Friday, April 26, 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 giant Georgia offensive tackle has the Sooners in his top three.
An OU commit is getting more comfortable in Norman.
The Sooners are scouting a tight end in an unlikely location.
The race won't be easy for OU's top athlete target.
An OU signee has words of wisdom for a former teammate who's now being recruited.
Why putting on an OU jersey was special for an in-state tailback.
Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.
Brown high on Sooners
It’s not that uncommon for out-of-state prospects to want to play for Oklahoma. The Sooners' tradition is among the best in the nation.
But for a recruit from Georgia, there has normally got to be a strong connection somewhere. With all the top schools in the area, it’s not as common to hear OU as one of the favorites.
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
Offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. said he's trying to get his weight down to 325 pounds.
There are no OU ties with Duluth (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., but the Sooners are in his top three.
“OU has always been one of my favorite colleges,” Brown said. “They prep you for the next level and know how to get guys there. Trent Williams. Davin Joseph. Got Lane Johnson this year. It never stops.”
Brown didn’t really have any connection with OU until Bill Bedenbaugh took over as offensive line coach a couple of weeks after signing day.
Since then, the two have been in constant communication and the Sooners have soared up the list for Brown.
“It’s just somewhere I’ve always wanted to go,” Brown said. “My dad really wanted to go to OU. He never got that chance, but I would love to see what it’s all about.”
Brown’s father was former NFL offensive tackle Orlando Brown, who died in 2011. Like his father, there is no doubt junior is going to be an offensive tackle.
Brown said his top three is OU, Arkansas and Tennessee. He was able to visit Tennessee last weekend for the spring game and said he intends to visit OU and Arkansas in the summer.
“Those will be my final two visits, and then I think I’ll be ready (to decide),” Brown said.
Weight has been a concern for Brown in the past, but it’s something he is working hard at during the last year. He entered his junior season around 400 pounds, he said. Then he got down to 380 and finished the season around 345.
His goal is to be down to 325 pounds, but he still has some work to do.
“It’s all about how bad do you want it.” Brown said. “I’ve been working on my weight and footwork all offseason. I’m ready to get back out there.”
Brown said he is looking for the opportunity to play early and for a great relationship with the coaching staff. He believes he will find that at OU, but he doesn't known when he will be able to visit. He said Bedenbaugh will be one of the coaches that watches him in the spring.
McQuinnie comfortable in OU environment
Safety Vontre McQuinnie (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) is starting to understand what being an OU commit is all about.
McQuinnie has been vocal about his support of the Sooners since pledging at junior day in February. When he thought about attending LSU’s junior day, he heard negative feedback and opted to stay home.
He has been back at OU twice since his commitment, including two weeks ago for the spring game. With previous visits, he was closed off to the public. Not this time around.
“It was great to interact with all the fans,” McQuinnie said. “I was real surprised how so many of them already know who I am and know my stats from last season and stuff like that.”
McQuinnie didn’t waste any time in trying to get to know fellow recruits, either. He said it was great to interact with the whole team and all the coaches. The spring game also brought a lot of signees to Norman, and McQuinnie said he talked with cornerback L.J. Moore and running back Keith Ford for the first time.
And then he went to work on Class of 2014 prospects, talking to running back commit Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) and top offensive tackle target Ty Barrett (Dallas/Skyline).
“I know [Barrett] really likes it so I wish he would just commit and get it over with,” McQuinnie said. “He’s got to make the best decision for himself. I understand that.”
McQuinnie had a chance to show his skills earlier this month at the Nike Football Training Combine event in Allen, Texas. He said he enjoyed working with ESPN 150 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) during the 7-on-7 portion. The two have a strong connection.
“Me and Jamal have the same personal trainer,” McQuinnie said. “I’ve been working on my footwork a lot and just watching him. He’s at the top right now, and that’s what I’m looking to be. I’m just going to keep working.”
Sooners finding TE in unlikely place
We’ve seen what happens with quarterback dominoes, and this week gave us a version tight end dominoes.
When ESPN 150 tight Ian Bunting (Hinsdale, Ill./Central) committed to Michigan during the afternoon it set off a chain of events. One of OU’s top tight end targets ended his recruitment later that night, listing Bunting’s decision as a reason why he was ready. OU tight ends coach Jay Boulware was hoping to make an impression on Chicago Marist’s Nic Weishar, but he never really got a chance as Weishar committed to Notre Dame late Tuesday night.
So with two OU offers off the table in a span of a few hours, now what? The Sooners have headed to Idaho. Yes, indeed, OU is definitely taking a strong look at tight end Chase Blakley (Coeur D’Alene, Idaho/Coeur D’Alene).
Blakley has offers from Washington, Eastern Washington, Idaho and Idaho State and recently took a visit to Washington. The spring evaluation period should see things heat up for him. But so far Boulware is the only coach who has visited.
“It’s definitely an honor to know coaches from a program like OU are interested,” Blakley said. “He came down Monday, and then we talked on the phone a lot the next two days.”
Blakley, who is 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, said he started to talk with Boulware about a month ago. Since then, they have been talking every week. And now that is starting to grow into almost every single day.
Blakley said he has not been offered by OU but said he is optimistic about things. Boulware told him the coaches are going to return to Norman late this week, and he should hear from OU coach Bob Stoops soon.
“It’s definitely a good school for tight ends,” Blakley said. “Distance doesn’t really mean anything to me. I’m just looking for the best fit.”
Blakley said he intends to participate in summer camps, but doesn't know which ones at this point. He’s wide open.
“I don’t have a favorite,” Blakley said. “I really liked Washington, but I’m keeping my options open. Once I find the best school, I’ll know and make my decision.”
Interest picking up for Ball
Staying with tight ends, a name to watch this spring will be Midwest City (Okla.) Carl Albert’s Trenton Ball.
Following an impressive weekend at the Nike Football Training Combine events, it should be a busy month for Ball.
It’s already starting to get more interesting as Illinois became the first school to offer him earlier this week. Schools such as Oklahoma State and Kansas State are also in the mix.
He made a point, though, to let SoonerNation know he hasn’t forgotten about the Sooners.
“But I’m still not counting out OU,” Ball said in a text message. “I’ll try to make another impression at their camp this summer.”
Race for Quick won’t be easy
Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
Four-star athlete Michiah Quick hopes to visit Oklahoma this summer.
If you had to rank recruits for OU’s priority list, ESPN 150 athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East) would be No. 1 or 2.
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has let Quick know how much the Sooners are interested and made another visit to Quick this week. Quick has all the options, but OU does have some help as Fresno Central East defensive backs coach Tony Perry told Brandon Chatmon.
“It will help them a lot,” said Perry about L.J. Moore and Hatari Byrd signing with the Sooners. “Those guys are very close to him. L.J. is one of his best friends, and Hatari is his cousin. He knows Oklahoma has a great program.
“There have been great players to play for Mike Stoops. He pushes you, but everybody needs to be pushed. You take the good with the bad.”
Quick released a top list of OU, USC, Alabama, Notre Dame and Oregon earlier this year. He was able to visit Notre Dame two weeks ago. But it’s a long race to go in trying to land Quick.
“OU and Notre Dame are really on him tough,” Perry said. “And Alabama sends him a lot of stuff, too, and he’s taking a trip to Alabama. That’s why I say it’s wide open.
“Alabama, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, USC, UCLA, Cal and Washington are the schools he’s looking at hard right now.”
Morgan open to all comers
OU has missed out on several linebackers, but the Sooners remain in the hunt for one ESPN 150 prospect in Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee).
Morgan has 32 offers and said he hasn’t really narrowed anything down just yet. An OU visit is a possibility but it’s not a guarantee.
“I want to get out and see a lot of schools this summer,” Morgan said. “Schools like Florida, Texas A&M, OU, Miami, Virginia Tech. I’m not ruling out anything right now. I have no problems waiting and seeing how everything happens.”
It’s baby steps for Morgan. He said his first goal is to have a list of top schools by the start of his senior season.
Summer visits and this spring evaluation period will certainly play a role in what schools do and do not make the cut.
“Some of the things I’m looking at is how I would fit into the system and the school,” Morgan said. “I think going on some of these visits will help with things like that.
“I’m also looking hard at academics but also looking at things like the depth chart and just how hard the schools are recruiting me and wanting me.”
OU fell just short with ESPN 150 wide receiver Laquon Treadwell last season, Morgan’s former teammate.
Alexander with words of wisdom for Brailford
Sometimes it helps to have seen a teammate go through the process before you and give pointers about what to do with recruiting.
Tom Hauck for Student Sports
DE Jordan Brailford has three offers and wants to hear from the Sooners.
Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington defensive end Jordan Brailford admits former teammate and OU signee Dominique Alexander has been a big help for him with recruiting right now.
“I’m doing good because I’m not too worried about it,” Brailford said. “Dominique talked to me a lot about how coaches talk to you and stuff like that. He told me not to worry about it.”
Alexander would know as he heard from OU coaches at around this point last year to just keep working hard and they would evaluate him later.
That’s exactly what happened in October when the Sooners offered Alexander and ended up getting him to sign with OU in February. Brailford might not know how honest the coaches at other schools are being, but Alexander said he can trust the OU coaches.
“OU said they would come down for spring practice and see how I look and everything like that,” Brailford said. “I’m excited to see what happens.”
Putting on OU jersey a special moment for Evitt
Another in-state prospect who has been told OU coaches will make their way for spring practice is running back Lawrence Evitt (Wagoner, Okla./Wagoner).
Evitt made his second trip to OU two weeks ago for the spring game and was able to reconnect with OU running backs coach Cale Gundy. He also got to put on a No. 1 jersey.
“That felt real good,” Evitt said. “I loved that jersey. It was good to wear that jersey. It’s the first college one I’ve ever had on. It has given me something to really look forward to doing again someday.”
Evitt said he understands nothing will happen without the grades. He took the ACT earlier this month and is hoping a quality score there will open the floodgates with offers from top schools.
An admitted Oklahoma State fan growing up, Evitt said it’s hard for him to envision not being at OU right now. The atmosphere is something he loves, but the relationships he’s building is another.
“They make you feel like you’re part of a family,”Evitt said. “They thanked me for coming and kept showing a lot of love. They make you feel welcome. I love the community. They take care of you, and I feel like I fit right in.”
OU back in it with Blackmar?
Before former OU coaches Bruce Kittle and James Patton were let go, the Sooners were the favorite for Houston Clear Lake offensive lineman Blake Blackmar.
Things have changed as it’s a three-team race with Kansas State, Baylor and Texas Tech right now. Blackmar didn’t go to any spring games but did attend scrimmages for the Bears and Red Raiders.
OU can still get back into it, but the clock is ticking.
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“I still think I’m going to make my decision in the summer,” Blackmar said. “By then I will have had some time to narrow it down and do all the research I need to.”
Missouri has also entered the mix as the Tigers offered him a couple of weeks ago, and he has the longest relationship with the Missouri coaching staff.
He said he hasn’t talked to Bill Bedenbaugh yet, but he has been getting mail and some hand-written notes from the Sooners.
“I want to be under a roof going into next season, you know,” Blackmar said. “I don’t want to be left out in the cold in case I get hurt or anything like that.”
One thing that is helping Blackmar across the board is his versatility to play center, guard or tackle. He has played all three in high school and said he has no problem playing any of the three positions going forward.
“This summer I’m going to make some camps, and I think I’ll be ready,” Blackmar said.
Moon hopes to hear from Sooners
One Class of 2015 prospect who stood out at OU’s camp last summer was Signal Mountain (Tenn.) High tight end Harrison Moon. He was among the best tight end prospects there and said he had forged a tight bond with coach Bruce Kittle.
With Kittle gone, though, things have been quiet between Moon and the Sooners. But not too quiet for Moon overall.
“Things are going really well,” Moon said. “I went to spring practices and games for Clemson and Tennessee, and I went to a spring practice at Vanderbilt.”
Moon said he doesn’t have any offers yet and said college coaches told him to be more physical this spring. At 6-foot-5 and 246 pounds, there is a chance Moon grows into an offensive tackle instead of a tight end.
“I’ve been told my frame can hold 300 pounds so I don’t know,” Moon said. “I’ll have to see where it goes. Nobody is recruiting me at tackle right now so I’m focused on tight end.”
Moon said he would like to talk with the OU staff and see the level of interest. He mentioned last summer was a long trip, but it was totally worth it. He has another ambitious summer schedule planned this year.
“I’m looking at Tennessee, Clemson, Vandy, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss, maybe Pittsburgh, I just don’t know yet,” Moon said. “Speed is what I’ve been working on this offseason. I got my 40 time down and now I want to show everybody what I can do.”
OU hasn't reconnected with Clark
Entering last season it looked like it was only a matter of time before OU offered Denton (Texas) Ryan defensive end Sekou Clark.
Defensive end Sekou Clark hopes his recruitment takes off this spring.
He had camped at OU for three summers and was making multiple unofficial visits for home games. But even before OU made several coaching changes, the interest died down.
And since Jerry Montgomery has taken over for the defensive line, there hasn’t been much contact with Clark and the Sooners. Clark picked up an offer from Washington State to get on the board but said he is hoping this spring evaluation period sees things pick up even more for him.
“I’m a lot bigger than I was last year so I’m hoping once schools see that, they think again,” Clark said. “I’ve been working out every day and am more disciplined than I was before.”
Clark was around 215 pounds last season but weighed in at 233 at the Nike Football Training Combine event in Allen, Texas, earlier this month.
He was invited to a lot of spring practices and games but concentrated on track instead. Baylor and Texas Tech continue to show a lot of interest as well as Ole Miss and Northwestern.
Regardless, with the Washington State offer, Clark said he can relax now and get to work.
“It was weighing on my mind a lot,” Clark said. “I never thought Washington State was going to be the offer. I hadn’t talked to them at all. But it’s nice to know I have a spot and can focus on getting better instead of worrying about that.”
Clark has made some strides, but if OU doesn’t come around during this period, it might be safe to say the Sooners have moved on from Clark.