Thursday, November 15, 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:
Juco defensive tackle planning visit to OU
Offensive tackle grows comfortable with Sooners head coach
Sooners still keeping in contact with Memphis offensive tackle
Is the saga for a former commit over?
Florida defensive back eyeing visit to OU
2014 linebacker working to get back after injury
Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.
Russell visiting OU
Get ready for a lot of talk about defensive and offensive tackles. After missing out on ESPN 150 defensive tackle Greg Gilmore (Hope Mills, N.C./South View) last week, Sooners are still trying to nab their first commitment at the position.
Courtesy of Trinity Valley Community College
Junior college defensive tackle Quincy Russell is a former Texas signee.
But defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp does seem set on another big target in junior college product Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley CC).
Russell, who originally signed with Texas for the 2011 class, said he is going to make an official visit to OU next weekend for Bedlam.
“It’s Oklahoma. They’re a top school that is always in the mix,” Russell said. “If I go there, I know I’m going to have a chance to play for a national championship.”
It’s crucial for the Sooners to get Russell on campus because the leader in the clubhouse appears to be Nebraska at this juncture. Russell made his second visit to Lincoln, Neb., last weekend and said things couldn’t have gone any better.
One thing OU does have in its favor is Trinity Valley offensive tackle Josiah St. John made an official visit to OU three weeks ago and had nothing but positive things to tell Russell.
“Yeah, we did talk about things,” Russell said. “He talked about how great the atmosphere was and what a great time he had.”
Russell still has a redshirt year to use, but he doesn’t plan on burning it. One of the biggest factors for him is going to be immediate playing time. And if you’ve watched the Sooners the last two seasons, OU is searching for a difference maker at defensive tackle.
He was a little discouraged about having to go through the juco route, but he said it has made him a better player.
“I use my hands a lot better than I did before,” Russell said. “I’m able to get off blocks and make even more plays.”
Russell said he definitely wants a decision done by December. He has also visited Texas Tech but said he doesn’t feel like he has a set of favorites yet.
Cochran comfortable with Stoops
OU wasn’t able to get a commitment out of four-star offensive tackle Aaron Cochran (Atwater, Calif./Buhach) on his official visit but a planned second visit has to be a good sign.
Cochran said he wants to take a second visit to OU so his mother can see the campus. His father saw and loved everything last weekend. One thing that impressed Cochran and his father was the attitude of OU coach Bob Stoops.
“He’s really a down-to-earth guy and sincere and a genuine coach,” Cochran said. “He’s just a regular guy who isn’t looking for special treatment. I could see myself playing for him.”
Cochran is still expected to see Arizona and California before making his decision. One thing OU has in its favor? The hospitality of the people.
“They were nice. I don’t know how else to explain it,” Cochran said. “Everybody I met was so nice. Even the people who didn’t know I play football were very polite.”
Cochran said he knew he would feel comfortable with the football aspect of OU but what helped matters was feeling comfortable with the academic adviser.
It’s still an uphill climb for OU as Nebraska has made a big impression on Cochran, too, but the Sooners did all they could to help sway Cochran on the visit.
Meadows with positive visit
Originally it looked like the Baylor weekend was a bit of a dud with only Cochran scheduled for an official visit. However that changed late last week when three-star offensive tackle Kyle Meadows (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West) said he would be taking a visit as well.
First report? Positive signs for OU and Meadows.
“I’ve talked to him a couple of times since the visit. He loved it,” West Chester Lakota West coach Larry Cox said. “Everything about it. I don’t see a single negative thing about his time at OU.”
The biggest shock about Meadows visit was him taking an official visit to a school he doesn’t have an offer from yet. Following the visit, he is closer to that offer but still doesn’t have an official offer from the Sooners.
“He’s not discouraged. That’s part of the business,” Cox said. “He has quality offers and is going to get his education paid for. He’s handling this process really well and stays level-headed about everything.”
Meadows has made a lot of unofficial visits, but the OU visit was his first official one. Cox said Meadows is hopeful to make visits to West Virginia and Florida State.
It has been a whirlwind process between OU and Meadows. OU offensive tackles coach Bruce Kittle inquired about Meadows a few weeks ago and finally got to talk to Meadows last week.
“I’ve had players at Alabama, Ohio State and Cincinnati – I understand what they’re looking for,” Cox said. “He’s that level of player. He can play at OU. I’m not going to sell them a bag of junk. That doesn’t help anybody.”
Meadows’ season ended a few weeks ago, but it has been a busy time for Cox with helping his kids in the recruiting process. And he takes a special interest in Meadows.
“He’s such a good kid. Doesn’t get too high or too low,” Cox said. “He’s playing basketball for us now. In my time, he’s the best pass blocker we’ve ever had. He has a ton of upside to him.”
And what stood out the most during his OU trip? The players.
“He couldn’t believe how down to earth they were,” Cox said. “There was no arrogance or anything like that. They work hard and earn everything. He loved how that was their attitude.”
Morris still in play for OU
It has been a while since we last checked in with three-star offensive tackle Christian Morris (Memphis, Tenn./East). And if you follow Morris on Twitter, you know there has been a massive Twitter war between UCLA and Nebraska fans.
Morris, a UCLA commit, took an official visit to Nebraska in September. He hasn't heard much from OU fans on Twitter, but the Sooners are still involved in his recruitment.
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“I talk to Coach [James] Patton or Coach [Bruce] Kittle almost every single day,” Morris said. “I want to get down there next week for Oklahoma State, but I’m not sure if it will happen.”
Morris is still recovering right now as he suffered a strained neck in one of his final games of the season but said the doctors have told him he should be good to go in a couple of weeks.
With his season over, Morris, who does not have an offer from OU but could get one soon, is ready to hit the road. It starts this week with an official visit to UCLA for the rivalry showdown with USC.
He was also at Ole Miss last weekend, but he said he was just there with a teammate and is not seriously considering the Rebels.
OU, however, is still toward the top for Morris.
“They’ve been one of my all-time favorites for a long time,” Morris said. “My opinion about OU has not changed, but it’s tough for me to say too much since I haven’t seen the campus.”
Another school entering the mix is Georgia. Morris said the Bulldogs started talking with him a couple of weeks ago, and he is open to them. One thing that won’t matter is the pride of playing in the SEC.
“I don’t care what conference I play in,” Morris said. “It’s about where I fit in best. Where I can make a big impact and will the coaches get me to where I want to go.”
OU on the outside looking in for Foreman?
Much like Greg Gilmore a week ago, the Sooners are in the final choices for another top prospect in three-star safety Tyler Foreman (Encino, Calif./Crespi Carmelite).
And much like Gilmore, it feels like the Sooners will fall short once again. There are reports from other sites that say he already has committed to Wisconsin. While ESPN West Coast recruiting writer Erik McKinney said he cannot confirm it, the speculation is going to end Saturday when Foreman chooses between OU, UCLA, Wisconsin and Utah.
If Foreman does choose the Badgers, it’s a blow for OU. Defensive backs coach Mike Stoops did a great job of targeting Foreman early in the spring before most schools had even heard of him. And OU had to feel good when Foreman made his official visit in September.
But the feeling is Foreman was enamored with Wisconsin on his official visit last month and has developed an even better relationship with the Badgers coaching staff than he has with the Stoops brothers.
And just like that OU’s secondary targets are starting to dwindle by the day. The Sooners are still targeting one more safety for the class, but it definitely seems like it won’t be Foreman.
Harding, an Arkansas commit, is ranked No. 3 in Oklahoma and is actually rated higher than Foreman by our ESPN scouts. But since a disappointing camp performance in June, Harding’s father said the family has not heard from OU.
With Foreman out of the picture, that could change.
Is the Bryant saga over?
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
Top running back Greg Bryant has officially moved on from Oklahoma.
Sorry to be the bearer of more bad news, but it looks like things are officially over between OU and four-star running back Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage-Boca Delray).
Bryant’s father confirmed Monday night via text message that OU is out of the picture. Why the Sooners have disappeared has not been revealed, but it is time to move on.
Though Bryant is a much higher-ranked prospect at No. 27 in the ESPN 150, Foreman is actually a bigger loss for OU in terms of what the class needs.
The Sooners are still set with four-star running back Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Ranch), who is ranked No. 30 in the ESPN 150, so there is no panic at the spot.
Bryant is down to Auburn, South Carolina and Florida State. It’s possible it might just be that Norman is way too far away from home for Bryant’s liking. Running backs coach Cale Gundy did all he could in trying to get Bryant back in the fold, but it appears it will not work out.
Bryant originally committed to OU on March 31 before decommitting July 30. Gundy reached out to Bryant last month and the two had a quality 90-minute conversation. But Bryant is now looking in another direction.
His second game last week vs. Baylor was a little different. With Smallwood and Taylor focusing on their teams’ respective playoff matchups, Alexander was without his friends.
He did, however, get to meet OU commit D.J. Ward (Moore, Okla./Southmoore) for the first time. Alexander learned something about Ward that anybody who has followed Ward has known for a long time.
“He’s a quiet dude. He’s a good dude, but he’s really quiet,” Alexander said. “He’s the opposite of me. I would say I got in like 50 words for every 10 he said. He’s big, too.”
Ward, for the most part, has gone silent this fall after not being able to play his senior season. But Alexander did confirm the plan is still for Ward to enroll early at OU.
“That was like the only time he got excited,” Alexander said. “When he was talking about leaving school early and playing for OU, he did have some things to say.”
Robbins still eyeing OU visit
OU has missed out on several prospects at defensive back lately. Is Miami Southridge cornerback Lamar Robbins the next one?
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
Lamar Robbins was unable to attend the Sooners' game vs. Notre Dame.
Too early to say that, but it could be a cause for concern that Mike Stoops has not talked to Robbins since Robbins had to postpone his official visit three weeks ago.
Robbins said he would love to visit OU next weekend for Bedlam.
“That’s a rivalry game, and I would love to feel what the atmosphere is like for a game like that,” Robbins said. “Right now my phone has been silent. No coaches have been calling me.”
Robbins, a three-star prospect, has made official visits to Purdue and West Virginia and was scheduled to take one to OU for the Notre Dame game. But his high school team played on the same night and he was forced to postpone the trip.
He said he is not stressing out about the lack of attention from coaches right now, saying whatever school wants him will let him know.
Robbins said besides looking at playing time, focusing on a potential business major is also a very important factor in his decision.
“My degree comes first. I want to look at management and finance,” Robbins said. “In this economy, you have to be set so that’s my first priority.”
Robbins said he has tentatively set the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Houston as the site for his announcement.
“They asked if I would do it there and I think it’s a good idea,” Robbins said.
Clark down to four
OU’s answer at cornerback won’t be from another Miami product as Miami Archbishop Carroll four-star athlete Leroy Clark said he is set with his four finalists.
Clark said he hasn’t heard from OU recently, and he is down to Purdue, West Virginia, Illinois and Florida International. He has made an official visit to Purdue.
FIU might have the slight edge because his cousin plays for the team so Clark has made several unofficial visits for games.
But he said he won’t make any decision until he sees West Virginia and Illinois. He’s not sure why OU didn’t show more interest, but it simply hasn’t happened for him at this point.
ESPN Watch List linebacker James David (Rockdale, Texas/Rockdale) was this close to ending his junior season healthy. But he tore his ACL and MCL and is not sure how long it will take for him to recover.
“I had my surgery yesterday [Monday] and right now it’s really bad,” David said. “This is the first major injury I’ve had.”
David was hopeful to see OU-Texas last month but said he was unable to make the trip. He has seen the OU stadium and facilities in the past and likes what he has seen. However, he definitely wants to get another taste of OU in the future.
“I want to get the full experience,” David said. “I haven’t been able to see everything. I’m excited about the offer and just want to keep working hard.”
David said instead of making unofficial visits, he is more worried about getting healthy and completing his rehab.
Villalobos reconnects with Washington
Last weekend was the first time for 2014 defensive end Anthony Villalobos (Keller, Texas/Fossil Ridge) to see an OU home game in person.
And there was one person he was looking to see -- defensive end R.J. Washington. Not only does Washington play the same position, but he wears the same number and also went to Keller Fossil Ridge.
“It meant a lot to me to be able to talk with R.J. before the game,” Villalobos said. “I remember watching him play, and we’re proud of what he has been able to do at OU.
“He is somebody I have looked up to for a long time. Seeing him doing big things makes me believe I can do big things, too.”
Villalobos has OU in his early top three, followed by TCU and LSU. He said OU defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright is the coach he has talked the most with at this point.
Woodard likes OU direction
It was a tough decision for OU point guard signee Jordan Woodard (Edmond, Okla./Memorial) on Sunday. Should he go visit OU and see the Sooners play or watch his brother James play his first game for Tulsa?
Jordan Woodard signed his LOI with Oklahoma on Wednesday.
Woodard chose to watch his brother, and James scored 29 points in a blowout win. But he kept close tabs on what the Sooners were doing against Louisiana Monroe.
And he had nothing but positive things to say about what he saw from freshmen guards Buddy Hield, Je’lon Hornbeak and Isaiah Cousins.
“That’s Coach [Lon] Kruger going to work right there,” Woodard said. “He wants to run a fast, uptempo game, and he’s getting the players he feels can help us do that. Everything is going in the right direction.”
With Woodard signed, he can focus on his senior season and also start looking toward convincing 2014 point guard Omega Harris (Oklahoma City/Putnam City West) to join him in Norman.
“I haven’t talked to Omega in a while, but it would be awesome if he came with,” Woodard said. “He is so smooth with the ball. He can penetrate and get into the lane whenever he wants. But people don’t realize what a great defender he is, too.
“I know he wants to take his time and look at his options, but he’s a perfect fit for Kruger and what he’s trying to do.”