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Friday, May 17, 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.

OU not out of picture for Bonney

There has been a lot of talk about how OU has failed to make an imprint with the top defensive backs in the state of Texas for the Class of 2014.

Included in that bunch has been four-star safety John Bonney (Houston/Lamar). Bonney, who was offered by OU in the winter, was unable to visit the campus in the spring. Because of that some people have written him off as a serious Sooners target.

John Bonney
Four-star safety John Bonney has long had Texas on top. But Oklahoma is still being considered.
Bonney says that's not the case.

“That’s not true,” Bonney said. “Coach [Tim] Kish visited a couple of weeks ago and said he would be coming back before spring is over. I’ve actually been to OU more than any other campus, including all the ones in Texas.”

That’s not to say OU is leading for Bonney’s services. Bonney was able to make a few trips this spring, attending spring games at Texas, Baylor and LSU. A busy track schedule kept him from making more visits but that will change this summer.

Ohio State and Stanford both visited Bonney earlier this week, and he said those are the two out-of-state schools he would most like to see before making a decision. He said Northwestern is in the mix for a visit, too.

He needs time to develop the bond with those schools. That’s not the case with the Sooners.

“I visited twice last season and met all the coaches and their families,” Bonney said. “My parents met all the coaches and feel comfortable with them.”

Comfort means a lot to Bonney, and it’s something he’ll have to find quickly. Despite loads of offers and options, Bonney is set on making his decision before his senior season starts.

“I want to see some colleges this summer and then commit,” Bonney said. “My dad and I came to that agreement. We’re not the type of people to wait it out and keep schools waiting. We’re going to stay true to our word.”

One thing Bonney did find interesting was the min-war of words between OU coach Bob Stoops and Alabama coach Nick Saban in comparing the strength of the Big 12 and SEC conferences. Bonney didn’t have an opinion, but he did agree with Stoops about one thing when it comes to the Big 12.

“A lot of people say the SEC is the best, but the Big 12 is right there with them. The passing game is definitely better in the Big 12. You’re going to go against first-round picks at receiver in the Big 12. I like that type of challenge.”

Bonney said he might take another visit to OU this summer but that it’s not necessary and doesn’t mean OU is out of the hunt. He said OU, Baylor, Texas, Auburn and Stanford have been the schools with the most consistent contact.

Sam weighing options

The only word to describe it was disappointment. The hope for OU fans was Allen (Texas) High linebacker Christian Sam was going to attend the Sooners' spring game and commit.

Obviously that didn’t happen. Sam was unable to get transportation to the event and was forced to stay home along with his teammate, linebacker Tay Evans.

Transportation kept Sam from making a lot of trips, though, as he only attended spring events at TCU and Baylor.

Not being able to see many schools has kept OU in his good graces because of his positive junior day experience. But it’s also a reason why there isn’t a commitment planned anytime soon.

“I don’t want to rush anything or jump to any conclusions,” Sam said. “I’m going to start narrowing things down after spring ball. Once I make the commitment, I’m done. I’m a man of my word.”

Sam isn’t looking to participate in any team camps this summer but said he hopes to take some unofficial visits.

SEC schools Arkansas and Ole Miss are toward the top of that list along with Arizona State. Sam said he would also consider return trips to OU and Baylor. For what he values, campus visits are a big priority.

“The atmosphere on campus means a lot to me,” Sam said. “All the schools are great for football but what about the other times when I’m not playing? I’m going to be there the next four years. I have to be comfortable.”

Sam said OU is one of the schools that keeps in contact the most. He said he talks to linebackers coach Tim Kish two to three times per week, and Kish visited Allen earlier this week.

The hope for some OU fans was for Kish to visit Allen, offer Evans and then have OU pull off an Allen double with commitments from Sam and Evans.

Evans didn’t receive the OU offer this week although the door is not closed by any means. As for Sam, he’s focusing on his senior season and becoming a leader.

“It’s something I’m getting used to,” Sam said. “I never really had to be that guy before so it’s a little different. This year I’m the senior, and I’m the leader.”

Green worked his way to OU offer

OU was able to get another commitment from the state of Texas when cornerback Marcus Green (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill) committed on Mother’s Day.

Green’s stock has risen in the last couple of weeks. One person not surprised is Cedar Hill coach Joey McGuire.

Marcus Green
New OU commit Marcus Green could play cornerback, safety or nickelback for the Sooners.
“He has long arms and great length and started 16 games for us at corner last season,” McGuire said. “He came back this spring after a winter of working his tail off.”

McGuire said some of the things OU likes so much about Green is actually what made it took so long for Green’s interest to increase.

He’s a legit 6-1 so the question has become: is he a cornerback or safety? That’s still to be determined, but the versatility is something McGuire said really intrigued OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.

“He’s a hybrid,” McGuire said. “I like him at corner for my team, but he can play anything, and I know that’s what Coach Stoops liked. He can be corner, nickelback or safety. He brings that versatility.”

McGuire said Stoops saw Green’s film and knew he liked it, but he needed to see him practice. Once he did, all doubts were gone. And Stoops really wanted Green to know that. Green said when he got the offer, he called Stoops later that night.

“I told him OU is definitely near the top of my list,” Green said. “He told me he didn’t want OU near the top. He wanted OU to be the top of the list and for me to commit. I really liked his passion.”

McGuire said Green is fine academically, and he has named Green one of his captains for this season. He started playing music during his spring practices and recently began incorporating fight songs into the routine. Monday was a “Boomer Sooner” day to celebrate Green’s commitment.

“I figured that was fitting,” McGuire said. “It wasn’t just Marcus that was happy. I have two assistants who graduated from OU. They told Marcus he’s a Sooner for life.”

TE Prince is dedicated

All the talent in the world doesn’t mean anything until the light bulb comes on. It’s better late than never for Norman (Okla.) North tight end Payton Prince.

Regarded as a top prospect the last couple of years, Prince is playing to the potential everybody has believed he has. He doesn’t make excuses. This year is different.

“I’m showing more effort,” Prince said. “My coaches and my teammates have really helped me. I’ve lost a lot of weight and feel like I have a lot more stamina.”

Prince, who is 6-4 and 230 pounds, already has offers from Tulsa and Memphis. He said Indiana is close to offering, too. As for the Sooners, they haven’t forgotten about him.

Prince originally came onto their radar as an invited guest for linebacker signee Jordan Evans last fall. But now Prince is the main attraction. He was hoping to attend last month’s spring game but couldn’t. OU running backs coach Cale Gundy talked with Prince last week and said OU really wants Prince to make it to OU’s camp in two weeks.

One person not shocked by the interest is ESPN 150 quarterback David Cornwell, Prince’s teammate.

“He’s a big time player,” Cornwell said. “He has the softest hands I’ve see. I see him as a Jermaine Gresham-type player. He can block, but he can also catch and run routes. Total package.

“He can be like Zach Randolph in basketball and screen defenders off and catch the ball. He has great hands, and he’s really going to emerge.”

Prince said he is also hearing from Oregon and Nebraska. SoonerNation saw Prince on Tuesday, and he didn’t drop a single pass during the two-hour practice.

Wariboko getting used to OU coaches

One look at Oklahoma City Casady’s Class of 2015 offensive lineman Josh Wariboko and it’s obvious why schools are flocking to see him.

The foot-work Wariboko displays is something all schools seek, and OU is trying to make sure he stays home for college.

Wariboko visited OU for the first time last month and then returned a week later for the spring game. Well, sort of.

“I got there in the fourth quarter because I had the ACT that morning,” Wariboko said. “I wanted to go because it’s OU, and I had never been to a spring game. I was able to get there and talk to the players and coaches after. It was nice.”

OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel has recognized Wariboko’s talents as Heupel was at Oklahoma City Casady’s practice Monday.

Wariboko is hearing from OU, Oklahoma State, Tulsa and Iowa State, among others, but he knows where he’s going to be in two weeks.

“I will definitely be going to OU’s camp,” Wariboko said. “That is my No. 1 camp for the summer. I’ll be there all three days.”

Wariboko got recognized during stellar camp performances during the spring, and it carried over to track. He won the conference championship in discus and was second in shot put. Both marks are believed to be school records, according to Casady coach Koby Scoville.

“He’s so athletic for his size,” Scoville said. “He’s an aggressive football player but very mild-mannered off the field. He’s everything you want in a player.”

Wariboko said he didn’t get to talk to Heupel much Monday but did talk to him on the phone Tuesday and keeps him updated. He said he calls the OU coaches once a week.

Don’t count out Foreman

Armanti Foreman
ESPN 150 wide receiver Armanti Foreman is still planning to visit OU this summer.
It looked like OU was dead in the water with ESPN 150 wide receiver Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City).

Foreman was originally OU’s first commit for the Class of 2014 before decommitting last month. Texas, Texas A&M and Florida, among several other schools, have been hot on his trail.

But don’t forget about the Sooners. Foreman hasn’t. Foreman talked to GigEmNation’s Sam Khan Jr. earlier this week and said the family still intends to visit OU this summer.

The natural tendency is for OU fans to roll their eyes at this point because Foreman has expressed a desire to visit for some time but has yet to follow through on his words.

The only real reason for legit optimism is that, according to Khan, OU was the only school Foreman said he definitely wants to visit this summer.

A lot of Foreman’s recruitment is centered around his twin brother, D'Onta Foreman, too. The twins haven’t been shy about expressing their desire to play together in college.

If OU really wants Armanti, it might have to offer D’Onta, who is being recruited at running back or linebacker. The Sooners have shown interest in D’Onta, but an offer still might take some time to come.

Will the Foreman family wait it out? That’s a question that simply can't be answered at this point.

Kee ready to take visits

Junior college offensive guard Frank Kee (Tyler, Texas/Tyler JC) isn’t pulling any punches. He’s not trying to enjoy the recruiting process. This is business, and he’s ready to get to work.

Kee, a Class of 2014 prospect, has offers from OU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor and Southern Mississippi. And next weekend will start a month-long tour of OU, OSU, Tech and Baylor.

“Those are my top four but the order is all up in the air right now,” Kee said. “I plan on making my commitment before the start of the season.”

Kee is going to visit Baylor next weekend, OU on June 1, OSU on June 8 and Texas Tech on June 17. From there, he hopes to have enough information to be able to make a commitment.

The Sooners first started to show some interest during his spring football season. Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh came down. He watched one play on film and said he needed to talk with Kee. The two have been in constant contact ever since, and he was offered last week.

“Since they started recruiting me, I’ve really been doing my work,” Kee said. “It’s definitely some place I can see myself playing in.”

Kee is done with his spring classes at Tyler, but he is taking summer classes with the plan he will be able to graduate in December and be on campus in January. He said he talks to Bedenbaugh at least once a week.

All schools except Texas Tech see Kee as a guard. He said Tech would like him to try center as well as guard. He prefers guard.

Spring was an interesting time for Kee as Tyler has a new offensive line coach. Known for his physicality, the focus was something else this spring.

“It was all about technique,” Kee said. “I’ve always been physical, but I have improved technique now. My aggressiveness is definitely my strength.”

Preston a name to remember for future

SoonerNation has been able to hit the road this week to check out top Oklahoma high school prospects, and there are a lot to choose from at Edmond Santa Fe.

One name that popped out this week is Class of 2015 cornerback Ashton Preston, who is 5-11 and 168 pounds.

Preston is already receiving attention from Arizona and said he will be at OU’s summer camp for all three days. But it’s not just that as it’s who he’s working with that is interesting.

Every weekend Preston and his father, Hurlen, drive from Edmond to Dallas to work with defensive backs coach Clay Mack. Among the other recruits that work with Mack? ESPN 150 DBs Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) and Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and OU commits Marcus Green and Vontre McQuinnie (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster).

“It’s a real honor actually to work with those guys,” Preston said. “You learn to approach the game the same way they approach the game. That same mindset.”

Hurlen Preston has a nephew at Lewisville Hebron that told him about Mack. After Mack saw what Ashton Preston could do on the field, he agreed to take him under his wing.

Preston said he has learned a lot from watching Brown and Adams, both on and off the field.

“They’ve really helped me with my back pedal and my stance,” Preston said. “They’ve helped with my on-field awareness and to know where everything is at. And it’s how they carry themselves. They have fun, but they know when it’s time to work.”

Preston plans to camp at TCU, Vanderbilt, North Texas and maybe Houston this summer. The grind of the weekly travel can be tough, but Preston knows it’s worth it.

“It wears you down, but it’s all good,” Preston said. “You have to put in the work if you want to end up like those guys.”

Hammond back on the market

If there’s one thing recruiting has taught people, it’s that it’s hard to keep a prospect committed for more than 12 months. It’s the case in football, and OU learned it’s that case in basketball, too.

Jacob Hammond
After decommitting from OU, three-star forward Jacob Hammond will visit a few West Coast schools.
Three-star power forward Jacob Hammond decommitted from the Sooners on Monday morning after having pledged to OU in August.

“Making a college decision is obviously a huge deal,” Hammond said. “I want to make sure I’m making the right decision. I have to find the right fit for me. I might have jumped at OU a little too early. It’s nothing against OU. OU has treated me great.”

But other schools are entering the picture. Hammond said Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Washington State, Kansas State and UCLA are all starting to show some strong interest. None of the schools have offered but some of them are right on the cusp.

Hammond let the OU coaches know Monday morning and said there were no hard feelings.

“They were a little upset, but they understood,” Hammond said. “Coach [Lon] Kruger was real professional about it.

“He told me to see what I need to see and that they’ll keep watching me.”

His college program isn’t the only thing influx right now for Hammond. After spending his junior year at Bel Aire (Kan.) Sunrise Christian, he is going to attend his fourth different school in as many years.

He started at Duncan (Okla.) High as a freshman. Spent his sophomore season homeschooling and playing for the Oklahoma City Storm. With Sunrise Christian in the books, he’s looking at going the homeschool route once again with a first-year homeschool based out of Oklahoma City.

“I wasn’t too happy there [Sunrise],” Hammond said. “I didn’t feel like I fit there. The first couple of weeks I was homesick, which is natural being that far away from home, but it was more basketball-related than anything else.”

Hammond spent a lot of last summer playing on the West Coast and that appears to be in the cards once again. He said he will be leaving for California in the next couple of weeks. The plan is to definitely take an unofficial visit to UCLA while out there.

Hammond was the only Class of 2014 commit for OU.