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Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Sooners searching for impact DTs

By Bob Przybylo

There is one glaring hole in Oklahoma’s defensive recruiting for the 2013 class. But it’s a big one. The Sooners are faring well or at least decently at every other spot, but OU is lacking defensive tackles.

Worse than lacking at them is the fact OU has been involved in several tight battles at the position only to have never come out on top.

With less than two months until national signing day, here is a position-by-position breakdown of OU defensive targets.

Defensive end

No problems in this department. In fact, OU has probably had too many viable targets. The Sooners got started with a bang with two of their first three commits being ESPN 300 defensive ends in Matt Dimon (Katy, Texas/Katy) and D.J. Ward (Moore, Okla./Southmoore).

OU turned down a potential commitment from three-star recruit Dimarya Mixon (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite), who ended up committing to Missouri.

The Sooners might have a third commit in Norman (Okla.) North’s Jordan Evans. A three-star prospect, Evans could play either end or linebacker.

The only recruit the Sooners would accept a commitment from is USC pledge Torrodney Prevot (Houston/Alief Taylor). Prevot is considering an official visit to OU this weekend.

Defensive tackle

Maquedius Bain
Defensive tackle Maquedius Bain is a top priority for the Sooners to finish their 2013 recruiting class.
It’s not pretty. And it’s not getting any better. Last week was a gut-punch when Sooners legacy Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) picked Texas A&M over OU. But all the Sooners can do is move on.

Viable targets are out there, but it’s up to defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp to seal the deal. No. 1 on that list is ESPN 150 recruit Maquedius Bain (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School).

Bain took an official visit to OU for Bedlam and had an in-home last week. He is expected to visit LSU this weekend, which should give a better indication of where he stands.

OU is also targeting Hutchinson (Kan.) CC teammates Toby Johnson and Ben Bradley and has made in-home visits with both of them.

Johnson visited Georgia last weekend and the Bulldogs are a natural fit since he is from Georgia. Bradley is a Tennessee commit whom OU only recently started to turn its attention toward.

Then there is Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley CC). Russell also made an official visit to OU for Bedlam, but Nebraska feels like the leader in the clubhouse.

The Sooners have gone all out with Russell in the last two weeks, and it looks like if Bain is No. 1, then Russell is No. 1a for OU’s list of priorities.

Another name to be on the watch for is ESPN 150 recruit Keith Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic Community). Bryant has talked about visiting OU but so far that’s all there has been. No date has been set or discussed.

Linebacker

It’s looking a lot better here than it did a couple of months ago. The Sooners are still set with ESPN 300 prospect Jordan Mastrogiovanni (Dallas/Jesuit). After flirting with A&M, Mastrogiovanni appears to be good with OU.

OU looked in-state for answers, too, in the form of Evans and three-star athlete Dominique Alexander (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington).

Linebackers coach Tim Kish has wanted Baylor commit Raaquan Davis (Heath, Texas/Rockwall-Heath) for a long time, but Davis has been solid with the Bears.

Ohio State has made a big move to get ESPN 150 linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) so the Sooners are making a move of their own on ESPN 300 Florida State commit E.J. Levenberry Jr. (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton).

Levenberry made an official visit to OU in October and visited the campus twice as a junior. With FSU’s recent coaching changes, OU is pressing hard to flip him.

And don’t count out ESPN 150 prospect and UCLA commit Deon Hollins (Fort Bend, Texas/Marshall). Hollins and Kish have quietly still been talking often during the season and his father is a fan of Kish and Bob Stoops.

Cornerback

Mike Stoops has done a good job of building the secondary, starting with ESPN 300 athlete Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central).

There is also a strong possibility that ESPN 150 cornerback from the 2012 class Tee Shepard is going to be in Norman in the winter, too. Shepard is hoping to enroll at OU in January, but there are still many hurdles to climb before that is official.

On the high school side of things, Stoops is targeting a couple of top Florida high school kids in three-star cornerback Lamar Robbins (Miami/Southridge) and ESPN 300 FSU commit Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna).

Stoops has made in-home visits with both of them. Robbins made an official visit for Bedlam, and Baker is slated to make his official visit this weekend.

Baker is not guaranteed to be a corner, though. It’s also a possibility he will see time at wide receiver.

Safety

OU is rolling here, led by ESPN 300 safety Hatari Byrd (Fresno, Calif./Central East) and three-star recruit Ahmad Thomas (Miami/Central).

Ideally OU would like one more safety. With recent coaching changes at Wisconsin, OU could take another run at Badgers commit Tyler Foreman (Encino, Calif./Crespi Carmelite).

The Sooners have made a pitch to ESPN 150 safety Tahaan Goodman (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga), but so far Goodman hasn’t set up an OU visit or the potential of one being discussed.

Summary

It’s all about the tackles. Defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright has put together a strong bunch. Tim Kish and Mike Stoops are getting recruits they’ve gunned for. It’s going to be up to all the defensive coaches to get OU some tackles, and get them now.