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Insider

In-state defensive backs could be answer

4/20/2012

Oklahoma defensive backs coach Mike Stoops has a clear vision of what he wants in his secondary. He wants his players big and physical. It is not tough to see who is going to fit his system.

But trying to guess which 2013 defensive backs are eyeing the Sooners is another question. Stoops was aggressive in February, offering several top national defensive backs. At this point, there is nothing to show for it. OU is still in great standing with cornerback Cole Luke (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), but it has been tough to gauge the interest for some of the other top DBs in California and Florida.

In the last month, however, there has been a spike in interest as it pertains to a couple of in-state defensive backs who would love a shot at the Sooners.

In March, safety Khari Harding (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) and cornerback Maurice Chandler (Lawton, Okla./Lawton) were receiving very little interest from the Oklahoma coaching staff. Both have started to rack up offers, and now, after initial hesitation, both appear to be firmly on OU’s radar.

Chandler and Harding were at OU’s Red-White spring football game last weekend and finally got a chance to get some one-on-one time with Stoops.

“He said he really likes my film," Chandler said. "My speed is something that really stands out."

The hiccup with Chandler has been making sure he qualifies academically. Chandler hopes to put those matters to rest when his ACT scores come back soon. Chandler actually arrived in the third quarter of OU’s spring game because he took the test in the morning.

Chandler, 6-foot and 185 pounds, ran a 10.36 in the 100-yard dash at a track meet last week. He has offers from Texas Tech and Kansas State, among others.

Harding has ties to Oklahoma State -- his uncle, Rodney, played at Oklahoma State in the early 1980s and played in the Canadian Football League for 12 seasons -- and was at both of the Cowboys' junior days. But he admitted if OU came with an offer, that would open things up.

“I’m not ruling anybody out. If OU offered, they would definitely be in the top three," Harding said. "I still want to wait because schools keep coming in so I don’t want to make a decision too early."

Harding, 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, was told that OU coaches will come up to Edmond to evaluate him this spring. He has offers from Indiana, Arkansas and Kansas State, among others.

The rise of Harding and Chandler isn’t coming at the expense of Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central). Taylor, a four-star prospect ranked No. 22 in the nation as an athlete, is being looked at as a cornerback by the Sooners.

Taylor, who has also been told he will be evaluated during this period, was hoping to be in attendance last weekend but was unable to make the trip. For Taylor, it will give him the opportunity to show that his broken ankle is a thing of the past. He now has 11 offers but is still waiting and hoping for an offer from the Sooners.

Stoops hasn’t been shy about letting people know what he is looking for in the class of 2013. After the Red-White game, he said he is looking for five defensive backs for the class.

Though OU will continue to look at some of the top national prospects in the secondary, a few local recruits are making some noise and making sure they’re not forgotten.