Thursday, August 9, 2012
Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes
By Bob Przybylo
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:
• A Miami defensive back wants to make a decision soon
• OU's lone Florida commitment is solid to the Sooners
• One thing about his visit stood out to OU's most recent 2014 cornerback offer
• In-state 2014 cornerback is now focused on one sport
• Introducing the state's new dominant defensive duo
Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.
Robbins eyeing Sooners
When you’re ambitious, good things can often happen. OU has been very ambitious in trying to land top Florida high school prospects.
One area in particular has been the secondary. OU already has the commitment of Miami Central three-star safety Ahmad Thomas. The Sooners have offered a bevy of other top defensive backs in the Sunshine State to mixed results.
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
Lamar Robbins is developing a dynamic with OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.
But another recruit that OU is in good position with is Miami Southridge three-star cornerback Lamar Robbins. OU was among Robbins’ first offers although that offer list has grown immensely since the spring. And he has had a busy summer.
“Everything went real well,” Robbins said. “I went to Alabama, Memphis, Miami, Ole Miss and took an unofficial to Clemson. It was a lot of fun.”
Robbins, however, isn’t looking to drag the process out much longer. He said he hopes to have a decision within the next month. And when asked about his favorites, OU was the first school he mentioned.
“I used to play with them all the time when I was younger in video games,” said Robbins, who is is 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds and ranked No. 58 at cornerback. “I mean it’s like they were always ranked No. 1 going into the season. That made me think, you know, hold on, these guys are really good.”
Robbins also said he likes West Virginia, UCLA and Nebraska, among others. One positive is the relationship he is developing with defensive backs coach Mike Stoops.
“It’s a tight bond right now,” Robbins said. “We’ve become real close. I feel like I can talk to him about anything.”
Robbins said he spoke to Stoops less than a week ago and plans on taking an official visit in the fall although no date has been set.
In terms of making his decision, Robbins said he doesn’t feel any pressure about having it done before his senior season. He’s doing it for another reason.
“I’m trusting my gut,” Robbins said. “I’m starting to feel really good about a couple of schools and think I might be ready.”
Healthy Thomas ready for big senior season
With last week’s decommitment of Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage-Boca Delray running back Greg Bryant, OU is down to just one commitment from Florida.
But this commit, safety Ahmad Thomas, said OU fans have nothing to worry about. Thomas said he has been so solid with his commitment that other schools have finally started to back away.
“They got the message,” Thomas said. “It’s Boomer Sooner, baby!
"I never got to talk to Greg. When I heard about it, I just wondered ‘why would he do it?’ but that’s something I can’t answer.”
Now Thomas can focus on his senior season, a season he hopes he can stay healthy for. Toward the end of his junior season, Thomas injured his meniscus. He said he didn’t really notice it at first, and it only really started to bother him during track season.
He has been cleared to play, and he said he is not worried at all about reinjuring it.
“No, because it was a different type of pain,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t that sharp, severe pain. It was more like a bothering pain that I just didn’t know what it was.”
Thomas said the biggest change in his game will be he is going to play closer in the box, and it’s something he has talked to both Mike and Bob Stoops about.
Thomas was able to speak with the Stoops brothers last week to continue developing their relationship and about how he will be used in the OU defense.
He still hasn’t seen the OU campus, something he wants to correct immediately. He is definitely going to take an official visit, but it hasn't been set up yet. We might have known when the visit would be if it wasn’t for the media. Yep, Thomas was talking with Mike Stoops about his official visit last Saturday during OU media day when Mike Stoops was told it was time to address the media.
“It’s not a big deal. I’m sure we’ll get it taken care of here shortly,” Thomas said.
Paris taking everything in stride
It was a big Thursday last week as Texas officially opened its doors to 2014 recruits. The term “approved for an offer” has been around for a while, but the Longhorns have gone away from that.
Texas already has four commits from the more than 20 offers it sent out. But don’t expect one from Mansfield (Texas) Timberview safety Ed Paris anytime soon.
It isn’t Paris’ dream to play at Texas. In fact, college football really wasn’t his dream.
“I really wasn’t a college football fan. I didn’t grow up rooting for a team or anything like that,” Paris said. “It’s only been in the last couple of years I’ve started to care.”
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Paris wasn’t very active on the summer circuit, camping at Alabama and LSU. Paris has been high on OU’s radar for a while, and Mike Stoops was hoping Paris could have made an unofficial visit to Norman last Saturday. A conflict came up so he couldn’t make it, but the hope is still there that Paris can see the campus before the start of his junior season.
He said he admits he doesn’t know too much about OU, but he isn’t ruling the Sooners out at this point.
“I know Coach Stoops is a great coach and goes 100 percent with his players,” Paris said. “He brings out the best in them.”
Paris is trying to keep recruiting on the down low. He said he is enjoying the process but isn’t at a point where he wants to start looking at favorites and things of that nature.
“The Texas offer was a great offer but so are the others,” Paris said.
One person helping Paris through the process is 2013 safety Trevor Walker. Originally a Washington State commit, the three-star prospect has more than 20 offers and camped at OU in June.
“He has been like a big brother to me,” Paris said. “He has been telling me to have fun and giving me pointers about what to say and not say. And of course he helps me on the field.”
Paris didn’t need much help last season, registering eight interceptions. He knows expectations are high, but that’s one thing he’s not worried about.
Paris feels he can hang with any of the top 2014 defensive backs, and there is one thing coaches have been telling him sets him apart.
“I’ve been told I have really long arms,” Paris said. “I can jam a receiver at the line or go up and deflect the ball on a jump ball. I don’t think there is anything I can’t do.”
Paris said a couple of schools he hasn’t heard from but would like to are USC and Oregon.
When it comes to Walker, there is no news, said Trevor’s father, Chris. Chris Walker said they are simply getting ready for Trevor’s senior season. They are still high on OU and waiting for the Sooners offer.
They were told the coaches wanted to evaluate Trevor more during his senior season and then go from there.
Adams at home with OU
It’s around this time when unofficial visits starts picking up again, and the Sooners experience was a very positive one for Lewisville (Texas) Hebron safety Jamal Adams.
George said the most positive thing he could say about the visit was the family atmosphere.
“I did not expect that, at least to that degree,” he said. “Everybody welcomed us. They don’t even know you, but the coaches and players had no problem coming up to us and talking to us. It really made you feel like part of their family.”
George didn’t want to speak for his son much, but they can both agree at how great the new athletic dorms are.
“It’s OU so I knew the facilities would be great,” George said. “But those new athletic dorms? Wow, that’s over the top type stuff there.”
George and Jamal will visit Texas on Saturday. Jamal was offered by the Longhorns last Thursday.
Collins has top three ... but no OU
There are so many quality 2014 defensive backs from Texas that some could get lost in the shuffle. That won’t happen with Dallas Skyline cornerback Cedric Collins, but you won’t have to wait much longer with his recruitment, either.
Collins, who was offered by OU in June, said he is down to a final three of Baylor, Texas A&M and Nebraska.
Not only that, but a decision date is already in the cards.
“I’m looking at Aug. 27,” Collins said. “I want to have it done so I can focus on my junior season and helping our team.”
Collins is an interesting case. Dallas Skyline coaches came to OU to help out during the three-day camp in June. Collins, however, didn’t participate. But the very next day after camp had ended, Collins had his official OU offer.
Watkins in no rush
Several 2014 defensive backs have been busy making the rounds on the camp circuit. You know who you won’t find on that list? Arlington (Texas) Bowie defensive back Nick Watkins.
Despite having numerous offers, Watkins opted to stay in the background this summer and focus on his junior season.
Courtesy Bishop Dunne HS
Nick Watkins admits that he grew up a Texas fan.
“Me and my dad decided to not do the camp thing,” Watkins said. “It’s so early. I know some people think it’s a pretty big deal, but I don’t see it that way.”
The only school Watkins saw this summer was Texas, and the Sooners might be in a losing battle for Watkins, who admits to growing up a big Texas fan.
OU offered Watkins in the spring, and the Longhorns added their name to that list last Thursday.
“Growing up in Texas -- that’s all you hear about,” Watkins said. “I’ve been watching them play for years. It’s like a dream come true.”
One of the only positives for OU fans is Watkins did not commit on the spot, and he said he never really even gave a second thought about doing so.
“Nah, just add them to the list,” he said.
Since being offered by OU, Watkins said he has had little communication with Mike Stoops. He said he wouldn’t rule out an unofficial visit to OU soon and admits he doesn’t know much about the program.
“I know they win and I know they come to Dallas every year for the Red River Rivalry,” Watkins said. “They’re a team full of great athletes.”
A defensive back by trade, Watkins said his biggest strength, though, is when he gets his hands on the ball.
“Once I get it, I’m gone. I’m taking it to the house,” Watkins said.
Back to football for Parker
Still want more defensive backs news? OK, one more. This time we’re leaving Texas and going to OU’s backyard with 2014 cornerback Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks).
Parker was absolutely unheard of in football circles entering the spring evaluation period. And despite offers from OU and Oklahoma State, he is still relatively unknown.
One reason for that is the 6-foot-2, 180-pound prospect was busy playing AAU basketball for the Oklahoma powerhouse team Athletes First.
Parker is excelling at both sports and really can't pick a favorite.
“I mean it kind of depends on what type of scholarships I can get,” Parker said. “I haven’t really talked to many schools for basketball yet and now I’m fully focused on football.”
Parker said some interest has picked up but nothing more than some generic mail from Michigan, Nebraska and Indiana.
He said he has a good relationship with Mike Stoops although he hasn’t talked to the OU coaches in 3-4 weeks.
“That’s my fault, though,” Parker said. “I need to do a better job of communicating with them. I want to get down there for an unofficial visit as soon as I can. If I can do it this weekend, I would like to do so.”
Parker is clearly one of OU’s top targets at cornerback, but during summer camps, he showed some great hands. In fact, he might see some time at wide receiver for Jenks.
That could be a good thing for OU as it would allow Parker to spend even more time with OU commit Jordan Smallwood.
Following Smallwood’s commitment, Parker said he was close to committing to the Sooners as well but decided he would be better off waiting.
“I talked to Jordan as soon as he committed,” Parker said. “I just wanted to know why. I knew he was an OU fan, and I could tell how much passion he had.
“He’s our offensive leader. He pumps the whole team up and is all about energy. Whether it’s receiving or blocking, he’s an energy kind of guy.”
Parker said he was a little confused at times being a sophomore starter at one of the top schools in the state. This season is about cutting down on his mistakes and spending more time in the film room.
Introducing Douglass’ dynamic duo
Oklahoma City Douglass coach Willis Alexander doesn’t mean it in a derogatory way, but there is a certain truth to it when he calls his starting defensive ends “the freak show.”
Douglass was already set up with one of the best 2014 prospects in the state in Deondre Clark, who picked up an OU offer in June. But the team was strengthened in a huge way when OU commit defensive end D.J. Ward transferred to Douglass from Lawton, Okla., in the last couple of weeks.
Defensive ends D.J. Ward (left) and Deondre Clark are in their first week of practicing together.
Ward is OU highest-ranked defensive commit at No. 88 in the ESPN 150.
“First thing I told him was it’s great to have you here,” Clark said. “He is so explosive off the ball and is already helping me so much.”
For Ward, the tough part is getting to know a new coaching staff and learning the new terminology. Once he is on the field, however, instinct takes over.
And his instinct is telling him Clark will be something special.
“He’s like a younger version of me right now,” Ward said. “If he keeps doing what he’s doing, I have no idea how good he can be. I feel like I can mentor him, too, through this recruiting process and help him out however I can.”
Clark also has offers from LSU, Oklahoma State and Tennessee, among others. He camped at OU and LSU this summer.
OU not in Augusta’s top three
The quest for another defensive end or defensive tackle is not going to go away anytime soon, but the answer likely won't come from Peoria (Ill.) Manual defensive lineman Josh Augusta.
The Sooners did all the right things with Augusta as OU was one of the first school to recognize his potential. But for Augusta, the distance might be too much to overcome.
“I don’t want to go too far away from home,” Augusta said. “I’ve thought about OU, but I haven’t thought about any official visits at all right now.”
Augusta, recruited by many school as a defensive tackle, was an odd choice as a defensive end by the Sooners. However, he is not at defensive end weight anymore.
“I’m faster and stronger than I was last year. I weigh about 297 right now. I feel like I carry it well,” Augusta said.
Augusta said he has a tentative top three of Illinois, Michigan State and Missouri. But he is trying to not focus too much on recruiting and is looking forward to his senior season.
Texas targeting Thomas
If OU wants to make a real run at 2014 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell), the Sooners better get on it fast.
Thomas will likely be among the top defensive end prospects in the class and is on Texas' short list. The Longhorns offered Thomas last week, and he hopes to make another unofficial visit to Austin this weekend.
Thomas camped at Stanford, UCLA, USC and Texas this summer. He wanted to attend OU’s camp in June, but he had a conflict and was unable to attend.
“It was disappointing, but you can’t control everything,” Thomas said.
Thomas, who said he is now 6-3 and 265 pounds, camped at OU last summer but said he hasn’t had much communication with the OU coaching staff this summer.
One thing in OU’s favor is Thomas said he is looking to stay local when it comes to unofficial visits this season. With Coppell being around a three-hour drive to Norman, Thomas said there is a good possibility OU will be one of those unofficial visits.
“I just want to see everything right now,” Thomas said. “I’m pretty open. One thing I’m really looking at is playing time as a freshman. I want to play right when I get on campus.”
Thomas wasn’t always sure about what he was getting into as a sophomore but said he is confident heading into his junior season and ready to be a leader.