Friday, April 12, 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:
Why judgment day looms for the Sooners' top target.
A Florida receiver is excited about visiting the Sooners this weekend.
An OU signee talks about his first trip to Norman.
One of the Sooners' top offensive line targets is making a return trip this spring.
Is OU back in the picture for in-state DE Clark?
An Ohio target has built a solid relationship with the OU staff.
Could another running back be in play for the Sooners?
A 2015 tight end committed to another school wants to visit OU again.
A 2015 lineman talks about recently adding a Sooners offer.
Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.
Decision day for Hansen
ESPN Watch List quarterback Justice Hansen will decide between Oklahoma and Texas A&M this weekend.
The time for talking is just about over regarding ESPN Watch List quarterback Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe). Will it be Oklahoma or Texas A&M?
It’s not an easy decision, and Hansen said he has been thinking a lot about which school to choose the last couple of weeks. But he knows it needs to be done.
“My dad was saying how once this is done, there is going to be a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders,” Hansen said. “He’s right. This is something I have to do.”
And it’s something he wants to do this weekend. The plan remains for Hansen to commit in person to the Sooners or Aggies at their spring game on Saturday. Hansen said he would not publicly reveal which spring game he is going to attend.
With that much info out there about his announcement, Hansen was actually having a good time about it earlier this week.
“Maybe we’ll drive a totally different car so nobody knows,” Hansen. “Or maybe I’ll wear a mask out in public all day Saturday.
"No, I’m a man of my word, and I’m definitely going to get it done.”
From an outsider’s point of view, it would feel like his family would be pushing him to stay close to home and be the next in-state quarterback to pledge to OU. But that’s not the case.
“I don’t like people saying my family wants me to go to OU,” Hansen said. “They’re not pulling me in one direction or the other. They’ve been consistent in telling me to follow my heart because I’m the one that has to live with the decision.”
Hansen has sort of known the last few weeks that it’s a two-school race with OU and Texas A&M. It makes things a little easier, but not much.
“Maybe a little bit has been cleared up for me in the last couple of weeks, but it’s still a big jumbled mess,” he said. “When I think of OU, I think of stability. A winning program. [Bob] Stoops has been there for a long time.
“With A&M, it’s momentum. There is a lot to like right now with the Aggies and the direction of that program.”
Hansen was at the Elite 11 regional competition last weekend. He didn’t earn an invite as one of the finalists, at least not yet. Hansen said he wasn't shocked but it has motivated him.
“The majority of Saturday I thought I threw real well,” Hansen said. “Sunday, to be honest, my body was worn down. That’s the most I’ve competed in a while. My body was a little fatigued, and it showed in my mechanics.”
Hansen didn’t get a lot of one-on-one time with Elite 11 quarterback coach Trent Dilfer last weekend, but there was one thing Dilfer said that Hansen is taking with him as he moves forward.
“It doesn’t get any easier from here,” Hansen said. “It gets harder with each level you go up to. From high school to college is a big step. You have to never stop working. I’m not afraid of that.”
Holmes ready to see OU
Hansen isn’t the only big name who might be coming to Norman, Okla., this weekend. ESPN Watch List wide receiver Corey Holmes (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) also is expected to continue his spring tour with a trip to OU.
Holmes has been very active having been to Notre Dame last weekend and with a trip to Syracuse in the near future. But this weekend is about the Sooners.
“I’ve always been a fan of their team and their offense,” Holmes said. “I’ve watched OU a lot on TV and now I want to see what it’s like in person.”
Holmes was originally recruited by defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery when Montgomery was at Michigan. Since then, there has been a handoff from Montgomery to wide receivers coach Jay Norvell.
Holmes likes Montgomery, and he’s off to a great start with Norvell.
“The things I look for are coaches that really care about their players,” Holmes said. “I know Coach Montgomery, and I believe Coach Norvell is a real cool coach. OU is definitely a place to go and check out.”
Holmes wouldn’t say he has any favorites at this point. In the summer he said he hopes to see UCLA, Vanderbilt and Michigan, among others. He also said he is looking at taking all five of his official visits so don’t expect anything crazy from this weekend.
So what exactly is he trying to get from this weekend?
“I want to experience the atmosphere and see what it’s like,” Holmes said. “I want to get a look at their offense and see where I would fit in.
“This weekend is about meeting the coaches and getting to know them better. And getting to know Norman more. If you’re going to be there four years, you better be comfortable when you’re not playing football.”
Holmes said Notre Dame, Miami (Fla.) and OU are the three schools talking to him the most. He’s not leaning toward staying in state or venturing outside of Florida, but he did say it has been good to see OU’s recent track record of going into Florida and landing recruits and giving them a shot to succeed.
Huggins takes first visit to OU
There was no official visit during the 2013 signing period for Dallas Skyline defensive tackle Kerrick Huggins. Despite being a mere three hours away, Huggins never saw the OU campus but signed with the Sooners anyway.
The three-star prospect finally made his way to Norman for the first time last weekend. It was worth the wait.
Class of 2013 signee Kerrick Huggins has not yet qualified to attend OU.
“I loved it,” Huggins said. “I can’t believe that it’s getting closer and closer to really happening. The campus was great.”
Huggins had been saying he wasn’t too worried about having not seen the campus because of what Dallas Skyline products Frank Shannon and Corey Nelson had been telling him.
He did admit, though, that it was good to see it with his own eyes. Shannon and Nelson were there most of the time, and Huggins said Geneo Grissom took him under his wing for the weekend.
Huggins was recruited by former coach Jackie Shipp but said the transition to Jerry Montgomery has been a smooth one.
“He’s a young, energetic coach, and I’ve really liked getting to know him,” Huggins said. “When I watched practice, it opened my eyes. If I work as hard as I know I can, I can play as a true freshman.”
Huggins would love to return to OU this weekend for the spring game, but he has other things on his mind. He scored a 17 on the ACT in the winter and said he wants to take it one more time to improve on that.
And just like last year, OU’s spring game falls on an ACT testing date so Huggins and a host of others are bypassing a trip to OU to concentrate on academics.
Barrett returning to OU
Staying with the Dallas Skyline theme, ESPN Watch List offensive tackle Ty Barrett is another top recruit who will be coming to OU for the spring game.
Barrett was offered at OU’s junior day in February but has yet to meet offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh in person. That will change this weekend.
Barrett caused a bit of a stir wearing an OU hat as he was checking in for the Nike Football Training Combine event Sunday in Allen, Texas. Don’t read anything into it.
“No, it was just a hat I picked up,” Barrett said. “It could have been any hat. When I got in the car, I was like, 'Oh I got an OU hat on. I know I’m going to hear about this.' "
Barrett has been pretty consistent about saying he has no favorites and is simply enjoying the process. Following the OU visit, he said he is going to Oklahoma State’s spring game next weekend.
Last weekend was big for Barrett, who said he learned a lot from the NFTC showcase.
“It was a great day,” Barrett said. “I learned a lot with my stance and starts and thing like that. I’m at where I thought I was, but I know I have to keep working harder.”
Barrett said all schools are still in consideration.
Cornwell getting familiar with Heupel
It was pure coincidence that ESPN Watch List quarterback David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./North) happened to take in OU’s practice Tuesday.
Cornwell was impressive last weekend in earning an invite to the Elite 11 quarterback finals and an invite to The Opening in July, but that’s not why OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel invited Cornwell to practice.
Heupel stopped by Norman North in the winter and briefly chatted with Cornwell. At the time, Cornwell was new to Norman North and Norman North coach Wade Standley didn’t know too much about his new quarterback.
Standley knows about Cornwell now, the type of kid he is on and off the field. And Standley recently gave Heupel a call to talk to him more about Cornwell and open the lines of communication. Heupel was hoping to get Cornwell to OU’s scrimmage last Sunday but because of the Nike Football Training Combine, Cornwell couldn’t attend.
There were no problems Tuesday.
“The [OU] linemen are bigger than what I’ve seen before,” Cornwell said. “Maybe Alabama had as big of linemen but that stood out.”
Cornwell wasn’t able to spend much time with Heupel on Tuesday but the two talked for about 30 minutes Wednesday night.
“It was more about getting to know each other than anything else,” Cornwell said. “We talked about the weather, family and where I live and things like that.”
Not mentioned in the conversation was anything about an offer or about where Cornwell stands with Heupel on OU’s board. There was no mention of Justice Hansen, either. Regardless, Cornwell has plenty of options with or without OU.
“It’s always great to have another quality school on the list,” Cornwell said. “It was a really nice place. They’ve won a lot of national championships, and they’re doing everything they can to get back there.”
After a busy few weeks, Cornwell is taking it easy this weekend and allowing his body to recover. He said next weekend he plans to be at Alabama or Tennessee and the following weekend he is excited about finally taking a trip to Virginia Tech.
OU makes another run at Clark
The Sooners are trying to seal the deal with Hansen this weekend, but OU is simply just trying to get back into the race for ESPN Watch List defensive end Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass).
ESPN Watch List defensive end Deondre Clark will be in Norman this weekend.
But getting Clark on campus is harder than people think. OU has the edge because it’s only 20 miles from Norman.
This weekend it’s up to defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery to show Clark why OU should remain in consideration. The Clark family felt a sense of betrayal, for lack of a better word, when Jackie Shipp was fired.
Time has passed and they’re open to Montgomery. Now it’s up to Montgomery to show why he’s making the big bucks.
Clark won’t commit this weekend. That’s not the point. But it might say just a little bit that he’s open to making the trip again.
His mother, Dorshell, would prefer he stays closer to home so it will be interesting to see how it plays out this weekend.
OU’s ace in the hole with Dalton
It’s looking good for the Sooners with offensive tackle Alex Dalton (Troy, Ohio/Troy). Dalton said earlier this week his top three is OU, Indiana and Stanford.
On the football side of things, it has been about the connection he has forged with offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh. It’s a quality one, no doubt, but OU has something else that is really going to help going forward.
Dalton wants to major in construction science, a degree not offered at every university. OU has that degree program, and it’s something Dalton is very passionate about.
“It’s something that’s comparable to civil engineering,” Dalton said. “But it’s not about being in the office or anything like that. It’s a different degree because you’re looking to work on job sites and stuff like that. My father owns a construction business, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Last week was Dalton’s first trip to OU and the first time he has met coach Bob Stoops. Dalton came away impressed with his potential head coach.
“He’s a great coach,” Dalton said. “He’s so well respected by everybody. He’s earned it. All the tradition he has built for the last 14 years means something.”
The Ohio connection means something, too.
“I didn’t talk too much about it, but my dad and Coach Stoops were talking a lot about being from Ohio and how things are,” Dalton said. “We felt real comfortable there. The trip was everything I could have hoped for.”
Dalton wants to make his decision before his senior season. Considering he has visited OU, Stanford and Indiana already, it could come at any time.
Turner back in play
North Richland Hills (Texas) Birdville running back Xavier Turner likes track, but nobody is happier about track season ending in the next couple of weeks. That's because he can finally concentrate on football again.
Could the Sooners offer running back Xavier Turner?
Turner attended OU’s spring game last year and a couple of regular season games in the fall. And he is coming back to Norman one more time this weekend.
“I’ve been getting mail from OU for a long time,” Turner said. “We’ve been sending messages back and forth, just keeping in touch. I let Coach [Cale] Gundy know I will be coming, and he was happy about that.”
Turner hasn’t been nearly as active on the trail this spring because of track. He has only made a visit to Kansas State. He hopes this weekend is the start of that change.
“I would love to actually get that offer,” Turner said. “It would open up a lot of doors for me to OU and to other colleges. But I’m also looking forward to just checking things out again and having fun. I still have almost a whole year until signing day.”
Turner is talented and put up big-time numbers as a junior. But he stands with no offers. He admits it has been discouraging at times, but it was Texas quarterback commit Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) who has been there to keep encouraging Turner.
“I was wondering, like, 'Am I doing something wrong?' " Turner said. “But Jerrod Heard keeps telling me it just takes time. It will come. It will get better, but it takes some time.”
Turner said he is hearing the most from OU, Oregon, KSU, Texas Tech and Missouri. He is eyeing a potential trip to Oregon in the summer.
“I have to relax,” Turner said. “Let the recruiting process come to me. It will be good to be focusing on football once again.”
Key waiting in the wings
The "Pursuit of Justice" isn’t just affecting Hansen. Like last year with Max Browne, other quarterbacks are waiting to see what happens with OU's top signal-caller target.
Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints quarterback Foster Sawyer visited OU last week. Elite 11 finalist David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./North) was at OU this week. And Broken Arrow (Okla.) High quarterback Coleman Key is still out there lurking.
With all the top names at the Elite 11 and NFTC last weekend, it was a shock to not find Key among those names.
“Last weekend we got to play (baseball) at OneOK Field against Owasso. It was pretty crazy,” Key said. “It was a lot of fun and an easy decision for me to stay with my team.”
Let me give a little context to this one. OneOK Field in Tulsa is among the premier baseball stadiums in Oklahoma. Combine that with playing Owasso, the school Key transferred from last year, and you start to understand that he wasn’t blowing off a major football opportunity.
Key said he is looking at the June 1 Elite 11 regional in Ohio to compete. He reconnected with quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel a couple of weeks ago.
“He wants to keep in contact,” Key said. “He said he really likes me, and it was a hard decision between me and Hansen.
“Like I’ve said, I have no hard feelings. I have all the respect in the world for Justice. He has earned it. I think some of us are all just waiting to see what he does.”
Key hasn’t picked up any new offers the last month, which he said hasn’t surprised him. He believes the spring evaluation period is going to be a boom period for himself and some of his Broken Arrow teammates.
Schools he remains in touch with include LSU, Tennessee, California, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Arkansas.
For now, Key is focused on baseball and will miss OU’s spring game because of a baseball tournament. Broken Arrow has been down this path before with a great quarterback who also is pretty good at baseball with Archie Bradley.
Bradley ended up choosing baseball over the Sooners and is faring well in the minor leagues.
“It’s understandable my coaches want me all-in for baseball,” Key said. “They don’t want me missing tournaments and bouncing back and forth. It’s about having options. The more options, the better.
“But unless something drastically changes, my future is football. Football is the sport I’ve always loved.”
Davis makes promise to return to OU
It was a mini-junior day for the Sooners last weekend with a couple of quality tight ends in attendance. ESPN Watch List tight end Koda Martin (Manvel, Texas/Manvel) returned to OU, while 2015 tight end Jordan Davis (Houston/Clear Lake) made his first trip to Norman.
Class of 2015 tight end Jordan Davis has visited Texas and OU recently and will visit Texas A&M soon.
It won’t be his last.
“I’m definitely coming back. I can promise you that,” said Davis, a Florida State commit. “I’ll be making another visit to see a game, for sure.”
Davis said he was really surprised by the offer from linebackers coach Tim Kish, but he’s happy about it. The weekend allowed him to interact with tight ends coach Jay Boulware for the first time.
“He’s a good guy. I really enjoyed hanging around him and getting to know him better and watching him work,” Davis said.
One thing a lot of recruits are mentioning is the completion of the new athletic dorms. Davis’ eyes got wide when he started talking about how excited he is about the dorms.
Davis is visiting Texas A&M this weekend for its spring game.
Rogers gets offer and is returning to OU
It has been a pretty good week for OU and 2015 offensive tackle Zach Rogers (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron). Rogers was offered by the Sooners late last week and confirmed earlier this week he is returning to OU for the spring game.
He said Sunday afternoon he wasn’t sure what his family’s plans were going to be, but OU has won out for the weekend. Rogers has already made one visit to OU for spring practice last month.
The offer didn’t come there as some expected it to, but Coach Bedenbaugh didn’t waste too much time in getting Rogers on board.
“It was real special,” Rogers said. “My family is from Oklahoma. I’ve been about the Sooners all my life. It was exciting.”
But when you’re as talented as Rogers is, you’re going to have a lot of options. And Rogers maintains it’s not about who he liked as a kid growing up but about seeing what’s the best fit for him moving forward.
Rogers also recently took a trip to UCLA. The Bruins are squarely in the mix.
“Being a Texas kid, I wasn’t expecting to like it,” Rogers said. “The campus was beautiful. It was a great time.”
OU wasn’t Rogers first offer, and he didn’t get that offer on the first visit. But he said that hasn’t changed his feelings toward the Sooners at all.
“I’m talking to them about once a week, and it’s a real good relationship,” Rogers said. “I couldn’t really worry about not getting the offer. I respect how they do things. That they see me as somebody who is deserving of an offer means a lot.”
Evans on road to recovery, on road to Norman
The Sooners will likely continue to evaluate defensive end Tay Evans.
All linebacker Tay Evans (Allen, Texas/Allen) could do was sit on the sidelines. Here was the NFTC coming into his backyard at Allen High and Evans couldn’t participate.
He is still recovering from shoulder surgery and showed up Sunday in support of his teammates such as linebacker Christian Sam. But it hurt to not be able to show his skills.
“It was real tough,” Evans said. “I wanted to be out there so bad. But I learned a lot from watching. I learned a lot of people are equal. Nobody is better than the rest right now.”
Evans visited OU for junior day last month and said him and Sam are once again ready to drive up to Norman for the spring game. He still doesn’t have an OU offer, but he did pick up a big one from Stanford a couple of weeks ago.
“I was really surprised by that one,” Evans said. “I didn’t see it coming at all. I’ve only talked to them once at this point, but they’re definitely high on my list.”
With his father’s connections to OU, the Sooners are going to be high on Evans’ list. He said he has been in constant communication with linebackers coach Tim Kish.
The junior day visit was about exploring the campus and seeing how everything is. This visit is completely about something else.
“I want to see what kind of defense OU runs and see where I can help,” Evans said. “I’m going to be 100-percent focused on the defense.”
Evans said his recovery is going well. He is starting to lift weights again. He said he will be ready to go for spring practice, but he’s not sure if his coaches will let him participate. They might keep him out for precautionary reasons.
Big visitors galore for Sooners
This Intel has been loaded with info about several visitors to OU, but there are a lot more that haven’t been discussed. Some other key visitors include: