Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Oklahoma Sooners [Print without images]

Friday, November 9, 2012
Recruiting Faceoff: Top defensive target

By Bob Przybylo and Brandon Chatmon

Each Week SoonerNation recruiting writers Bob Przybylo and Brandon Chatmon will faceoff on one issue regarding Oklahoma recruiting.

This week’s question: OU still needs a lot of help defensively for its 2013 class, but who is the most-coveted prospect the Sooners should focus on if they could only land just one?


Bob Przybylo: I think we can all agree that defensive tackle is the biggest need for OU’s class the rest of the way. But do you want a difference maker? Do you want someone who would make OU fans feel good about its defensive class in a heartbeat?

Mike Mitchell
Oklahoma might be on the outside looking in for ESPN 150 linebacker Mike Mitchell.
Then we’re going with linebacker and going with ESPN 150 prospect Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian).

Mitchell is that rare blend of strength and speed showcased by how he set a national SPARQ record at The Opening in July, highlighted by a 4.39 time in the 40-yard dash. Ranked No. 121 in the ESPN 150, Mitchell is 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds.

OU is in a dogfight to get Mitchell with Texas A&M and Ohio State the biggest competition. He has made an unofficial visit to OU and an official to the Aggies last month with one tentatively planned for the Buckeyes here later this month.

If first-year linebackers coach Tim Kish wants to make splash, he’ll ramp up his efforts to get Mitchell and get that official visit to Norman following the season. A linebacker group of Mitchell, ESPN 300 prospect Jordan Mastrogiovanni (Dallas/Jesuit) and rising recruit Dominique Alexander (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington) would make any OU fan happy moving into the future.

Brandon Chatmon: It would be easy to worry about defensive tackles and talk about how important it is to shore up the defensive interior. But Sooners fans should be worried about the safety position. Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris rank 1-2 in tackles for the Sooners this season and it's quite possible neither player will wear crimson and cream in 2013. Harris is a senior and Jefferson is playing well enough to declare early for the NFL Draft. OU could have a future star at defensive tackle in Jordan Phillips. That type of youthful upside is missing at safety.

That makes ESPN 150 safety Marcell Harris the most important defender remaining on OU's radar. Harris expects to decide on Nov. 16 and says the Sooners are among his top four joining Texas, Florida and Florida State. The 6-foot-1, 207-pounder visited Norman on Sept. 21 and represents everything Mike Stoops is looking for in a playmaking safety. He brings the talent and size to play early so landing Harris might be a game-changing development for Stoops future defenses.

If OU finds some way to secure Harris, the Florida safety would join Ahmad Thomas (Miami, Fla./Central) and Hatari Byrd (Fresno, Calif./Central East) to give the Sooners several quality options at the safety position and, most importantly, talented young depth in the secondary.

In a system that is built upon playmaking safeties, that cannot be overlooked.