Oklahoma Sooners: Devon Thomas

Across the Big 12, teams are looking for instant impact from their recruiting classes. Several of those potential instant impact players have enrolled at their schools early, looking for a chance to play right away.

Below is a breakdown of all the Big 12 early enrollees, and their outlooks for the spring:

BAYLOR

Juco

OG Jarell Broxton: Could grab a starting role with All-American guard Cyril Richardson gone.

CB Chris Sanders: Was a favorite to start, but is out for the spring after shoulder surgery.

CB Tion Wright: Less highly-touted than Sanders, but has an opportunity with Sanders out.

LB Grant Campbell: With All-Big 12 LB Eddie Lackey gone, Bears hoping Campbell can fill a starting role alongside Bryce Hager.

High school

WR Davion Hall: Recruited as a receiver, Hall is a powerful athlete who gives Baylor another potential dynamic playmaker.

RB Terence Williams: A bruising runner destined to someday fill the role held last season by Glasco Martin.

TE Jordan Feuerbacher: Baylor lost tight ends Jordan Najvar and Jerod Monk off last season's team so there’s an opportunity for Feuerbacher.

IOWA STATE

Juco

LB Jordan Harris: Harris was the No. 5 juco ILB in the country, and will help ease the sting of losing All-Big 12 LB Jeremiah George.

S Devron Moore: The Cyclones graduated both Jacques Washington and Deon Broomfield so help is needed here.

DE Gabe Luna: Luna is one of three juco DEs the Cyclones signed, but the first to arrive on campus.

KANSAS

Juco

OG/C Keyon Haughton: Charlie Weis calls him “a bad muchacho,” and the Jayhawks will need him to play right away.

CB Ronnie Davis: The Jayhawks return starting cornerbacks Dexter McDonald and JaCorey Shepherd, but you can never have enough corners in the Big 12.

S Anthony Smithson: Adds depth and versatility to an already deep and experienced secondary.

KANSAS STATE

Juco

WR Andre Davis: All-Big 12 WR Tyler Lockett needs someone to emerge on the other side, and the No. 5-ranked juco WR has a great chance to do just that.

OT Luke Hayes: Could answer the call at a key spot vacated by departing All-Big 12 OT Cornelius Lucas.

CB Danzel McDaniel: One of the top juco corners in the country, McDaniel could lock up a starting role quickly.

Grayshirt

TE Dayton Valentine: Adds depth as a blocking tight end.

OL Bryce Fitzner: Will have time to fill out his 6-7 frame.

OKLAHOMA

Juco

TE Isaac Ijalana: The No. 1 juco TE in the country, Ijalana could help stabilize a position that has given the Sooners trouble the past couple seasons.

LB Devante Bond: Bond adds depth to what potentially could be one of the best linebacking corps in the country.

High school

QB Justice Hansen: Will be the third-team QB with Blake Bell moving to TE and Baker Mayfield ineligible until 2015.

FB Dimitri Flowers: The Sooners need a replacement for departing all-conference blocking fullback Trey Millard.

OKLAHOMA STATE

Juco

LB Devante Averette: The hard-hitting Averette has an opportunity to nail down a starting role this spring with All-Big LBs Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis gone.

WR Tyreek Hill: Hill is running track this spring and has already broken several records; he gives the Cowboys a speedy playmaker to help ease the early loss of Josh Stewart.

High school

QB Mason Rudolph: One of the highest-rated QBs ever to sign with the Cowboys, Rudolph will battle J.W. Walsh immediately for the starting job.

RB Devon Thomas: Thomas was the highest-rated running back from the state of Oklahoma, and adds depth to a position that could use some help.

TCU

Juco

S Kenny Iloka: Iloka has already impressed, and pads a deep and talented safety rotation at TCU.

OG Frank Kee: Will be asked to fill a starting job inside on the TCU offensive line.

TEXAS

Juco

TE Blake Whiteley: The nation’s No. 2 juco tight end, the Longhorns signed to fill a position that’s been inconsistent for them.

High school

OLB Andrew Beck: With Texas’ depth at LB, Beck most likely is a redshirt candidate.

OG Alex Anderson: Recruited by Joe Wickline when still at Oklahoma State, Anderson was a late addition to the class.

TEXAS TECH

Juco

S Josh Keys: The nation’s No. 5 juco safety, Keys could step into the spot vacated be departing veteran Tre’ Porter.

DT Keland McElrath: Has been dealing with a foot stress fracture, but the Red Raiders need help at DT with Kerry Hyder and Dartwan Bush gone.

WR Devin Lauderdale: Was a four-star player coming out of high school and will give QB Davis Webb another weapon on the inside.

WEST VIRGINIA

Juco

QB Skyler Howard: Has a chance to make a move on the QB competition, especially with Clint Trickett out for the spring.

S Keishawn Richardson: Opened up the spring as the second-string cornerback behind Daryl Worley, who started as a true freshman in 2013.

LB Edward Muldrow II: Currently backing up returning starter Isaiah Bruce as the Sam linebacker.

OT Sylvester Townes: The Mountaineers have two holes at tackle, giving Townes a chance to make an instant impact.

High school

DE Davonte James: The ESPN 300 signee brings speed to West Virginia’s D-end position.

WR Ricky Rogers: Rogers is a redshirt candidate with the entire West Virginia WR rotation back from last season.

Big 12 pre-spring breakdown: RBs

February, 19, 2014
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As we wait for the start of spring ball, we're examining and ranking the positional situations of every team, continuing Wednesday with running backs. Some of these outlooks will look different after the spring. But here’s how they compare at the moment:

1. Texas: The three-headed monster of Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron gives Texas the best 1-2-3 punch in the league. Whether this group goes from good to great hinges on a healthy return for Gray, who is coming back from an Achilles injury and will sit out spring drills. Either way, this will be the backbone of Charlie Strong’s first offense.

[+] EnlargeShock Linwood
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsShock Linwood showed breakaway ability as a Baylor reserve in 2013.
2. Baylor: Shock Linwood takes over in the backfield after a dynamic freshman season in which he finished seventh in the league in rushing despite being a third-team running back. The competition for carries after Linwood will be interesting. Devin Chafin is the favorite to be Linwood’s wing man, but he could be pressed by Johnny Jefferson and/or incoming four-star freshman Terence Williams, who is already on campus.

3. Oklahoma: The potential of this running back crop has no bounds. But it will be young and inexperienced after seniors Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Damien Williams (until he was kicked off the team) hoarded the carries last season. Keith Ford, who was the nation’s No. 3 running back recruit in the 2013 class, will take over the starting role. Joe Mixon, this year’s No. 6 RB recruit, won’t get to Norman until the summer, but he should supply the lightning to Ford’s thunder. Alex Ross, who was the nation’s No. 7 RB recruit in the 2012 class, rounds out a fearsome threesome with tremendous pedigree.

4. West Virginia: The Mountaineers lose All-Big 12 performer Charles Sims, but still claim a glut of capable rushers. Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood thrived playing behind Sims last year. West Virginia also has Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie, its leading rushers from 2011 and 2012, respectively. (Buie is back after leaving school for a semester.) On top of all that, Pittsburgh transfer Rushel Shell figures to be in the mix. Shell was the No. 26 overall recruit in the country coming out of high school after becoming the all-time leading rusher in Pennsylvania high school history. If that weren’t enough, the gem of the incoming recruiting class, Donte Thomas-Williams, is also a running back. Suffice to say, the competition for carries will be fierce in the league’s deepest backfield.

5. Oklahoma State: Desmond Roland helped fuel Oklahoma State’s midseason turnaround after seizing a starting role. Roland was great in short yardage and led the Big 12 with 13 touchdowns, but he wasn’t a big-play runner, with an average of only 4.6 yards per carry (14th in the league). The Cowboys are banking that Rennie Childs can complement Roland as the breakaway back. Childs showed flashes as a true freshman. Roland and Childs can form a solid combo, but four-star freshman Devon Thomas, who is enrolled for the spring, should not be discounted, nor should Sione Palelei, who has the good hands that past Oklahoma State running backs also possessed.

6. Texas Tech: The returning duo of Kenny Williams and DeAndre Washington won’t do much damage between the tackles. Both, however, are excellent pass-catchers, making them supreme fits for Kliff Kingsbury’s spread attack. Together they combined for 64 receptions, and that number should go up in 2014 as quarterback Davis Webb settles in as a sophomore.

7. TCU: The Horned Frogs were a disaster offensively last year, but the potential at running back is a reason why TCU could be equipped for a bounce-back season. Aaron Green, Kyle Hicks and incoming freshman Shaun Nixon were all ESPN 300 recruits. That doesn’t include B.J. Catalon, either, who led the Frogs with 569 yards and six touchdowns last season. With a new regime making the play calls, there’s reason to believe this could become one of the better units in the league.

[+] EnlargeDalton Santos
David Purdy/Getty ImagesIf Aaron Wimberly can stay healthy, Iowa State has a potentially dynamic returning running back.
8. Iowa State: When healthy, Aaron Wimberly can be a game-breaker. He torched Texas for 137 yards as the Cyclones nearly pulled off a Thursday night upset. Wimberly, however, was never really healthy the rest of the season, and never had the same impact. After Wimberly, though, the Cyclones don’t have much returning firepower. Firepower, however, could be on the way. Oklahoma native Michael Warren went overlooked in recruiting, but he can fly; he rushed for more than 2,500 yards as a high school senior.

9. Kansas: The Jayhawks gradated their heart and soul in James Sims, who was an all-conference selection even though Kansas won only one Big 12 game. Tony Pierson returns as an electric playmaker, but he has never been a full-time running back, often flexing out as a receiver. It will be interesting to see who emerges in Sims’ shoes. Brandon Bourbon (191 yards) will have the first crack in the spring, but newcomers De'Andre Mann and Traevohn Wrench could vie for time once they arrive in the summer.

10. Kansas State: It’s difficult to believe K-State will be at the bottom here once the season starts, but running back is a major hole for the Wildcats going into the spring. That’s because longtime starter John Hubert is gone. Hubert, senior backup Robert Rose and QBs Jake Waters and Daniel Sams combined for 492 carries last season. Nobody else had more than five. Rising senior DeMarcus Robinson, who has only 11 career carries, will probably be atop the depth chart going into the spring. It’s also possible that Sams will get a look at running back with Waters having nailed down the full-time QB job. But the player to watch here is freshman Dalvin Warmack, who rushed for more than 4,500 yards and 70 touchdowns his final two seasons in Blue Springs, Mo. Warmack isn’t big at 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds. But his size fits the mold of past K-State running backs Hubert and Darren Sproles.

Big 12 lunchtime links

January, 20, 2014
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Is LeBron going to try to acquire all rights to this video and have it deleted, too?

Big 12 signing day storylines 

December, 17, 2013
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Consider the countdown a go.

With 50 days from national signing day, a lot of questions about star players have been answered. Some questions, however, are still left to be answered.

Here are 10 signing day storylines that could affect recruiting classes throughout the Big 12:

Best Big 12 classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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There is still plenty of work for every Big 12 program to do before the completion of the 2014 recruiting cycle. But one can begin to at least paint an outline for how each class is going to look come February.

Here is a look at which Big 12 teams have the best 2014 recruiting class at each position.

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Big 12 recruiting mailbag

August, 23, 2013
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This week’s Big 12 recruiting mailbag takes a look at a recent Iowa State transfer, a few Oklahoma State topics and when the Longhorns’ 2014 class will start reflecting its “DBU” ways.

John Goorsky (Ames, Iowa): What are your thoughts about the recent addition of D'Vario Montgomery to the Cyclones?

William Wilkerson: I think it’s a very important pickup for Paul Rhoads and the future of the program. Montgomery should transfer seamlessly given his history with Cyclones starting quarterback Sam Richardson. The two were high school teammates in Winter Park, Fla., where Montgomery was a two-time all-state selection with 21 touchdown receptions as a junior and senior.

Not only will it benefit them immediately but it also helps give someone like ESPN 300 receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale) more incentive not to look elsewhere. Just because Lazard is committed to ISU right now doesn’t mean schools are going to stop pursuing him. If anything they’ll come after him harder. Having Montgomery on board, as someone who could take some attention of Lazard in future packages, could entice Lazard to stay put.

Robert Thomas: What will Oklahoma State have to do to move into a top 25 class?

WW: Keep doing what they are doing and live up to the expectations that have been placed on them for the upcoming season. It’s really that simple. If the Cowboys win like they should, the recruits will come. They especially need to win the marquee matchups at home, when their sidelines should be packed with official visitors. Getting guys like ESPN 300 receivers Malachi Dupre and Cameron Sims on campus to see the renovations around the football facilities would be huge.

Mike Gundy has recruited well in-state so far, with the commitments of Devon Thomas and Gyasi Akem, the two Broken Arrow teammates. The Cowboys are still in the mix for four-star safety Steven Parker, as well. Getting a commitment from any three of these recruits would greatly increase their chances of finishing with a top 25 class.

@pt2479: How good can @RichardLagow be in this system?

WW: If the transfer quarterback from UConn is given the opportunity, I think he could be productive. He’s larger than most of the quarterbacks that have come through Mike Gundy’s system, but that’s not to say he wouldn’t be capable of moving the chains like others before him.

The Cowboys recruited him out of Plano (Texas) High School in 2013, so there must have been some inclination that he could work out in the system, even though a scholarship offer was never extended. He was actually going to be working in more of an up-tempo offense at UConn this season as the Huskies transition from a pro-style offense. But he’s going to have to beat out some stiff competition after he redshirts this season. Class of 2014 commitment Mason Rudolph (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) is the No. 7 pocket passer in the nation.

@1jaydub: When does Texas start focusing on DBs for 2014 to get back to DBU Football?

WW: Defensive back has been a focus of Texas’ coaching staff from the jump. They just haven’t gotten the commitments ... yet. They’ve got two commitments in four-star CB Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) and three-star safety Jason Hall (Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie), a former Nebraska commit. But some big dominos are about to fall that will tell the tale.

John Bonney (Houston/Lamar) surprised Texas’ staff last weekend with a visit. He wants to commit somewhere before the season. ESPN 300 safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie), who has long had Texas No. 1, will decide sometime during the season after he takes some official visits. ESPN 300 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) will officially visit Texas this fall. And the Longhorns still feel like they are in the mix for ESPN 300 CB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen). If the Longhorns get any of these four they’ll feel much better about where things stand.
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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Five stories to watch: Dallas NFTC 

April, 5, 2013
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The Nike Football Training Camp series will continue outside of Dallas on Sunday. Athletes will trek to Allen, Texas, the home of one of the most impressive high school stadiums in the country. Allen Eagles Stadium, a $60-million facility, opened last year and featured nearly 22,000 fans watching Texas powers Allen and Southlake Carroll clash.

Here are five storylines to watch on Sunday.

Talented DBs aplenty

It’s been said on multiple occasions that the 2014 class may be one of the strongest in years at producing big-time defensive backs in the region. The battle for defensive back MVP has the potential of being extremely competitive with players such as Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville), Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) and Arrion Springs (San Antonio/Roosevelt) expected to be in attendance. Chris Hardeman (Houston/Alief Taylor) has committed to LSU, while Dylan Sumner-Gardner (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite) and Armani Watts (Forney, Texas/North Forney) have pledged to Texas A&M. Deionte Thompson (Orange, Texas/West Orange-Stark), a 2015 prospect, has verbally committed to Alabama. All of the DBs will have their shots in one-on-one drills against equally talented ESPN Watch List receivers such as Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis), K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and Texas commit Lorenzo Joe (Abilene, Texas/Cooper).


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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:

  • A top California target is focused on academics this spring.
  • OU's quarterback offer is visiting a rival next week.
  • OU made an impression on a big Texas defensive end.
  • A recent defensive tackle visitor is in no rush to decide.
  • The door is open for an in-state athlete to look at the Sooners.
  • One Texas running back hopes to visit the Sooners this spring.
  • Are the Sooners firmly in the mix for an in-state linebacker?
  • An in-state point guard is hearing a lot from the Sooners.

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.


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OKPreps 14 for '14: RB Devon Thomas 

March, 7, 2013
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Is the Class of 2014 crop of in-state talent the best Oklahoma has seen since 2006? With six recruits in the ESPN Watch List, it’s shaping up to be a busy recruiting year in the Sooner State. For the next three weeks, SoonerNation is going to profile the OKPreps’ 14 for ’14: a look at some of the top names and where they stand with OU.

Watch List RB Devon Thomas (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow, 5-11, 205, Oklahoma State commit)
2012 stats: 93 carries for 495 yards, 7 touchdowns.

Thomas’ senior season is all about redemption. Redemption for himself and redemption for Broken Arrow.


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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:

  • OU's top running back target is trying to make it to Norman soon
  • Texas running back has OU and Alabama on top
  • Have the Sooners contacted an in-state tailback?
  • Offensive line signees get acquainted with their new coach
  • There's no pressure on one legacy on being a Sooner
  • Elite Texas wideout wants to make it to OU junior day
  • In-state receiver is staying patient with the process

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.


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Watch List RB Thomas commits to OSU 

December, 15, 2012
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Class of 2014 ESPN Watch List running back Devon Thomas (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow) has just added fuel to the Bedlam fire.

[+] EnlargeDevon Thomas
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comClass of 2014 running back Devon Thomas decommitted from the Sooners earlier this week and now intends to go to Oklahoma State.
Thomas confirmed he committed to Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon. He originally committed to Oklahoma before announcing his decommitment from the Sooners on Monday.

“I talked to the coaches today, and it just feels right for me,” said Thomas, who is 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. “I’ve been there several times the last two seasons. I believe OSU is the best place for me to succeed.”

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Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

December, 13, 2012
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Every Thursday, 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:

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RB Devon Thomas decommits from OU 

December, 10, 2012
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ESPN Watch List running back Devon Thomas (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow) said Monday night he has decommitted from the Sooners, saying it was a hasty decision to commit to OU last month.

[+] EnlargeDevon Thomas
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comDevon Thomas is considered the best tailback in Oklahoma in the Class of 2014.
Oklahoma isn’t out of the picture for Thomas' services, but the Sooners aren’t the best fit, he said.

Thomas, who is 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, said he told OU coaches Cale Gundy and Bob Stoops on Sunday night. He said they weren’t happy about it, but they are hopeful Thomas might still end up a Sooner after he takes in more of the recruiting experience.

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One setback after another for OU on trail 

December, 7, 2012
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Sept. 21 was supposed to be a magical weekend. Oklahoma was hosting Kansas State in one of the best matchups of the week. A number of top recruits were going to visit the campus.

The Sooners were going to win, followed by a slew of commitments from some of the prospects in the coming weeks and months.

[+] EnlargeCaleb Benenoch
Max Olson/ESPN.comThe Sooners appear to be on the outside looking in with four-star offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch.
OU was upset by Kansas State. And the Sooners netted zero commits from the weekend. Not one. Worse yet, OU didn’t even have stand a realistic chance of getting any from that weekend.

That has been the story for OU on recruiting trail during the football season. One disappointment after another. One ESPN 150 or ESPN 300 target going elsewhere.

Take a look at the non-OU commit official visitors from that weekend.

• ESPN 300 ATH Chevoski Collins (Livingston, Texas/Livingston): Shortly after the visit, he chose Texas over OU.

• Four-star offensive tackle Caleb Benenoch (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes): Following the visit, he has ended up being down to Baylor, Texas and UCLA. Benenoch is scheduled to make his announcement Monday.

• Three-star safety Tyler Foreman (Encino, Calif./Crespi Carmelite): Down to OU, Wisconsin, Utah and UCLA before recently committing to Wisconsin.

• ESPN 150 safety Marcell Harris (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips): A long shot throughout, Harris picked Florida over OU, Florida State and Texas.

• Four-star offensive tackle Na’Ty Rodgers (Pomfret, Md./McDonough): Still uncommitted but appears South Carolina is the clear leader. Maryland, Michigan and Washington in hunt, too.

• Juco defensive tackle Toby Johnson (Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson CC): OU continues to show incredible interest, but it’s tough to gauge if Johnson shares same enthusiasm. Originally from Georgia, Johnson is taking an official to Georgia this weekend.

• And then there’s ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball). A shoo-in for OU, right? No, sir. Manning broke the collective hearts of OU fans everywhere by committing to Texas A&M on Thursday afternoon.

Seven top official visitors. No commits.

But that trend wasn’t only for Kansas State weekend. Florida A&M had three-star defensive end Dimarya Mixon (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite). Mixon actually ended up wanting to commit to the Sooners before being told last week OU was full at the position.

Notre Dame weekend saw two more big-time targets disappear. Four-star cornerback Cole Luke (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) visited OU and then committed to the Irish less than a week later. Texas was his other finalist.

ESPN 150 defensive tackle Greg Gilmore (Hope Mills, N.C./South View) was also there. Gilmore committed to LSU two weeks later, picking the Tigers over Florida and the Sooners.

Visits before the season didn't fare well, either. Top juco tight end target Beau Sandland (Woodland Hills, Calif./Pierce College) was OU's No. 1 man since the spring. He visited Norman right before the season.

But late Wednesday night he said the Sooners are out. His top three consists of Miami (Fla.), Arizona State and Nebraska. OU, again, left out in the cold.

Even Bedlam weekend wasn’t immune to this problem. Juco tight end Cameron Clear (Yuma, Ariz./Arizona Western) took an official to OU and committed to Texas A&M 72 hours later.

The only official visitor OU was able to nab a commitment from was juco punter Jed Barnett (Oakland, Calif./Laney CC). Originally committed to Louisiana Tech, the Sooners came in and swooped up Barnett with less than three weeks of conversations.

Official visitors weren’t the only problems for OU, though. The Sooners lost their highest-ranked offensive tackle commit Matt Beyer (San Antonio/Reagan) through no fault of Beyer or OU.

Beyer was diagnosed with spinal cervical stenosis in September and has been forced to give up football. He attended two OU games this season and said he would do anything to be out there, but he simply cannot risk the long term health problems that could occur.


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