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Friday, May 3, 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:

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.

Shepard back in the mix for OU

Right now cornerback Tee Shepard doesn’t really care where he’s going to play football. He is simply happy he will be able to play college football.

The former ESPN 150 defensive back has had to sit patiently and hasn’t seen the field in two years. But he was back for spring football at Holmes Community College in Mississippi.

“Oh man, I can’t tell you how great it feels to be back out there,” Shepard said. “I wasn’t able to do anything so I didn’t know how it would feel to be back. It’s like being home again.”

Tee Shepard
Former ESPN 150 cornerback Tee Shepard says he will be visiting Oklahoma this summer.
Shepard originally signed with Notre Dame for the Class of 2012 and enrolled early but failed to meet the academic requirements. But because he was enrolled in Notre Dame it created mass confusion about his eligibility status.

Last fall it looked like Shepard had committed to Oklahoma until it was discovered there were NCAA Clearinghouse issues that couldn’t be resolved. Shepard has been in contact with OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops throughout the process.

Shepard did nothing last season except personal workouts before enrolling at Holmes. He released his spring highlights earlier this week and now is just hoping to put the eligibility mess behind him.

“I’m not sure where I stand with my status,” Shepard said. “All I know is I’m going to work hard on and off the field. I want to graduate in December. If not, I’ll definitely graduate in May (2014).”

It’s unclear which schools are still interested in Shepard, but the Sooners have kept in contact. Shepard said he talks to OU graduate assistant Chip Viney just about every day.

Shepard’s last final is May 14, and then he will fly back to California to work with personal defensive backs coach Tony Perry.

Perry has developed a tight bond with Stoops and is going to come to OU the first week of June for OU’s summer camp. Shepard is coming along with him.

“If that’s the camp in June, that’s when I’m going,” Shepard said. “I want to see what schools have an interest, and I’m excited to visit Oklahoma.”

Perry has become a huge link for the Sooners. His influence was a big reason OU was able to get in early with Fresno (Calif.) Central East four-star defensive backs Hatari Byrd and L.J. Moore last year. Byrd and Moore both signed with OU.

And the Perry connection is paying off with ESPN 150 athlete Michiah Quick, who is also expected to join Perry to Norman, Okla., in June.

“Yeah, I would love to play with those guys again,” Shepard said. “It would be like being back at Fresno again. It would be a lot of fun and feel like home.”

Shepard said the last year has helped him get his mind straight and really focus hard on academics. He has an academic plan for the first time. And being in junior college has helped him value watching film as he said he has done that more than he ever had in the past.

But nothing gets being back on the field.

“I’m really happy right because every time I step onto the field, I’m pumped to be out there,” Shepard said. “I don’t care if it’s hot, cold, whatever. I’m happy.”

OU offer could change things for Sykes

He doesn’t have an OU offer yet, but wide receiver Dionte Sykes (Chandler, Ariz./Chandler) gets excited just thinking about getting one.

Sykes, a three-star prospect ranked No. 49 in the country, is 6-2, 205 pounds and has offers from Arizona State and Michigan, among several others.

But it’s an OU offer he’s waiting for. OU defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery started talking to Sykes last year when he was coaching at Michigan. Montgomery visited the Arizona area last week and visited Sykes.

“He said they really like me and that they would come back in two weeks when spring ball starts,” Sykes said.

Montgomery won’t be coming back, though. This time around it will be wide receivers coach Jay Norvell who will make the trip. After talking primarily to Montgomery, Sykes said he has been in more contact with Norvell recently.

What would an OU offer mean to Sykes?

“It would change the whole recruiting process for me,” Sykes said. “The receivers they’ve put out in the past like Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills. The tradition. It would change everything for me.”

Arizona State has been showing Sykes the most interest, but he said OU is his top school and UCLA is very high on his list.

The spring won’t die down anytime soon for Sykes, who said more than 10 schools have already shown up in the last week. He said he cannot go a day in school without being taken out of class because a college coach is in town.

Sykes said he is talking to OU coaches at least once a week. A lot of schools run spread offenses, but there is something different about the way OU runs its offense.

“Not all spread offenses do a good job of getting the ball to the wide receivers,” Sykes said. “I know I’ll get the ball if I go to OU.”

Sykes said he is no rush to make his commitment. He said his plan is to commit during his senior season.

Montgomery and Williams developing tight bond

At this point last year OU was rolling in the defensive end department. The Sooners already had two ESPN 300 commits.

That’s not the case this year. OU isn't hurting at the position, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery has set his targets on four-star end Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing Christian). Williams, who is 6-4 and 243 pounds, is ranked No. 14 at the position and has offers from a list of who’s who in college football.

Andrew Williams
Four-star defensive end Andrew Williams wants to visit OU, Texas, LSU and Oregon this summer.
But not all coaches have developed that relationship with Williams like Montgomery has.

“He is one of the coaches I know I can trust,” Williams said. “Ever since he was at Michigan and since he has made the switch, he has been straight forward and hasn’t held anything back.”

It won’t be easy, though. In this week alone coaches from Clemson, Arkansas, South Carolina, among others, have visited Williams.

Williams has seen a lot of the top schools in the SEC and said he is looking toward the summer to start visiting other schools such as OU.

“I’m working on my top 10 right now,” Williams said. “I hope to have that done in the next couple of weeks. I want to visit OU, Texas, LSU and Oregon in the summer so I can’t say I’m even close to being ready.”

Williams said he is in contact with Montgomery at least once a week and Montgomery said he will be making the trip to spring practice sometime after it starts May 13.

Most coaches promise early playing time, but it’s what Montgomery doesn’t promise that appeals to Williams.

“He doesn’t tell me anything,” Williams said. “He doesn’t say anything is going to be given to me. He talks about how I’m going to have to earn it, earn it all. I like that.”

Nothing left for OU to do with Dalton

There have been times where OU fans haven’t felt like the coaches did everything they could to get a coveted recruit.

It’s not a sure thing offensive lineman Alex Dalton (Troy, Ohio/Troy) will be coming to Norman, but it’s not because of anything the coaches haven’t done.

“I can’t think of one thing I need to have cleared up,” Dalton said. “Everything has been answered. I know where I stand.”

The feeling is pretty good for OU with Dalton, especially coming off a second visit to campus last weekend. The visit was crucial because his mother had to see everything.

Dalton said OU, Indiana and Stanford are his top three schools so naturally it would be safe to assume his mother will join him on a trip to Palo Alto, Calif., right?

“I haven’t talked to Stanford at all since my trip [last month],” Dalton said. “I don’t have any trips planned at all right now. I talk to OU and Indiana all the time, but I haven’t heard from Stanford.”

Dalton, who is 6-4 and 280 pounds, is being recruited by OU as a center and guard. Dalton reiterated that he doesn’t feel any pressure to commit and will simply do so when he's ready.

David still on road to recovery

It has been a long few months for four-star inside linebacker James David (Rockdale, Texas/Rockdale), and he is not quite through yet.

David tore his ACL late in his junior season and still isn’t good to go. But he’s not discouraged.

James David
Class of 2014 linebacker James David visited Baylor and Texas Tech this spring.
“I knew it would take a while,” David said. “I’m just starting to jog right now so that’s what I’m focused on doing.”

OU fans were hoping David would join the Brooks family on their trip to OU three weeks ago for OU’s spring game as the Brooks family was there to see Daniel Brooks. But David was unable to attend.

He wasn’t very active this spring, only attending spring events at Baylor and Texas Tech. And his top four hasn’t changed with OU still being squarely in the mix even if the Sooners haven’t been very aggressive here lately.

“I really like the coaches and the tradition,” David said. “I talk to Daniel sometimes. We don’t talk about me going to OU, but I know he’s happy, and it’s working out.”

David said he would like to make his decision by the start of his senior season. A couple of trips would help clear things up as he said he hopes to see TCU and Ole Miss this summer.

Actually, David would like to go just about anywhere.

“I don’t know where I’m going to go or when I’m going to, but I want to see as many places as possible,” David said. “If any of my friends are going to see a school and want me to come, I’m going.”

Blomstrom starting to break out

From one defensive captain at Katy (Texas) High to the next? It’s a possibility as OU is starting to zero in on Katy linebacker Jake Blomstrom. Former Katy star Matt Dimon signed with the Sooners in February.

Blomstrom hasn’t spoken too much about his recruitment but said things are starting to pick up for him in that department.

“I have an offer from Rice, and Mississippi State sends me hand-written letters every day,” Blomstrom said. “I was able to see Baylor in the spring.”

Blomstrom became a prospect to watch last summer at OU’s satellite camp in the Houston area. He was told by linebackers coach Tim Kish then that he was near the top of their board for the Class of 2014.

Almost a year later, not much has changed. Blomstrom said Kish visited him last week, and he said it was good to get in touch once again.

Blomstrom said the OU coaches want him to camp with OU once again in the Houston area this summer. The Sooners remain one of the top options for him.

“They’re good, you know,” Blomstrom said. “It sounds simple, but it’s true. It’s close to home, and they have great tradition.”

But OU hasn’t reached the point of being his favorite yet as he said he is looking at all interested schools. Blomstrom said he is looking to be active this summer, but the only camp he is 100 percent sure about attending is a one-day camp at Ole Miss on June 8.

Blomstrom got to watch Dimon help lead Katy to another state championship. He’s hoping to do the same this season.

“Matt was a great leader and now I have a bigger leadership role,” Blomstrom said. “It means a lot to be elected captain, but it’s not about one man here at Katy. It’s about the team.”

Hendrix on the rise

Sometimes all it takes is that one offer and then everything starts to pick up. It hasn’t been one offer for Dallas Bishop Dunne safety Payton Hendrix. It has been a slew of top offers for the 6-3, 187-pound safety.

Dallas Bishop Dunne was already a popular destination with ESPN 150 cornerback Nick Watkins and three-star offensive tackle Jovan Pruitt, but the emergence of Hendrix has another name to be on the watch for.

Stanford and Nebraska were among the first to offer and North Carolina, Texas Tech and North Texas all offered Monday.

“It has been kind of crazy,” Hendrix said. “A lot of coaches have been coming in like every day. It feels really good.”

Before Hendrix was such a hot commodity, he was already on the radar for the Sooners as Hendrix visited OU’s junior day.

He didn’t leave with the offer, but Mike Stoops said he would be back to check in on him this spring. With Texas high school spring football starting this week, look for that to happen sooner than later.

“They have been sending me a lot of mail and said they want me to come up in June for their one-day camp,” Hendrix said.

One thing Hendrix said will be vital to his recruitment is how comfortable his parents are with the school. As Hendrix continues to visit more schools, his parents have been joining him and taking notes.

He said they have been detailing the good and bad of each trip and school but haven’t sat down as a family to fully discuss things.

“If I don’t make my decision before the season, then I’m probably going to wait until right after the season,” Hendrix said. “Academics and being comfortable mean a lot to me, but I’m not close to knowing where I want to go.”

OU taking interest in Owens

He gets reminded every day about what Adrian Peterson has done, but that’s not a bad thing for Palestine (Texas) High defensive end Jarrell Owens.

It comes with the territory when you’re from the same town and same high school as the former OU star and current Minnesota Vikings star running back.

“It’s a big motivation knowing he came from the same place,” Owens said. “He has been so successful, and it lets you know it can happen. All it does is push me harder to do the same things.”

And it might push him to the same school as OU has started to show a lot of interest in Owens. He said OU was in contact with him last fall when basketball season started and now the interest is picking up once again.

But just because Peterson went to OU doesn’t mean he’s a shoo-in for the Sooners. Far from it.

“I don’t have any favorites at all,” Owens said. “Any school that shows interest is a place I’m interested in. Texas came by this week and said they want me to come to their camp in June. OU is supposed to come back again in the next week or so.”

Owens said TCU, Baylor and Texas State are among some of the other schools showing interest. More could be coming when they see how hard he has worked to get some unnecessary fat off of him.

“I admit it. I was a little chunky,” Owens said. “I got up to around 250 pounds, and I was chunky and slow. I’ve worked real hard to put myself in big position.”

Basketball season saw Owens get down to 220 pounds, which he said is too small. He said right now he’s 6-3 and 240 pounds, and he wants to keep it that way. He is being recruited at defensive end, but he has also played linebacker, wide receiver and running back.

“I never know what’s next,” Owens said. “I just want to play, and I just want to win. I’m a lot quicker on my feet, and I’m excited to see what happens next.”

Sooners enter race for Smalls

You can’t win the race if you never enter it in the first place. It won’t be easy for OU to lure away cornerback Darin Smalls (Summerville, S.C./Summerville) away from in-state South Carolina, but the Sooners will try.

OU hasn’t made many offers during the first half of the evaluation period, but Smalls was one of them last week.

It took him by complete surprise.

“I was pretty excited and pretty shocked,” Smalls said. “It’s something new for me, but it’s a place I could see myself going.”

Smalls, who is 5-11 and 205 pounds, said he is being recruited by cornerbacks coach Bobby Jack Wright, and the two were able to talk for the first time last week after the offer was made.

Admittedly he doesn’t know much about the Sooners at this stage, but he hasn’t ruled anybody out. The offer list is impressive with Florida State, Clemson and Tennessee being among them.

But it’s clear he’s leaning toward the Gamecocks. He said South Carolina is his No. 1 choice right now and the coaches were back visiting Smalls once again this week.

Already solid in coverage, Smalls knew what he needed to work on during the offseason.

“Tackling. I hit that hard since the end of last year,” Smalls said. “And when it comes to schools, it’s all about fitting in. Fitting in with the team and at the school.”