<
>
Insider

Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes

10/16/2011

Matt Strasen/ESPNHS

Mario Edwards Jr., ranked No. 1 in the ESPNU 150, might make a trip to Oklahoma in a few weeks.

Welcome to the Sooner Intel, a look back at the week that was, inside Oklahoma recruiting. Have a recruiting question for Bob Przybylo or Brandon Chatmon? Send it to our mailbag here.

What's the deal with Mario Edwards?

Obviously the biggest recruiting news of the last week has been with defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (Denton, Texas/Ryan). Edwards told ESPN.com’s Mitch Sherman last weekend that even though he remains a verbal commit to Florida State, “OU right now seems like it’s the team for me.”

The Edwards family was quick to point out that Mario, ranked No. 1 in the ESPNU 150, is still a Seminoles commit; but what he said about OU is certainly an encouraging sign.

How did we get here? Denton Ryan had homecoming the weekend of OU at Florida State, and Edwards didn’t want to miss that. OU made things tougher for FSU by going into Doak-Campbell Stadium and winning 23-13.

Proximity has played a role, too. Denton is about two hours from Norman, Okla., and though FSU has the clear edge in terms of the family connection, with his father being a former Seminole, the younger Edwards has been hearing about OU for a long time.

Edwards also got to see OU at its best in the 55-17 victory over Texas in last weekend's Red River Rivalry. Not only were the Sooners at their best, but a theme among the recruits I spoke to this week was that they got to see the OU defense at its best. Eight sacks, three touchdowns -- that makes an impression.

Not saying this has played a huge role, but it hasn’t hurt OU’s chances that Florida State has struggled since the Sooners game. Losses to Clemson and Wake Forest have all but taken away any chance the Seminoles had to play for the ACC championship and a BCS bowl berth.

The later in the season we get, the tougher it is for top prospects to take long-distance visits. A big reason, of course, is because the recruits are entering high school playoff time and don’t want to leave their team for a weekend. So traveling to Tallahassee, Fla., might seem tough for Edwards, compared to a short drive up to Norman.

There are rumors that Edwards intends to take an official visit for OU’s game against Texas A&M on Nov. 5. That is "the game" in terms of visitors. A lot of OU’s verbal commits plan on being at the game, along with some top targets. And with De’Vante Harris (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) in the house, you know he will let his voice be heard and try to get Edwards’ ear.

OU, Arkansas in the lead for DGB?

On the other side of the ball is wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest). As we all know by now, Green-Beckham is not going public with any recruiting updates until after the season.

Tracy Beckham

Dorial Green-Beckham isn't talking about his future until after the season.

I had a chance to speak with a lot of people familiar with DGB’s situation this week, and I definitely believe OU is in good (if not great) standing.

One source said Arkansas and OU are 1a. and 1b., followed by Alabama at No. 3 and Missouri at No. 4. That sounds about right if you factor in Friday’s game, for which OU coaches Bob Stoops and Jay Norvell were in attendance, as was Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino.

Green-Beckham, ranked No. 3 in the ESPNU 150, was at Arkansas last week for an unofficial and saw the Razorbacks at their best. He was also at Missouri this weekend for the Tigers' homecoming. Once again, this was an unofficial visit.

If he comes to the OU campus this season, the most likely options would be next weekend against Texas Tech or the Texas A&M game. Either way, the OU coaching staff has been persistent in its pursuit. Green-Beckham won’t take any official visits until after the season.

Brooks, Tapper squash rumors

Now that the talk of the two most sought-after targets is done, this was also a big week in terms of the two biggest question marks among commits: defensive end Charles Tapper (Baltimore/City College) and athlete Daniel Brooks (Port Lavaca, Texas/Calhoun). Rumors were cleared up with both of them.

Daniel Brooks told me earlier this season that all recruiting questions were to be directed at his father, Tony. Tony elaborated about that when we spoke.

Tony Brooks said Daniel did an interview in which he said he was 95 percent committed to OU, which led to speculation by various media outlets that Daniel wasn’t a solid commit.

Tony Brooks was very upfront about everything and said there is no indecision right now. Daniel is coming to OU to play on the offensive side of the ball and be a kick returner.

As I wrote, it's tough to question his loyalty when Daniel chose not to attend the Red River Rivalry in order to avoid misleading Texas and making OU worry.

As for Tapper, Brandon Chatmon was able to catch up with the Baltimore product. Tapper, after being fairly quiet about his OU ties, has started to talk up the Sooners on his Twitter account.

Last week, Tapper and OU defensive end Frank Alexander exchanged tweets. Tapper said Alexander is playing the way Tapper hopes to play, and Alexander gave Tapper some encouragement.

Miller Safrit/ESPN.com

Two of Class of 2013 linebacker Travon Blanchard's former teammates play for the Sooners.

Tapper seems to have taken a lot of time to evaluate things and now feels solid with being vocal about OU, which is obviously a good sign for OU fans.

Blanchard waiting for OU offer

OU could have its first 2013 verbal commit if it pulls the trigger with linebacker Travon Blanchard (Orange, Texas/West Orange-Stark).

Blanchard is high on the Sooners, and it certainly helps to have former high school teammates Trey Franks and James Haynes at OU.

Blanchard listed OU, TCU and Texas A&M as his three favorites. But when prodded about A&M switching conferences, he said it really doesn’t matter because it is pretty much down to the Sooners and the Horned Frogs.

Blanchard even went a step further to say that, for him, it’s about who is the first to offer. He doesn’t want to drag out the process, so if OU or TCU make the offer, he doesn’t think it’s going to be too long for him to give the verbal commitment.

OU still pursuing Baylor commit Coleman

I mentioned Harris before, and he won’t only be working over Edwards. Harris has been playing the role of recruiter with Corey Coleman (Richardson, Texas/Pearce).

What has helped is that Harris didn’t force the action on this. The two were already friends and now Harris is just trying to convince the Baylor commit to come to the Sooners.

Coleman watched Baylor last weekend and his Facebook profile is full of pictures with him in Baylor gear, but his voice changes when he talks about the Sooners.

He gets really excited, and I think he believes it’s such an honor for OU to be looking at him, it wouldn’t shock me if Coleman is the next OU commit for the 2012 class.

Harris and Coleman were hoping to visit OU this weekend for Texas Tech, but Harris said he is visiting family in Houston. However, everything is still on schedule for the game against Texas A&M. Coleman has already scheduled an official visit that weekend and Harris will be there, too.

Bob Przybylo/ESPN.com

Class of 2012 linebacker Brian Nance could be Oklahoma's next commit.

Nance remains very high on Sooners

And if you want another guess for who might be the next 2012 commit, look no further than linebacker Brian Nance (Euless, Texas/Trinity).

Even though Nance made an official to Baylor last month, he made it crystal clear that OU has not fallen out of his favor.

“No, not at all. OU was the first team to offer me, and I’m just looking for the right time to make the visit,” Nance said.

Euless Trinity has an off week Oct. 28, which doesn’t help matters as the Sooners will be at Kansas State. I fully expect that whenever teammate and OU commit Polo Manukainiu makes his unofficial to OU, Nance is going to join him.

Nance was yet another big-time recruit who was impressed by the OU defense against Texas.

“How could you not be?” Nance said. “They were flying all over the ball, making plays and attacking. That’s exactly the type of defense I want to play for and can see myself playing for.”