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

Thursday, November 15, 2012
OU's Cali Trio making profound impact

By Bob Przybylo

When an elite high school running back brings up Oklahoma, the first name they bring up is Adrian Peterson. Even though he hasn’t been on campus for more than five years, he is a symbol of what OU can produce at running back. Peterson’s success at OU keeps the Sooners in the race for many quality backs.

When OU recruits a California high school product, the first name brought up is not a single person but a trio -- the California Trio.

Taylor McNamara
California tight end Taylor McNamara signed with the Sooners in the Class of 2012.
The trio of running back Brennan Clay, wide receiver Kenny Stills and safety Tony Jefferson have made their imprints all over the field in their three seasons with the Sooners. But their impact is going to be felt long after they’re done suiting up for the Sooners.

There is a real impact on the roster. Players like running back Damien Williams and wide receivers Durron Neal and Derrick Woods are among current players who were hosted by a member of the Trio on their recruiting visits.

If a prospect is not hosted by the Trio, there is still a strong likelihood the recruit is going to cross paths with the Trio such as freshman tight end Taylor McNamara. They were very influential toward the end of OU’s 2012 class.

The Sooners hosted Michael Onuoha and Zack Sanchez and junior college products Will Latu and Courtney Gardner. All four signed with OU, partly because of the fun they had with the Trio on that weekend. Of course it hasn’t all worked out because Latu and Gardner weren’t able to make it to campus, but the desired result of getting their signature worked.

And now with the 2013 class and beyond, OU is a player with California kids. The Sooners are targeting several California products to close out the class. Even though it’s more than 1,000 miles from Norman, Okla., to California, distance doesn’t factor too much because the recruits know they’re going to get an opportunity.

OU hosted three-star offensive tackle Sean Dowling (Fallbrook, Calif./Union) last month. He was hosted by tight end Sam Grant but also spent a lot of time with Kenny Stills. He knows OU will give west coast kids an opportunity to succeed.

Even if it comes at the cost of their own playing time. Neal had nothing but positive things to say about Stills when Stills was his host last November. And Clay couldn’t have been more supportive of Williams even though it was expected Williams might end up taking Clay’s carries if he signed with the Sooners.

The Trio hasn’t given OU a national championship yet, but it has put the program in a great position moving forward with recruits in California.