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Friday, September 21, 2012
Weekend looms large for OU recruiting

By Bob Przybylo

The right opponent, the right weekend and a little bit of luck have made Saturday's showdown between sixth-ranked Oklahoma and 15th-ranked Kansas State a golden recruiting opportunity for the Sooners.

To say the first few weeks of the season have been uneventful for OU on the recruiting trail would be putting it mildly. The Sooners' only home game was a laugher against Florida A&M two weeks ago.

OU managed to get one big-time visitor in for that contest in Arizona State three-star defensive end commit Dimarya Mixon (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite).

The stage is set, however, for an eventful couple of days in Norman, Okla., as eight official visitors have been confirmed, along with several unofficial visits.

It helps to have the Wildcats roll into town as a battle of two teams ranked in the top 15 never hurts the allure of the weekend. But it has also helped for it to be this weekend as this particular weekend happens to be the bye week for many crucial official and unofficial visitors.

Here's a look at 10 top prospects who are making their way to OU this weekend. For a full list, read the SoonerNation forum.

Caleb Benenoch (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes, 6-foot-6, 321 pounds, No. 19 OG, Uncommitted)

The prevailing thought has been Benenoch is down to OU and Texas as his two top choices ever since he decommitted from Michigan State in the summer.

Benenoch had a great time at Texas A&M two weeks ago and is intrigued by a recent offer from UCLA. This weekend is OU’s chance to make its imprint with the four-star lineman, whose bye week is this weekend so he’ll get the full visit experience.

What has helped OU in its pursuit of Benenoch has been his relationship with OU offensive guards coach James Patton. The two have moved on from talking just about football and Benenoch feels comfortable talking to Patton about anything that is concerning him.

Chevoski Collins (Livingston, Texas/Livingston, 6-0, 196, No. 28 ATH, Uncommitted)

Chevoski Collins
Four-star prospect Chevoski Collins' official visit to OU could be a sign that he's serious about playing defense.
Collins is no stranger to OU, having visited for junior day in February. At the time, he was being considered as a wide receiver. But what made OU make the official offer is his talent in the defensive backfield. Collins has admitted he wants to play offense in college.

Has he had a change of heart? Has OU changed its line of thinking? This weekend should go a long way in answering those questions.

Matt Dimon (Katy, Texas/Katy, 6-3, 250, No. 23 DE, Committed to OU)

Dimon has a chance to become OU fans' No. 1 favorite commit this weekend. Not only is he friends with Benenoch, but he is bringing along two teammates OU fans are hopeful will be joining Dimon in Norman in the future.

Dimon said 2013 running back Adam Taylor, who has an OU offer, and 2014 linebacker Jake Blomstrom will also be coming along for Dimon’s official visit. It’s also coinciding with Katy’s bye so the trio will arrive Friday.

Since committing to OU in March, there hasn’t been any questions about Dimon’s pledge. This weekend is a chance for him to try to sway some recruits as well.

Tyler Foreman (Encino, Calif./Crespi Carmelite, 6-2, 161, No. 32 S, Uncommitted)

SoonerNation forum readers believe Foreman is the most likely official visitor to commit this weekend. That remains to be seen. What is known, however, is that this is Foreman’s first time seeing the campus and the initial impression will be important.

OU defensive backs coach Mike Stoops recognized Foreman’s talent early as Sooners were among his first offers.

Foreman has an official visit planned to Utah in October, but could his trip to OU change his mind about more visits?

Marcell Harris (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips, 6-1, 209, No. 7 S, Uncommitted)

It was a bit of a shock when OU made Harris’ top six last month as he had not previously said much regarding the Sooners. But there must be some real interest if he’s willing to take an official visit. This will be Harris’ second official visit, as he was at Texas three weeks ago.

His schedule doesn’t let up with official visits to Florida and Florida State planned in the next month. OU commit Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central) got to hang out with Harris during the Gridiron Kings event this summer and Taylor will be on hand this weekend, too.

Toby Johnson (Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson CC, 6-4, 290, DT, Uncommitted)

For someone that most people believe is SEC-bound, he sure is taking a lot of looks at OU. Johnson took an unofficial visit to OU in July and is now back this weekend for an official visit.

Defensive tackle is one of the top priorities for the Sooners in this class, and Johnson has been on OU’s radar for some time.

Originally from Georgia, he is familiar with SEC schools but the Sooners haven’t given up hope yet. Once again luck happened to be on OU’s side with Hutchinson having a bye week.

Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball, 6-2, 275, No. 8 DT, Uncommitted)

Ask a lot of OU fans and Manning is the No. 1 priority for the rest of this class. Incredibly familiar with OU and the campus, Manning is the younger brother of former OU defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger.

For Manning, the visit isn’t about getting to know the campus better, but he is hoping to interact more with the coaches.

Like Harris, Manning is very popular and will be busy on the official visit circuit. After OU, he is going to Texas A&M, TCU and LSU in back-to-back-to-back weeks.

Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks, 6-2, 175, 2014 ATH, Uncommitted)

There are many quality 2014 recruits making the trip this weekend. So what makes Parker the top underclassmen?

OU was the first school to recognize his talent. The Sooners offered in May back when nobody knew who Parker was.

That’s not the case anymore. Oklahoma State has entered the fray, and Alabama is Parker’s most recent offer. It is not all that common to see the Crimson Tide look into an Oklahoma high school product so that is a bit of an indicator about what people see in Parker.

This will be Parker’s first unofficial visit since receiving both the OU and Alabama offers, and the Sooners need to continue to build that rapport with one of the state’s best prospects.

Na’Ty Rodgers (Owings Mills, Md./McDonough, 6-4, 285, No. 29 OT, Uncommitted)

Rodgers has spoken highly of South Carolina and Maryland, and now it’s OU’s chance to try to make an impression.

Rodgers’ father, Tyrone, played for OU in 1988 and he is good friends with OU legend Jamelle Holieway so the OU coaches certainly have had some help in trying to recruit Na’Ty to Norman.

The Weekend works out as Rodgers played his high school game Thursday, which will allow him the whole weekend to fully experience his visit and the atmosphere.

Adam Taylor (Katy, Texas/Katy, 6-1, 200, No. 37 RB, Uncommitted)

Might the most likely to commit prospect come from an unofficial visit? It’s possible as the Sooners certainly would love to lock up Taylor, Dimon’s teammate.

Taylor suffered a torn ACL as a junior but that didn’t stop the offers from rolling in. OU was one of the first schools to pounce on Taylor, offering him at the same time as Dimon.

Taylor wanted to commit to LSU in the spring, however, but was told he didn’t have a committable offer.

Taylor was adamant he was still with LSU this summer, but a trip to OU might indicate he has moved on from the Tigers. With the decommitment of four-star running back Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage-Boca Delray), the Sooners could trade one four-star back for another in Taylor.