Oklahoma Sooners: Mailbag

Oklahoma was, um, less than dominant in its 24-7 win over UTEP on Sept. 1. And yet Friday's mailbag is recruiting heavy with questions and answers about the Sooners recruiting along the offensive and defensive lines as well as a couple of basketball inquires. If you have any questions email Brandon Chatmon at bchatmonespn@gmail.com. So without further ado...

ZackD18 (via Twitter) asks: What are the chances the Sooners get some legit OL and DL commits? Maybe the UCLA commits?

Brandon Chatmon: There’s a pretty decent chance the Sooners land defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball), the younger brother of Demarcus Granger. Manning would be a great get for an OU defense that continues to search for difference makers in its interior.

Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every week. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Randy in Norman, Okla., asks: You keep mentioning how Texas offering all those kids last week is a good thing. Can you explain what you mean by that?


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Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every week. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Brandon Ward in Texarkana, Texas, asks: Pumped about the signing of Ahmad Thomas. Who are the next three defensive backs we’re in the running for?

Bob Przybylo: That's an appropriate use of the number three. OU defensive backs coach Mike Stoops said he is looking for five defensive backs in the class. Thomas (Miami/Central) is the second one as the Sooners already have the commitment of four-star athlete Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central) who will play cornerback at OU.

Maurice Chandler
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comIn-state cornerback Maurice Chandler is still being evaluated by the Sooners.
The Sooners have offered a number of top defensive backs in California and Florida, but it is tough to gauge where OU stands with some of those talents. OU was in great shape with Maurice Smith (Sugar Land, Texas/Dulles) in March but it has fallen off Smith's radar. With Smith announcing his decision in January, however, the Sooners have time to make another strong run.

Cornerback Cole Luke (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) is still in play. Luke has gone quiet about his recruitment lately, but Chandler Hamilton coach Steve Belles said OU should make Luke’s top five.

A wild card would be in-state cornerback Maurice Chandler (Lawton, Okla./Lawton). A teammate of OU commit D.J. Ward, Chandler has been racking up quality offers in the last couple of months and is starting to talk with Stoops more and more.

OU is one of several schools that have offered the trio of defensive backs at Fresno (Calif.) Central East in L.J. Moore, Johnny Johnson Jr. and Hatari Byrd. The biggest obstacle will be getting them on campus.


Glenn Banker asks: If you were a betting man, what are the chances on Justin Manning? And who do you think is next?

Bob Przybylo: I’m not a betting man, Glenn, but I definitely like OU’s chances with defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball). All that stuff about OU not showing “love” early is well in the past. OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp has been consistent in talking with Manning for the last couple of months.

Manning said Thursday the Sooners are in his top eight. That’s not a shock to anybody, but it is always good to get the news confirmed.

I do think Manning or a linebacker will be the next commit for the Sooners. A prospect to watch is definitely Jordan Mastrogiovanni (Dallas/Jesuit). He received an OU offer last week and has always been a big-time Sooners fan.

If Mastrogiovanni shows up at OU’s camp next weekend, don’t be shocked if Tim Kish has his first commitment.


Jake in Tulsa, Okla., asks: I was very skeptical about going into Florida, but I guess it’s working. How are you judging the success rate of OU going there?


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every week. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Bill in Tulsa, Okla., asks: We got Cody Thomas! Yes! Is he going to stay with football, or do you see him playing baseball?

Bob Przybylo: You ran through the gamut of emotions there, Bill. It remains to be seen if Thomas is going to up in a crimson and cream uniform, but it is worth the risk.

Thomas is a quality MLB prospect, but according to Jason A. Churchill, Thomas is not a slam dunk talent on the baseball diamond. Churchill is the executive editor of Prospect Insider and helps cover the MLB Draft for ESPN HS and ESPN Insider.


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Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every week. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

[+] EnlargeHayden Rettig
Garry Paskwietz/WeAreSC.comQuarterback Hayden Rettig could add a Sooners offer as soon as next week.
Dean in Oklahoma City asks: I just want to know what’s going on with the quarterback spot. Who is the favorite?

Bob Przybylo: The favorite, in my opinion, looks like a recruit who wasn’t even being spoken about at this time last month, four-star prospect Hayden Rettig (Los Angeles/Cathedral).

Rettig has shown he is healthy coming off a torn ACL and meniscus. His confidence and attitude have helped him overcome his injury, said Los Angeles Cathedral coach Kevin Pearson.

Obviously you can't discount Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas/Heritage), especially after getting the OU offer Monday. But with his potential future being in baseball, there are no questions of that sort at all when it comes to Rettig.

One way or another, expect the quarterback situation to be finalized before the end of the month. All parties involved need to know what is going on and move forward.


Dan in San Antonio asks: What is going on with our receivers? When are they going to get it through their head they can’t just do whatever they want? How will this impact things going forward?

Bob Przybylo: I’m not going to comment on the first two questions because I'm not sure anybody has the real answers to those. But let’s tackle that third one.

I thought it was a little suspicious how OU took in former Fresno State receiver Jalen Saunders, who will be eligible to play in 2013, with open arms. That makes a lot more sense after the indefinite suspensions of Kameel Jackson, Trey Franks and Jaz Reynolds.

The 2012 class is solid. On paper, it is the best class the Sooners have ever had. Trey Metoyer had an incredible spring and incoming receivers Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal, Derrick Woods and Courtney Gardner are all itching to get their chance.

But where things could change is with the 2013 class. OU receivers coach Jay Norvell hasn’t been as proactive because it didn’t look like the class needed but one or two at the spot. With the uncertainty surrounding the three receivers, it should force Norvell to ramp it up on the trail. The Sooners do already have Saunders, though, so that’s a good start.


Tony in Tulsa, Okla., asks: I’ve watched Dalton Rodriguez several times at Union. He’s good, but I never thought he was “OU good.” Are the Sooners taking a reach on Rodriguez?

Bob Przybylo: Tony, you are not alone in that sentiment. Because he wasn’t such a highly-touted prospect in the last year, some people are questioning the Dalton Rodriguez commitment.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every week. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Tony in Tulsa, Okla., asks: We had the best wide receiver class in the nation last year. I haven’t heard a thing about this year’s group. What is Jay Norvell doing?

Bob Przybylo: OU receivers coach Jay Norvell is taking his time, and like all Sooners coaches, evaluating and determining which recruits deserve offers.

[+] EnlargeDurron Neal
John Albright/Icon SMIDurron Neal could make an immediate impact for the Sooners in 2012.
If you’re going to have a great receiving class one year -- which is no doubt what the Sooners and Norvell pulled off in 2012 -- it usually takes away the huge need for the position in the next class.

OU also sort of got lucky in having two of the top 10 receivers in its region with Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma City/Heritage Hall) and Durron Neal (St. Louis/De Smet Jesuit). That’s not the case this year. There are obviously some Texas targets, but that’s always a real battle.

Norvell offered several top national recruits (many are in the ESPN 150), but OU hasn’t really stood out at this point.

There are some connections. Four-star Sebastian Larue (Santa Monica, Calif./Santa Monica) is friends with 2012 signee Derrick Woods. And fifth-ranked receiver Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) is friends with 2012 signee David Smith. Neither, however, has taken visits to OU yet.

Treadwell, of course, was supposed to be at the spring game but canceled because of the severe weather. He ended up having a great time at Michigan’s spring game.


Adam in Joplin, Mo., asks: Who is going to be the best receiver from the 2012 group? Being a Missouri guy, I’m hoping it’s Durron Neal.

Bob Przybylo: You might not have to hope when it comes to Neal. He has the qualities to make him a special receiver. But coming off an incredible spring, it's tough to bet against Trey Metoyer. But knowing Neal and in talking to Shepard, that should only serve as motivation for both of them.

Of all the traits that this stellar group has, it might be their competitive drive that has set them apart from everybody else. They all want to be the best player on the field and all believe they are when they’re out there.


Gary in Lawton, Okla., asks: Are the Oklahoma high school kids for 2013 going a little under the radar? It seems like there are a lot more quality kids than what people were saying a couple of months ago.


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Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every week. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Jerry in Tulsa, Okla., asks: I see we have been very active in California this week. I get the approach, but I feel like we’re going to be missing out on some top kids in Oklahoma and Texas if things continue this way. What do you think?

DJ Ward
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comOklahoma defensive end commitment D.J. Ward is No. 93 in the ESPN 150.
Bob Przybylo: This non-regional approach by the Sooners brings out strong emotion from both sides of the fan base. Some love going national like this, while others are afraid of not protecting the usual territories.

This spring evaluation period goes until the end of May and we are just now approaching the end of April. I think that is a key thing to keep in mind. This week California prospects were obviously high on the priority list.

You know somewhere in this time frame that Texas will be the No. 1 priority for the OU coaches. The Sooners haven’t lost out on any Texas high school recruits this class because of a lack of interest being shown.

OU attacked the very best Texas kids early, and for the most part, the Longhorns were able to snatch those prospects up. There are still a lot of quality Texas high school recruits on the board, and May will be an interesting month.

As for Oklahoma high school kids, the Sooners have the commitment of No. 1-ranked D.J. Ward (Lawton, Okla./Lawton). They could very soon have the commitment of No. 2-ranked Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central), and quarterback Brayden Scott (Tahlequah, Okla./Sequoyah) is in the mix at quarterback. The Sooners are doing just fine in their own backyard.


Josh in Oklahoma City asks: The weather took away what should have been a big recruiting weekend for the spring game. What are some dates we need to be looking forward to in the future?

Bob Przybylo: In terms of actual on-campus dates, this will be a pretty quiet month. There will be some unofficial visits by some recruits, but there isn't a planned big recruiting weekend coming up.

OU coaches are out on the road doing their spring evaluations, and because of their thorough evaluations, this spring is a little bit different than at some other schools. You haven’t heard much from Texas regarding this period, but the Sooners could find a strong portion of this year’s class through this process. The recruits might not commit that early, but this could be where that bond is formed.

But dates to look forward to are certainly June 2-4 for the Oklahoma camp in Norman, Okla. There will be some quality 2013 prospects for sure, but this is a huge showcase time for the cream of the crop in Oklahoma and Texas for 2014. It's always a good look at the future.


Aaron in Denton, Texas, asks: I like keeping track of the defensive backs. I know we need five for this class. I see Stanvon Taylor being one. Who is one guy you have high on the priority list?


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Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every Monday. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Jack in Oklahoma City asks: We now have two defensive end commits, but we’ve offered so many more. Are we done at this spot for this class?

Bob Przybylo: Most likely not. It believe Oklahoma's target has been to get three defensive ends for the class of 2013. D.J. Ward (Lawton, Okla./Lawton) and Matt Dimon (Katy, Texas/Katy) are a great start and OU is in good position with a number of quality ends.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every Monday. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

[+] EnlargeMax Browne
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comThe Sooners missed out on elite junior quarterback Max Browne last week.
Danny in Stillwater, Okla., asks: Not getting Max Browne is a big loss, I think. Where did OU go wrong in pursuit of the quarterback?

Bob Przybylo: I don’t think anybody is at fault for this one. Sometimes a recruit simply likes one school more than the others. Once Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) got a chance to see what the USC culture was all about, there was no turning back.

Browne had nothing but positive things to say about Oklahoma and its coaching staff. Finishing as a runner-up for a national prospect won’t sit well for some fans, but this was a case where OU didn’t drop the ball. The Sooners were upfront and honest about what they thought of Browne and did everything in their power to get him to Norman, Okla. It just didn’t work this time around.

The silver lining is with Browne announcing things as early as he did, it has given OU plenty of time to find its quarterback for the 2013 class. And despite these recruits being regarded as “backup plans,” they’re all pretty excited about the potential of being the signal-caller for the Sooners.


Dennis in Oklahoma City asks: I don’t think defensive tackle is getting enough attention for this class. Do you think there is a position that OU is not attacking enough so far?

Bob Przybylo: OU is being very diligent with its defensive tackle search, not wasting offers at the position. I would like to see the Sooners ramp it up when it comes to tight end.

OU has offered four tight ends and two of them already have committed elsewhere. There are a couple that stand out in Christian Morgan (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) and Jeremiah Gaines (Red Oak, Texas/Red Oak).

Morgan has a good relationship with OU tight ends coach Bruce Kittle and the hope was for Morgan to make this weekend’s Red-White game. However, Morgan and Gaines both won’t be in attendance for the same reason as they will be two of several top recruits who will be taking the ACT that morning and unable to make the trip.


Larry in Kansas City, Mo., asks: All the news regarding defensive tackle has been very negative so far, especially regarding Justin Manning. What is Jackie Shipp doing right now?


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Jake Trotter answers readers’ questions about Oklahoma football in his mailbag every Friday. Got a question for Jake? Submit it here.

Bret in Reno, Nev., writes: Have you heard anything about Courtney Gardner's arrest affecting his status with the Sooners?

Jake Trotter: Bret, I don’t believe Gardner’s “misdemeanor” arrest will affect his status with the Sooners. He might have to run a few stadium steps when he gets to campus, but that’s about it. If it had been a felony arrest, things might be different. Obviously, Gardner has academic hurdles to clear before enrolling at OU, and I view that as a bigger obstacle to him getting to Norman than the arrest.

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It wasn't expected to be a big weekend for Oklahoma, but the Sooners picked up a huge commitment from running back Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage-Boca Delray) on Saturday. Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every Monday. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Greg Bryant
Courtesy of Corey LongESPNU Watch List RB Greg Bryant chose OU over offers from LSU, USC, Florida State, Georgia and others.
Ben in San Antonio asks: How surprising was Bryant’s commitment? I hoped he would commit but never thought it would happen.

Bob Przybylo: It was very surprising, Ben. Few could have seen it coming. Heck, not even Bryant saw it coming. After spending less than two days in Norman, Okla., Bryant had a feeling that OU was the right spot for him.

Bryant, who hadn't been vocal lately about his interest in the Sooners, said that Saturday changed everything. He loved the family atmosphere at OU and feels like he could compete immediately for a starting running back spot. He is very excited about this opportunity.

Bryant was seriously looking at visiting USC, South Carolina and Notre Dame before committing on Saturday. He said taking more visits was part of his plan, but his plans have now changed. Things aren’t progressing as much with defensive recruits, but Bryant has OU fans feeling good again.


Brian in Edmond, Okla., asks: I keep seeing all these top-tier recruits slipping through our fingers and committing elsewhere. Since defense is the priority for 2013, please give me some good news regarding our stance on the defensive side of the ball? Besides Justin Manning, which would be a huge disappointment if he committed somewhere else, give me a few guys who are on the so-called “short list.”

Bob Przybylo: Stay patient, Brian, as OU is making good progress on the defensive side of the ball even if the commits aren’t rolling in.

Recruits to be on the lookout for are defensive end D.J. Ward (Lawton, Okla./Lawton) and linebacker Chans Cox (Pinetop, Ariz./Blue Ridge). Both have expressed big-time interest in the Sooners and OU has made them a priority.

Defensive back continues to be an intriguing spot. Things should clear up this month regarding some top cornerbacks such as Cole Luke (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), Antwuan Davis (Bastrop, Texas/Bastrop) and Maurice Smith (Sugar Land, Texas/Dulles), who all attended Texas' spring game on Sunday but were not offered. OU is in the hunt for all three and next few weeks will be interesting.


Cody in Wichita, Kan., asks: I get that Max Browne is the No. 1 quarterback, but has Josh Heupel alienated the other quarterbacks with this philosophy?


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The Oklahoma football team was on spring break, but it was a busy weekend in the recruiting world. The Elite 11 regional quarterback camp and the Nike Football Training Camp featured plenty of Sooners targets this weekend. Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every Monday. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Scott in Oklahoma City asks: Sounds like a real fun weekend. Who was the best Elite 11 quarterback and who was the best Nike camp recruit?

[+] EnlargeMaurice Smith
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comMaurice Smith showed why he's one of the nation's top defensive backs at Sunday's Nike Training Camp.
Bob Przybylo: I went into the Nike camp Sunday really wanting to see what the big deal was about cornerback Maurice Smith (Sugar Land, Texas/Dulles). I understand now.

Smith, 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, has 13 offers and was in firm control all afternoon. He was clearly deserving of an invite to The Opening.

Smith picked up a Sooners offer in February and attended OU’s second junior day. OU is still on his short list, but after initially wanting to get the process over with, Smith is willing to let his recruitment play out.

As for the Elite 11 event, Devante Kincade (Dallas/Skyline) was easily the best out there. He took control of the day early and never let up.

Regarding potential OU targets, it was a good day for Austin Robinson (Houston/Episcopal). Robinson is every bit the 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds he is listed as.

Robinson was invited to OU’s second junior day on March 3 but was unable to attend the event. He showed nice arm strength and was one of the most physically strong-looking quarterbacks in the competition.


Dan in Dallas asks: Which 2013 in-state potential target helped his chances the most with his performance at the Nike camp?

Bob Przybylo: It was a really good day for defensive back Devanta Johnson (Tulsa, Okla./East Central). It was also a long weekend for Johnson, who visited Texas Tech on Saturday with fellow in-state prospect linebacker Devin Rolan (McAlester, Okla./McAlester).

Johnson, 6-foot and 175 pounds, looked comfortable out there among some of the best wide receivers in the class, and he said it was a huge confidence booster.

He has not been shy about wanting an OU offer and more performances like Sunday will only help his stock.


Ryan in Norman, Okla., asks: We’ve got a running back and a defensive end. What do you think is the No. 1 priority for the next commit? Who should the coaches try to pay the most attention to?


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Jake Trotter answers readers’ questions about Oklahoma football in his mailbag every Friday. Got a question for Jake? Submit it here.

Brandon in Texarkana, Texas, writes: In the past 5 years OU has gone 52-16 with three conference titles, while Texas has gone 48-17 with a much weaker out-of-conference schedule, and one conference title. While we do bring in quality and very talented players, and I know you can’t base a recruit purely on what they are ranked, Texas has really dominated Big 12 recruiting, with the exception of 2008. Texas has 53 players in the NFL, while OU has 31. Do you think this is a case of Texas not maximizing talent, or OU just doing more and developing their players at a better rate?

Jake Trotter: Brandon, to your first point, it’s always easier to recruit out of your own backyard. If all the players in Texas were in Oklahoma, you’d seen the Sooners dominate the recruiting rankings the way the Longhorns have. To your second point, I don’t think there’s any question OU has done a better job than Texas of maximizing its talent, at least going back to the advent of the Mack Brown/Bob Stoops eras. OU has won a lot of games with players that Texas didn’t want, like Derrick Strait and Brandon Everage, who grew up in the Austin area.

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In the last two weeks, Oklahoma has picked up its first two verbal commits for the 2013 class, easing the minds of some of its fans. Will a third one be coming to the Sooners this week? Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every Monday. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

[+] EnlargeMax Browne
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comJunior QB Max Browne could make his college decision this summer.
Matt in Oklahoma City asks: I’m liking the early direction of this class. Is there a chance the Sooners pick up another commit this week?

Bob Przybylo: There’s always a chance, but is it likely? No. Heading into OU’s March 3 junior day, running back Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Ranch) and defensive end Matt Dimon (Katy, Texas/Katy) were on the short list of potential commits. It wasn’t a huge shock to see either of them give their pledge.

However, the other recruits on that list have let it be known they’re going to wait, at least for now. Defensive end D.J. Ward (Lawton, Okla./Lawton) and defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball), for instance, are still high on the Sooners’ board and they’re still high on OU. But it will be a while before a decision is made.

And to end any rumor or thoughts of it happening, there is no way quarterback Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) commits to OU in the next couple of weeks. But the Sooners are in the conversation and things will be very interesting during the summer as Browne wants to make his decision before the end of his junior year.


Frank in Phoenix asks: Dimon is a good commit, and I don’t want to take anything away from him. But looking at some of the other defensive ends in the nation, it feels like OU had to settle for Dimon. Am I wrong?

Bob Przybylo: No, you’re just too quick to judge the defensive ends class at this point. Dimon is a quality defensive end with good size at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds. There won’t be any questions about his attitude or work ethic.

Where you are right is that there are other highly-rated ends on OU’s radar. If the Sooners were only targeting one defensive end for this class, maybe Dimon wouldn’t have been the No. 1 choice.

But this class of 2013 is going to have defensive mentality. OU will get at least a couple more defensive ends, and the Sooners aren’t out of it with some of those top recruits. Though Dimon said it wasn’t the case last week, there is always a chance he could be moved to defensive tackle before it’s all said and done, too.


Jimmy in Dodge City, Kan., asks: One non-Max Browne name on offense for this class and one non-D.J. Ward name on defense that would be a shot in the arm for this class?

Bob Przybylo: OU’s focus has been on offensive tackle, but the Sooners aren’t in a good position right now with the recruits they have offered. Instead of a wish list, I'm going to go with the realistic route.


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