Oklahoma Sooners: Deondre Clark

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February, 11, 2014
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Signing day: Big 12 wrapup

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5
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As hectic of a day as it was, national signing day was a success for all Big 12 programs. Coaches were up early manning their fax machines and showing excitement with every national letter of intent submitted via fax.

Nearly 250 football players signed letters of intent to play Big 12 football on Wednesday. Here are five of the biggest storylines -- and a bonus storyline that could have an ending Thursday -- from the conference.

Oklahoma takes over top spot in Big 12

In the past 48 hours, everything seemed to go Oklahoma’s way.

[+] EnlargeMichiah Quick
Courtesy of Nike ESPN 300 ATH Michiah Quick was a big part of Oklahoma's final rush, a rush that gave the Sooners the top class in the Big 12.
After getting a Tuesday commitment from ESPN 300 safety Steven Parker II (Jenks, Okla./Jenks), the Sooners got Wednesday pledges from ESPN 300 athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central East) and high three-star offensive tackles Kenyon Frison (West Valley City, Utah/Granger) and Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge).

All four players were a part of Oklahoma’s signing class of 26 on Wednesday -- helping the Sooners take over the top spot in the Big 12 class rankings. Oklahoma’s class is No. 13 nationally, three spots better than previous top dog Texas.

Oklahoma in previous years has been very good at finishing strong in recruiting. It managed to sign Frison, who committed to Utah last February before decommitting last month, as well as Brown, who had been committed to Tennessee since May before making an 11th-hour change.

Strong, Longhorns get their DTs

New Texas coach Charlie Strong wanted two players he recruited to play at Louisville, and by Wednesday afternoon, he had them.

ESPN 300 defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) and three-star defensive tackle Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Victory Christian Academy) signed with the Longhorns and were two of 23 to submit national letters of intent. They also helped erase the sting of the Longhorns losing three four-star defensive tackle commitments in LSU signee Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren), Oklahoma signee Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) and Texas A&M signee Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) last month.

Collectively, Ford and Nelson recorded 235 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 35 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles. The duo also had 37.5 tackles for loss.

Receivers ‘No. 1’ to Baylor coach

Baylor coach Art Briles made a bold statement about his new wide receivers -- one that might be challenged by some but co-signed by others.

“The thing that we feel really good about,” Briles said, “is that we've signed the No. 1 receiving class in America -- I don't think that's up for debate.”

Briles has an argument with four ESPN 300 receivers in K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), Ishmael Zamora (Houston/Alief Elsik) and Chris Platt (Willis, Texas/Willis). The quartet helped to give Baylor a top-25 national recruiting class.

Rhoads fired up about lone in-state signee

To say Paul Rhoads is excited about his top-ranked signee, ESPN 300 wide receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale) is an understatement.

While Rhoads is pumped about the entire class, there’s something special about Lazard, as he is this year’s only in-state signee. Lazard, No. 148 in the ESPN 300, had opportunities to sign with other programs, but he chose to honor his original commitment and also follow the footsteps of his father Kevin Lazard, who played in the secondary for the Cyclones in the early 1990s.

“This is a young man who has gotten phenomenal national attention and was recruited by the traditional historical programs in college football and kept on turning them away to stay true to his word to be an Iowa State Cyclone,” Rhoads said in a statement of Lazard, the No. 2 prospect out of the state of Iowa behind Alabama offensive lineman signee Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls).

West Virginia adds depth in class

Adding depth was the objective for West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, as he signed 22 players on Wednesday. Holgorsen was fortunate to add depth from coast to coast.

Of the 22 commits, only one -- three-star offensive tackle Amanii Brown (Morgantown, W.Va./Morgantown) -- is an in-state signee. The Mountaineers hit points all over the Lower 48, from California to Texas to Florida, to get players who can be contributors early and help the program return to star status.

West Virginia’s class is led by five ESPN 300 players. Running back Donte Thomas-Williams (Durham, N.C./Hillside), the class’ top-ranked player, was the last to commit early Wednesday afternoon. He joins defensive back Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa), linebacker Davonte James (Springfield, Ohio/Springfield) and receivers Lamar Parker (Miami/Booker T. Washington) and Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) in the class.

Bonus: Could the Sooners add one more?

LSU signed 22 players on Wednesday. The Tigers were hoping to sign 23.

Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass) has been verbally committed to LSU since July, but the ESPN 300 defensive end also has high interest in Oklahoma. There were conflicting reports on Wednesday regarding whether Clark actually signed and submitted his letter of intent to LSU.

ESPN’s David Ching said an LSU spokesperson confirmed the letter of intent was at LSU and cleared compliance. Outside reports, however, say Clark did not submit the letter of intent, and a tweet from Clark's Twitter account said that “nothing is final.” His mother Dorshell also told The Oklahoman that her son “has not signed with LSU.”

Oklahoma City schools were closed on Wednesday because of bad weather, so Clark didn’t fax anything by way of Douglass High School. He is expected to announce his final decision on Thursday.

If it's true that Clark has not signed with LSU, look for Oklahoma to be a key player in his final decision. Ranked No. 273 in the ESPN 300, Clark has built a great relationship with the Sooners' coaching staff, particularly defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.
Thanks for your questions during my chat, you can find the transcript here.

CautiousCowboy (Arkansas): Two questions: What are the chances Kenny Young signs with the Cowboys? Do you think Mason Rudolph can win the starting QB job away from JW?

Max Olson: I'd predict Kenny Young ends up choosing LSU, that's just my honest opinion, and I think the writing has been on the wall there for a little while. As for Rudolph, I definitely think he can challenge. We didn't see it coming with Wes Lunt and he got on the field right away, and I think Rudolph will come in with similar expectations as a guy who can play from day one if he puts in the work.

Shane (Texas): Will there be any surprising commitments for the Longhorns?

Max Olson: Never say never, since it's not like anybody saw the Shiro Davis flip coming two years ago. But I think Texas has a relatively calm signing day with commitments from DTs Poona Ford and Chris Nelson.

Bo (Missouri): What are OU's chances of flipping in-state DE Deondre Clark to OU from LSU?

Max Olson: That might be the biggest question of signing day in the Big 12. Clark is a stud, and the Oklahoma coaching staff did a great job of getting back in the mix after falling behind early. I think he'll end up at OU, but that's still an unpredictable situation.

Matt (Boston): Where do you think John Bonney will end up?

Max Olson: I do think he'll end up signing with Texas on Wednesday, especially after he showed up in Austin for an unofficial visit this weekend. I think that trip sealed the deal. I like Baylor's chances better than Auburn's if Bonney does change his mind, but it seems like the Longhorns will hold on here.

Jake (Texas): Do you think the recent news about the Teuhema brothers decommitting from Texas and looking heavy at LSU has anything to do with Clark making his mind up on OU so LSU went after the brothers instead?

Max Olson: That's certainly a theory that a lot of folks are curious about. LSU was in the mix for the Teuhemas throughout this year and was the runner-up when they decided last May. Some will say Clark motivated the move, but they're different players --- Sione is a hybrid LB/DE -- and obviously anyone going after Sione is trying to get Maea too, as he's the best lineman in the state of Texas for the 2015 class.

Dustin (Tulsa): Which OU '14 recruit has the best career at OU besides Joe Mixon?

Max Olson: I can't help but think that in Dallis Todd, Mark Andrews and Jeffery Mead, at least one of those guys ends up being an All-Big 12 receiver before it's all said and done. Love their size. I know Andrews could end up at TE, obviously, but with the wealth of talent OU is set to have at QB those freshman receivers are in great shape.

Kris (Des Moines): What's up with Joe Mixon going UCLA last weekend?
Max Olson: I know Mixon has downplayed that since then. But who knows. He's a Cali kid going to Oklahoma. I'm sure he has family members who want him closer to home. Doesn't mean that'll change his mind.

Chad (I-State): Allen Lazard and Michael Warren seem to get the most buzz from ISU's class. Who are a couple other guys Iowa State fans should be excited about?

Max Olson: I like what Iowa State did with its junior college recruiting in this class. The Cyclones have always done a nice job in that category under Paul Rhoads. The defense is getting help from the juco ranks with three defensive ends, two safeties and an inside linebacker, and I'm sure several could see the field next year.

Bold predictions: Big 12 

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4
10:30
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One of the best things about national signing day is that, every year, it provides a last-minute surprise. Whether it involves a solid commit with an 11th-hour flip or an uncommitted player choosing a school to shock the masses, the day is good for full-fledged entertainment.

As we prepare for Wednesday, here are five bold predictions that we might see happen within the Big 12:

Big 12 recruiting roundtable 

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4
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National signing day is now just 24 hours away. To get you ready, we checked in with our ESPN.com recruiting experts for their takes on the major storylines in the Big 12.

Senior national recruiting writer Jeremy Crabtree and Big 12 recruiting reporter Damon Sayles took time from their extremely busy schedules this week to address a few questions:

Oklahoma is closing strong here. With a few blue-chip players still in play, could the Sooners end up with the top class in the Big 12


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Early Offer: Dead period ends 

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: The extended dead period kept coaches from making face-to-face contact with recruits for more than a month, but Thursday they were on the road again; new Texas coach Charlie Strong used the end of the dead period to visit with Edwin Freeman and he was rewarded with a commitment; and an LSU commit is looking hard at Oklahoma and Arizona State.


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Early Offer: USC builds all-star staff 

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Friday's offerings: The battle for the top prospects in the West is going to be fierce, but USC coach Steve Sarkisian is doing all he can to make sure the Trojans have some of the nation’s best recruiters on his staff; a major winter storm could hinder the official visit plans of many teams across the country this weekend; and are the Sooners about to steal an in-state recruit away from LSU?

Trojans add ace recruiter
Sarkisian will have to assemble an all-star staff if he wants to win the recruiting wars in the West. So far that’s exactly what he’s doing. After Tee Martin announced Wednesday night he was sticking around as an assistant for the Trojans, the school announced Thursday that Washington linebackers coach Peter Sirmon would join the staff. Sirmon is considered one of the best position coaches in the Pac 12, but he’s also well respected as a recruiter. I visited with him a few weeks back for a story about Husky recruiting efforts, and I instantly can tell he why recruits gravitate toward him. He’s very charismatic and should be an excellent fit for the Trojans. It will be interesting to see if USC also can land Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi. Both reportedly have large buyouts from Washington, but Sirmon, Wilcox and Lupoi are close friends and often go on the road with each other to recruit.

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Movers, shakers in updated ESPN 300

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
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The Class of 2014 has had two months to show what it’s made of on the field. How are the nation’s elite prospects faring as we approach signing day? Here’s a look at the biggest names and notes from the most recent update of the ESPN 300:

The Big Movers

No. 37 Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South), ILB
Prior ranking: No. 59
The 6-foot-2, 224-pound Garrett jumped more than 20 spots in the rankings as he has added bulk to his frame, and at the same time retaining quickness and his fast-filling, downhill ability. Garrett has impact-type ability with a blend of lateral quickness, discipline and a nose for the ball.

Davion Hall
Max Olson/ESPNAthlete Davion Hall, who is committed to Baylor, jumped 30 spots in the latest update of the ESPN 300.
No. 45 Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), ATH
Prior ranking: No. 75
The 6-2, 194-pound Hall is one of the most impressive athletes in the class. He has a long, stoutly-built frame, is explosive, has physicality filling the alley at safety and very good ball skills at receiver. When he settles into one position at the next level, his upside is very high.

No. 64 Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown), RB
Prior ranking: No. 106
The Georgia commit is putting together a sensational senior campaign with more than 2,000 yards and 29 touchdowns through eight games. The 5-11, 217-pound tailback continues to add strength to his compact body structure while maintaining his speed, overall athleticism and ability to bend.

No. 70 Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), DE
Prior ranking: No. 125
The Miami commit has flashed his high-ceiling ability, even though he is playing inside more than half the snaps as a senior. His combination of first-step quickness, arm length and the ability to play with low pad level sets him apart from most ends in the class.

No. 84 Rashaan Evans (Auburn Ala./Auburn), OLB
Prior ranking: No. 150
The 6-3, 217-pound Evans has filled out physically, and displays the quick-twitch burst and speed combination to be a factor off the edge. Evans has been dominant off the edge as a senior with double-digit sacks.

No. 92 Markell Pack (Purvis, Miss./Purvis), WR
Prior ranking: No. 144
The Florida State commit continues to flash the initial quickness, ability to get to top-end speed quickly, ability to play the ball in the air and elusiveness that makes the 6-2, 180-pound wideout one of the top playmakers in the class.

No. 128 Brad Kaaya (Hollywood, Calif./Chaminade College Prep)
Prior ranking: No. 171
The 6-4, 213-pound Miami commit is one the fastest rising quarterbacks in the class. Has added bulk to his tall frame, and continues to show the foot quickness, foot work and quick release that will be demanded of him at the next level.

Other Big Movers

WR Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp): From No. 99 to 49.
Texas A&M ATH commit Nick Harvey (Richmond, Texas/William B. Travis): From No. 101 to 60.
RB Joe Mixon (Berkeley, Calif./Freedom): From No. 100 to 72.
Georgia QB-DT commit Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford): From No. 157 to 94.
Oregon RB commit Royce Freeman (Imperial, Calif./Imperial): From No. 154 to 99.
RB Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock): From No. 176 to 108.
Ole Miss S commit C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian): From No. 201 to 134.
Alabama C commit J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge): From No. 246 to 188.
Georgia DT commit Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton): From No. 266 to 201

ESPN 300 debuts
No. 89 Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westbury), WR
The 6-6, 215-pound pass catcher returned to the football field as a senior after playing only basketball as a junior, and has quickly become one of the most coveted uncommitted prospects in the country featuring deceptive initial quickness, and the high-point timing and size to win 50-50 balls in the air.

No. 287 Darrion Owens (Orange Park, Fla./Oakleaf), OLB
The 6-3, 220-pound Owens has transitioned from safety to outside linebacker as a senior without skipping a beat. Long, rangy and with edge-rush ability, the Miami commit is a top senior riser.

No. 295 Shakenneth Williams (Macon, Ga./Rutland), WR
The 6-1, 196-pound Georgia commit was a standout at Mark Richt Camp in June. Williams is blessed with straight-line speed, change-of-direction ability, strong hands and the physicality and strength to play through contact.

[+] EnlargeJoe Mixon
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTailback Joe Mixon is ranked No. 72 in the latest update of the ESPN 300.
More Who Moved Into The ESPN 300

Ohio State ATH commit Curtis Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus Hall): No. 148.
LSU DE commit Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass): No. 298.
Baylor WR commit Ishmael Zamora (Alief, Texas/Elsik): No. 245
Alabama OLB commit Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest): No. 284.
DT Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes): No. 257.
DT Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin): No. 292.
Minnesota RB commit Jeff Jones (Minneapolis/Washburn): No. 181.
Virginia Tech DT commit Ricky Walker (Hampton, Va./Bethel): No. 299.

Injured Reserve

David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North), QB
The Alabama commit suffered a season-ending knee injury. The 6-5, 241-pound Under Armour All-American is No. 44 after being 32nd previously.

Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech), RB
The Tennessee commit suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener, requiring a second shoulder operation in less than a year. The 6-4, 222-pound Hurd is now No. 62 after being 39th.

Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian), WR
The 6-3, 172-pound Harris hasn't played this season due to a lingering hamstring issue. The Michigan commit checks in at No. 85 after previously being 72nd.

Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker), DT
The 6-6, 295-pound Shaw has been sidelined with a neck injury this season. He checks in at No. 186 after a prior ranking of 82nd.

Sharieff Rhaheed (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Central), OLB
The 6-2, 202-pound Rhaheed missed the first six games of the season before returning to the field in late October. The former LSU commit is No. 260 after being ranked 133rd previously.

Kyle Berger (Cleveland/Saint Ignatius), OLB
The Ohio State commit was sidelined his senior season with an ACL tear. He dropped out of the ESPN 300 after being ranked No. 281.

Treyvon Paulk (Milton, Ga./Milton High), RB
The Tennessee running back commitment recently suffered a season-ending knee injury. He dropped out of the ESPN 300 after previously being ranked No. 294.
Oklahoma coaches have gone just about everywhere during the spring evaluation period. From the east coast to the west coast, the OU coaches have hit the recruiting trail hard.

The majority of the last two weeks have been spent in Texas, but now it’s time to hit the home base. Oklahoma high school spring football starts across the state for most schools on Monday. OU coaches will be out in full force, and so is the SoonerNation staff.

A list of places we’ll be and who we’re going to see that's generating OU and national recruiting interest:


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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.


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NORMAN, Okla. -- So far, Oklahoma has been more active on the recruiting trail for the 2014 class than it was last year. Offers have gone out sooner and more unofficial visits have taken place.

But the results? They’re not there yet. Heading into this weekend’s spring game, the Sooners have two commits in ESPN Watch List running back Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) and strong safety Vontre McQuinnie (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster).

Contrast that with recruiting rivals Texas and Texas A&M. The Longhorns have picked up five 2014 commits in the last two weeks and have 14 total. The Aggies have 10 for the class and could get more with their spring game on Saturday.


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ALLEN, Texas -- Some recruits have been all over the country and have taken visits to all their top schools. But ESPN Watch List defensive end Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass) isn't one of them.

Clark hasn't ventured far from Oklahoma this year, and that won't change anytime soon. But he definitely will look at schools outside the state.


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NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma essentially got every in-state product it had its eyes on for the Class of 2013. And the Sooners swept up the state's two ESPN 300 prospects early.

There was never a question about defensive end D.J. Ward coming to OU, and he committed at the spring game. The same was true for cornerback Stanvon Taylor. Once the Sooners were content with his health, the offer came and he committed in May.

The 2014 class of Oklahoma high school products offers a challenge and an opportunity. The state has six ESPN Watch List prospects, and OU has offered five recruits from the Sooner State.

The early offers from prospects in their backyard are normally unheard of, but the Sooners realized they weren’t going to be the only name in town for these prospects. Get in early or get left out later.

Here is a look at how OU is faring with its five in-state offers as the Sooners prepare to kick off the second portion of spring practices:


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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:

  • Two prospects from a north Texas high school will be on campus this weekend. One is the son of a former Sooner.
  • ESPN Watch List OT is building a relationship with OU's new assistant.
  • A Dallas safety target talks about being a lifelong Sooners fan.
  • OU is hosting a defensive tackle this weekend who's looking to see what the Sooners are all about.
  • An ESPN Watch List safety is visiting, too, but maybe not for junior day.
  • How the Sooners lost out on their top defensive tackle target.
  • More on ESPN Watch List DE Deondre Clark's decision to drop OU ... for now.
  • More on OU basketball target Frank Booker and what the coaches are telling him.

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.


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YUKON, Okla. -- The priorities are simple for the Clark brothers at Oklahoma City Douglass. The player-coach relationship means more than anything else.

It’s the reason Oklahoma State was able to nab ESPN 100 point guard Stevie Clark for its 2013 class, as OSU coach Travis Ford and the Clark family have developed that tight bond.


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