Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

March, 8, 2012
Every Thursday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

• OU get its chance to host one of the nation's top quarterbacks
• One Texas defensive back almost committed to the Sooners at junior day
• Which part of junior day stood out most to visitors?
• 6-foot-10 offensive tackle hopes for an OU offer
• The state's top player in 2014 has an idea of which school he wants to attend

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.

Browne visiting Oklahoma

Not everybody was thrilled with the outcome of Oklahoma’s second junior day. The Sooners earned one commitment in running back Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Ranch) and gave out just one offer in defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball).

This weekend, however, is shaping up to be an interesting one for OU as well. It starts with a biggie as potential five-star quarterback Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) will arrive in Norman on Thursday night and stay until Sunday.

Browne, 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, is regarded by many as the top quarterback in the 2013 class and was offered by OU last month.

Tom Hauck for
Junior quarterback Max Browne will be in Norman tonight and is staying until Sunday.

Even before the offer, Browne has expressed his interest in the Sooners. He said he has a great relationship with OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel.

Two weeks ago Browne said he wanted to make his decision before the end of his junior year. If that is still the case, this is essentially OU’s tryout for Browne.

Browne will get to see a normal Sooners practice as OU coach Bob Stoops said that Saturday will be the first full pads practice of the spring.

“That wasn’t a coincidence. I definitely planned on being there for a practice,” Browne said on Wednesday. “I want to see how everything works. I want to see how the players and coaches act. I want to get a vibe of everything.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to know Coach [Josh] Heupel. He is a real down-to-earth guy, and it feels like we’re learning more about each other with each conversation.”

In the last month, Browne has picked up one big-time offer after another, including powerhouse programs Alabama, USC and Auburn. Browne’s older brother, Mitch, said Max doesn't have any favorites, but there is a good chance OU, Alabama and USC are going to be in the mix until the end.

Browne is unquestionably the most notable visitor for the weekend, but there are at least two defensive names that are planning to check out OU’s Saturday practice, too.

In-state linebackers Devin Rolan (McAlester, Okla./McAlester) and T.J. Ponds (Wagoner, Okla./Wagoner) both plan to be there. Ponds was at OU’s junior day last weekend and Rolan was invited to both of OU’s junior days, but was unable to make them. He said he is very excited about heading to OU for the first time this spring.

Safety Alfred Pullom (Cypress, Texas/Woods), who was invited to OU’s second junior day, was expected to attend, but he said Wednesday night that this weekend's trip to Norman is now up in the air.

Ford puts team first

There were a lot of reasons for OU fans to be excited with the Ford commitment. An ESPNU Watch List member, Ford is considered one of the best Texas high school running backs in the class.

He has been passionate about the Sooners for a long time so fans can feel confident that he is not committing just for the sake of committing.

And if you ask Cypress Ranch coach Gene Johnson, it’s Ford’s character that is his biggest asset.

“He’s a team-first guy. Always has been,” Johnson said. “He could easily be somebody that carries the ball 30 times a game and worries about his numbers. He’s not that way. He was a big help in teaching the younger kids how to get better last year.”

Ford missed the latter half of the season with a foot injury but that is in the past now. Johnson said Ford is healthy and is eager to start spring practice in the next couple of months.

The next commit?

Despite the fact that Manning and defensive end D.J. Ward (Lawton, Okla./Lawton) have said repeatedly they’re going to wait on making a commitment, Sooners fans believe they could be the next members of the 2013 class.

Following a very successful trip to OU’s junior day, Ward said nothing had changed for him as OU remains one of his top schools.

As for a commitment? You all will still have to wait.

“No, I didn’t think about committing this weekend,” Ward said. “That’s still a long ways off. I’m not ready to make my decision.”

Manning, the younger brother of former OU defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger, has remained adamant that he will wait until December to announce his decision. Manning was excited to receive the OU offer after receiving other top offers from around the country in the last two months.

Bob Przybylo/
Junior in-state defensive end D.J. Ward says he will take his time.

Based off junior day, the two names worth watching for Oklahoma's next verbal commitment are defensive end Matt Dimon (Katy, Texas/Katy) and cornerback Maurice Smith (Sugar Land, Texas/Dulles).

Both have admitted they were close to pulling the trigger Saturday but both are now content to wait at least a little bit longer.

Dimon said OU is his clear No. 1 favorite although he would like to see more schools. Dimon said Wednesday that nothing is new, and even though he loves OU, he's going to take more time.

For Smith, it has always been about OU or Texas. Even though he has said the Longhorns are his dream school, he is also a big OU fan. Other schools are in the running, but it's clear that the Sooners and Longhorns are in a great spot for Smith.

He was a little disappointed about not having a Texas offer after its junior day, but a conversation with Texas defensive backs coach Duane Akina on Tuesday helped calm him down.

“I called him up and he was telling me to not give up on Texas and not be depressed or anything like that,” Smith said.

Texas has not offered any defensive backs, while Smith received his OU offer a few weeks ago. He said he loved his OU experience but wants to make 100 percent sure he is ready with his decision.

“There was a part of me that was ready to commit to OU on Saturday,” Smith said. “I talked it over with my parents, and they were totally supportive. But I couldn’t do it just yet.”

SoonerNation will have more with Smith later this afternoon.

Arnold awaits more evaluation

Defensive end Jay Arnold (Heath, Texas/Rockwall-Heath) earned an offer Saturday, but it wasn’t the one he was expecting.

Arnold, who attended OU’s junior day, was offered by Wake Forest on his way back home to Texas. Like a lot of junior day attendees, he is still waiting to see if he will receive an OU offer.

“Overall, it was pretty good experience,” Arnold said. “I was able to see everything. My favorite part was definitely seeing the locker room.”

Arnold is not a stranger to the Sooners as his older sister attends OU. He did say it was weird seeing the stadium empty. He has usually visited OU during the fall to see the Sooners play.

Arnold was able to speak with OU defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright. And as has been the M.O. for OU coaches, Wright didn’t mince words with Arnold.

“He told me they were back and forth on offering me at this point,” Arnold said. “They want to do more evaluation and go from there. I wanted the offer, of course, but I wasn’t that disappointed because I know OU isn’t offering a lot of kids.”

Arnold, 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, is an ESPNU Watch List member and has eight offers. He said he wants to visit Northwestern and Purdue during spring break. As of now, he is playing it by ear and has no official set of favorites.

McGhee’s height a concern

Manning wasn’t the only defensive tackle on campus last weekend as Antonio McGhee (Bossier City, La./Parkway) also attended junior day.

McGhee, however, made some early news as he was gone from OU before noon Saturday. He said not to read too much into it.

“No, it was nothing bad. We had to be back early Sunday, and it was a long drive,” McGhee said. “It was definitely worth the trip to meet the coaches. I don’t regret it at all.”

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