Thursday, January 24, 2013
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:
OU tailback commit has been approached by a Big 12 rival. But he's not going anywhere.
A new school enters the mix for a four-star cornerback.
Breaking down OU's dilemma at offensive tackle.
One OU commit took a visit to Arkansas last weekend. Is he still solid with the Sooners?
Sooners defensive end commit says "thanks but no thanks" to an SEC school.
Who will OU offer at quarterback for 2014?
Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.
Ford not going anywhere
Texas continues to make runs at OU commits, and the Sooners pledges continue to turn down the Longhorns.
OU's top commit Keith Ford isn't going anywhere.
Wide receiver was the center of attention last week with Texas offering ESPN 300 prospect Dannon Cavil (San Antonio/Madison) and three-star commit Austin Bennett (Manvel, Texas/Manvel).
But Texas also tried to lure away OU’s first commit and top-ranked commit running back Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Ranch). Ford, like Bennett and Cavil, didn’t budge.
“They called me last week, and I told them my mind was made up, and there was nothing they could do to make things different,” Ford said. “I actually thought it was kind of disrespectful to come at me like that this close to signing day and thinking I was going to change.”
Ford is going to high school in Texas, but he’s not a native Texan and his dream has never ever been to be a Longhorn. Originally from Florida, the Under Armour game gave him a chance to go home.
He took full advantage of the opportunity and said he learned a lot about himself during the week in Orlando.
“I learned I’m not the only one with the media spotlight on them the entire time,” Ford said. “I felt I competed real well and represented OU to the best of my abilities.”
In the summer, Ford’s father said the Texas program rubbed the family the wrong way. That feeling has obviously never disappeared.
“I would never flip from OU to Texas. No way,” Ford said. “I’m excited to play under Coach [Cale] Gundy and see how I develop as a player.
“I’ve developed a great relationship with Gundy and all the OU coaches and I know that is home for me. And that’s another thing about the Texas offer. It just sort of came out of nowhere. I haven’t talked to them in months, and it’s like they just expected me to switch because they made the offer. I don’t know why they tried.”
Ford said his in-home visit with Gundy went great, and he cannot wait to sign in two weeks.
Race for Moore heats up
If OU is going to land four-star cornerback L.J. Moore (Fresno, Calif./Central East), it’s going to be one heck of a battle here down the stretch.
Moore visited Arizona State last weekend and Fresno Central East defensive backs coach Tony Perry said the Sun Devils remain in the hunt with Oregon State and OU.
And add another school to the mix. Perry said Moore isn’t going to take an official visit this weekend, but he is going to take an unofficial visit to Cal. And from there, all bets are off.
“I’m proud of how he has handled things during this process,” Perry said. “He is getting pulled in every which way, and he handled himself with maturity and treated each school with a lot of respect.”
With the feeling Clemson is becoming more and more the leader for ESPN 300 athlete Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna), getting Moore becomes even more crucial for OU’s 2013 class and for defensive backs coach Mike Stoops.
Of course OU still has ESPN 300 safety Hatari Byrd to try to win over his teammate.
“It’s his decision, but I keep telling him about how great things are there and how great it would be to play with each other at the next level,” Byrd said. “I don’t know where he stands. He has a lot to think about.”
Moore has made official visits to OU and Oregon State. A decision could come at any time, Perry said. As early as next week or could be on national signing day.
Offensive tackle dilemma
Four-star offensive tackle Josh Outlaw will be in Norman this weekend.
With OU not having any visitors on campus last weekend, it was a wait-and-see approach. It didn’t turn out well for the Sooners, especially at offensive tackle.
Several targets on the board at this time last week are nowhere to be found this week, highlighted by four-star tackle Aaron Cochran (Atwater, Calif./Buhach). Cochran, ranked No. 20 at tackle, committed to Cal on Monday, a day after his official visit to the campus.
Cochran is a major loss for OU’s class, but Cochran said there wasn’t anything else the Sooners could do and said the relationship he built with OU offensive tackles coach Bruce Kittle was the best out of any of the coaches.
“He did a great job, but OU cannot provide the education a university like Cal can,” Cochran said. “If it was based on relationships, it would be OU. But there are a lot of factors, and I couldn’t ignore just how great of a school Cal is and how great it can be for me.”
Juco tackle Matt Finnin (Crete, Ill./College of Dupage) committed to Nebraska on his visit to Lincoln last weekend. Finnin had OU in his top three entering the weekend but said he felt at home at Nebraska and feels it gives him the best chance at a championship.
The hits kept coming Wednesday when three-star lineman Rami Hammad (Irving, Texas/Irving) committed to Texas. Originally supposed to visit OU last weekend, he switched the visit to Texas and that pretty much sealed the deal.
OU was hopeful to get three-star lineman Dwayne Johnson (Houston/Bellaire) to campus this weekend, but Nebraska has taken a huge lead in this race and Johnson informed Sam Khan on Wednesday night the Sooners are out. It’s down to Nebraska and Arkansas and OU will not get that visit.
So what now? Great question. The only confirmed lineman making his way to Norman is four-star prospect Josh Outlaw (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King).
At this point, Outlaw might be the last hope for the Sooners. OU has been hoping for 3-4 commits at offensive line. But if Outlaw bypasses OU, the Sooners might have no other choice but to be content with two.
Outlaw, a one-time Florida commit, confirmed Tuesday night he is still good to go for his trip to OU and has quickly become the No. 1 target for the Sooners this weekend.
OU went back to Georgia for an offer Wednesday with unheralded George Adeosun (Alpharetta, Ga./Alpharetta).
It has been a busy time for Adeosun, picking up offers from Virginia, Purdue and Kentucky recently. He is considering an official to OU this weekend but is still undecided. Everything is moving so fast for him that he has to take a deep breath and figure it all out.
Alexander just looking around?
What an interesting week it has been regarding three-star athlete commit Dominique Alexander (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington).
Coming off a great in-home visit last week with OU coach Bob Stoops, it looked like things were solid with OU and Alexander.
But Alexander visited Arkansas last weekend, and according to Tulsa Washington coach Marvin Dantzler, Alexander will most likely be at Kansas State this weekend.
“He never really got to experience the recruiting process,” Dantzler said. “He was committed to Arkansas and never really visited. Then he went with OU but still never really got to see what else is out there.”
Dantzler said Alexander had a great visit to Arkansas, but Alexander is sticking with the Sooners at this point in time.
Alexander has been one of the most vocal OU supporters since committing Nov. 5, but he has gone quiet since Friday and hasn’t tweeted since last weekend.
Nothing is a sure thing as OU fans learned last year with the surprising decommitment of four-star cornerback De'Vante Harris, who is now with Texas A&M. No recruit was more vocal about OU than Harris until he switched the week after the Under Armour game.
Dantzler said it’s not panic time yet for the Sooners.
“He wants to play with the best, and he’ll obviously get that chance at OU,” Dantzler said. “He’s not going to make a rash decision. I told him don’t do anything off emotion. Go home, discuss it with your family and then make a decision.”
Alexander hasn’t just gone quiet to reporters but longtime friend and potential future roommate Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central) said he cannot get in touch with Alexander.
Arkansas getting former K-State assistant coach Michael Smith to Fayetteville was a big boost for the Razorbacks and their hope of getting Alexander back in the fold.
Despite being an Oklahoma kid, Alexander let it be known early and often his dream school has been Arkansas. Add in all the Tulsa-area products with the Hogs, and it’s not as easy or clear-cut as one might think.
Taylor with new interest but staying put
Four-star athlete Stanvon Taylor is being recruited as a cornerback by the Sooners.
Alexander might have some things to think about, but ESPN 300 athlete Stanvon Taylor is good to go and ready to be a Sooner.
Taylor, ranked No. 202 in the ESPN 300, said Auburn reached out to him in the last week, but he told the Tigers he is not interested.
“It was real shocking,” Taylor said. “I hadn’t heard from them in a long time. They called me up and were just wanting to know about things. I told them I’m good and solid with OU.”
Taylor said right now he is playing basketball to keep in good shape and everything is fine with him and Mike Stoops. Taylor is currently the only cornerback commit for the Sooners.
Dimon not looking elsewhere
If there was one recruit who might have deserved the right to look elsewhere, it is ESPN 300 defensive end Matt Dimon (Katy, Texas/Katy).
Dimon had such a phenomenal senior season in helping the Tigers to a state championship that he could have put himself on the market again, and it would have been a mad rush.
But Dimon hasn’t and never even considered it. Committed to OU since March, nothing is going to change in these final weeks.
“I had my in-home visit last week. It’s not like they had to recruit me so it was very casual and fun,” Dimon said. “We actually watched the Texans-Patriots playoff game more than anything. And I talk with Coach Bobby Jack Wright every day.”
Rumors swirled about Dimon and Texas, but Dimon said the Longhorns never made a call his way even though it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
Dimon said Arkansas has tried to be in touch with him but he has said “thanks but no thanks” to the Razorbacks. He has also developed a solid relationship with Austin Bennett and Keith Ford.
“I wouldn’t say I talk to a lot of commits, but I’ve gotten to know Austin and Keith really well,” Dimon said. “It doesn’t surprise me to hear their reactions to the Texas offers.”
Farmer’s future on defense
Class of 2014 prospect Michael Farmer (Edmond, Okla./North) has wanted his future to be at running back. But his latest injury might be the final straw in him realizing linebacker is where he should be playing.
Farmer, an Arizona State commit, tore his ACL in the state quarterfinals against Jenks and said he won’t be healthy again until May.
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“I was planting into the ground when I got hit in the thigh, and it caved in,” Farmer said. “I tried to walk and couldn’t. I knew it was something bad.”
Farmer said the Sun Devils are still No. 1, but he is keeping all his options open. He got to know OU coaches Josh Heupel and Cale Gundy a lot this season on unofficial visits. But as of this time, he has not been invited to junior day.
Oklahoma State, though, has entered the picture. Farmer said the Cowboys have been talking to him a lot more in the last month and have invited him to this weekend’s junior day.
Before the torn ACL, Farmer also broke his foot in the past. He said he has accepted the fact he might have to move to defense.
“It won’t take nearly as big a toll on my legs,” Farmer said. “I really like to hit people, too, so I think everything will be OK.”
Thomas and Sooners getting comfortable
There is no doubt OU has some work to do to lure Watch List defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) to Norman, but defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright is certainly trying.
Wright visited Thomas last week, and the Sooners are hopeful Thomas can attend of their two junior days in the next month.
Thomas is hopeful, too.
“I’m going to have to check my schedule, but I would definitely like to be at one of them,” Thomas said. “I visited Norman this season and had a great time. It was great to be there for a game and experience everything. It’s a great college town.”
Texas has looked like the clear favorite, followed by UCLA and Stanford. But several schools -- like Notre Dame and Alabama -- are still coming after Thomas.
“I hope to put out a top 10 here soon,” Thomas said. “OU, Texas, Baylor and Texas A&M are the easiest schools to get to, but I would love to see Bama and Notre Dame. There is still a lot to try to figure out right now.”
Sawyer hopeful of offer
Class of 2014 quarterback Foster Sawyer will be in Norman for OU's junior day.
The state of Oklahoma has a quality crop of quarterbacks for the Class of 2014 but that doesn’t mean Josh Heupel is limiting his search.
Sawyer has camped at OU in the past and said he has started talking to Heupel and Cale Gundy on a weekly basis here lately.
“I would love an offer,” Sawyer said. “I want to get a glimpse of the whole atmosphere at OU. I want to see their academic program and see if I could see myself living there every day. Football is nice, but you’re going to be there for four years. It’s more than that.”
Sawyer has strong family ties to Texas Tech, but it might be Alabama who is the biggest competition at this point.
“They came down to a practice last spring and said I’m exactly the type of quarterback they’re looking for,” Sawyer said.
In-state quarterbacks Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) and Coleman Key (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow) are both expected to be at OU’s junior day.
The state’s other top signal-caller, Norman (Okla.) North’s David Cornwell, has not received an invite but did pick up an offer from Virginia Tech earlier this week.