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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Shipp's departure stuns OU recruits

By Bob Przybylo

Another day, another Oklahoma assistant coach shown the door. This one, though, has sent shock waves through OU recruiting circles.

Longtime OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp will not return to the program for the 2013 season.

Charles Walker
Defensive tackle signee Charles Walker said his 'heart remains at OU.'
Shipp played a role in landing six recruits for the 2013 cycle and was the main recruiter for ESPN Junior College 100 four-star tackle target Toby Johnson (Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson CC).

Johnson is expected to choose Tuesday between OU, Georgia, Auburn and Mississippi State and sign his letter of intent. Upon hearing the news, Johnson might not have OU in consideration anymore.

“#OU fired Coach Shipp I loved that guy he was like a father figure to me #BoomerSooner that’s the worst thing yall could’ve done rite now,” Johnson said via Twitter, “now people wonder why I haven’t committed anywhere yet smh because all 4 schools I like has had a coaching change in the last 3 months.”

Shipp was instrumental in OU signing four defensive tackles in 2013, including three-star prospects Charles Walker (Garland, Texas/South Garland) and Matthew Romar (Port Arthur, Texas/Memorial).

“This is mind-blowing,” Walker said. “I had made a strong connection with him, like I thought he was going to be there for all four years.”

On Monday, interior offensive line coach James Patton was let go. There was a clue on national signing day that something was amiss when three-star offensive tackle Christian Daimler (Houston/Stratford), a longtime Patton recruit, didn’t hear from the coach.

The same was true with Walker and Shipp. Shipp had recruited Walker the entire time, but he said he only spoke to OU coach Bob Stoops on signing day.

“I was thinking about that and thought that was kind of weird,” Walker said.

Walker said he hasn’t talked to Shipp in about two weeks. While he has already signed with Oklahoma, he wouldn’t change anything now even if he could.

“No, my heart is at OU,” Walker said. “I’m trying to figure it all out. It’s going to be weird, at first.”

Romar was another late addition to the squad, committing in late January. Originally recruited by OU assistant coach Tim Kish, Shipp was sent to Port Arthur to seal the deal.

Following an official visit and an in-home visit by Bob Stoops, the deal was sealed. The news came as a huge shock to Port Arthur Memorial coach Kenny Harrison.

“I had heard it, but I was hoping it wasn’t true,” Harrison said. “Wow. Coach Shipp was one of the main reasons why Matthew picked OU.”

To go with defensive tackles, Shipp recruited the Tulsa area and played a significant role in getting the signatures of ESPN 300 athlete Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central) and three-star linebacker Dominique Alexander (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington).

Add Taylor and Alexander to the list of those who didn’t see the move coming.

“What!!!” Taylor texted. “I did not know that.”

Following their commitments, though, other coaches had ramped up talking to Taylor and Alexander. Taylor began talking with OU defensive backs coach Mike Stoops more often, while Alexander was transitioned from Shipp to Kish.

The problem wasn’t with Shipp finding recruits, but an issue that emerged for the 2013 crop was just how close OU was to getting their top targets at defensive tackle.

The Sooners were finalists for three ESPN 150 tackles in Dallas Kimball’s Justin Manning, Hope Mills (N.C.) South View’s Greg Gilmore and Maquedius Bain (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School). OU didn’t land any of them.

Manning went to Texas A&M. Gilmore and Bain both signed with LSU. The Manning loss, in particular, stung for OU fans.

Manning’s older brother DeMarcus Granger played defensive tackle for OU, and it was thought there was no way OU wouldn’t land Manning.

Shipp recovered in getting three-star prospect Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline) and ESPN JC 100 prospect Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley CC), but Stoops and the program feel it’s time to head in another direction.