Thursday, October 11, 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:
The Sooners have a chance to impress a ESPN 150 LB this weekend
OU reconnects with and offers a spring target
Illinois DT wants to take a visit to OU
Juco DT has had a long relationship with the Sooners coaches
Keep an eye on a talented 2014 RB
Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.
OU has chance to impress Mitchell
With OU being the home team for the Red River Rivalry, it gives a little edge to the Sooners in terms of which recruits will be there.
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
Mike Mitchell won't take any official visits until after his senior season.
Texas is not in play for ESPN 150 linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian), but the Sooners are near the top of his list.
Mitchell’s father, Ken, said the family will most likely be in attendance Saturday. It would be the first time the Mitchell family has made a visit anywhere this season.
Mitchell’s recruitment has been an interesting one as he has chosen to rarely publicly speak about how things are going. But it's safe to say that OU is in a good spot.
“When you have a quality coach like Bob Stoops, that trickles down to all the assistants, too,” Ken Mitchell said. “We have enjoyed getting to know Tim Kish and everything is going very well.”
The Sooners are one of several schools in the running as Ken said TCU, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Florida State and Oregon are also in the equation. The advantage OU has over most of those programs is proximity. Ken said his son has been so focused on his senior season the family will not make any long trips until after Mike’s senior season.
Kish continues to do all he can. On the same night he watched linebacker commit Jordan Mastrogiovanni (Dallas/Jesuit) against Dallas Skyline, Kish also made the short trip to watch Plano Prestonwood Christian.
“He didn’t have to do that,” Ken Mitchell said. “But he stayed, and we were able to talk very briefly.”
Any question Ken might have had about OU’s legit interest in his son was answered during their unofficial visit to OU in July.
“Mike got to spend more than 90 minutes alone with Bob Stoops,” Ken Mitchell said. “How cool is that? That is awesome.
“What’s weird is OU offered us real early. I don’t know if it got lost in translation with the coaching changes or what, but we felt we had that offer from the Sooners a long time ago.”
Mike won’t be the only Mitchell on OU’s radar. His younger brother, 2015 prospect Mickey, is 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds. Right now it looks like he might have his choice about whether he wants to play quarterback or point guard.
“We’ve tried to keep Mickey under wraps, but you can only do that for so long,” Ken Mitchell said. “Mickey has been dunking since the fifth grade. But I believe he could be 10 times better at quarterback than point guard.
“With Mike, though, there’s no question. He’s a linebacker. He’s a football player. He just wants to hit somebody.”
SoonerNation will get to see the Mitchell boys in action Friday night. Mike Mitchell is one of several top 2013-14 targets headed to Dallas. For a full list updated daily, check the SoonerNation forum.
Sooners, Morris staying in touch
Offensive tackle will continue to be front-and-center when it comes to filling out the rest of OU’s 2013 class. One target OU has its eyes on is Memphis (Tenn.) East three-star prospect Christian Morris.
Morris, a UCLA commit, recently took an official visit to Nebraska. He was surprised by how much he loved the area.
“Everybody says it’s in the middle of nowhere, but it’s not,” Morris said. “What I liked the most was how they were saying I’d have a great chance to come in and play early. That’s important to me.”
Morris took a lot of heat from UCLA supporters two weeks ago when he was questioning his commitment to the Bruins on Twitter. It seems that with every few weeks, UCLA has another offensive lineman commit. Right now, UCLA has five tackle commits.
He was worried about where he might fit in, but he also didn’t like anybody questioning his competitiveness.
“If there’s one thing about me, it’s that I’m competitive,” Morris said. “I talked to the coaches, and they said a couple of those guys might move to guard. I’m definitely staying at tackle.”
And OU is still staying in touch. Morris said he has weekly talks with OU offensive line coach James Patton. The plan is still for Morris to make an official visit to OU following his senior season.
Despite living in Tennessee, Morris said the allure of playing in the SEC has never been something that has appealed to him.
“People say it’s the best conference to play in, but I don’t care too much about that,” Morris said. “I don’t like to follow trends. I like to start trends.”
It appears that it’s a three-school race for Morris between UCLA, OU and Nebraska.
Campos and Kittle reconnect
During the spring, three-star offensive tackle Jake Campos (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley) was excited about touring the OU campus. He was hopeful of getting an offer. But one never came.
OU tackles coach Bruce Kittle was brutally honest to Campos, something Campos never forgot and has always appreciated.
“He told me in the spring I was underdeveloped at tackle, and I was,” Campos said. “I’ve worked really hard to improve, and I think I have.”
SoonerNation Recruit Tracker
Stay up to date on Oklahoma's 2013 commits, targets and offers. Tracker: Defense | Offense
The Sooners agree. Campos, now a Missouri commit, was offered by OU last week. Campos said Kittle sent him a Facebook message to call him and the lines of communication were reopened.
Kittle visited the school recently and watched one of the film sessions to see how Campos had improved since the spring. To show how much OU wants Campos, it wasn’t Kittle who extended the offer. The next week it was Bob Stoops who let Campos know he has a scholarship waiting for him at OU.
“To get the offer from Coach Stoops is a pretty big deal,” Campos said. “It meant a lot to me, and it’s something I won’t forget.”
But it’s not enough to change his mind. At least not yet. Campos said he is still firm with the Tigers and will be in Columbia, Mo., this weekend for Missouri’s game against top-ranked Alabama.
Campos said he is 6-7 and 250 pounds. The concern has always been about Campos being able to carry the weight. But what if he didn’t have to? What if he was moved to tight end? It’s a real possibility and one Campos is open toward exploring.
“All of my life I’ve always wanted to be a tight end,” Campos said. “I don’t know why, but I have. But I’ve always been pigeon-holed into being a lineman.”
Campos said it is too early to say if he will visit OU once again, but he hasn’t ruled it out. Another school still in the picture is Iowa State. Not only is the campus close to home, but the Cyclones have also been in constant contact.
Campos said he worked on increasing his speed and quickness this summer and that was one of the big things Kittle noticed upon his second evaluation.
“He said in the spring OU was only offering those highly developed guys at tackle,” Campos said. “I understood that. But I’ve put in the work, and I think I’m one of those guys, too.”
Augusta has OU back in the mix
Nothing is ever over in recruiting until the recruit signs on the dotted line. In the span of a couple months, a lot has changed regarding OU and ESPN 150 defensive tackle Josh Augusta (Peoria, Ill./Peoria).
Augusta was pretty sure in the summer he wanted to stay close to home. He listed Illinois, Missouri and Michigan State as his top three schools. He said he liked OU but that it was just too far away.
The Sooners, for their part, had initially been eyeing Augusta at defensive end. Augusta said he is closer to 290 pounds and is only getting bigger. Now OU has changed its stance. It’s no longer defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright talking with Augusta but defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp.
“I talked with Coach Shipp last week,” Augusta said. “What I like about him is when we talk on the phone, we talk academics first. It’s never football. It’s always academics and what I see myself doing in the future.”
Augusta said he wants to major in business in college. Augusta hasn’t been too active on the trail, saying he will wait until his senior season concludes before making any long trips.
He wants to like OU, but he admits that is tough to do without having visited the campus. That is something he is hoping to change in December or January.
“I’ve heard so many good things, but I have to see it for myself,” Augusta said.
Augusta has seen the campuses at Missouri, Illinois and Michigan State already and all three still remain in the hunt.
As for his senior season, Augusta said two big things have stood out. He is using his hands more, and he is faster off the ball. OU was among one of the first schools to show interest. He hasn’t forgotten that, but he’s also in no rush.
“I would like to take an official visit to all four of those schools,” Augusta said. “This process hasn’t been too stressful. It’s nothing I can’t handle. I’m going to take my time and do it right.”
Sooners lead Texas for 2014 LB (By William Wilkerson of HornsNation)
It’s still early in the game for many 2014 recruits, but it’s clear that Texas already has some work to do to with linebacker Cameron Hampton (Dallas/Carter).
The talented outside linebacker will be in attendance at the Red River Rivalry and he’s not holding back on what team he’ll be rooting for.
“I hope Oklahoma wins,” Hampton said. “I like [linebackers coach] Coach [Tim] Kish. I like Coach [Manny] Diaz too but Coach Kish is a really cool coach.”
Hampton said the Sooners are currently No. 1 on his list and that Texas sits a close second.
“It’s a small gap right now,” Hampton said.
This will be his first Red River Rivalry game, which he is anxious to attend.
“I’m really excited. I am looking for a lot of intensity in the game,” he said. “I really don’t know what to expect. I am just expecting a good game.”
Russell on OU’s radar
Continuing on with defensive tackle discussion, OU remains high on junior college prospect Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley CC).
Russell said he would love to be at OU-Texas this weekend, but he plays Saturday, too, so he won’t be able to make it. Russell was originally a Texas signee before not qualifying and having to go the juco route.
He said things are pretty consistent. The four schools paying the most attention are OU, Nebraska, Kansas State and TCU. His last talk with Jackie Shipp was Sunday night.
“It’s a great relationship right now,” Russell said. “We talked football at first, but now we’re discussing life after football. What am I going to do after my career is done? How can OU help me get there? Those kind of things.”
Russell is looking to major in engineering. Like a lot of juco kids being recruited the second time around, Russell feels he is better equipped to handle the process. It’s all business this time around.
“This has shown me to not take anything for granted,” Russell said. “I was supposed to play anywhere in the country for college and instead I ended up in juco. It’s been OK, but it’s not where I thought I’d be.”
The interest with OU is nothing new. He said the Sooners were in his top five back when he was a high school recruit and that he has had talks with Shipp since his sophomore year of high school.
Because of his games being Saturdays, Russell hasn’t even tried to make any visits. He said he would like to make all five and OU is definitely on his priority list.
“I’m going to try to give each school a fair chance,” Russell said. “Education and playing time are going to be the two biggest things for me. What coaching staff can help me improve and make me the best I can be.”
Smallwood getting familiar with Bennett
Unofficial visits aren’t just a time for commits to play the recruiting role but also a chance for some of the commits to get to know each other.
That was the case for OU’s two wide receiver commits at the Kansas State game. All Jordan Smallwood (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) knew about Austin Bennett (Manvel, Texas/Manvel) was what he had seen on highlight videos.
After recovering from a shoulder injury, Jordan Smallwood is playing well.
After getting a chance to interact with him, Smallwood said he is excited about playing with Bennett.
“He was a cool dude,” Smallwood said. “It was great to get to know him better. His highlights are incredible. He’s definitely a playmaker.”
Smallwood isn’t too bad in that playmaker role himself. Since coming back from a separated shoulder, Smallwood has scored five touchdowns in three games.
That doesn’t look impressive, but if you’ve seen the Jenks passing game, it only illustrates how Smallwood takes advantage of his opportunities. Because truthfully, he doesn’t get a lot of times to show what he can do.
That’s also what made Friday night special when Smallwood scored the first rushing touchdown of his career on a 22-yard run on the first play of the second quarter in a 24-7 victory at Broken Arrow, Okla.
“All my career I’ve been looking for that. I wanted that rushing touchdown,” Smallwood said. “I saw the hole, there was great blocking. My line made it look easy.”
Smallwood is expected to be in Dallas this weekend.
Kittle high on Ball
One prospect that jumped out at OU’s summer camp in June was 2014 tight end Trenton Ball (Midwest City, Okla./Carl Albert). Tight ends coach Bruce Kittle was spending a lot of time with Ball and that hasn’t stopped now that the season is ongoing.
Ball has been present at both of OU’s home games and said he will be in Dallas this weekend as well.
“I’m loving OU right now,” Ball said. “Coach Kittle said he really likes the way I play, and I’ve been keeping in contact with him when I can.”
But if you’re looking to watch Ball perform in high school, you’re out of luck. Midwest City Carl Albert doesn’t throw the ball much and Ball has just three catches for 21 yards through six games.
The only other school Ball has seen is Oklahoma State. He seems to be somebody Kittle is trying to develop the strong bond now so Ball doesn’t need to see any other schools in the future.
Farmer and Hansen a package deal?
It was a big weekend for 2014 Edmond (Okla.) North athlete Michael Farmer. He rushed for two touchdowns in helping Edmond North improve to 6-0. And on Sunday he earned an Arizona State offer, his first of what will be many more offers to come.
Farmer is also slated to be in Dallas this weekend. It will give him time to reconnect with 2014 Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen.
Michael Farmer could play running back or linebacker in college.
“Oh yeah, we go way back,” Farmer said. “We’ve played on the same AAU basketball teams for years, going back to little league. Justice is a great player. We don’t talk too much during the season because we’re rivals, but he’s a good friend.”
Farmer and Hansen have joked in the past about being a package deal, but it’s not that crazy with how talented both recruits are. Hansen is near the top of OU’s board for quarterbacks and Farmer keeps in touch with Josh Heupel and Cale Gundy on a weekly basis.
At 6-2, 210 pounds, it’s tough to see where Farmer fits in for college. He would prefer to play offense, but he knows he can’t be too picky about things like that.
Outside linebacker feels like a good fit for Farmer. He thought about defensive end, but after looking at OU freshman Michael Onuoha, Farmer is not so sure anymore. Onuoha is from Edmond Santa Fe.
“I got a chance to talk with Big Mike before the Kansas State game. He’s huge,” Farmer said. “He has always been big and tall, but now he’s huge. I’m not sure I can carry that much weight like he is right now.”
It’s also a big weekend for OU and Hansen. Hansen elected to bypass OU’s game with Kansas State to see Florida State and Clemson. This will mark Hansen’s first OU game of the season.
SoonerNation will see Hansen in action once again Thursday night against Lawton, Okla.
Key an out-of-state recruit to watch
At the National Underclassmen Combine event at OU in July, there were a handful of players that stood out. One of them was 2014 wide receiver Quadrekas Key (Jasper, Ala./Walker).
Key had never seen the OU campus before and came away really impressed.
“That’s all he talked about for two weeks,” said Todd Key, Quadrekas’ father. “He was so impressed with the facilities and the atmosphere. Everything is so close at the university. We had a great time.”
As a sophomore, Key was around 5-11 and 160 pounds. He’s now 6-2 and 175 and once his junior film is released, he is hopeful it will turn some heads.
“He has turned that corner this season,” Todd Key said. “I’m not just saying that as a father. He really has. His route running is crisp and clean. He is better in coverage. It’s exciting to see.”
Through five games, Quadrekas has 20 catches for 402 yards and five touchdowns. On defense, he has 31 tackles and six interceptions, including one he took back for a touchdown.
Todd Key said Alabama has always been their favorite, but Ole Miss is starting to show some interest and they would love another trip to OU.
Evitt a star on the rise
Going to close out the Intel with more on 2014 running back Lawrence Evitt (Wagoner, Okla./Wagoner). It takes a lot for Wagoner coach Dale Condict to be so forthcoming about a recruit, but that’s just how special he believes Evitt can be.
Evitt has rushed for 1,225 yards on 91 carries with 15 touchdowns in six games.
“We felt like he was going to be real good, but he flew under the radar last season because of Kevin [Peterson],” Condict said. “We knew he would be a lot bigger and stronger, but I’ve been impressed with how much more mature he has become.”
Condict said last track season Evitt was running 10.6 seconds in the 100-yard dash. And though it’s timed by the Wagoner coaches, Evitt was 4.35 seconds in the 40 this summer.
Condict said one of the only reasons Evitt is not crawling in offers yet is because he hasn’t gotten him out there yet.
Courtesy of Wagoner High School
Class of 2014 tailback Lawrence Evitt is having a breakout junior season.
“That’s on me. This kid is good, and I need to get his film out there,” Condict said. “We have some film out there, but I need to update it.”
Condict said he believes Evitt is a running back who can eventually get up to 190 pounds and not lose any of his speed and quickness.
Grades are a bit of a concern but not too much because Condict said Evitt is showing that dedication in the classroom.
“He’s at like a 2.4 GPA right now. He wants it to be higher,” Condict said. “He’s fighting real hard. The light bulb has gone on, and it’s great to see.”
Condict tried to remain diplomatic when discussing 2013 linebacker T.J. Ponds. A frequent visitor to OU, Ponds is still searching for that first offer.
“When it’s your kid, you always think they’re good enough,” Condict said. “I’ve been through this process enough to know I don’t have all the answers.
“He’s a great kid. I’m sure his height is playing a role in it. We’ll have to wait until the dominoes fall and see what happens.”