Friday, November 23, 2012
Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes
By Bob Przybylo
Every Thursday (or Friday this week because of the holiday), 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:
Bain excited to see Oklahoma City, OU
One recruit considered switching his commitment to OU after a recent visit
Florida DB gets a second chance at his OU visit
OU commits talk about 2014 RB Devon Thomas
2014 DB becoming more familiar with Mike Stoops
Top defensive tackle moves on from OU
2014 QB staying patient with Sooners
Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.
Bain ready to see Norman
When recruits come to Oklahoma, they talk a lot about tradition and championships. With seven national championships, that’s bound to happen.
But you could make the argument the Sooners aren’t the only game in town anymore with the arrival of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
ESPN 150 defensive tackle Maquedius Bain will take a visit to LSU in December.
As the Thunder continues to excel on the court, it might rub off on OU football. Case in point: ESPN 150 defensive tackle Maquedius Bain (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School).
Bain, who is 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds, is ranked No. 43 in the ESPN 150. Though his future is in football and he loves the game, part of the reason he’s excited about his official visit to OU is because he wants to see what Oklahoma City is like.
“I’ve always loved basketball and Kevin Durant has been one of my favorites for a long time,” Bain said. “I want to see what else is out there when you take away football. I know the football environment is going to be crazy.”
You won’t confuse Bain for Durant, but Fort Lauderdale University School coach Roger Harriott believes he has an apt comparison.
“He’s like a Charles Barkley on the court,” Harriott said. “He’s a rebounding machine.”
For now, though, the focus is on what he can do on the gridiron at a spot where the Sooners desperately need help. Bain originally scheduled an official visit to OU in late September but delayed that visit because of the uncertainty of his test scores.
There is no uncertainty now. Despite growing up in Florida, Bain said he has always felt a connection with OU. He said he knew he would visit OU before he made his decision. And after OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp made the offer in the summer, Bain knew he would see Norman.
The allure of a great program isn’t big on Bain’s priority list. Bain took an official visit to Marshall earlier this month.
“Everybody thinks if you’re a top recruit, you have to go to one of these big-time schools,” Bain said. “That’s not the case with me. I loved it at Marshall. And if I can help bring that school up, then that means something special to me.”
Harriott has been like a father figure to Bain, and Bain said so far he has gotten that same vibe from OU coach Bob Stoops. Bain is not sure if he wants to play both basketball and football in college, but it’s definitely something he is considering.
No matter how good the OU visit goes, though, don’t expect a commitment. Bain has said he is going to wait, and he has plans for a visit to LSU in December.
Bain and University School are playing a familiar name to OU fans on Friday in Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage Boca-Delray with ESPN 150 running back Greg Bryant, a one-time OU commit.
“Greg is great His film is definitely impressive," Bain said. "I’m going to try to stop him all night long."
Because of the game, Bain won’t get to OU until Saturday morning and is planning on staying until Monday morning.
Okoronkwo considered flipping commitment
Defensive end is not a position of need for OU’s 2013 class. But it is one of the positions where the Sooners are doing well. Already with two ESPN 300 commits, the Sooners were close from getting a third commitment two weeks ago.
Three-star end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (Houston/Alief Taylor) took an official visit to OU for the Baylor game and admitted he was tempted to switch his commitment from Oklahoma State to OU.
“I did. I really did feel like maybe I should change things,” Okoronkwo said. “But I have to give OSU a fair shot. I have to see both campuses and then make a decision.”
Okoronkwo has had a monster senior season with 70 tackles, 10 sacks, seven forced fumbles with two blocked punts.
He might be a little small at 6-3, 220, but that’s nothing compared to what he used to be.
“Entering my sophomore year, I was like 5-9 and 163 pounds,” Okoronkwo said. “I was just waiting for that growth spurt. Even now I’m the shortest person in my family. Everybody is like at least 6-6, 6-7. I don’t think I’m done growing.”
Okoronkwo said it is kind of funny that he has seen OU before OSU, but he says he is determined to see Stillwater after his season is over. Okoronkwo cannot attend Bedlam this weekend because Houston Alief Taylor plays a second-round playoff game on Saturday afternoon.
Harrison, Grooms with connection
This weekend is big for official visitors when it comes to offensive and defensive tackles. And they don’t get much bigger than junior college offensive tackle Desmond Harrison (San Pablo, Calif./Contra Costa College).
Harrison is 6-8, 310 pounds and has already made an official visit to North Carolina State. This week will start a three-week circus for Harrison with trips to OU, Arizona State and Texas planned.
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Stay up to date on Oklahoma's 2013 commits, targets and offers. Tracker: Defense | Offense
He said the interest from OU started in the spring and has progressively gotten more intense as time has passed. His connection to OU? Sooners point guard Sam Grooms.
“I’m from the Greensboro [North Carolina] area like Sam, and he’s said a lot of great things about the university and environment,” Harrison said. “My brother has talked to Sam more than I have, and Sam has nothing but good things to say.”
Harrison has three years of eligibility to play two and said this season he made a big improvement in terms of his technique.
“My run-blocking is what I’m best at doing, but what I did this year was really tighten up my technique,” Harrison said.
Harrison said he has been in constant contact with OU coaches Bruce Kittle and Bob Stoops and said he’s not looking for anything too special on this visit, just the usual.
“I want to see the football atmosphere and see the team up close,” Harrison said. “Meeting the coaches is going to be a big deal, too. This process isn’t really stressing me out, but it’s time to get it done.”
Try No. 2 for Robbins
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Well, that’s what OU and three-star cornerback Lamar Robbins (Miami/Southridge) are going to do this week.
Robbins was originally scheduled to make an official visit to Norman for the Notre Dame game. But he had a high school game scheduled for the same night so he missed his trip. But with Miami Southridge not in the playoffs, it opened the door.
Or at least we thought. Robbins had no contact at all with OU defensive backs coach Mike Stoops for more than three weeks until Monday night. The two talked again and Robbins is once again scheduled to see OU.
And he’s not coming alone. Robbins confirmed his teammate Jamal Carter, a four-star athlete committed to Miami (Fla.), is going to make the trip, too.
OU fans should temper their excitement about Carter, but it’s possible Robbins could be commitment No. 13 for the class.
Robbins has been on two official visits and both were blowout losses for Purdue and West Virginia. He is hopeful the Bedlam atmosphere will be everything and more and make him feel right at home.
Thomas has respect from peers
So far, the Intel has touched on several 2013 prospects. But as we all know OU picked up a major 2014 commitment last weekend in Watch List running back Devon Thomas (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow).
New commit Devon Thomas wants to tell the coaches about his commitment in person on Saturday.
Thomas didn’t duplicate his sophomore season numbers. It would have been pretty incredible if he had done so. After being suspended the first three games for unspecified reasons, he had a solid but not eye-popping final nine games.
Thomas finished the season with 620 yards on 107 attempts and nine touchdowns, averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
Not mind-blowing numbers, but when OU commits found out Thomas had committed, they know OU is getting a good one.
ATH Dominique Alexander (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington): “That’s great news. I know he’s one of the best backs in the state.”
WR Jordan Smallwood (Jenks, Okla./Jenks): “That’s what’s up! He is one of the most powerful backs I’ve seen at the high school level.”
ATH Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central): “For real? Oh, that’s awesome. Devon is like the total package at running back.”
So why didn’t things work out this season for Thomas and Broken Arrow? Broken Arrow coach Steve Spavital explains:
“We lost all of our players from the offensive line and weren’t as strong as before,” Spavital said. “And then we had a lot of injuries with this year’s group and couldn’t get things established. It’s not like Devon isn’t as good or as explosive as he was last year. We weren’t as good as a team.”
Thomas has been on OU’s radar for a long time, getting invites to games since midway through his sophomore season. OU running backs coach Cale Gundy has paid special attention to Thomas, and it paid off. Thomas said Gundy is like a second father to him.
Despite already committing to OU, Thomas is looking to make Bedlam even more special by confirming his commitment to the OU coaches in person.
Smallwood getting his recognition
You’ll have to forgive OU wide receiver commit Jordan Smallwood for not being a little proud about his selection to the Semper Fidelis All-American Game on Jan. 4 in Los Angeles.
Smallwood had one Division I offer in Wyoming before the Sooners came around and took a chance on him. He hasn’t forgotten about that.
“I’m not going to lie that jersey presentation meant a lot to me,” Smallwood said. “It felt good because I know I’ve earned this and I deserve this.
“I hope it’s like a message to other schools that just because somebody is not getting the attention doesn’t mean you should overlook them.”
Smallwood was presented with his jersey last week. Oklahoma State was close to offering Smallwood, and who knows what might have happened had OSU’s summer camp been before OU’s. But the Sooners were first, Smallwood dominated and got the offer and committed before he even had a chance to go back to Stillwater.
“That was a crazy week,” Smallwood said. “I knew I had done all I could at OU and I was starting to get ready for OSU when I found out I had the OU offer.
“I love it right now. I love talking with Coach [Jay] Norvell. I love how there are so many kids from Tulsa joining me. I love everything.”
OU has five in-state commits and four of them are from the Tulsa area. Two of them are squaring off in a Class 6A state semifinal Friday night at Broken Arrow.
Smallwood and Jenks will play Dalton Rodriguez and Tulsa Union one more time for the right to go to the championship. SoonerNation will be on hand once again. Tulsa Union won 14-7 against Jenks in Week 1.
Parker getting familiar with Stoops
OU has four Tulsa-area commits for 2013 and already has one for 2014 with running back Devon Thomas. Could the Sooners pick up a second with 2014 Jenks safety Steven Parker?
Parker is letting the process play out, but there is no doubt he is getting more comfortable with OU defensive backs coach Mike Stoops.
Oklahoma was the first school to offer Class of 2014 defensive back Steven Parker.
He has seen two OU home games this season. Coincidentally, the games were OU’s losses to Kansas State and Notre Dame. Parker will be back in Norman this weekend for Bedlam.
“I got to talk to Mike Stoops a lot for the KSU game, and I talked to Bob Stoops at both of the games,” Parker said.
The Sooners were the first school to offer Parker, and they’re making sure he knows they still want him. Parker said OU has sent letters of wishing him luck in the playoffs and congratulating him on playoff wins the last three weeks.
The Notre Dame game gave Parker something to think about. He was on an unofficial visit and surrounded by OU commits in Jordan Smallwood, Stanvon Taylor, Dominique Alexander (who wasn’t an OU commit at the time) and ESPN 300 safety Hatari Byrd (Fresno, Calif./Central East).
“That was a lot of fun,” Parker said. “Everybody was having such a great time, and you could see how much everybody likes each other.”
Parker has also made multiple unofficial visits to OSU and has an offer from Alabama. A new school is jumping into the mix, too.
“USC is talking to my coaches a lot,” Parker said. “My coach gave me a number to the USC guys, and I’ll probably give them a call here sometime soon.
“I’m still having fun with the process, but I’m starting to think about which schools I really want to consider more and more. OU is definitely one of them.”
Gamecocks still lead for Rodgers
Offensive tackle remains a huge need for OU’s class, and it doesn’t look good for the Sooners and four-star prospect Na’Ty Rodgers (Owings Mills, Md./McDonough).
Rodgers, the son of former OU defensive lineman Tyrone Rodgers, took an official visit to OU in September. Early reports were very positive. However, as time has gone on, it’s starting to look like it is down to South Carolina and Maryland.
Rodgers took an official visit to Maryland last weekend.
“I’ve been there so many times so it wasn’t too different,” Rodgers said. “I came a little earlier and got to spend more time with the players and coaches.”
Following the OU visit, there was talk of Rodgers coming back to Norman with his mother. That hasn’t happened. But his father did accompany him on an unofficial visit to South Carolina two weeks ago.
“He liked it a lot,” Rodgers said. “He liked the atmosphere. He liked talking with all the coaches. He felt real comfortable with everything.”
Rodgers said South Carolina is in the lead, and he plans on taking an official visit to Columbia in December.
Since the OU visit, Rodgers said he still talks with OU tackles coach Bruce Kittle but not too often.
“I wouldn’t say OU is out of the picture, but I’m narrowing it down in my own head,” Rodgers said. “Conference doesn’t matter. SEC gets all the publicity, but wherever you go, there are going to be great athletes.”
Rodgers said he plans on making his decision at the Under Armour All-America Game in January.
Augusta, OU go separate ways
It also doesn’t look good for OU with ESPN 150 defensive tackle Josh Augusta (Peoria, Ill./Peoria). It has been an on-and-off again relationship with the Sooners throughout the process and looks like it’s off for good.
Augusta finished his high school season a few weeks ago. And when asked if he was thinking about an official visit to OU this weekend, Augusta didn’t mince his words.
“No. I’m not looking at them anymore,” Augusta said.
Another top Illinois recruit in wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) will not be in Norman but for a totally different reason.
Treadwell, ranked No. 1 at wide receiver, and Crete-Monee will be playing for a state championship Saturday afternoon. Treadwell has reiterated through Twitter he still really wants to make an official visit to OU.
The disappointing part is Bedlam is OU’s last home game so Treadwell will not be able to experience a game day atmosphere.
Treadwell was supposed to see OU for the Notre Dame game, but as luck would have it, his first-round playoff game was a Saturday and not Friday so he couldn’t attend.
Chandler still playing the field
With OU missing out on so many top-rated defensive backs in the last month, there have been a lot of fans wondering if the Sooners would make a run at three-star Texas Tech cornerback commit Maurice Chandler (Lawton, Okla./Lawton).
Chandler fueled that speculation even more when tweeting earlier this week he was going to attend Bedlam even though he doesn’t have an OU offer.
But Chandler confirmed Wednesday he is not going to be at Bedlam because OU had no more invites to give out to recruits.
“I haven’t really had much contact at all with OU lately,” Chandler said. “Just a call or two to Coach [Mike] Stoops. I was hoping to go but things happen.”
Chandler said Oregon State and Kansas State are still pursuing him the most. Chandler’s older brother played for the Wildcats, and he said a season like KSU is having does play a role in things although he remains committed to the Red Raiders.
“It’s pretty cool seeing what Kansas State is doing this season, but I’m loyal to Tech,” Chandler said. “I like the attitude and relationship I’ve developed with the players and coaches.”
Chandler has wanted to make an official visit to Lubbock this season but has been unable to finalize plans. He said now he intends to make the visit in January.
Cornwell waiting patiently
A couple of 2014 in-state quarterbacks have been frequent visitors to OU in Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen and Coleman Key (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow).
One quarterback that is still on the radar is David Cornwell (Jones, Okla./Jones). Cornwell made an impression on OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel at OU’s camp in June. However, the communication since then hasn’t been that extensive.
Class of 2014 quarterback David Cornwell has offers from Indiana and Auburn.
But Cornwell is not upset or frustrated. He understands it’s all part of the process.
“He told me this would happen,” Cornwell said. “He said things would be kind of slow and to wait toward the end of the season.”
That might be Heupel’s way of doing things but that hasn’t been the case for other schools, especially in the SEC. Leading the charge there is Alabama. Cornwell was able to make an unofficial visit to Alabama last month.
“I got to spend a lot more time with Coach [Nick] Saban than I thought,” Cornwell said. “He is real humble. He can be fired up during the game, but he’s a calm guy.
“I got to be in the locker room following the win [against Mississippi State] and that was a great feeling. I talked to at least three or four of their coaches. That meant a lot.”
Cornwell is still hopeful he will be at Bedlam. But if he’s not, that doesn’t mean OU is out of the picture. What it means is Cornwell might have to change his plan of attack with the Sooners.
“Some schools, coaches attack first and always want to talk,” Cornwell said. “It’s not that way with Coach Heupel. I should probably start approaching him more. I’m going to need to be the aggressor when it comes to me and OU.
“That’s fine. I respect what Coach Heupel does and respect everything about the program. All I can do is get better by learning from him.”
OU in Clear’s final three
It’s less than a month away from the December signing period for junior college recruits, but tight end Cameron Clear (Yuma, Ariz./Arizona Western CC) is not looking to wait that long.
Clear, who is 6-6, 285 pounds, is going to make his last official visit this weekend at OU. And after that, be on the lookout.
“I’m not looking to wait until signing day. I’m going to talk it over after the visit and try to make a decision pretty quickly,” Clear said.
Clear transferred from Tennessee to Arizona Western and might head back to the SEC. Two of his other finalists are Ole Miss and Texas A&M. He visited Ole Miss in October and was at Texas A&M last weekend.
The OU offer didn’t come immediately, but the recruitment of Clear started as soon as he got to Arizona Western.
“I’ve been talking to Coach [Bruce] Kittle and Coach [Bob] Stoops for a long time now,” Clear said. “I just want to get a feel of the campus and the coaches and the environment.”
Because of Clear’s size and OU’s need for offensive tackles, some have wondered if Clear is being recruited to play tackle. He said that’s not the case.
“My size on paper shows I could play offensive tackle, but that’s not what I’m looking to play,” Clear said. “I feel I’m more versatile and athletic as a tight end, and the OU coaches have agreed with that.”
Clear won’t be coming alone, either. Teammate and Iowa State tight end commit Emmanuel Bibbs is also making the trip, Clear said.
Clear said A&M and Ole Miss appeal to him because those are programs on the rise. OU cannot rise much more.
“They’re always good, always in the hunt for conference and national championships,” Clear said. “I know what the SEC is about. At Tennessee, I learned all about the SEC. This is just going to be about where I feel the most confident.”
OU does not have a tight end commit in its class.
Watts emerging for 2014
OU receivers coach Jay Norvell doesn’t waste any time. Already with one commitment in Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City), Norvell is taking a hard look at Forney (North Forney) Texas athlete Armani Watts.
Watts, recruited as receiver by some schools and cornerback at others, already has offers from North Texas, Clemson and UCLA. He was in Dallas last month for OU’s impressive 63-21 victory against Texas in the Red River Rivalry.
“That atmosphere was incredible. That’s something I could get used to playing in,” Watts said.
Watts said he grew up a huge Miami (Fla.) fan because of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed but right now he is keeping all his options open.
Watts was at OU’s camp in the summer and that’s when the relationship with Norvell developed.
“It was a great experience,” Watts said. “He really helped me with my footwork, and he put a big emphasis on footwork.”
Watts said as a receiver, he believes his best asset is he is hard to tackle and that the first person who touches him rarely tackles him.
If it was up to Watts, however, he would play cornerback.
“I know how to read quarterbacks’ eyes real well,” Watts said. “I really like to hit people and make big plays. It’s fun making big plays at receiver, too, but I really like defensive back.”