Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

April, 26, 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:

• One of Oklahoma's quarterback targets will be getting evaluated tomorrow.
• Will the Sooners' add commit No. 5 in the next few days?
• A Florida defensive end has a special connection to a former OU assistant coach.
• One of OU's latest offers was offered by Mike Stoops and Arizona as a sophomore.
• A 2014 defensive back prospect has OU in his top two.

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.

Race for QB offer continues

The Oklahoma coaches have been out in full force this week for the spring evaluation period. But one spot that has been rather calm has been at quarterback. OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel already has let it be known he won’t make any decision until he sees his three targets in person.

First up will be Brayden Scott (Tahlequah, Okla./Sequoyah) and that evaluation is scheduled for tomorrow. The evaluation for Kelly Hilinski (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame) will happen in early May although no date has been finalized. The final one is going to be with Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas/Heritage). Because of Thomas’ time on the baseball field this spring, he will be the last one to visit with the OU assistant coach.

And in the eyes of his coach, Thomas might also be the perfect fit for the Sooners.

“He is a very good athlete,” Colleyville Heritage coach Mike Fuller said. “You see that with how easy he can play baseball or do track and field to go with being our quarterback. He has the perfect demeanor for a quarterback.”

Tom Hauck/ESPNHS
In-state quarterback Brayden Scott is throwing in front of Josh Heupel tomorrow.

Thomas has around 20 offers at this point and has admitted he is very interested in being the Sooners quarterback. Because of how talented he is at baseball, there is some concern he’ll bypass college and play minor league baseball after being selected in the MLB draft next summer.

But Fuller said it doesn’t matter how many schools and coaches keep asking about Thomas, his attitude hasn't changed.

“He doesn’t alienate himself and doesn’t act like he is better than anybody else,” Fuller said. “He hangs with the offensive and defensive starters just as much as he does with the third- and fourth-stringers.”

There are no baseball concerns when it comes to Hilinski, who has an Arkansas offer. The biggest question mark on him is whether or not he has the skills to be the guy for the Sooners. In talking with Sherman Oaks Notre Dame coach Kevin Rooney, he said those concerns are unfounded.

“Last year was his first year as our starting quarterback, and he had some struggles,” Rooney said. “But the difference coming into this year is amazing. As a team, though, we struggled last year. It wasn’t just him. We weren’t a complete team last year. I feel like this year’s team can be something special.”

Nobody is questioning Hilinski’s size at 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds. Rooney said he took some hits last season, getting sacked 20 times playing with a younger offensive line. But instead of getting down about things, Hilinski matured as a leader.

“The one thing about Kelly is that he is very coachable,” Rooney said. “At a position like quarterback, I don’t have to tell you how important that is.”

Taylor the next OU commit?

Believe it or not, four-star athlete Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central) hasn’t actually committed to the Sooners.

But it certainly feels that way. Taylor never worried about the lack of an Oklahoma offer the last couple of months, but this week it has been tough to wipe the smile off his face. He was officially offered by OU on Monday afternoon, and it felt like he could commit right then and there.

And if it was purely up to him, that would have been the case. But he didn’t want to be impulsive and his mother still has a lot questions she hopes OU head coach Bob Stoops can soon answer.

“I’m feeling really good about things right now, really good,” Taylor said. “My mom still wants me to see Kansas State because we did agree to show up. And I know she still has some questions for Coach Stoops, but man, I feel great.”

The timing of the offer was a little funny, Taylor said. He was talking with one of his track teammates minutes before the offer and was asked which big-time schools he would attend if he had his choice.

“I said OU, Alabama and Oregon would be my three. If it was just up to me and could go anywhere, those were the three," he said. "And then right after that, I got the OU offer. It was a fun day."

Sherit gets more OU knowledge

This week has been all about the OU coaches looking west. But last weekend OU defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright made a stop at Tampa (Fla.) Hillsborough to check in with defensive end offer Jordan Sherit.

Tom Hauck/ESPNHS
Defensive end Jordan Sherit isn't afraid of competition.

Sherit recently told GatorNation his top five teams are OU, Florida, Notre Dame, Stanford and Miami (Fla.) as he really likes the attention the schools have shown.

He suffered a setback on Sunday at the Orlando Nike Football Training Camp event when he injured his shoulder, but it doesn’t look like it is anything serious. He said it was a strained rotator cuff, and he hopes to be back for spring football.

Meeting Wright was a chance for Sherit, a four-star prospect, to put a face to the name he has been talking to on the phone all the time. And a chance to expound on the relationship the two share with former OU assistant coach Rex Norris.

Norris coached at OU from 1973-83 as the defensive line coach. He was a coach at a camp that Sherit attended last year, and Norris raved about Sherit to his longtime friend, Wright.

“Coach Wright told me that Rex thinks I have the ability to play my first year at OU and that meant so much coming from him,” Sherit said.

Norris gave a ringing endorsement to Sherit via one of his own experiences.

“Coach Norris was coaching at Texas A&M and OU offered him a spot,” Sherit said. “Rex didn’t want to leave the Aggies. But when he got to OU, he saw all the trophies. He saw how the players reacted to everything and how hard they worked. He fell in love immediately.

"I’m hoping I will, too.”

Even though OU already has two commits at defensive end, Sherit said that hasn’t discouraged him at all because he loves to compete.

Lacy familiar with OU staff

At this point, there aren’t too many OU coaches offensive tackle Kenny Lacy (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe) hasn’t talked with. He started with conversations with offensive guards coach James Patton and that has changed now to tackles coach Bruce Kittle, who made the trip to Phoenix on Tuesday afternoon to watch Lacy work. The focus was on his agility and there was also a blocking sled relay. Kittle told Lacy to call him later in the night. When he did, he had his latest offer.

“OU has a great tradition and wins a lot of games,” Lacy said. “I’m very excited about this honor.”

But the coaching tree doesn’t stop there. The first school to offer Lacy? Arizona, back when Lacy was a sophomore. Of course, Mike Stoops was the head coach at the time and Tim Kish was on that staff so that relationship has already been built.

“U of A was definitely my favorite when Coach Stoops and Coach Kish were there,” Lacy said. “When I heard they were leaving for OU, I became real interested in the Sooners.”

It is too early to say if or when Lacy is going to see the Oklahoma campus. He has stayed local this spring, visiting USC, Arizona and Arizona State. He has plans to see California and UCLA, too, but he said he will talk with his family and decide later about which schools he will visit.

The Fresno trio?

The Sooners already have a “Cali trio” in running back Brennan Clay, wide receiver Kenny Stills and defensive back Tony Jefferson.

Shrinking it down further, what about a “Fresno trio” for the class of 2013? It's highly unlikely that all three defensive backs commit to the Sooners, but OU has thrown its hat in the ring with three prospects from Fresno (Calif.) Central East.

It started in February when cornerback Johnny Johnson Jr. was offered. In texting with Johnson on Sunday, he said he hadn’t heard from OU lately. One day later, not only had he heard from the Sooners again but so had his teammates. The Sooners offered fellow defensive backs L.J. Moore and Hatari Byrd on Monday.

Courtesy of Davide De Pas
Cornerback Johnny Johnson Jr. is one of three defensive backs at the same school that OU has offered.

“This is a great offer" Moore said. "I’m very blessed to get a chance like this."

OU defensive backs coach Mike Stoops made the trip to the school Monday afternoon and obviously liked what he saw.

Back in February, Fresno Central East coach Justin Garza was still in the first month of the job. He is a lot more comfortable and is starting to realize how special his secondary group is going to be in 2012.

“We start spring ball in May, but I have enjoyed seeing how close of a group they are already,” Garza said. “There are no big egos or anything like that. They all push each other. It’s a little bit surreal to see all of this happen for the three of them.”

Garza said it was good to meet Stoops for the first time because the connection has been with some of his assistants back when Stoops was at Arizona.

When it comes to Moore, Garza said it is his competitiveness that stands out.

“He won’t take no for an answer,” Garza said. “He is very rangy, very long, and a lot of coaches have been impressed with that.

“With Hatari, I feel like he looks like a college player right now when you look at his body. He is still new to playing safety, but he’s a student of the game.”

Garza said the interest in all three has made for some busy times at the school, but he has been impressed with how well the three have handled the constant attention. All three are four-star prospects.

Unchartered territory for Washington school

It took a second for Spokane (Wash.) Mead football coach Sean Carty to make sure he was actually hearing from the school he thought he was hearing from. The program has been prominent for sending kids to Pac-12 schools. That would be nothing new. But hearing from Oklahoma? Yeah, Carty had to do a double-take.

“We’ve never had anybody from this area go to a place like OU,” Carty said. “This is exciting for everybody.”

It is tight end Danny Mattingly that has caught the interest of tight ends coach Bruce Kittle. Mattingly was offered a couple of weeks ago and Kittle is expected to see Mattingly on Friday.

Mattingly’s older brother played at Washington State so Carty expected Mattingly was going to get some looks. But once he heard teams like OU and Alabama were getting involved, he knew it was going to be a little bit different.

“I’m not really sure what sets Danny apart from the rest of the guys,” Carty said. “I know he hits like a truck. I know how talented he is, and I guess that’s why a school like OU would be interested. He has great hands and really enjoys playing the game.”

Carty said they’ve had schools like Wake Forest and Army show interest in their players before but that’s about it in terms of non-Pac-12 schools paying attention to their program.

“It’s like opening a door to another dimension,” Carty said. “I’m excited, and I know Danny is excited to meet with Coach Kittle.”

Bryant relaxed and comfortable with OU

It's been a pretty good month for running back Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage-Boca Delray). He committed to OU on an unofficial visit March 31 and was named the No. 2 running back in the nation and No. 29 overall player in the ESPN 150 last week.

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