Thursday, September 6, 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 Florida defensive back talks more about his appreciation for Mike Stoops.
• The Sooners have one big-time visitor in town this weekend.
• OU has made an impression on two UCLA commmits.
• Tim Kish isn't giving up on a linebacker committed to another Big 12 school.
• Will the state's top-ranked recruit play football this season?
Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.
Robbins needs visit to confirm feelings
Last month three-star cornerback Lamar Robbins (Miami/Southridge) surprised some by implying that he was close to a commitment and that his best relationship is with OU defensive backs coach Mike Stoops.
It’s now September and the commitment hasn’t come. Should OU fans be worried? Nope, not at all.
“Coach Stoops was actually the first coach to call me Saturday,” said Robbins, about the first day coaches could call recruits again. “He was just checking up on me. We’re trying to find a date that will work for an official visit.”
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
Defensive back Lamar Robbins is itching to take a visit to OU.
But that looks like it is going to be more difficult than anticipated. And unfortunately, the visit is very crucial to Robbins.
Coincidentally, the Sooners have two defensive back commits that haven’t seen the campus yet in Miami Central’s Ahmad Thomas and Fresno (Calif.) Central East’s Hatari Byrd. Robbins made it pretty clear he will not commit until he sees the campus.
“Coach Stoops right now is the only coach I’ve talked to,” Robbins said. “I want to see how I interact with some of the other coaches and the players. And of course I want to see the campus.”
The problem right now is OU and Miami Southridge’s schedules aren’t compatible. On weeks where Miami Southridge plays on Thursday, the Sooners are on the road. When it looks like OU could bring in Robbins, he is not able to make the trip.
Robbins is fine with that, saying he has no problems waiting until after the season to make a visit. Three months, though, is a long time, especially with all the defensive backs the Sooners are targeting.
There is one thing Robbins would miss if he isn’t able to visit during the season.
“I would love to be there as they come out of the tunnel,” Robbins said. “Stuff like that is a once in a lifetime experience. It would be good to see a game and see how the coaches work.”
Robbins’ positive feeling of OU has not gone away. He also said he is considering West Virginia, but there is one thing that is helping Stoops stand out to Robbins.
“He’s so composed and straight up about everything,” Robbins said. “Some of these coaches want me to keep calling them. I’m busy, too. I can’t get around to everything and call like four times a week. Coach Stoops just tells me to get around to it when I can. I love his attitude.”
Big weekend for OU, Mixon
When your first home game is against Florida A&M, the expectations aren’t high as it pertains to visitors. But three-star defensive end Dimarya Mixon (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite) is here to save the day.
Mixon, an Arizona State commit, is taking his official visit to OU this weekend. It doesn’t matter to him about the opponent.
“No, that’s not a big deal,” Mixon said. “The coaches wanted me to come down for this game and meet me and things like that.”
Mixon said OU defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright and Arizona State are the two schools that have contacted him. Wright called him Saturday.
Not only will Mixon be in Norman on Saturday, but he is excited about Wright watching him play Friday night, too.
Mixon was one of several recruits scheduled to visit OU for the Red-White spring game in April that didn’t make it because of the severe weather.
“I don’t think about how things could have been different if I had made that trip,” Mixon said. “Things are working out for me, and I can’t complain.”
The visit won’t be so much about exploring the campus. Mixon said he camped at OU last summer and got an extensive tour of the campus. This visit is about the connection he will have with Wright and the other coaches.
Though on the surface it doesn’t look like visiting for FAMU is a good idea, it might actually benefit Mixon.
“I don’t know how many other kids are going to be there. I just know they wanted me to show up so I figured why not make it an official visit,” Mixon said. “If there aren’t many kids there, I definitely think I’m going to get a lot of one-on-one time and that will be good.”
The biggest thing for Mixon, he said, is to not compare OU to ASU. He still intends to take an official to ASU, but this weekend he wants to see how OU stands all on its own.
Kittle makes impression on Dowling
Three-star offensive tackle Sean Dowling (Fallbrook, Calif./Union) had no idea what type of interest he was going to receive so when UCLA came knocking at his door, he committed in April.
He’s still with the Bruins, but it wasn’t a coach from UCLA that called him first Saturday. That was OU offensive tackles coach Bruce Kittle.
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
UCLA offensive tackle commit Sean Dowling is planning to enroll early.
“It didn’t surprise me, knowing coach Kittle,” Dowling said. “I was pleased to see he was the first call. He actually woke me up. I had spent Friday night looking at film and didn’t wake up Saturday until his call.”
Dowling didn’t mind the wakeup call. In fact, he hasn’t minded at all whenever Kittle has tried to get in touch with him or asked Dowling to call him.
“He’s one of those coaches I really enjoy talking to. I have a great relationship with him,” Dowling said. “I have a tight bond with the UCLA coaches, too, but coach Kittle is a great guy to talk with.”
Dowling received his OU offer after pledging to the Bruins, and the Sooners definitely have his interest. How much? Enough for Dowling to confirm he will take an official visit to OU on Oct. 19, for the Kansas game.
Dowling said he is also looking at potential visits to Michigan State and Vanderbilt. But he made a promise that OU would be his first visit, and it’s the only one he has officially set up.
It’s going to be a busy fall for Dowling because he is taking three AP classes to make sure he can graduate in the winter and enroll early for college.
The summer was pretty interesting, too. Dowling said he finished his junior season around 280-285 pounds. Through extensive footwork training, he is down to 260 pounds. But Kittle is OK with that.
“He likes that I’m nimble and athletic,” Dowling said. “I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I think my general athleticism is my biggest strength.”
Dowling said his slimmer size is allowing him to dominate against high school defenders. But he also understands he cannot be a 6-6, 260-pound college offensive tackle and knows he will have to put on weight to succeed at the next level.
Sooners looking at another Bruins commit
If Kittle cannot have any luck with Dowling, he has already taken a look at another UCLA commit, three-star offensive tackle Christian Morris (Memphis, Tenn./East).
Unlike Dowling, there is no question about Morris’ size at 6-6 and 293 pounds. However, there was also some initial confusion about where Morris stood with the Sooners.
“I think I have an offer, but I’m not 100 percent sure,” Morris said earlier this week. “They saw me in the spring and said they liked what they saw. But I haven’t heard from OU in a couple of months.”
That changed Wednesday night as Morris confirmed the Sooners have now offered Morris.
Even if OU didn't make the move, it's not like Morris doesn’t have a lack of suitors. Michigan State and Nebraska have recently entered the mix, and he is still contemplating potential visits to Ole Miss and Arkansas.
“OU would definitely get an official visit if I knew the interest was there,” Morris said earlier this week. “I’ve been interested in them for a long time. They have always been one of my favorites.”
And with the offer, OU should be in the mix for the visit.
Morris said he didn't feel disrespected at all by OU and would definitely see what the school has to offer. The question will be when will everything come together for Morris and the Sooners for a potential official visit.
Kish not giving up on Davis
Linebacker recruiting is always a hot topic right now. As Sept. 1 has come and gone, the expectation is there should be a slew of new offers at the position.
Well, unless you feel you might have a shot with a couple of committed recruits. One recruit OU linebackers coach Tim Kish is not souring on is Raaquan Davis (Heath, Texas/Rockwall-Heath).
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The Davis story is intriguing because it was clear in the spring he had OU in his top three. He had a great time at junior day. But the Sooners took a week too long. Like, literally, a week too long.
Davis, who is 6-foot-2, 195 pounds and ranked a four-star prospect, committed to Baylor mere days before OU extended an offer. Davis has been adamant about staying true to the Bears and still hasn’t given any reason to believe he is not being truthful.
That’s not stopping Kish, though. One of Kish’s first calls Saturday was to Davis. No talk of a visit was discussed, however.
“He just said he is going to keep in touch with me, and he would love if I would come up for a visit,” Davis said. “I have a lot of respect for how he is handling things.”
Benenoch has OU in top five
Just when you think you know the answers, things change. Now there was no telling if OU offensive lineman target Caleb Benenoch (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes) was going to commit to the Sooners later this month, but at least we had a Sept. 28 commitment date.
Or so we thought. Benenoch’s plans have changed considerably with the addition of a UCLA offer Monday. And give him credit for admitting there is no way he will be ready to make a decision this early instead of trying to force one anyway.
The offer combined with a talk with UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr. on Tuesday has the Bruins in his top five, he told HornsNation’s Max Olson. He doesn't want to say final five because things are constantly in flux with the four-star lineman. Rounding out the list is OU, Texas, Baylor and Texas A&M.
Benenoch said he has circled the Kansas State weekend for an official visit to OU. That weekend is quickly gaining steam as a big one for the Sooners. The schedules just match up this time around. Benenoch has a bye week that weekend so the pieces have fallen into place for the visit.
He has said in the past how great his relationship is with OU offensive guards coach James Patton. Last week it looked like it was down to OU and Texas, but again, things change.
Benenoch got a taste of Baylor last weekend, going on a three-day visit. He told Olson it was a good time and a chance to reconnect with his brother, Josh, a freshman walk-on for the Bears.
“Baylor was fun,” Benenoch said. “I got to hang out with my brother and a lot of the players. My brother has a house with Tuswani Copeland and Levi Norwood, and I roomed with them all weekend.”
So Baylor is alive. UCLA is there, but Northwestern is now out. As for his decision, Benenoch told Olson he is gunning for a December date.
“I won’t take it all the way to signing day,” Benenoch said. “I’ll be committed by the end of December. It’s going to be this year, that’s for sure.”
Benenoch also grew up a huge Texas fan so not only will a visit with the Longhorns happen but that should be the one OU fans are most concerned about.
Treadwell headed back to Michigan
Receiver Laquon Treadwell is still trying to figure out his official visit date to OU.
Tuesday was an interesting day regarding OU’s pursuit of ESPN 150 wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee). He tweeted in the morning that he spoke to OU coach Bob Stoops and texted saying that was a great way to start the day.
But his OU visit date was not locked down. It appears his official visit to OU will be for the Bedlam battle with Oklahoma State, but he said they never discussed the visit.
Treadwell said it was a short conversation with Stoops but that it was good to hear from him again. Tuesday evening Treadwell confirmed he will be making another visit to Michigan this weekend.
Treadwell has developed a tight bond with Michigan quarterback commit Shane Morris. With Treadwell, the best advice is to stay calm. Don’t get too high about any pro-OU comments and don’t be too negative when he says he is still looking around.
He is clearly going to be one of the most sought after prospects this fall and there will be a lot of twists and turns along the way.
Clark waits to hear from OU
One prospect sort of waiting in the wings is four-star athlete Leroy Clark (Miami/Archbishop Carroll). Clark has an OU offer and also has offers from Purdue and West Virginia, among others, but it has been a quiet time for him lately.
“I’ve just been focusing on my senior season right now,” Clark said. “I’m going to be coming up more and helping against the run so that’s a little bit of a difference.”
Clark said it has been a while since he has heard from Mike Stoops. So long that he actually couldn’t remember when their last conversation was.
As of right now, Clark is eyeing a visit to Purdue. But he would love to add the Sooners to that list.
“I have thought about a visit to OU,” Clark said. “I would love to see the campus and atmosphere. Their tradition is incredible.”
Classified as an athlete, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Clark feels he is best suited at cornerback and that his best trait is how he reacts when the ball is in the air.
All three camped at OU during the summer. And though Cornwell was very much an unknown quantity at the time, OU coach Josh Heupel certainly recognized the talent long before the rest of us did.
ones quarterback David Cornwell only recently started his first varsity football game, but he already has an FBS offer.
“I love how coach Heupel coaches his quarterbacks,” Cornwell said. “He talked to me a lot. He gave me a lot of instructions with my drop and gave me a lot of attention.
“What I love most is how his quarterbacks are NFL-ready. Look at Landry [Jones] and Sam [Bradford], those guys are ready. They made a lot of progress because of coach Heupel.”
Cornwell’s biggest obstacle right now is he doesn’t have Heupel’s cell number. He calls Seth Littrell at Indiana and Todd Monken at Oklahoma State frequently and wants to add Heupel to that list.
Cornwell was there for Day 2 of OU’s camp, the same session as Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer). Heard, of course, has committed to Texas as its 2014 quarterback. That has Cornwell excited.
“He was good, no doubt, but I don’t think he was so much better than everybody else,” Cornwell said. “I can compete with him, and it’s just motivation to keep working harder.”
The process is all sort of new to the Cornwell family, but they’re adapting to it.
“The quarterback position is a little different than every other spot,” said Ron Cornwell, David’s father. “Most schools are only taking one per year and everything is so much earlier than what it once was. It’s an adjustment. We’re adding up the frequent flyer miles, for sure, because you have to be seen now.”
Will Ward see the field in 2012?
The saga of OU defensive end commit D.J. Ward took another turn last week as the Intel was being released.
I'm going to try to sum this up as succinctly as possible. Ward, ranked No. 88 in the ESPN 150, has been a star at Lawton, Okla., for years. His father was accepted as a junior ROTC teacher at Oklahoma City Douglass.
The plan was for Ward’s family to move into the Douglass district and play for the Trojans alongside 2014 OU defensive end offer Deondre Clark. But the family didn’t move into the Douglass district and instead lives in the Moore area. More specifically, the Southmoore High district area.
Had Ward not played in a scrimmage for Douglass two weeks ago, Ward could have suited up for Southmoore next week.
However, because he did play, it could be a long time before Ward sees the field again. With the Oklahoma high school governing body, you have fill out a hardship waiver with each move. His first hardship waiver was accepted in the transfer from Lawton to Douglass.
As somebody who has covered Oklahoma high school sports for a long time, I think it will be very tough for a second one to be approved. It could happen but history isn’t on Ward’s side.
If the second one is denied, he could still play for Douglass if he so chooses. He could also appeal the ruling and try to play for Southmoore. Regardless, his senior season has been thrown for a loop.
But what does this mean for OU? Hmm, not much in the grand scheme of things. What it does mean is Ward will enroll early for the Sooners, he confirmed via text message.
A season doing nothing obviously isn’t ideal, but Ward comes from a military family and has more self-discipline than a lot of kids his age. I can't foresee it becoming an issue in terms of his conditioning moving forward. Ward and his father are known for their intense workouts.
Ward said he has talked to Bob Stoops about everything and nothing has changed regarding his commitment or anything of that nature. More than anything, it’s sad for Oklahoma high school fans because it doesn’t look like they’ll get the chance to see the state’s top-ranked player in action this season.