams at Western Kentucky back in the 80?s. I get all my height and athletic ability from my mom.
"I separated my shoulder when I was a sophomore and I was about 6-3 then. The doctor told me that he had good news and bad news. He said the bad news is that you have a separated shoulder and you are going to be out for about three weeks. The good news is that your growth plate is still wide open and you are going to grow three or four more inches.?
?Oklahoma has not offered me yet, but things sound really good with them right now,? said Wallace. ?It sounds like they might end up offering me. I talked to Coach (Kevin) Wilson the other day, he used his phone call on Saturday. I talked to him for a long time and I set up my flight to get out for their camp. I am going to come out to their camp one day. I really like Oklahoma.
"They are a team that I have always followed and a team that I have always liked. Obviously, the tradition is there at Oklahoma and I have actually done a little research on them and I am going to try to major in pharmacy and they have a real good pharmacy school. I really like that about them because some schools that I have looked at don?t have a pharmacy school.?
Wallace admits the growing up his two favorite teams were Oklahoma and Tennessee.
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About OU Insider's recruiting coverage: Our policy is to only report on prospects that OU has an interest in, vs prospects that express an interest in Oklahoma . It is a complete waste of your time and ours if we file reports on every high school football player that says he 'likes Oklahoma .' Under John Blake that would have been news, but with the Sooners continually in the hunt for championships under Bob Stoops, it's hardly newsworthy. Bottom line -When OU gets serious about a prospect, we report on him.
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