Friday, March 15, 2013
Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes
By Bob Przybylo
Every Friday, 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:
A top California target is focused on academics this spring.
OU's quarterback offer is visiting a rival next week.
OU made an impression on a big Texas defensive end.
A recent defensive tackle visitor is in no rush to decide.
The door is open for an in-state athlete to look at the Sooners.
One Texas running back hopes to visit the Sooners this spring.
Are the Sooners firmly in the mix for an in-state linebacker?
An in-state point guard is hearing a lot from the Sooners.
Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.
OU near top of Quick’s options
Last year Fresno (Calif.) Central East defensive backs coach Tony Perry raised some eyebrows when he said Class of 2014 athlete Michiah Quick has the ability to be better than any other player he has coached.
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
Watch List athlete Michiah Quick is focused on academics this spring.
At the time Perry was coaching three four-star defensive backs. But as we get closer and closer to the unveiling of the first ESPN 150 and ESPN 300 next month, Perry looks like he might be right. Quick could be in the ESPN Watch List at either wide receiver or cornerback, and OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is looking really smart right now.
Stoops offered Quick last spring, and OU has remained among his top schools ever since. Add in the fact that former teammates Hatari Byrd and L.J. Moore have signed with the Sooners, and it will be an interesting race for Quick.
For now, the focus is all on academics for Quick.
“I’ve been working hard on my schoolwork,” Quick said. “I went to USC junior day. I have other visits I want to take, but I don’t have any dates set up or anything like that.”
The USC junior day was a hold your breath moment for OU fans. The Trojans offered Quick and teammate defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood. Smallwood already had an OU offer but committed to USC on that day.
Did Quick ever think about that, too?
“No, it wasn’t hard at all to see Tashon commit,” Quick said. “It never crossed my mind. I know there are a lot of places I haven’t seen and a lot of people I haven’t met. USC was one of the first colleges I’ve seen, but I’m not somebody who’s going to make a decision based on that.”
Quick is regarded as one of the most explosive players in the class. He doesn’t deny that but he said his aim for next season is to get stronger. He has the speed now he wants the strength.
He said he is being recruited as a wide receiver, cornerback and on special teams. He doesn’t have a problem with any of the positions, but he does have a preference.
“Wide receiver is the best option,” Quick said. “I like being an impact player. I like making things happen, and I know I can do that at wide receiver.”
Quick said he’s nowhere near ready to make a decision, saying he needs to see Notre Dame, Oregon, Alabama and OU before he does anything. The Crimson Tide offered Quick last week.
Stoops remains in constant communication as Quick said they talked last week and OU is among the schools he hears from most.
Perry said last month he planned on bringing Quick and Smallwood to OU’s summer camp in June. It remains to be seen about Smallwood now that he’s committed to USC, but Quick said if that’s what Perry said, that’s where he’ll be.
“If he says we’re going to OU, then I’m definitely going,” Quick said. “He’s that guy. He knows everything. He’s that person you always need around.”
Hansen hitting the road
ESPN Watch List quarterback Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) has said for a while he wants to make some unofficial visits before he is ready to decide.
That time is now. With Oklahoma high schools going on spring break next week, Hansen has one trip circled and will definitely visit Texas A&M early in the week.
The Aggies offered Hansen in January, and Hansen has been upfront about how much interest he has in the program.
“I really Coach [Kevin] Sumlin,” Hansen said. “He seems like a really cool guy. And with what they do on offense, there’s a lot to be excited about.”
Outside of that trip, though, things get a little murky. He is considering trips to Auburn and Ole Miss to round out the week. He has offers from both schools, but he also said he might take it easy the rest of his spring break after the A&M visit.
Hansen remains the top quarterback target for Oklahoma as he is the only offer at the position by OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel. Hansen said he considered going back to OU last weekend for the first day of spring practice but couldn’t get everything to work out.
He talked to Heupel last week, and Heupel is still the coach he has the most contact with. And despite his numerous ties to the OU program, Hansen is consistent in saying he doesn’t have a favorite.
“I don’t right now,” Hansen said. “That’s what these visits are about – to give me a chance to see everything and help make things clearer for me.”
Hansen was playing basketball but stopped late in the season because of a minor back injury. It’s nothing serious, he said, but it just didn’t make sense to jeopardize his football future playing basketball.
Hansen has attended junior days at OU and Oklahoma State. It was at OU’s junior day in February where he got the offer. He said he intends to visit OU for a spring practice.
The plan all along has been for Hansen to take his unofficial visits and try to commit by the end of spring ball or early in the summer. Nothing has changed that so far.
“I want to get to that place and know that’s where I want to be,” Hansen said. “When that’s done, I can help start to recruit my class and can relax and concentrate on my senior season. That’s still what I’m looking to do.”
Sooners make impression on Malin
The hope was to have a couple of Cibolo (Texas) Steele recruits at junior day last weekend. Texas Tech running back commit Justin Stockton was unable to make it, but defensive end offer Josh Malin was in attendance.
Defensive end Josh Malin wants to decide before the 2013 season.
It was Malin’s first time seeing the campus, and he came away impressed with what the Sooners have to offer.
“I liked it a lot,” Malin said. “It’s a beautiful campus with nice facilities. The tradition is great. I learned a lot of new things about the program.”
Malin said nothing really stood out from junior day because all junior days are essentially the same thing just at different campuses. But what did stand out was the chance to talk to OU coach Bob Stoops.
“That was pretty incredible,” Malin said. “To talk to someone like that who has that type of history of winning championships -- that was great.”
Malin was originally recruited by OU assistant Bobby Jack Wright but said he is starting to talk to first-year defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery more.
At this point he said Baylor, Texas Tech and OU are the three schools that are talking to him the most, and he knows when he wants to make a decision.
“I’m definitely making my decision before my senior season starts,” Malin said. “You have no idea what can happen during the season so I want to have my spot. And I want to be able to relax and enjoy my senior season.”
Malin has been to Baylor and has plans of going to Rice. He would like to stay close to home so does that rule OU out?
“Distance is sort of a big deal to me,” Malin said. “But then again, OU is not that far away at all. I’m not ruling out anything at this point.”
Still no rush for Lealaimatafao
If there was a dark horse for an offered prospect to commit at junior day, it was San Antonio Warren defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao.
Even though he was confident in an interview last week that he wasn’t in a rush, there was just a feeling OU could win him over and Jerry Montgomery could nab his first big-time recruit.
It didn’t happen. But Lealaimatafao reiterated that simply never was the plan.
“I’m taking my time,” he said. “I’m set on waiting and seeing all the schools I feel I need to see before making a decision.”
Lealaimatafao did say he has even more interest in OU because of his trip. Montgomery has made him one of the top targets, and Lealaimatafao said it was important Montgomery get a chance to meet his parents.
Junior day was also the first day of practice so it gave him a chance to see just how thin the Sooners are at defensive tackle.
“It definitely was what Coach Montgomery said,” Lealaimatafao said. “It helps a lot to see just what the situation really is. I do feel like I could come in and contribute immediately. It was a real fast-paced and up tempo practice. I enjoyed it.”
Up next for Lealaimatafao is a trip to Baylor on March 23.
OU door opened for Farmer
In-state athlete Michael Farmer now says he doesn't care which position he plays in college.
Edmond (Okla.) North athlete Michael Farmer is still a firm Arizona State commit, but if the Sooners are going to knock on his door, he’s going to listen.
Farmer had no intention of being at OU’s first practice, but OU running backs coach Cale Gundy asked Farmer on Friday if he could attend on Saturday.
Farmer was able to make it and said he talked to Gundy for more than 45 minutes although there was no discussion of an offer.
“We talked about grades and what other visits I’ve been on and things like that,” Farmer said. “I’ve been to Arizona State and Oklahoma State and that’s it.”
Farmer tore his ACL in the final game of the season and is still working to get back to 100 percent. He said he should be back to normal by May.
The question of position continues to pop up for Farmer. Arizona State is now viewing him as an outside linebacker, while Farmer said Gundy told him he’s a more natural running back.
As for Farmer, he still doesn’t care.
“I really don’t,” Farmer said. “I know some people can’t believe that, but it’s true. All I want is a scholarship to be able to play football at the next level. That’s the dream.”
Farmer said Gundy first started talking to him when he was at Edmond Memorial, and the two have had sporadic contact ever since.
“It was fun talking with Roy because he went to Edmond North before moving to Florida,” Farmer said. “He told me Edmond North is a really good school and to just keep working hard.”
Farmer is still committed to the Sun Devils but said he has a clear top three of Arizona State, OU and Oklahoma State.
Larue feels at home at OU
It’s not a 100 percent guarantee, but it sure felt like if Dallas Bishop Dunne athlete Ronnie Larue was offered by OU last weekend, he would have committed on the spot.
But he sort of knew coming into the event that further evaluation was going to be needed. OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops had told him before the event that the coaches like what they see but will need to see him in person in the spring.
Larue has a big-time supporter in OU safety commit Vontre McQuinnie (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster), and Larue drove McQuinnie to junior day last weekend.
One of the memorable parts of the event is when recruits put on the OU jersey, and it definitely stood out for Larue.
“When I put it on, I told everybody that it fits perfect,” Larue said. “I’ll admit it, I really didn’t want to take it off.”
Larue said OU is still his top school although he is definitely listening to other schools and is in search of his first offer.
The Sooners, though, hold a special place for Larue.
“Just being in the locker room and watching the video they had talking about all the championships – it was just amazing,” Larue said. “I just love OU. I don’t know what else I can say.”
Stockton hoping to see OU in spring
Texas Tech running back commit Justin Stockton really wanted to be at OU last weekend. But with last weekend starting spring break for Texas high schools, he had no idea his situation would be out of his control.
Class of 2014 tailback Justin Stockton is planning to visit a few more schools before national signing day.
Because of a family trip, Stockton couldn’t make it. But that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t want to visit the Sooners in the spring.
“No, it’s not like I’m down on OU or anything like that,” Stockton said. “I’ve never been to Oklahoma before and really do want to see everything there.”
Stockton said he is starting to hear from Oklahoma State more and said he intends to visit a Texas Tech spring practice.
With OU running backs coach Cale Gundy so focused on Watch List backs Nathan Starks (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) and Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson), it is interesting to note Stockton hasn’t heard from Gundy in a while despite the OU offer.
“It’s a great football program, and OU does a great job of sending kids to the NFL so I’m very interested,” Stockton said.
After a busy winter, Stockton is looking to take it easy this spring and is not sure when a visit to OU can be rescheduled.
Akem and Sooners on same page
Nobody was expecting a commitment on Saturday from Watch List outside linebacker Gyasi Akem (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow). That wasn’t the point of his junior day visit.
The focus was to get OU back in the hunt. Despite an offer, there was no reason to believe the Sooners were anywhere near the top of Akem’s list.
It was puzzling that Akem was never once invited to an OU home game in 2012 when the Sooners had heavily pursued fellow Broken Arrow products quarterback Coleman Key and Watch List running back Devon Thomas.
But OU linebackers coach Tim Kish has smoothed things over, explaining to Akem that it was basically Kish’s fault for the lack of attention. He was still getting accustomed to things and Akem wasn’t on his radar yet.
This has changed things dramatically. A lot of people think Akem is an Oklahoma State commit waiting to happen, including Thomas, who is an OSU commit.
“Gyasi is coming with me. He’ll be a Cowboy,” Thomas said last week. “He’s just afraid that once he commits, the offers will stop. He’s definitely an OSU guy.”
Akem obviously can still end up with the Cowboys, but it’s not as clear as it once was. With offers from Tennessee and Ole Miss in the last week, combined with the positive OU visit, Akem is still out there to be swayed.
The Sooners took a huge positive first step Saturday. The key will be to continue that interest into the spring and summer and let him know just how big of a priority he is.
Blair takes in OU practice
Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh has been active making offers and one of them was to junior college prospect Dontavius Blair (Anniston, Ala./Garden City CC).
OU was one of several top offers for Blair in the last week, and he was able to attend OU’s first practice Saturday.
“It went great. It was good to talk with the coaches and players,” Blair said. “Everything was going smooth. They were really focused.”
Blair said he is in no rush to make a decision, especially as schools like Florida State and Ohio State keep entering the picture.
His No. 1 objective is simply to go to a program and help it win a championship. And he knows what he needs to work on going forward.
“My footwork and leverage,” Blair said. “I don’t have a problem with strength, but I have to keep working on my footwork.”
He said he hopes to visit Mississippi State, Alabama and Georgia this spring. And he knows what his strength is.
“I love pass-blocking,” Blair said. “A quarterback is like my mom -- I don’t them to be touched. It’s my job to keep it that way.”
Milton growing bond with Sooners
Last week was the first time SoonerNation had a chance to see Class of 2015 shooting guard Shake Milton (Owasso, Okla./Owasso). It won’t be the last time.
Already 6-foot-4 and growing, Milton could end up as the best prospect from the state for the class even better than fellow OU offer Allonzo Trier (Tulsa, Okla./NOAH).
Milton had an offer from Tulsa and received the Sooners offer following OU’s upset victory against Kansas.
“It was a crazy day because the game just ended and that was a crazy upset,” Milton said. “Coaches talked to me after the game and let me know. I was ecstatic.”
It’s pretty common for in-state football recruits to grow up wanting to play for OU but not so much basketball. Milton didn’t grow up a huge OU fan. In fact, it was one of its rivals that always stood out to him.
“I was a Texas fan to tell you the truth,” Milton said.
One coach that has taken an immediate interest in Milton is OU assistant coach Chris Crutchfield. He was also in attendance last week for Owasso’s state quarterfinal victory.
Crutchfield has been in constant communication with Milton, and it’s apparent it’s making a pretty big impression on Milton.
“He’s really cool,” Milton said. “He’s always telling me what I need to do to get better. I’ve made two or three visits to OU this season, and I definitely plan on being back.”
Milton is already wearing a size 16 shoe and his dad is 6-8 so Milton is optimistic another growth spurt is in the cards.
He is hearing from OU, Tulsa, Oklahoma State and Kansas and received his first letter from North Carolina in the last month.
One person not shocked by his success? Watch List safety Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks), who grew up playing with Milton.
“He’s definitely something special,” Parker said. “I’ve known for a while that it was only a matter of time. We’re going to play summer ball together for Athletes First. It’s going to be a lot of fun to play with him again.”
Milton averaged 21 points per game this season in helping Owasso to the state semifinals, losing to Edmond (Okla.) Memorial and OU signee Jordan Woodard. Memorial won the state championship with Woodard’s buzzer-beating tip-in the next night.
Rogers meets with Bedenbaugh
Class of 2015 offensive guard Zach Rogers (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) decided to just take one big leap at once with new OU offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh.
Rogers was being primarily recruited to OU by former interior line coach James Patton, and Rogers hadn’t heard from Bedenbaugh since Bedenbaugh was hired last month.
So Rogers took things into his own hands and went on an unofficial visit Tuesday to meet and talk with Bedenbaugh for the first time.
“I got to meet him and watched film with him,” Rogers said. “It was fun watching coach the guys. He says what needs to be said without embarrassing you in front of everybody.”
Rogers has seen the OU campus several times with the last occasion being in October for the Notre Dame game. He also attended Cotton Bowl practices against Texas A&M. And though he grew a nice rapport with Patton, he’s not worried at all about starting over with Bedenbaugh.
“It’s so early in the process so this doesn’t hurt OU at all,” Rogers said. “I have no favorite at this point and like schools for different reasons.”
Rogers has offers from Arkansas, Texas Tech and UCLA. Rogers and his father will be at UCLA this weekend to conclude his spring break. He went to Arkansas last week and is hoping to see Texas Tech next month.
Rogers said he is around 6-3, 295, but he hopes that can change.
“When I was 4 or 5, I was told I would end up at least 6-5 so I’m waiting for that growth spurt,” Rogers said. “Right now I’m just working on getting stronger and faster and doing all the little things.”