Reynolds has a leader

One of the nation's top-rated linebackers names Oklahoma as his first choice; Wisconsin makes top five

National signing day is a little under a year away for the Class of 2005, some 342 days to be exact, but highly touted Las Vegas linebacker Ryan Reynolds has already made it well known that Oklahoma is the team to beat for his signature.

"If I was signing today, I'd definitely be signing with OU," said Reynolds, who attends Bishop Gorman High School and has already received an official scholarship offer from the Sooners.

Besides Oklahoma, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder with 4.6 speed also has official scholarship offers from Arizona State, California, Florida, Kansas State, Louisiana State, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA, Stanford, Washington and Wisconsin.

After sifting through all the offers, some of which he's had since last summer, Reynolds said his top five schools right now are Oklahoma, Florida, Louisiana State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame.

"OU is number one on my list right now," said Reynolds, who benches 380 and squats 450 and has a 30-inch vertical. "It's going to take a lot for that change. I'd have to go somewhere really impressive."

Reynolds said he favors the Sooners, because of his relationship with Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables. He first met the fiery, young coach at Oklahoma's football camp last summer and again at the Bedlam football game in November.

"Coach Venables is a really cool guy," said Reynolds. "He's easy to talk with. I really like him as a coach. It just seems like that'd be the coach for me."

Last summer, Reynolds and his family moved to Las Vegas from Lake Havasu (Ariz.) to follow his high school coach, David White, to Bishop Gorman.

And true to his future prep All-American form, the bright lights of Sin City didn't faze Reynolds.

Last season, he posted 96 tackles, including 12 for loss, six sacks and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown. Offensively, he saw time at fullback, where rushed for 393 yards and five touchdowns on just 35 carries.

"I'm real quick and always around the ball," said Reynolds, a likely business or finance major, who has a 3.6 GPA and took both the ACT and SAT earlier this month, but hasn't received his results yet. "I really don't know what else to say."

Reynolds may be a man of few words, but White isn't, especially when it comes to his star linebacker. He said Reynolds is "the best player" he's ever coached and compares him to Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher minus two inches of height.

"He's so quick and closes on the ball so well," said White, who played tight end at UNLV from 1993-1995. "When he hits you, he explodes right through you."

White said that same ferocity also applies off the field for Reynolds.

"His work ethic separates him from everybody else," said White. "He's one of those guys who pulls his hamstring just warming up. He's constantly trying to get better."

Next month, Reynolds and his family will be making spring practice visits to Florida, Florida State, Miami, Louisiana State as well as USC. However, he still plans to be in Norman for at least one day of Oklahoma's football camp this summer.

And based on his two visits to Norman, Reynolds he's already quite fond of the surroundings at Oklahoma.

"I've always had a really good vibe when I was there," said Reynolds. "It just feels like it would fit best."

Following the Bedlam game last season, Reynolds got the chance to visit the Sooner locker room, where he met Jason White. Yet, he said he was more impressed by the game itself.

"It was really intense," said Reynolds. "Everyone was so into it. The crowd was like a sea of red."

Even though the Sooners lead for his services, Reynolds said he is unsure when he will make his verbal commitment. He said coaching staff, academics and the possibility of playing time as a freshman will weigh heavily on his decision.

Most importantly, however, Reynolds wants to play for a perennial national title contender.

"I really want to be on a national championship type of team," said Reynolds. "After all, who wants to lose?"

White said Reynolds could decide before school starts in August, but hinted that he'll likely take a few official visits first, meaning his decision will likely come during football season.

"He's not one of those guys that's in to the fancy fame and headlines," said White. "There definitely won't be a big drum roll on February 2nd."

Although the Sooner can't officially contact Reynolds via telephone yet, he can call them and often talks to Coach Venables once a week.

"We talk a lot of football and how he sees me fitting into the scheme," said Reynolds. "I think I could fit in real well. At least, that's what I'm hoping."

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