Friday, March 22, 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:
One of OU's commits says he's firm with the Sooners despite visiting other schools.
Two top in-state targets visited rivals this week. Should OU be worried?
We talk to the coach of OU's newest commit about what makes the commit so good.
News on OU's backup plan at quarterback for the Class of 2014.
The Sooners are in the top four for an ESPN Watch List prospect. But do they lead?
A top Arizona athlete already knows he wants to visit OU.
The Sooners are in the top three for a Louisiana defensive tackle.
Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.
Foreman still firm with Sooners
He has felt like an Oklahoma commit in name only recently, but ESPN Watch List wide receiver Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City) is adamant that Oklahoma is still No. 1 on his list.
But you can understand why some Sooners fans are cautious right now with Foreman, who was OU’s first commit for the Class of 2014.
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.com
Oklahoma receiver commit Armanti Foreman has been to Texas and Texas A&M but still hasn't visited OU.
Since pledging in October, Foreman has not seen the OU campus. He’s starting to feel like it’s a conspiracy to not have him see everything.
“I’ve tried. I really have,” Foreman said. “There have been a lot of times where I’ve wanted to make it up there but then something happened so I couldn’t.”
That hasn’t been the case with a couple of OU’s recruiting rivals. February was a busy month for Foreman, who took in junior days at Texas and Texas A&M. Oh yeah, he also received offers from the Longhorns and Aggies.
Foreman’s reasoning for going is a little different than one might expect. It’s not really about getting a huge feel about Texas or A&M. But he wants his twin brother, D’Onta Foreman, to get some recognition. D’Onta has been considered a running back by some schools and a linebacker by others. Armanti doesn’t care about position, but he wants his brother with him.
“OU is still my No. 1 school, but if some other school offers my brother, that would make me think about things,” Armanti Foreman said.
Foreman talked to OU wide receivers coach Jay Norvell a couple of weeks ago where Norvell stressed trying to get Foreman to campus.
During this time, Foreman has also received an offer from Florida, his favorite school growing up. None of that, though, is making Foreman question his commitment to the Sooners.
“The offers are still going to come in, but OU is still first right now,” Foreman said. “It’s always good to hear from Coach Norvell. I have a good relationship with him and that means a lot to have that relationship with my future position coach.”
Foreman is weighing his options, looking at the pros and cons of his offers. Getting on the field early might end up being what determines everything.
“A&M is a great school but there are a lot of receivers,” Foreman said. “Florida was my favorite growing up, but they don’t throw the ball that much. Texas is going to a new offense so I have to see how that goes. I know where things stand with OU right now.”
Foreman said he is still trying to plan his visit to OU, whether it’s for the spring game or for a trip in the summer.
Hansen, Parker taking visits
It has been a dull week for OU in the recruiting world. The coaches have enjoyed spring break as much as the players have.
That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been news, though, as two top OU targets visited the state of Texas in Watch List prospects safety Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) and quarterback Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe).
Parker visited Texas A&M on Wednesday and Texas on Thursday, while Hansen visited the Aggies on Tuesday.
This week was a huge in both of their recruitments. For the most part, they had been purely Oklahoma based. Hansen is unquestionably the No. 1 target for OU at quarterback. Parker is a top target for both OU and Oklahoma State.
And now A&M.
“Coach [Kevin] Sumlin told me he would be interested in me as long as I’m interested,” Parker said. “That was great to hear because like I said before, I want to take my time.”
With all the top safeties in the Midlands area, it was crucial for Parker to get that answer. The Aggies have not been bashful before about saying a recruit doesn’t have a committable offer. Apparently Parker is not one of those kids.
Parker will wait. The offers are still rolling in, and he is in no rush with Michigan and Vanderbilt the latest to add to his ever-growing list. Hansen would love to do the same thing. But he knows he cannot.
“This visit proved to me just how difficult this decision is really going to be,” Hansen said. “I would love to take my time, but I get it.
“In my position [quarterback], you just can’t do that. The coaches have to know so they can make their next move. I want to know so I can focus on my senior season and getting to know the coaches better. But it’s not easy.”
Hansen is hearing the most from OU, A&M and Auburn. But from the sound of things, it doesn’t look like a visit to Auburn is going to be possible. Hansen considered one this week but opted to relax the final days of spring break.
It might be going too far to say it’s only down to the Sooners and Aggies, but it’s looking more and more that way with each day. And if Hansen is as determined to get his decision done in the next month, it’s tough to see any school outside of OU or A&M playing a major role.
Following a great visit with the Aggies, it will be interesting to see how Hansen feels about a return trip to OU for spring practice. Having seen both campuses, now Hansen is in a much better position to judge what he believes will be best for him.
Perine runs angry, coach says
It wasn’t a huge shock when Watch List running back Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) committed to OU last week. Perine had been honest from the beginning and had made his intentions known.
Based on that and the efforts of the OU coaching staff, it wasn’t a shock to Pflugerville Hendrickson coach Chip Killian, either.
“OU did a great job,” Killian said. “I had a feeling there was a pretty good chance he would end up at OU.”
OU tailback commit Samaje Perine said Texas and Florida State reached out to him recently.
Killian said it started in January when OU assistant coach Bobby Jack Wright visited the school and talked with Killian about Perine a couple of times. Then Wright turned it over to running backs coach Cale Gundy, and Gundy closed the show.
Just because it wasn’t a shock doesn’t mean it wasn’t a huge pickup for the class. So what exactly will the Sooners get with Perine?
“He runs so hard. I don’t want to say he runs angry because it makes him sound like a crazy person, but he does run angry,” Killian said. “Hit him in the backfield, and he’s going to get 1-3 yards. Hit him at the line, and it’s 3-5 yards. And in the open field, it’s at least 15 yards or a touchdown. No one guy can ever bring him down.”
Killian wanted to ease Perine back into the swing of things last season after his ACL injury. By the third game of the season, Killian said Perine said he was ready to go back to normal.
Perine is already around 220 pounds, which has had some OU fans wondering about where his future might be. Killian dismissed any talks of Perine at fullback.
“He wants to tote the rock,” Killian said. “I don’t think he would go to a school that saw him as a fullback first. He’s going to punish people in open space, but he’s also not going to get to 260 pounds or anything like that.”
But he will enjoy the weight room.
“The strength and conditioning coach is going to have a ball with him,” Killian said. “He absolutely loves that stuff.
“He’s truly a character kid. He has solid grades. You’ll never see him post crazy things on Twitter. He has a great laugh and a great smile. I think you guys at OU are getting a great one.”
Sawyer waits for call from Heupel
A lot can change in a month, just ask Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints quarterback Foster Sawyer. Right before OU’s first junior day in February, Sawyer was looking to go to get some recognition.
He never made it to Norman, but the recognition has followed. Sawyer is up to around 15 offers right now and picked up a major one from Alabama last week.
“I’ve been talking with them for a little over a year now,” Sawyer said. “It was right before spring football. I went to their summer camp and went there for the Auburn game. I have a great relationship with the coaches.”
Alabama has been active in offering quarterbacks on the contingency they attend the summer camp. That’s not the case with Sawyer since he has already participated in the camp.
As far as Sawyer knows, he has an offer. And it’s a game-changing offer.
“It definitely makes things a lot more difficult,” Sawyer said. “I’ll have to sit down and pray about it. I’m about ready to make my decision. In the next 2-3 weeks, I want to make my decision.
“I want to be done so I can take it to the next level with the relationships with the coaches. My mentality is if they haven’t shown interest by now, it’s a little too late.”
So what does that mean for the Sooners? Sawyer planned to be at OU’s junior day but didn’t make it. He has had some contact with OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel but no offer.
“Coach Heupel came and saw me one day before,” Sawyer said. “My coach talks to him a lot. I don’t have a great relationship with him, but my coach definitely does.”
If there is one school Sawyer would love to get a last-minute offer, he said it is OU because of its great history at the position.
Alabama and TCU appear to be the leaders in the clubhouse, but the Sooners could get back into the mix if they choose to go that direction. Sawyer isn’t saying it publicly, but he has a feeling of what school is best right now.
“In the back of my head, I have a top contender,” Sawyer said. “I’m not going to say anything because it’s a business, but I think I know. Get this done so I can concentrate on my senior season. This season I’m looking to become a better leader. That’s one thing I’m definitely looking to work on.”
David has OU in top four
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
ESPN Watch List linebacker James David said his top four is OU, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Alabama.
His junior season couldn’t have ended any worse, but Watch List inside linebacker James David (Rockdale, Texas/Rockdale) is trying to remain optimistic about the future.
David tore his ACL in the final game of the season but said his rehab is going well, and he expects to be ready during the summer and certainly before the start of his senior season.
That’s good news for OU fans because the Sooners are right in the thick of things when it comes to David. He was hoping to attend one of the junior days, but the first one he couldn’t get a ride and the second one was the same day as SAT testing.
No need to worry as OU remains among his top schools.
“OU, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Alabama are my top four schools right now,” David said. “When I think about OU, I just think about how special and how fun it would be to play there.”
He went to OSU and Baylor junior days and has offers from both schools but does not currently have an offer from the Crimson Tide.
OU might have one ace up its sleeve in helping get David to see the campus. Rockdale High is the same school as the Brooks family. Daniel Brooks signed with OU’s 2012 class, while his younger brother Elijah is a budding prospect on the rise.
Their father, Tony, has never had issues with making trips to OU before and David is hoping that mindset will continue.
“That might end up being the best way for me to get there,” David said. “If Elijah goes up there to see Daniel, I think I might try to go up there with him.”
David said he’s in no rush at this point. He is going to weigh all his options and hopefully make a decision during his senior season.
Whiley planning on OU visit
The OU-Arizona connection didn’t really come through for the Class of 2013. But strangely enough, OU is sitting pretty with some Class of 2014 Arizona prospects.
We’ve talked about how Watch List prospect Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) has significant ties to OU and visited for junior day.
Another Scottsdale product is also looking heavily at the Sooners in Watch List athlete Tyler Whiley (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral).
Whiley has not seen the campus but said he has been in constant communication with OU assistant coach Tim Kish.
“It hasn’t been too long,” Whiley said. “They started sending me letters and then my coach said I had an offer. I’m talking with Coach Kish, but I didn’t talk to him when he was at Arizona. I was too young at the time.”
Most schools have classified Whiley as an athlete, but OU and Arizona have made it clear they see Whiley as a defensive back. Whiley said it doesn’t matter at this point in time.
Whiley was a little shocked at the OU offer and said it was a big relief. He is hopeful to make an official visit to OU during the fall.
“It’s cool because schools are seeing how hard I work and the hard work is paying off,” Whiley said. “I wasn’t really expecting an OU offer to happen so it does mean a lot to me.”
Whiley hasn’t been active on the practice circuit but said he might try to see Arizona State on Sunday. He does know what’s important to him.
“The brotherhood,” Whiley said. “I want to go to a place where the coaches and players get along and are like a family. Playing early will be a factor, too, but I don’t really care about distance. I just want to play.”
Springs’ suitors increase
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN
Safety Arrion Springs plans to be at OU's spring game.
OU fans were optimistic in February when the Sooners offered Watch List safety Arrion Springs (San Antonio/Roosevelt) that a commit on the spot might happen at junior day.
It didn’t. And as OU fans have seen before, now the pursuit is even tougher for Springs. A hot commodity in the last month, Springs is now up to double-digits in offers. That doesn’t mean OU has been left out in the cold.
“I still really like OU,” Springs said. “I talked to Coach [Mike] Stoops a couple of weeks ago. My opinion hasn’t changed, but there are just more schools to consider.”
Springs said Texas Tech, Baylor and Oregon State are the schools contacting him the most at this point, and he has offers from all three schools.
But OU remains on his mind as evidenced by his future plans.
“I plan on going to the spring game at Texas Tech and OU,” Springs said. “I don’t have any favorites at this point. I’m looking to make my decision in the summer, but we’ll see what happens.”
Lundblade gets first taste of Bedenbaugh
It did not take long for Argyle (Texas) Liberty Christian offensive guard Brad Lundblade to notice the difference with first-year offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and former OU offensive tackles coach Bruce Kittle.
Lundblade visited OU when Kittle was there and made a return trip to Norman last week to introduce himself to Bedenbaugh.
“Coach Kittle was a lot more laid back,” Lundblade said. “I think that’s the biggest difference. Coach Bedenbaugh is more aggressive. He’s a lot more hands-on with everything. I like him a lot and like his coaching style.”
Lundblade was told by OU assistant coach Cale Gundy before Lundblade left campus last Tuesday that the Sooners will continue to evaluate him in the spring.
Defensive tackle Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) was hopeful he could visit OU for junior day two weeks ago. The timing was rushed as he was offered a mere 48 hours before junior day.
Garnett couldn’t make it but said one of his top priorities of this spring is to see an OU practice and said the Sooners are in his current top three.
“I couldn’t make junior day, but I’ll definitely be there soon,” Garnett said. “I definitely want to see the campus and get to know the coaches.”
Garnett, who is 6-foot-2 and 280 pounds, also has offers from Texas and Texas A&M, among several others.
Booker ready to work
Oklahoma basketball looks to continue its season later tonight against San Diego State, but the Sooners received a major addition toward its future with the commitment of Augusta (Ga.) Westside three-star shooting guard Frank Booker.
Booker fell in love with OU during his official visit three weeks ago, said his father, Frank Booker Sr. There’s no doubt Booker will be a shooting guard, but his father said there’s something else his son is really going to enjoy in Norman.
“He loved YoYo [OU strength coach Joszef Szendrei],” Booker Sr. said. “He’s really going to like that. Frank loves to workout. The harder he works out, I feel, the better he plays.”
Interest in Booker picked up considerably in the last couple of months. The family visited Georgia several times in the last couple of years but Booker Sr. said they never felt that special feeling they felt with the Sooners.
Booker was already known as a scorer before this season, but he took it to another level this season in leading Augusta Westside to the state championship. Booker Sr. is also an assistant coach at the school.
“He averaged about 22 points per game as a junior,” Booker Sr. said. “This year he was a little more than 28, and he is just becoming a more complete player. As his game gets better, he is becoming an even better scorer. We know that’s what OU needs, and it’s one reason why we think it’s going to be a great fit for him.”
Booker shot 82 percent from the free throw line and 40 percent on his 3-point field goals. OU is far away from Georgia, but Booker Sr. is proud his son is going to have a good home.
“He worked very hard to get here,” Booker Sr. said. “He has earned that to get to a place like OU with such good coaches. Coach [Lon] Kruger is a great one, and I have no concerns.”