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Friday, February 8, 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:

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.

Austin: 'Mike Stoops saved the day'

Following Oklahoma’s summer camp, your SoonerNation staffers could not say enough good things about cornerback Dakota Austin (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster).

Was he small? Yes. But was he dynamic? You bet. The feeling among many who watched Austin go toe-to-toe with Watch List wide receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) was that Austin was going to explode during his senior season.

It never happened. Not even close. Heading into the final month before signing day, Austin was looking at Nevada and UTEP. For somebody who personally rated his senior season a nine out of 10, Nevada wasn’t supposed to be his destination.

Two weeks before signing day is when it all picked up. Arkansas assistant coach Chris Ash inquired about Austin and Austin said Ash was thinking of invited the senior defender on an official visit.


Bob Przybylo/ESPN.com
Cornerback Dakota Austin committed on the spot last weekend after being offered by the Sooners.


The next day, OU defensive backs coach Mike Stoops made a visit that has changed Austin’s life.

“He was talking about making me an offer,” Austin said. “He called me a few days later and then popped back up at the school the next week.

"Mike Stoops saved the day.”

It was one more example of OU coaches living up to their word. Following his stellar camp, OU assistant coach Josh Heupel told the Austin family that before he commits anywhere to check in with the Sooners.

Austin never committed. He never thought about committing. He took his chances. He believed in his skills that something good was going to happen.

When Austin last weighed in for an ESPN-verified weight, he was 149 pounds. He said earlier this week he is up to 167 pounds.

Austin is convinced his size, or lack thereof, is the reasons schools shied away from him. He’s not bitter, but he has a message for all of them.

“Watch the film,” Austin said. “That’s all I have to say. Just watch the film. I let my play do the talking.”

Austin came up for his official visit to OU last weekend with tunnel vision. If the Sooners offered, he was committing on the spot.

Hosted by defensive back Zack Sanchez, Austin had a good time Friday night and was offered by Bob Stoops on Saturday morning. Stoops was still talking when Austin was already trying to shake his hand and let him know he was committing to OU.

“I felt immortal in that moment,” Austin said. “It’s a true blessing.”

Austin said to look at the film, and he has the support of other players who were at OU’s camp. OU signee Dominique Alexander (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington) and Watch List safety Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) both had very nice things to say about Austin. Both camped with him at OU.

Another Cali trio?

There were hopes of a Fresno (Calif.) trio in the spring with four-star Fresno Central East defensive backs L.J. Moore, Hatari Byrd and Johnny Johnson Jr.

Two out of three ain’t bad, right? The Sooners locked up Byrd in July. His persistence with Moore combined with Mike Stoops brought Moore, who was the last signee to become official on Wednesday night, around as well.

“It helps to play with Hatari,” Moore said. “I mean it wasn’t the only factor, but it doesn’t hurt because we’re so familiar and so comfortable with each other.”

Byrd has known for a long time that he didn’t want to play his college ball in California. But that moment of clarity never happened for Moore.

Compared to OU, Arizona State and Oregon State are much closer to Fresno than Norman, Okla. Moore, though, is putting his trust in himself.

“College is about maturity. It’s time to grow up,” Moore said. “I believe I’m mature and this is where I want to be.”

Moore took an official visit to OU on Jan. 11, the same weekend as three-star wide receiver K.J. Young (Perris, Calif./Citrus Hill).

Young committed to OU that weekend and spent a lot of time with Moore during the trip. It’s not Brennan Clay, Kenny Stills and Tony Jefferson, but could Byrd, Young and Moore be a new Cali trio?

“OU is a great place for West Coast kids,” Byrd said. “There is a big opportunity to do great things if you work hard and have trust in the coaches.”

ESPN JC 100 DT still in play

Before we officially turn the page to the Class of 2014, there could be one more member of OU’s class. ESPN JC 100 defensive tackle Toby Johnson (Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson CC) is expected to make his announcement next week.


Hutchinson CC Sports Information
ESPN JC 100 defensive tackle Toby Johnson will announce next week.


For a long time it looked like Georgia was the favorite to land the No. 4-ranked prospect. But the Bulldogs elected last weekend to stop pursuing Johnson.

OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp has developed a great rapport with Johnson, but Auburn is going to be tough to beat. Johnson visited Auburn last weekend and Tigers already have former Hutchinson defensive tackle Ben Bradley on campus.

There are a lot of questions regarding Johnson. His health is one as he suffered a knee injury toward the latter part of last season. His grades are another as it’s unknown if his credits will transfer to SEC schools, another reason Georgia moved on.

Johnson is worth the risk/reward scenario for OU, though. If he is healthy and can make the grades, he would make an immediate impact at tackle to go with fellow ESPN JC 100 tackle Quincy Russell.

Johnson would be the fifth defensive tackle in OU's class. Three-star tackle Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline) did double sign on Wednesday, however. Huggins signed with OU, but if he is unable to qualify, he has signed with Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas. Trinity Valley is the former home of OU signees Russell and ESPN JC 100 offensive tackle Josiah St. John.

OU’s consistency wins over McQuinnie

Hours after Austin committed to OU, Class of 2014 safety Vontre McQuinnie (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) followed suit.

McQuinnie’s first offer was from the Sooners less than two weeks ago. He had no intention to commit during junior day, but the consistency of the program was too much for him to pass up.

“I was looking for a consistent winning program,” McQuinnie said. “I don’t just want to be good for one year or anything like that. I want to go somewhere where I can win 2-3 rings. We can do that at OU.”

McQuinnie also looked at Demontre Hurst as a reason to pick the Sooners. Hurst, also from Lancaster High, has given rave reviews about his time at OU. McQuinnie said if Hurst can vouch for the program, that’s a great sign to him.

One player who was pumped about McQuinnie’s commitment was Austin, who has watched McQuinnie grow and mature as a player.

“He’s a really smart player,” Austin said. “He was just a junior, but he was real vocal and got everybody lined up. He’s somebody who is not afraid to be a leader.”

Parker exploring possibilities

It once looked like Watch List safety Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) was all but guaranteed to commit to OU.

He still might be a Sooner, but he is starting to understand the recruiting process more and wants to see what else is out there.


Bob Przybylo/ESPN.com
Steven Parker is the Sooners' top defensive back target.


Parker was back at OU last weekend for junior day. Though he never thought about committing, he had a good time.

“I’ve already visited the campus like a thousand times,” Parkers said. “What was good about this visit was to see some of the academic stuff. It was good to see what’s there for tutoring and stuff like that. It was cool to revisit OU once again.”

Parker started the day with the defensive recruits but then called away by Mike Stoops and ended up talking to Mike and Bob Stoops for a considerable amount of time.

Parker stressed an important factor to him is playing early. That is never promised at OU, but he has the potential of somebody who could eventually end up seeing time as a true freshman.

With the depth of the 2014 class at safety and watching McQuinnie commit, is it possible Parker feels like he needs to end the process early? Not at all.

“If that school is really interested in me, I hope they would let me still have that opportunity to look around before I committed,” Parker said. “Right now I’m thinking before the season or maybe during the season. I don’t know yet.”

Parker has one more junior day scheduled with a trip to Oklahoma State in two weeks. The Cowboys have made it clear how much they want Parker and Parker admits he really likes OSU.

“They’re way up there, too,” Parker said. “I’m going to go see OSU again. I would love to see Alabama, Notre Dame and Florida State. I got my first piece of mail from Florida State last week.”

Henderson gets familiar with OU

Class of 2014 defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) looked around during OU’s junior day. Nope, there wasn't another defensive tackle in the bunch.

Henderson was offered by OU two weeks ago and has become the Sooners’ top target at the position among uncommitted prospects.

Unfortunately for OU, it won’t be easy. He has added offers from Baylor and TCU and will be at Texas’ junior day on Sunday.

Henderson wanted to soak in the experience last weekend. Academics were one of his top priorities on the trip, he told SoonerNation's Brandon Chatmon.

“They take pride in their academics,” Henderson said. “I really like that and my parents and aunt and uncle do, too. They have a learning center. They have tutors, and they’re always there. I liked a lot about it.”

Not enough to commit, but Henderson’s plan was to never commit to OU last weekend. After getting his first taste of the campus, he wouldn’t mind coming back at least one more time.

“I’m going to go back up there a couple more times,” Henderson said. “I really want to go to a game, but I don’t know. We’ll have to see how everything pans out.”

Henderson wasn’t bashful on the trip, either. He came in knowing he needed answers about a lot of things. His mission was accomplished.

“I found out everything I needed,” Henderson said. “I asked a lot of questions.”

Adams still high on Sooners

Going into junior day, there was no doubt safety Kendall Adams (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal) had OU as his No. 1 school.

He wasn’t shy about letting people know about it, too. Adams didn’t receive an offer from OU but told Brandon Chatmon he will be back.

“Most likely I will try to come up for spring practice or the spring game or a summer camp,” Adams said.

Classified as a safety, the Sooners have another idea of where Adams should be. OU sees him with the potential of being a very productive wide receiver.

Does a change in position change his opinion of OU?

“They’ll still be No. 1,” Adams said.

Key evaluating options

One quarterback went into junior day knowing an offer wasn’t going to come his way. Coleman Key (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow) was told by his coaches earlier in the week Josh Heupel wanted Key to attend but no offer was on the table.

Key had accepted that but things changed when Watch List quarterback Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) was given the offer.

“I’m disappointed with the result,” Key said. “I’m happy for Justice and respect him and know he’s a good player. I’m not going to pout. I’m motivated by all of this.”

Key said Heupel told him he’s not out of mix by any means. In fact, Heupel said OU was going to recruit Key even harder now. Heupel doesn’t know where OU will stand in a week or in a month at the quarterback spot.

But if Key wants to look around, he’s not going to have a problem finding suitors. He has been invited to a bunch of junior days. Because of his prowess in baseball, he’s not sure which ones he can attend or which ones he will attend.

He went to OSU’s junior day two weeks ago. He feels he could be on the verge of an offer, but at the time there was no offensive coordinator for the Cowboys.

“When I was there, Coach [Mike] Gundy said he would hire an offensive coordinator soon who runs his style of offense,” Key said. “It wasn’t going to be somebody else’s offense that changes things. That’s definitely what I like to hear with the way they sling it.”

Key has been invited to Missouri, Kansas, LSU and Texas Tech junior days so far. With a few months reflection on what was a rocky junior season at times, Key knows now what he needs to do.

“I definitely felt like I progressed as the season went along,” Key said. “I had a lot more confidence. I need to be a better leader and be more confident in what I see. I need to take practice more seriously. As a team, we need to be better.”

Deane enjoys first taste of OU

OU got the goose egg at tight end for 2013. The Sooners are hoping that doesn’t happen again. A few top targets have already been singled out and a couple of in-state ones, too.

Junior day was the first time MikeQuan Deane (Tulsa, Okla./Memorial) had a chance to see the OU campus. And he already wants to go back to Norman.

“I liked the facilities and the workout rooms,” Deane said. “It’s a great place to be. I took so many pictures of everything.”

Deane said he didn’t get to spend too much time with Bob Stoops because of Stoops’ toe surgery, but he liked his first impression.

Deane was invited to Tulsa’s junior day, too, but picked up the Sooners instead. Tight ends coach Bruce Kittle asked Deane to come back in the spring and to be at OU’s camp in the summer.

“I really like the school and the coaches,” Deane said. “The locker room was great. I can’t wait to go back.”

Deane was one of three in-state tight ends at the event with Trenton Ball (Midwest City, Okla./Carl Albert) and Carson Meier (Tulsa, Okla./Union) also both in attendance.