Oklahoma Sooners: Jackie Shipp

Montgomery must reverse fortune at DT 

April, 1, 2013
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NORMAN, Okla. -- OK, Jerry Montgomery, this is a big reason you were brought to Oklahoma. Defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren) unexpectedly committing to Texas on Saturday night is another example of the Sooners falling short at defensive tackle.

And an example of the work ahead for Montgomery.

For OU’s 2012 class, the Sooners had a plan to not lobby too hard for a defensive tackle. They didn’t attack any high school or junior college prospects and were content with who was on campus.


Roughly 90 percent of college football programs would be thrilled to win 10 games in a season. Oklahoma is not one of those programs.

Sharing a Big 12 title? That trophy is a whole lot less satisfying when there are seven others waiting in the trophy case since 2000 that weren't shared with anybody.

"Our expectations are different than everybody else. Everybody’s not Oklahoma," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "When you have Oklahoma across your chest, you expect to win championships, and that’s never going to change here."

He knows firsthand. Stoops helped his brother, coach Bob Stoops, win Oklahoma's seventh national title back in 2000, and the Sooners came up short two more times, once losing in the title game with Mike Stoops in 2003 and again a year later with Stoops coaching at Arizona. Without him coordinating the defense, the Sooners gave up 55 points to USC, more points than any team has ever scored in the BCS National Championship Game.

Arizona fired Mike Stoops six games into the 2011 season, and the Sooners' struggling defense needed an offseason jolt, despite winning 10 games that same season. Mike Stoops returned and brought assistant Tim Kish with him to coach linebackers and help coordinate the defense.

"Sometimes change is good, new ideas are good always, and change is good sometimes," Mike Stoops said. "That happens for whatever reason, and whether it’s complacency or just being stagnant, those things occur. Just trying to reinvent ourselves is something we need to do."

In 2012, there were more late-season defensive struggles after a strong start, but yet again, a 10-win season and a shared Big 12 title weren't enough. Losing three games isn't good enough, and nobody wants to hear that all three losses came to teams that spent time in the top five last season. The Sooners want to get back to competing for national titles, and Bob Stoops went the route of coaching changes to help get Oklahoma back there.

Assistant coaches Jackie Shipp and Bruce Kittle were shown the door, along with offensive line coach James Patton. The Sooners scooped up Bill Bedenbaugh from West Virginia to replace Patton and brought in Jerry Montgomery from Michigan to coach the defensive line. Jay Boulware filled Kittle's spot on the staff after coaching tight ends at Auburn. The Sooners' reboot was complete, and they're working toward results in the spring.

"[They bring] a new perspective in some areas, new ideas. They’re not drastic changes," Mike Stoops said. "Obviously, the coaches we had in here were involved and knew our systems well, but there’s always little changes in technique and little things schematically that can help you, so we’re always looking for fresh ideas."

Ten wins tastes bitter when you're used to winning 11 or 12, which can be the difference between proving yourself as a very good team and a great team. Oklahoma won at least 12 games six times since 2000 and 11 games on three more occasions. Ten wins isn't good enough, and a few former players and one famed coach were more than willing to speak up about it, echoing fan concerns.

Barry Switzer started it in September when he told one local paper that the Sooners "just don't have the talent."

"We’re not as good as we have been," Switzer said. "We don’t have the Tommie Harrises or Gerald McCoys squatting down there in the middle [of the defensive line]."

Offensive lineman Jammal Brown, an All-American who played in Norman from 2000 to '04, said he was "mad as hell" about the Sooners' 28-point Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M to cap the 10-win season, calling the Sooners "soft." CBS analyst Spencer Tillman, a Sooners running back in the '80s, said Oklahoma lost concentration on what made the program great in the first place.

Considering the Sooners let Shipp go at the end of the season, it's hard to believe Bob Stoops didn't agree in part with what Switzer had to say. As for the rest of it?

"We may not be as skilled at some of the positions as we want to be, but our toughness and pride is what made Oklahoma what it is, whether it was Bud Wilkinson or Barry Switzer or Bob Stoops, I think that’s the common thread that goes to being a great team," Mike Stoops said.

"Some of those, from the outside, may have felt like we didn’t have that common thread between us. I never felt that; I always thought our teams played hard and together. They’re certainly entitled to their opinions, you know. We’ve got to look at ourselves, and if it’s true, we need to change it. The things we needed to change, we’re working on changing, and nobody knows our program like we do.

"There’s areas we certainly need to get better at, and we’re aware of those. Some of those take time. Some of those take adjustments each day to get better."

The Sooners lose a four-year starter at quarterback in Landry Jones from last year's team, along with seven starters from Mike Stoops' defense. The task of winning more than 10 games seems difficult in a Big 12 that's deeper than it has ever been.

"We just need to get better, again, individually and schematically and play better across the board and come up with better ideas and a better scheme. We’re not far off when you look at the big picture," Mike Stoops said. "We had a chance to win 12 games, we lost them all late in the game and down the stretch and didn’t make the plays we needed to, but again, we’re not that far off."
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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Roundtable: OU's best hire of 2013 

March, 7, 2013
3/07/13
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Every Thursday, the SoonerNation staff will answer a roundtable question about OU football. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: Which new Oklahoma assistant -- Bill Bedenbaugh, Jerry Montgomery or Jay Boulware -- was the best hire?


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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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Q&A: WolverineNation on Montgomery

February, 26, 2013
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Oklahoma got its man with the hiring of former Michigan assistant coach Jerry Montgomery to replace defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp. Montgomery is known as a young coach with lots of energy and the ability to recruit.

WolverineNation recruiting writer Tom VanHaaren took some time to answer some questions about Montgomery for SoonerNation.

SN: What is Montgomery's reputation as a recruiter among the recruits you talk with?

VanHaaren: He's a younger guy, so he related really well with recruits. He provided a little bit of energy for Michigan with his youth and that was something that resonated with the recruits. He's very personable and got along very well with moms and dads, too, which is important. He has good connections and the new relationships he built, he built them quickly. A lot of people found it easy to trust him.

SN: Who's the best player he landed during his time?

VanHaaren: He had a hand in landing running back Derrick Green, who was the No. 5-ranked running back in 2013. He has also had a big part in recruiting 2014 defensive end Da'Shawn Hand from Virginia. Hand was ESPN's junior of the year and is going to be one of the top prospects in this class.

SN: What's one example of Montgomery's recruiting ability, i.e. when he landed someone or turned someone unexpected?

VanHaaren: Probably landing Derrick Green. There were a few aspects of Green's recruitment that helped Michigan, but early on it looked like Michigan had no chance.

SN: In what regions of the country does he excel?

VanHaaren: He mainly covered the south for Michigan, but had a hand in a lot of different areas. He landed a really big defensive tackle out of Utah for 2014, Bryan Mone. He mainly recruited Virginia, Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas.

SN: If you had to use three words to describe his recruiting style, which three would you choose?

VanHaaren: Tenacious, enthusiastic, genuine.

Simon, Anderson no longer on OU team

February, 17, 2013
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UPDATE: An OU spokesperson confirms junior defensive tackle Damon Williams is no longer on the team, as well.

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma will be transitioning to three new assistant coaches this spring. The Sooners will also have to make do with just four scholarship cornerbacks and possibly as few as three scholarship defensive tackles during the spring, as well.

An OU spokesperson confirmed Sunday night that cornerback Gary Simon and defensive tackle Marquis Anderson are no longer with the squad.

That leaves the Sooners with only returning starter Aaron Colvin, Cortez Johnson and Zack Sanchez and Kass Everett at cornerback; and just Jordan Phillips, Jordan Wade and Torrea Peterson at defensive tackle.

OU was hoping to add junior-college tackle Quincy Russell in January. Russell, however, still has academic work to complete before he can enroll. Of OU’s three returning defensive tackles, only Phillips saw even spot duty last season.

The Sooners signed three high school defensive tackles earlier this month, as well. But one of those, Kerrick Huggins, has yet to qualify and doubled-signed with Trinity Valley Community College in case he doesn’t make it Norman.

Coach Bob Stoops showed he hasn’t been happy lately with OU’s production or recruiting at defensive tackle, and fired his longtime defensive tackles coach, Jackie Shipp, last week. Last season, the Sooners ranked 94th in run defense and 108th in tackles for loss.

OU also lost its top three defensive tackles -- Casey Walker, Jamarkus McFarland and Stacy McGee -- to graduation.

The Sooners face transition in the secondary, as well. Three of five starters are gone, and Simon was expected to challenge Johnson for the starting job at corner opposite Colvin.

Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

February, 15, 2013
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Every Friday (starting this week), 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 California prospects might be visiting Oklahoma in the summer
  • More on where one in-state tight end stands with the Sooners
  • One OU signee is working hard to make sure he ends up a Sooner
  • Is another running back emerging for 2014?
  • San Antonio defensive back enjoys OU junior day
  • A 2014 receiver has the Sooners on top
  • One in-state wideout is receiving more interest
  • The Sooners' second junior day is set

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.


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Shipp's departure shocks 2014 DT offer 

February, 14, 2013
2/14/13
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Just over a week ago, Jackie Shipp was making a strong impression on Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) during Oklahoma's junior day on Feb. 2. The Sooners' former defensive tackles coach had laid a foundation of trust with Henderson, one of three defensive tackles with OU offers in the Class of 2014.

Now, all that groundwork is gone after OU announced Shipp won't return as defensive tackles coach in 2013.


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NORMAN, Okla. -- Jackie Shipp’s departure leaves an opening for Oklahoma to add a defensive line coach who could help the Sooners regain their disruptive reputation along their defensive front. Here are two names that have already been floated plus a few other coaches OU should consider to replace Shipp.

Names to know


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Shipp's departure stuns OU recruits 

February, 13, 2013
2/13/13
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Another day, another Oklahoma assistant coach shown the door. This one, though, has sent shock waves through OU recruiting circles.


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NORMAN, Okla. -- After back-to-back three-loss seasons, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is shaking things up again.

Jackie Shipp, Stoops’ longtime defensive tackles coach, will not be returning to Sooners’ staff in 2013, multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.com.

The Shipp news comes on the brink of Monday’s announced departure of offensive line coach James Patton, who exited the OU staff to take an assistant job with Indiana.

Shipp is OU’s fourth coaching change in the last two years. Last year, Mike Stoops replaced Willie Martinez as defensive backs coach, and then after defensive coordinator Brent Venables bolted for Clemson, Mike Stoops’ former Arizona assistant Tim Kish was brought in to coach linebackers.

Unlike Patton, Shipp had been with the Sooners since Stoops’ first season in 1999. He recruited and developed two of the best defensive tackles in Big 12 history in Tommie Harris and Gerald McCoy, who both went on to be first-round draft picks.

But in the last few years, the level of performance at defensive tackle has dipped. The Sooners have had not had a first-team All-Big 12 defensive tackle since McCoy in 2009. And underscoring the defensive tackles’ lack of disruption this last season, the Sooners ranked 94th in run defense and 104th in tackles for loss.

DT Matthew Romar is OU commit No. 21

January, 30, 2013
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Two weeks ago it looked like Oklahoma was done looking for defensive tackles for its 2013 class. Assistant coach Jackie Shipp had put in major work and landed three quality commitments.

But Shipp wasn’t done. He went to Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial last weekend and offered three-star prospect Matthew Romar.

Romar saw OU’s campus for the first time this weekend and took some time to think it over before committing to the Sooners, Port Arthur Memorial coach Kenny Harrison confirmed on Wednesday afternoon.

Romar, who is 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, also had offers from Tulsa and Baylor, among others. Once the Sooners fully entered the race, though, it became clear it was up to OU to simply close the deal.

He played a little bit of running back in high school so there was some speculation about his size. Harrison said once Shipp saw Romar in person two weeks ago, all the doubts vanished.

(Read full post)

OU DT commit Walker answers challenge 

January, 29, 2013
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videoGarland (Texas) South Garland High football coach Mark Cox has been on the job for nearly 30 years. He has seen and coached a lot of great players. He has also seen great talents be wasted.

Heading into the senior season of three-star defensive tackle Charles Walker, Cox had no idea where he would classify his talented player.

Charles Walker
Damon Sayles/ESPNThree-star defensive tackle Charles Walker said 'the light bulb came on' before his senior season.
Glimpses of brilliance, but not enough consistency. The physique of football player, but not the intensity or passion of one.

All the talent in the world but a body that was betraying him. But Cox never gave up on Walker. His persistence paid off this season, as Walker put it all together and committed to Oklahoma two weeks ago.

Walker missed the last five games of the 2011 season because of a concussion. Cox knows you don’t play around with a concussion, but he wasn’t sure about Walker’s dedication to want to get back out there.

It led to this exchange.

“I sat him down after the season and asked him, flat out, why are you playing football?” Cox said. “He sort of had his head down and meekly said he wanted to get a scholarship.

“I told him somebody his size that can run a 40 in 4.7 seconds is going to get a scholarship. Somebody will take a chance, but what about after that?”

What Cox was trying to ingrain into Walker’s head was getting a scholarship is nice, but if you don’t work hard, he was going to be right back in Garland and having to start back over.

For Walker, that talk didn’t just change his mind set about football. It changed his outlook on life.

“I guess you could say that’s when the light bulb came on for me,” Walker said. “I took a long hard look at myself. I had a coach who was supporting me the whole way, and it was time to go to work.”

Cox is convinced had Walker attended any summer camps that the idea of him being under the radar would have been preposterous. With his size and skill, schools were going to find out about him.

But they didn’t. Entering the latter half of the season, schools such as North Texas, Houston and New Mexico were Walker's top suitors.


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During December, there was no bigger position of need for Oklahoma than defensive tackle. In the span of 31 days, OU has gone from having zero commits with panic engulfing Sooner fans to having three and looking pretty.

The latest came Saturday night, as three-star tackle Charles Walker (Garland, Texas/South Garland) confirmed he has committed to the Sooners.

Walker, who is 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, is ranked No. 40 in the nation at defensive tackle. Injuries hampered him during his sophomore and junior seasons, but he was healthy and effective this season.

And OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp noticed that. North Texas and Houston were other schools looking at Walker, but Shipp saw something in Walker that no other big-time BCS-school universities saw.

Walker was offered by OU last month and admitted he wanted to commit right there on the spot. But he held off, saying he wanted to see the campus.

That was taken care of this weekend as Walker was one of eight official visitors for the Sooners. Baylor started talking to Walker earlier this week, but OU had already put in the work to secure his commitment.

Walker tore his labrum in the summer but played his senior season anyway. He underwent successful surgery last month and said he should be good to go by March.

He saw OU practice at the Cotton Bowl two weeks ago and all it did was fire him up more about his trip to Norman. Safe to say the trip lived up to his expectations.

Walker is ranked No. 40, one spot below fellow OU commit Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline). Huggins, who flipped from Texas A&M to OU on Dec. 14, is ranked No. 39 and was OU’s first commit at the position.

The Sooners will also get some immediate help at tackle as three-star ESPN JC 100 prospect Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley) signed with OU on Dec. 19.

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