Thursday, December 20, 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:
More on the nation's top wideout's Oklahoma visit
How close was a Texas DT to committing to OU last week?
Sooners hoping to land two California offensive tackles
Linebacker commit is fired up to be a Sooner
Durability isn't a question for OU's tailback commit
Class of 2014 offensive tackle not surprised by teammate switching to OU
Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.
Push for Treadwell continues
The Oklahoma coaches didn’t go into last weekend thinking they were going to add a commitment from No. 1-ranked wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee). The purpose of the visit was for Treadwell to finally see the campus and to set up OU in good shape for the future.
Courtesy of Zach Perry/intersport
Top receiver Laquon Treadwell will visit Oklahoma State next month.
In that regard, the visit was a success. Treadwell said he had a great time and a lot of other recruits on the visit echoed that sentiment.
Treadwell was hosted by redshirt freshman running back David Smith, a natural connection. Both are from the Chicagoland area, and Smith and Treadwell were actually going to drive to Norman for the spring game in April until inclement weather forced both of them to stay home.
Treadwell confirmed after the visit his next stop is going to be Bedlam rival Oklahoma State on Jan. 11. Even though OSU has lost Todd Monken as its offensive coordinator, Treadwell still wants to give Cowboys an opportunity.
It also looks like Michigan hasn’t just fallen behind but is out at this juncture. Unless something changes, which is a real possibility with Treadwell, it could be a three-school race between OU, Ole Miss and OSU.
Schools such as Florida and Notre Dame have also been mentioned as potential visits for Treadwell, but he has not confirmed that in any way.
OU used up its ace in the hole with Treadwell in Smith, but the Sooners might have found another one. Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington three-star commit Dominique Alexander is quickly getting the reputation of the fun commit. His outgoing personality brings out the best in everybody.
“I didn’t want to bug him about OU during his trip. I wanted him to relax,” Alexander said. “We were up shooting pool and doing things like that. We were just having fun. It would be great to have him join us.”
OU coach Bob Stoops has recognized what Alexander can mean going forward. There is no quieter commit than ESPN 150 defensive end D.J. Ward (Moore, Okla./Southmoore). A man of few words is almost an understatement.
But get him around Alexander and look out. Stoops saw that this weekend with Ward talking and laughing with Alexander.
“Coach Stoops couldn’t believe D.J. was laughing and talking,” Alexander said. “He pulled me over and said he needs me to help get Quon for OU. I was like ‘You got it.’ It was a great weekend.”
Baker has OU, Clemson on his mind
OU had to like its chances with ESPN 300 athlete Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) heading into last weekend’s official visit.
Coincidentally, Baker is being recruited hard by Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, the longtime OU assistant coach who left for the Tigers earlier this year.
The usually talkative Baker has gone virtually silent this week, saying the last week has been an emotionally draining process for him.
He did confirm his host was Julian Wilson on his visit although he spent a lot of time with Aaron Colvin as well.
The door is still open for Baker to be a wide receiver, though. FSU and Clemson see Baker as a cornerback, but Mike Stoops has been consistent with saying OU sees Baker as an athlete and won’t nail down a single spot for him.
Mark Stoops leaving FSU for Kentucky put the Sooners back into the picture. And former FSU running backs coach Eddie Gran leaving for Cincinnati might have made sure OU and Clemson stay on top for Baker.
Don’t expect this one to be easy as Baker said all three schools will have in-home visits with him in January.
Walker has shoulder surgery Thursday
Defensive tackle Charles Walker (Garland, Texas/South Garland) had to stop himself. You have no idea how badly he wanted to commit to OU when learning he had an offer on Friday.
But he didn’t. He wants to see the campus. He will get that opportunity on his official visit Jan. 11. Getting the offer Friday sort of made a trip to New Mexico not look all that appealing.
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“I wasn’t really feeling the vibe there like I was at North Texas and Houston,” Walker said. “I was definitely thinking a lot about OU.”
Walker met with OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp on Thursday. Shipp told him the coaches were going to watch his film and keep him updated.
That update didn’t take long as he was notified the next day the OU coaches liked what they saw and were making him an offer.
“I get the call, and I’m like ‘Dang, is this really happening?’ “ Walker said. “I was so close to committing. This is what I want to do.
“Before I commit, I want to see what it’s like up there. I’ve never been to OU. It’s great school and all, but if I’m not comfortable there, I’m not going there.”
Walker said there are a lot of academic questions that can be answered during his visit, but that Shipp made a solid first impression on his mother last week.
Right now, though, there's only one thing on Walker’s mind. He is having shoulder surgery Thursday. What excited Walker more than anything was knowing OU was making the offer even before the surgery.
Walker has a tear in his labrum and played all season with it. He said doctors have told him he’ll be out two months, but then he’ll be good to go.
He has been banged up at South Garland with concussions, a broken leg and the shoulder problem. It’s one of the biggest reasons he cannot wait to get to college.
“I’m going to get my body right. I’m going to have somebody who really cares about what I’m doing and will help teach me what I need to do,” Walker said. “I can’t wait.”
DT gets cleared up in a hurry
Remember all that panic about OU having no defensive tackle commits? That was only a week ago. Since then, the Sooners have nabbed two big-time targets.
It started last week when three-star prospect Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline) flipped from Texas A&M to OU. And the good times kept rolling Wednesday when three-star juco prospect Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley CC) chose the Sooners over Nebraska.
You can let out that sigh of relief now. OU is definitely targeting at least one more commit but don’t look for that come in the form of ESPN 150 tackle Maquedius Bain (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School).
Bain had an incredible official visit to LSU last weekend, and for a while, it was reported he had committed to the Tigers.
Bain cleared that up, saying he is going to commit at the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 4, but OU has an uphill climb against LSU. Miami (Fla.) is also in the mix but sure feels like a two-horse race between the Tigers and Sooners.
Junior college tackle Toby Johnson (Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson CC) remains in play, but the No. 4-ranked juco prospect feels like a strong Georgia lean.
The most realistic shot is going to come with Garland (Texas) South Garland tackle Charles Walker. The pieces have fallen into place for Walker and OU and don’t be shocked if he is OU’s next commitment following his Jan. 11 visit.
Huggins is an interesting case. A lot of rumors have floated out there about him being an academic risk, but Huggins has said that’s not the case.
Only time will tell on that matter but what is clear is OU never stopped recruiting Huggins after the initial offer in September. As the Aggies kept building more and more recruiting momentum and defensive tackles, Huggins became closer and closer to OU.
Huggins confirmed via Facebook message he is very excited about the possibility of playing early with OU and that OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp has been recruiting him longer than anybody.
Huggins has not made his official visit to OU yet. Don’t be surprised if he is another Jan. 11 visitor as it looks like OU is targeting that date as a big post-bowl visit weekend.
OU gets offensive tackle help
The Sooners addressed their defensive tackle needs in the last week. And in the span of 15 minutes OU did major work in the offensive tackle department.
Four-star junior college offensive tackle Josiah St. John (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley) and three-star tackle Christian Daimler (Houston/Stratford) committed to the Sooners in like a 15 minute span.
Courtesy of Trinity Valley C.C.
Josiah St. John is the No. 1 juco offensive tackle in the country.
St. John wasn’t supposed to announce anything Wednesday, but he felt he was ready.
“I felt like I didn’t want to wait anymore,” St. John said. “To be honest, I just wanted to get this process over with.”
St. John said he talked with his family and prayed about it and Wednesday morning and knew OU was the choice.
The No. 2 choice? Kansas, and it was close.
“KU was a very close No. 2,” St. John said. “I weighed the pros and cons of each choices and decided OU was the right spot for me.”
One thing that didn’t factor in was the decision of his teammate three-star defensive tackle Quincy Russell. He signed with OU earlier in the day Wednesday.
But St. John didn’t have a clue. Not one clue.
“I had a couple ask that, and I had no idea he had even signed with OU until like late this afternoon [Wednesday] when somebody told me on Twitter,” St. John said. “They were asking if I was joining my teammate. I had no idea who that teammate was. I’m excited to continue to play with him.”
St. John is ranked the No. 1 offensive tackle in the nation and No. 6 overall in the ESPN JC 100. He has three years to play two seasons. He wishes he could start now.
“I’m so excited. I just want to get this going now,” St. John said. “We’re going to win some games. We’re going to win some championships. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Daimler was a surprise as well, flipping his commitment from Arizona State to OU on Wednesday.
Give a lot of credit to OU offensive line coach James Patton for putting the work in with Daimler for almost two years.
OU coach Bob Stoops is trying to catch up on lost time.
“I was actually on the phone with Coach Stoops before I called you,” Daimler said. “He said he couldn’t be more excited. He wants me to call him every single week to start developing that relationship now. I love his attitude.”
Daimler said he is taking his official visit to OU on Jan. 11.
OU hoping to land Cali tackles
When you think about the Sooners going into California, it has generally been for the skilled players. The Cali Trio is a running back (Brennan Clay), wide receiver (Kenny Stills) and a safety (Tony Jefferson).
OU has one Cali product for 2013 in ESPN 300 safety Hatari Byrd (Fresno, Calif./Central East). But if the Sooners are going to win over any other Cali kids, it will be linemen.
Two of them stand out in four-star offensive tackle Aaron Cochran (Atwater, Calif./Buhach) and three-star offensive tackle Sean Dowling.
Dowling was one of the first offensive linemen commits for UCLA back in April. But the Bruins have attacked the offensive line hard and had eight commits heading into late last week.
Dowling became a victim of the numbers game as he was told UCLA was no longer accepting his commitment.
Bad news for Dowling could mean great news for OU. Dowling hasn’t spoken about the latest but texted several encouraging updates.
He said he is going to name a decision soon and that OU is one of the top schools in the running. Dowling made an official visit to OU back in October.
His father is in the military in the Middle East, and Dowling said he would never make any decision without his father’s blessing and opinion.
Perhaps with the holidays here, Dowling will get a chance to speak with his father and then be ready to make a decision. It will be soon no matter what because Dowling does plan to enroll early.
Vanderbilt is a dark horse candidate, while Oregon recently offered.
Cochran also made an official visit to OU in November. Cochran has also sort of stopped talking as much but did confirm via text message his top four schools are OU, California, Nebraska and Arizona. He did stress that’s not in any order.
He has made an official visit to Nebraska and gave that a glowing review, too. Cal is a natural fit because his older brother, Matt, is a freshman for the Bears.
OU coach Bruce Kittle made in-home visits with both Cochran and Dowling during the last couple of weeks. The Sooners aren’t locks by any means for either one of them, but OU has put itself in solid position moving forward.
Alexander can’t wait to be part of OU tradition
With each trip, Dominique Alexander gets a little more excited about being a Sooner. His official visit might have put him over the top, though.
“Putting on that jersey, man, that made it feel real,” Alexander said. “It let me know. The time is almost here. I can’t wait.”
Dominique Alexander did his best to woo receiver Laquon Treadwell to Oklahoma.
Like every official visit, Alexander got to see all of OU’s championship. Seeing all the rings just made him want to add to that tradition.
“It’s going to be great to be a part of that,” Alexander said. “Coach Stoops laid out the gear the rings, and I was like I want some of those. Then Coach Stoops showed us some of his rings, oh boy, I want some of those.”
Anybody who has spent time with Alexander knows he has an infectious personality. Stoops realized it with Alexander and his interaction with D.J. Ward.
Another quiet commit is ESPN 150 running back Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Ranch). Until he gets with Alexander.
“I’m serious, Keith could be my roommate,” Alexander said. “He’s real cool. We were at the Notre Dame game together and hit it off there. Things have only gotten better since.”
For all the fun and games Alexander had this weekend, he got serious when it was time to get serious. Watching OU practice on Saturday was another instance of where it all made sense to him.
“I was a lot more focused. This is where I’m going. When we toured the school, I was actually listening instead of talking with other kids. I was focused in practice. This is my future home, and I can’t wait.”
Ford durability not a question
Cypress (Texas) Ranch looked like it was headed to the playoffs in 2011 until a foot injury derailed Keith Ford and the team could never recover.
In 2012, that wasn’t a problem.
“That was huge,” Cypress Ranch coach Gene Johnson said. “I know how frustrating his junior year was with the injury and not making playoffs. We were always holding our breath when he got tackled early in the season. He didn’t have any injuries in the season.”
Johnson tried to not use Ford too much in the beginning of the season. But when it hit the playoffs, all bets were off. Ford didn’t disappoint.
“We pulled the kid gloves off him and let him do his thing,” Johnson said. “He’s such a special talent. The best kid, best player I’ve ever coached.”
Barnett part of OU family
When Oklahoma signee Jed Barnett talks about OU coach Bob Stoops, he doesn’t mention tradition or championships.
Courtesy of Chris Sailer
Punter Jed Barnett has a good chance to start from Day One at OU.
Following an in-home visit by Bobby Jack Wright two weeks ago, Barnett had no doubts at all OU was the right place for him. And after a call with Bob Stoops last week, he knew 100 percent Norman is his future home.
“He genuinely cares for you,” Barnett said. “He didn’t talk to me any differently when I was a commit on the phone than he did when I was a visitor still committed to Louisiana Tech.
“He cares about his people. The people that are in his OU family the people he wants to be a part of his OU family. I really admire that.”
The in-home visit by Wright to Barnett’s parents in Washington helped matters, too. Barnett’s parents didn’t make the trip to OU for Bedlam and have never seen the campus.
But that’s to be expected, Barnett said.
“Juco recruiting is a lot different than high school,” Barnett said. “You’re more mature in the process. You know how everything is going to go and what to expect. You want your parents to be happy with your decision, but in the end, it is your decision.”
Don’t count Watch List offensive lineman Ty Barrett among them. A junior at Dallas Skyline, Barrett said he sort of saw the switch coming.
“A&M has been getting everybody,” Barrett said. “But Kerrick has kept talking about how much he likes OU and how OU has never stopped recruiting him.
“And then when Coach [Bob] Stoops was here last week I knew it was really serious. Kerrick has always been like one of my big brothers. I’m happy for him.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean Barrett is going to join Huggins in Norman, but Barrett still has OU as one of his early favorites.
Schools, though, are not going to stop pursuing Barrett. He made an unofficial visit to OU during the season and said he plans on visiting Oklahoma State in the next month.
And in terms of schools coming in to see him, OU and Texas are showing the most interest, but there’s another one that is standing out.
“Coach [Brady] Hoke from Michigan is supposed to be here soon,” Barrett said. “That kinds of shocks me to know I’m wanted by Michigan. That tells me something.”
It doesn’t tell Dallas Skyline coaches or teammates anything. They have been consistent in telling Barrett the next 12 months are going to be a crazy time in his life.
Following a stellar junior season, don’t look for that to die down anytime soon.
“What I learned about myself this season is I have a lot of fight in me,” Barrett said. “I played against some of the best defensive ends every week, and I learned how to battle.
“I got a lot of experience in big game, and I learned how to play in big games. I cannot wait for next season.”
Key comfortable with Heupel
There is no question it wasn’t a dream junior season for quarterback Coleman Key (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow). In his first year as a varsity starter, he suffered a lot of ups and downs.
Class of 2014 QB Coleman Key didn't have the junior season he had hoped for.
But he believes he’ll be better for it down the road.
“I’m not sure we all bought into the team concept this year,” Key said. “I don’t know if we all bought into what the coaches were doing. We need to have great senior leadership, and we will next year.”
Key was 129-of-234 for 1,510 yards with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. Not bad numbers, but the weight of expectation might have been too much.
Coming off a summer where he dazzled at all camps, he was expected to be the difference maker in helping Broken Arrow win the state championship.
It didn’t quite happen, but he did make several trips to OU and talked more with OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel. And nothing stood out more than Bedlam.
“Until the final play, nobody was leaving,” Key said. “And then when OU won, it was crazy. I’ve never been a part of something like that. Something so intense, and he ran right toward where we were sitting, making it that much louder.”
Key had also gotten real familiar with former OSU quarterbacks coach Todd Monken. With Monken out, he’ll have to start all over. But for now, Key is going to relax.
“I’ve been on the go this entire year,” Key said. “I’m going to take some time off, not make any visits. And then when the new year comes around, I’ll be ready to hit up camps and visit campuses again.”