Oklahoma Sooners: Tulsa Golden Hurricane


NORMAN, Okla. -- Any more questions?

Oklahoma junior Blake Bell got his first collegiate start at quarterback on Saturday amid questions about his ability to throw the ball. Three hours later, those questions have been answered after Bell led OU to a 51-20 win against Tulsa at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Bell was outstanding as the triggerman of the OU passing game, going 27-of-37 passing for 413 yards and four touchdowns.

Is Bell the next Sam Bradford? Um, let’s not get carried away. But against the Golden Hurricane he proved he can throw the ball well enough to run the Sooners’ offense efficiently and effectively. He made several good reads, was accurate with his throws and didn’t turn the ball over, as the Sooners offense had its best performance of the season. A pair of touchdown darts up the seam of TU’s defense to Sterling Shepard and Jalen Saunders were further proof that the Sooners did indeed recruit Bell for his arm, not his legs.

Yet, it wasn’t just Bell who got OU’s offense humming for the first time in 2013. The receivers played better, and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel used screens and quick passes to jumpstart the offense. Shepard had the best performance of his sophomore season with eight receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns, and Bell connected with seven different receivers as the Sooners spread the football around to several targets.

As good as Bell was on Saturday he still has to prove he can perform at a similar level against better defenses that have planned to stop a balanced offensive attack. Tulsa was athletically overmatched and essentially forced the Bell and the Sooners to beat them through the air. And he did.

Can he do that against a more talented defense? We’ll found out on Sept. 28, when Bell and the Sooners travel to Notre Dame.


NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma fans should finally get a definitive answer about Blake Bell's arm.

The Sooners junior quarterback will earn his first start at quarterback against Tulsa at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium today (ESPN2, noon ET) and will have the chance to prove his passing ability amid questions about his ability to run OU's offense. Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight beat out Bell to become the Sooners’ starter at the beginning of the season but injured his knee during OU’s 16-7 win over West Virginia on Sept. 7 and is expected to miss the game opening the door for Bell to start.

Questions about Bell’s ability to throw arose after the Kansas native carved himself a role as the Sooners’ short-yardage specialist and was dubbed the “Belldozer” as a redshirt freshman in 2011. He excelled in the role, rushing for 24 touchdowns but completed just 10 of 20 pass attempts in two seasons behind Landry Jones.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesBlake Bell has a chance to prove he's not just a short-yardage specialist.
Expect the Golden Hurricane to force Bell to beat them. With the Sooners averaging 310.5 rushing yards per game, Tulsa is unlikely to sit back and allow OU to put the game on the shoulders of running backs Brennan Clay, Damien Williams and Roy Finch. TU will probably load the box and dare the Sooners, and Bell, to beat them through the air.

Bell enters the game having completed 3 of 6 pass attempts for 38 yards and with four carries for 31 yards in OU’s first two games. He saw mop-up duty in the Sooners' 34-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe before replacing Knight in the fourth quarter of OU’s win over WVU. While the Golden Hurricane will come out with an eye on stopping the Sooners’ running attack, don’t expect OU’s offense to change with Bell under center.

“They’re pretty much the same,” coach Bob Stoops said. “They all can run, they all can throw, and they’re all athletic. There isn’t much of a difference between them as far as their skill set and what they can do.”

Lessons Learned: Camp of Conquerors 

June, 15, 2013
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HornDamon Sayles/ESPNMesquite Horn won the Camp of Conquerors 7-on-7 Tournament.

CEDAR HILL, Texas -- The second annual Mike Adams Camp of Conquerors 7-on-7 tournament featured 13 of the top 7-on-7 teams in the Dallas area on Saturday. The tournament, put on by the NFL defensive back, gives the opportunity to win $5,000 for the winning 7-on-7 program.

Early Saturday evening, Mesquite (Texas) Horn defeated Cedar Hill to walk away with the championship.

Here is what we learned after the event:

Horn WR the talk of the tournament

Horn all spring has shown that it’s more than quarterback Destri White, Rice cornerback commit Jorian Clark and a talented group of linemen that features Baylor commit Andrew Morris and 2015 standout offensive tackle Conner Dyer. On Saturday, Del’Michael High reminded everyone of just how good he is.

High, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound wide receiver, was borderline unstoppable throughout the tournament, and he was a big reason why Horn went undefeated. In the championship game against Cedar Hill, High was able to score wins in several one-on-one battles, some featuring talented Oklahoma cornerback commit Marcus Green.

High hasn’t been on the recruiting radar, but he showed tools of being one of the top receivers in the state on Saturday. He admittedly said that part of his lack of recruiting exposure might be because of academics, but he added that he’s been focused more than ever to make sure his work off the field is as solid as his work on it.

Bishop Dunne DB targets going both ways

MOORE, Okla. -- It has been a couple of years since Oklahoma recruited at Moore (Okla.) Southmoore. OU hit the school hard with prospects like quarterback Kendal Thompson, defensive back Julian Wilson and tight end Austin Haywood.

The Sooners have a reason to return with Class of 2014 wide receiver Jalen Adams. He has made several unofficial visits to OU, including last month for the spring game.

Already with an offer from Tulsa, Adams said schools such as Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Stanford are showing constant interest. Adams, who had 39 receptions for 766 yards and eight touchdowns last season, will be at OU’s football camp in two weeks.


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TEXAS CITY, Texas -- These days, it's all smiles for ESPN 150 receiver Armanti Foreman.

Life is good for the Texas City (Texas) High School star. Offers are coming left and right. He's preparing for a banner senior season with his twin brother, 2014 running back D'Onta Foreman. He's enjoying the final weeks of his junior year of high school. On Tuesday, Armanti was sprinting past defensive backs and juking defenders out of their shorts, showing the playmaking ability that has so many colleges at his doorstep.


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Q&A: 2014 OL Brad Lundblade 

March, 20, 2013
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Coaching changes can mean a lot of things for recruits. For Argyle (Texas) Liberty Christian offensive guard Brad Lundblade, it meant starting all over with Oklahoma.

Lundblade, who is 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, was starting to develop a strong bond with former OU offensive tackles coach Bruce Kittle before Kittle was unexpectedly let go by OU last month.

Out was Kittle and in is Bill Bedenbaugh. Lundblade had a chance to talk to Bedenbaugh on the phone, but he wanted to meet the new coach so he took an unofficial visit to OU last week followed by a visit to Tulsa.

The OU visit was nice, but the Tulsa visit earned him an offer. North Texas is his other offer, but he’s hearing from several Big 12 schools.


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Q&A: 2015 DT Marquise Overton 

March, 13, 2013
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SoonerNation concluded the OKPreps 14 for ’14 last week, looking at the top in-state prospect for a loaded Class of 2014. But it’s never too early to start talking the Class of 2015.

And while the depth isn’t there just year for the in-state group, there definitely looks to be a few big-time talents.

One of them poised to break out is defensive tackle Marquise Overton (Jenks, Okla./Jenks). At 6-foot-2 and 280 pounds, Overton is already starting to receive interest from several colleges.

And being able to contribute at Jenks as a sophomore is usually a good indicator of somebody who is going to be a quality name to watch going forward.


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When Oklahoma needs help, it often dips into the remaining in-state talent. The Sooners can do that for the Class of 2014. There are plenty of options.

In the last three weeks, SoonerNation has profiled the OKPreps 14 for ’14, but there are definitely even more targets out there if OU chooses to pursue them.


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OKPreps 14 for '14: RB Lawrence Evitt 

February, 27, 2013
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Is the Class of 2014 crop of in-state talent the best Oklahoma has seen since 2006? With six recruits in the ESPN Watch List, it’s shaping up to be a busy recruiting year in the Sooner State. For the next three weeks, SoonerNation is going to profile the OKPreps’ 14 for ’14: a look at some of the top names and where they stand with OU.

RB Lawrence Evitt (Wagoner, Okla./Wagoner, 5-8, 168)
2012 stats: 273 carries for 2,980 yards with 35 touchdowns, 10.9 yards per rush. 11 receptions for 204 yards, 4 touchdowns.


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OKPreps 14 for '14: WR Jalen Adams 

February, 18, 2013
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Is the Class of 2014 crop of in-state talent the best Oklahoma has seen since 2006? With six recruits in the ESPN Watch List, it’s shaping up to be a busy recruiting year in the Sooner State. For the next three weeks, SoonerNation is going to profile the OKPreps’ 14 for ’14: a look at some of the top names and where they stand with OU.

WR Jalen Adams (Moore, Okla./Southmoore, 5-11, 165)
2012 stats: 39 catches for 766 yards, 8 touchdowns.


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Q&A: Watch List QB Justice Hansen 

January, 30, 2013
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No in-state junior had more pressure to perform than ESPN Watch List quarterback Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe). After an incredible sophomore season, he was expected to surpass those numbers as a junior.

It wasn’t easy, but he managed to do so. Hansen was 185-of-318 for 3,079 yards with 36 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also ran for 773 yards and 14 more scores.


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2014 QB Key discusses combine, future 

January, 5, 2013
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SAN ANTONIO -- Ask those in attendance watching quarterbacks, and you’d hear positive feedback regarding 2014 Coleman Key (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow).

Measuring in at almost 6-foot-5 and 224 pounds, Key has the size that every college coach wants in a quarterback. On Friday, Key showed he has arm strength and overall skill to go with that size at the U.S. Army National Combine at the Alamodome. He didn’t get as many repetitions in 1-on-1 drills as he wanted because of the many quarterbacks at the combine, but when he had the ball, he made his turns count.

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Rodriguez decommits, heading to Tulsa 

December, 13, 2012
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Saying it was the best decision for him, three-star offensive tackle Dalton Rodriguez (Tulsa, Okla./Union) tweeted he has switched his commitment from Oklahoma to Tulsa on Thursday afternoon. Rodriguez confirmed the news via text message to ESPN.com.

Dalton Rodriguez
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comThe Sooners wanted Dalton Rodriguez to play offensive tackle, a position he had never played before.
Rodriguez, who is 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds, was being recruited as an offensive tackle by the Sooners. However, he never took a snap at the position during high school. He has been one of the best defensive ends in the state the last two seasons.

OU picked up another defensive end commit in Houston Alief Taylor’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo on Wednesday afternoon, giving the Sooners three quality defensive ends to go with ESPN 300 prospects D.J. Ward (Moore, Okla./Southmoore) and Matt Dimon (Katy, Texas/Katy).

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Q&A: 2014 Okla. receiver Jeffery Mead 

September, 19, 2012
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It’s bound to happen if you watch Oklahoma high school powerhouse Tulsa (Okla.) Union enough times. Eventually somebody will stick out -- someone who previously wasn’t on anybody’s radar. That looks to be the case with 2014 wide receiver Jeffery Mead. He is still learning the position, but at 6-foot-7 and 168 pounds he has the height to turn some heads and has shown the potential to be a prospect worth watching. His size has also made him a popular recruit for basketball, the sport he spent most of his summer playing. Now in his first year on varsity, Mead has nine catches for 177 yards and a touchdown through the first three games.

Mead talked to SoonerNation about playing receiver and his recruiting interest:

SoonerNation: How much more comfortable do you feel now as opposed to when the season started three weeks ago?

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Offensive line search is on for Sooners 

September, 14, 2012
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It has been evident for a while that offensive tackle is one of Oklahoma’s major needs for the 2013 recruiting class. Entering the season, though, it looked like OU had two commits in Tulsa (Okla.) Union’s Dalton Rodriguez and San Antonio Regan’s Matt Beyer.

But it’s possible the Sooners don’t have any commits at the spot. Beyer, a four-star prospect, said earlier this week he has to give up football because of a neck injury.

Rodriguez, a three-star prospect, has not played offensive tackle in high school. If he cannot put on the weight needed to be a tackle, he will most likely stay at his more natural defensive end position in college.

OU is looking for at least three offensive linemen in this class. Where are the Sooners going to find that help? Here is a look at the prospects who have had the most recent contact with the OU coaching staff:

Caleb Benenoch (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes, 6-foot-6, 321 pounds, No. 19 OG, Uncommitted)

Caleb Benenoch
Max Olson/ESPN.comCaleb Benenoch will take an official visit to Oklahoma next weekend.
Why OU is in the mix: Because ever since Benenoch decommitted from Michigan State, it has felt like a two-horse race between OU and Texas.

Texas A&M made a strong impression on Benenoch following his visit last weekend, his brother plays at Baylor and he is \ intrigued by what UCLA has to offer after the Bruins’ recent interest.

OU offensive guards coach James Patton has made a strong connection with Benenoch throughout the summer, and Benenoch is going to be one of many top-ranked recruits taking his official visit to OU next weekend for the showdown against Kansas State.

Why OU is out: Benenoch is not bashful about saying he grew up a huge Longhorns fan. And no matter how good of an impression some of the other schools make, it’s going to be tough to top Texas in this pursuit.

Rob Boyd (Vian, Okla./Vian, 6-4, 285, No. 39 OG, Committed to Tulsa)

Why OU is in the mix: Because if history has taught us one thing, it’s that the Sooners can come in as late as they want to and snatch up a top in-state prospect.

OU can show minimal interest initially, but once it decides to get in the race, the Sooners are usually successful.

Boyd has admitted to wanting to play for the Sooners and is the best offensive lineman prospect in the state.

Why OU is out: Boyd has remained adamant that he is a man of his word. He has committed to Tulsa, and he is done with the process. There is no way to guess how things will go if OU makes the offer, but the first part of that statement has to happen. The Sooners have still not offered Boyd.

Aaron Cochran (Atwater, Calif./Buhach, 6-8, 364, No. 24 OT, Uncommitted)

Why OU is in the mix: The Sooners offered Cochran in May. Though not much was reported during the summer, he and tackles coach Bruce Kittle kept in steady contact.

It has been that relationship that has helped the Sooners not only stay in the race but also made them a legitimate candidate in trying to land Cochran.

He is hoping to make an official visit to OU sometime this fall and is eyeing Nov. 9 as his target date. The Sooners host Baylor that weekend.

Why OU is out: Could the Sooners really steal a quality West Coast prospect like this? Especially one who has an older brother that plays for California? Cochran said distance is not a concern at all for him, but what happens if it comes down to UCLA, Cal and OU?

Sean Dowling (Fallbrook, Calif./Union, 6-6, 260, No. 58 OT, Committed to UCLA)

Why OU is in the mix: Dowling has been pretty honest about how much he enjoys talking with Kittle. The encouraging part is most of it doesn’t have to do with football.

Dowling has been so intrigued about Kittle’s life experiences that he said he has felt a different type of bond with Kittle than some of the other coaches.

He promised OU that his first official visit would be with the Sooners. He has kept his word and will be in Norman on Oct. 19, the weekend of the Kansas game.

Why OU is out: Because the Bruins haven’t done anything to make Dowling look elsewhere. Dowling was among several UCLA commits that took a lot of pride in the victory against Nebraska last weekend. It appears he likes OU but it also appears that he hasn’t soured on UCLA either.

Sterling Korona (San Antonio/Reagan, 6-7, 260, No. 69 OT, Committed to Duke)

Why OU is in the mix: With all the time the OU staff spent getting to know Beyer, they didn’t forget about his teammate. Kittle started to increase his interest in the summer and has already contacted Korona in the last two weeks.

No offer has officially been made, but the Sooners would be in the mix if one is extended.

Why OU is out: Because the offer isn’t there and Korona is firmly committed to Duke. He is taking an official visit to see the Blue Devils this weekend, which could reaffirm his commitment to Duke or make him start to think about looking elsewhere. That question can't be answered yet.

Kenny Lacy (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe, 6-5, 260, No. 42 OT, Committed to UCLA)

Why OU is in the mix: The relationship between the OU coaches and Lacy goes back a while, especially with Mike Stoops and Tim Kish back when they were at Arizona.

This spring, Lacy got comfortable with James Patton and Bruce Kittle so he has a good feel about the OU coaching staff and likes what he has heard and talked about with them.

Despite his recent commitment to the Bruins, he said he is still going to take his official visit to OU for Bedlam weekend. The Sooners visit is the last of his five officials and will give OU a chance at a great last impression.

Why OU is out: Nobody thought Lacy was going to make his commitment before taking all five of his official visits. The atmosphere and the coaching staff at UCLA must have been something special for him to make that call less than 48 hours after the visit.

Christian Morris (Memphis, Tenn./East, 6-6, 293, No. 74 OT, Committed to UCLA)


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