Oklahoma Sooners: Jerry Montgomery

Top Big 12 recruiters 

June, 9, 2014
There has been a lot of transition within the coaching ranks at Big 12 schools, which has caused the league’s reputation on the recruiting trail to slip a little bit. But if you dig deeper, you’ll find there are still plenty of quality established recruiters, and some rising newcomers at major programs like Oklahoma and Baylor.

Big 12's best coaching hires of 2013

February, 10, 2014
Several new assistant coaches in 2013 made major impacts on established coaching staffs in the Big 12 during their first seasons on campus. Oklahoma State had two new coordinators making an impression; a pair of Oklahoma assistants revamped its line play; and a Kansas State alumnus helped a current Wildcat become a multipurpose star.

Here are the top 10 coaching hires of 2013 in the conference (Note: Since Texas Tech's entire staff was in its first season, the Red Raiders were excluded):

1. Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State defensive coordinator: The OSU defense rose to another level during Spencer’s first season as defensive coordinator. The veteran coach, who had spent time as a defensive line coach and linebackers coach during his six seasons at OSU, took over the defense in 2013 and made it more aggressive and productive. OSU finished among the top 3 in the Big 12 in points allowed per game (21.6 points, 1st), yards per play (4.77, 2nd) , yards per rush (3.64, 3rd), third down conversion rate (31.4 percent, 1st) and yards per pass attempt (5.8, 1st). The Cowboys also forced a Big 12-best 33 turnovers, 11 more than they did in 2012.

[+] EnlargeJerry Montgomery
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiDefensive line coach Jerry Montgomery helped shape the Sooners into a force up front.
2. Jerry Montgomery, Oklahoma defensive line coach: The Sooners' defensive line improved tremendously during Montgomery’s first season. OU saw its tackles for loss jump from 53 in 2012 to 73 in 2013, and sophomore defensive end Charles Tapper went from raw talent with terrific upside to an All-Big 12 performer. In addition, Montgomery’s defensive line was able to handle the mid-season loss of defensive tackle Jordan Phillips as redshirt freshman Jordan Wade stepped into Phillips' spot without a major drop off in production.

3. Greg Robinson, Texas defensive coordinator: Robinson stepped in, replacing Manny Diaz, after the Longhorns' defense was embarrassed during the first two games of the 2013 season. The Longhorns defense didn’t transform into a dominant unit but Robinson stopped the bleeding after UT allowed 1,025 yards in its first two games. BYU and New Mexico State combined to averaged 2.48 points per drive. In UT’s final 11 games, opponents averaged 1.68 points per drive.

4. Bill Bedenbaugh, Oklahoma offensive line coach: The Sooners' first-year offensive line coach did a terrific job with a unit that was forced to shuffle around at various times this season. OU’s Sugar Bowl win was a great example of his impact as three of the five offensive linemen who started the game were making their first start in their career or first start at a new position. Guard Dionte Savage made his lone start of the season, right tackle Daryl Williams moved to left tackle and guard Bronson Irwin shifted to right tackle and held their own as the Sooners knocked off Alabama.

5. Larry Porter, Texas running backs coach: Porter did a good job with UT’s running backs during his lone season as the running backs coach. Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray combined for 373 carries, 1,684 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Just as important, the duo lost zero fumbles despite carrying the rushing load. Porter helped a talented group of running backs to be productive and protect the ball during his short stint at UT.

[+] EnlargeGreg Robinson
AP Photo/Eric GayUnder Greg Robinson's tutelage, the Longhorns improved immensely.
6. Andre Coleman, Kansas State receivers coach: As Tyler Lockett made catch after catch while overwhelming Big 12 secondaries, Coleman’s spot on this list became more and more secure. Lockett was a terrific playmaker and returner during his first two seasons in Manhattan, Kan. But in 2013 he became a terrific receiver as well. His route running and ability to consistently get open was a sign of the improvement he made under Coleman’s tutelage. Lockett had 81 receptions for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior. In 2012, he finished with 44 receptions for 687 yards and four scores, although to be fair, the Wildcats threw the ball less during his sophomore season.

7. Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State offensive coordinator: Oklahoma State’s offense was still among the Big 12’s best under Yurcich, finishing among the top three in the conference in points scored (39.1 points, 2nd), yards (448.8, 3rd), yards per play (5.91, 3rd) and passing yards (278.85, 3rd). Yet the Cowboys took a clear step backward in a few categories. OSU dropped from third nationally (7.01) to No. 45 in yards per play (5.91) and dropped from tied for 24th nationally (46.2 percent) to No. 80 in third down conversion rate (38.8 percent). Yurcich’s first season as a Division I coordinator wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it was far from perfect.

8. Tony Gibson, WVU safeties: Gibson left Arizona to join the Mountaineers’ staff as the safeties coach before the 2013 season. Darwin Cook continued to be one of the most productive defensive backs in the Big 12 under Gibson, earning All-Big 12 honors with 74 tackles and four interceptions as a senior. With WVU's defensive coordinator position open, Gibson could be a good fit to take over that side of the football.

9. DeMontie Cross, TCU linebackers: The veteran coach with NFL experience helped the Horned Frogs' linebackers rank among the team's top tacklers. Junior Paul Dawson went from 14 tackles as a sophomore to a team-high 91 tackles in 2013. Marcus Mallet (70) and Jonathan Anderson (66) joined Dawson among the top four tacklers on the Horned Frogs defense during Cross' first season.

10. Lonnie Galloway, WVU receivers: The Mountaineers' quarterbacks had a rough year yet the receivers as a whole were fairly productive, with WVU finishing fourth in the Big 12 in receiving yards from its receivers (2,604). Five different Mountaineers receivers caught at least 20 passes, including Ronald Carswell and Mario Alford, who each averaged at least 20 yards per reception.
The Oklahoma Sooners' 11-2 season had several key contributors. Here are the top five names that put their stamp on OU’s outstanding campaign:

Head coach Bob Stoops: One of the best coaching jobs of his career ended with a Sugar Bowl victory and Oklahoma alongside Florida State near the top of the college football landscape. He became the only coach to win all four BCS games during a season that began with a a lot of questions and a roster without a lot of experience. Stoops' unyielding expectations for success and pride within the program pushed the team to a 11-win season. His focused leadership and unshaken confidence as injuries riddled the starting lineup rubbed off on his team.

[+] EnlargeJalen Saunders
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesJalen Saunders caught 61 passes and was a consistent threat in the Sooners' passing game.
Receiver Jalen Saunders: The senior was one of the Sooners' most consistent players. No matter the opponent, big game or small, Saunders could be counted on to make a big play. His shiftiness made him a handful in the open field on punt returns and his quickness helped him slither through opponents’ secondaries. His receiving numbers (61 receptions, 729 yards, eight touchdowns) aren’t that impressive on the surface, due largely to the Sooners' inconsistent quarterback play, but he was one of the Big 12’s most explosive playmakers.

Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery: In his first year at Oklahoma after leaving Michigan, Montgomery spurred the development of the Sooners' young defensive linemen. Sophomore Charles Tapper became a impact player, redshirt freshman Jordan Wade stepped up when Jordan Phillips was injured and junior Geneo Grissom finally started to turn his potential into production. Pretty much every Sooners defensive lineman took a step forward in production under Montgomery’s mentorship. He took the defensive line from a potential weak link to the best unit on OU’s defense in the Sugar Bowl.

Center Gabe Ikard: As good as Ikard was on the field, he was even better off of it. His leadership and demeanor was like water in an oasis for a Sooners’ coaching staff dealing with a roster featuring several young, inexperienced players. He led vocally and by example and instilled a unyielding mindset in his teammates. On the field, he was one of the Big 12’s top offensive linemen and brought consistency to an offense that experienced ups and downs from week to week.

Linebacker Dominique Alexander: At this time last year, Alexander was walking the halls of Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington High School, unsure where he would play college football. Twelve months later, he looks like the next star linebacker at OU. His athleticism and instincts helped him slide into the starting lineup when senior Corey Nelson was injured. The freshman finished with 80 tackles, including 45 combined tackles against Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State.

Sooners' superlatives

December, 11, 2013
Oklahoma is riding high after a 33-24 Bedlam win over Oklahoma State that catapulted the Sooners into the Allstate Sugar Bowl while stripping the Cowboys of their Big 12 title dreams.

OU finished the season 10-2 including a 7-2 Big 12 record as some likely and unlikely candidates stepped up to make a difference during a season that was initially billed as a rebuilding year but will end with the Sooners playing in a BCS bowl.

Here is a regular season review of the standout players and coaches during OU’s BCS journey.

Offensive MVP: Center Gabe Ikard. It’s not often that an offensive lineman is the clear MVP of a 10-win team. But Ikard’s not your normal offensive lineman. A four-year starter, Ikard’s experience and intelligence helped the Sooners overcome an season-ending injury to fullback Trey Millard, a quarterback carousel and multiple running backs taking turns as the lead ball carrier. Through it all the offensive line helped the Sooners average 235.83 rushing yards per game and allowed 15 sacks with Ikard’s leadership and example.

Defensive MVP: Linebacker Frank Shannon. The sophomore fought off injuries to play in all 12 games and lead the squad with 85 tackles along with seven tackles for loss, two sacks and one interception. When senior linebacker Corey Nelson was lost for the season in early October, Shannon went from an understudy to a on-field leadership role. His presence also helped true freshman Dominique Alexander excel in Nelson’s absence.

Special teams MVP: Jalen Saunders. The senior receiver changed the game with punt returns for touchdowns against Iowa State and Oklahoma State during the Sooners’ three-game win streak to end the regular season. Without those two returns, who knows how those games could have turned out. He averaged 16.78 yards per punt return and had five punt returns for more than 20 yards.

Assistant coach of the year: Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery. The season began with a defensive line full of unknowns and inexperience. Yet, it performed like a veteran group and even shook off an season-ending injury to Jordan Phillips to finish No. 1 in the Big 12 in yards allowed per game. Several inexperienced players including Charles Tapper and Jordan Wade played important roles under Montgomery's coaching.

Undervalued contributor on offense: Receiver Sterling Shepard. The sophomore wasn’t the No. 1 guy like Saunders, but when he wasn’t involved OU’s passing attack wasn’t as potent. He finished with 44 receptions for 540 yards and six touchdowns. His 67.7 completion percentage (44 receptions in 65 targets) led the squad. Shepard stepped up in key games and provided a quality big play threat when teams focused on Saunders.

Undervalued contributor on defense: Linebacker Eric Striker. The Florida native helped transform the Sooners’ defense with his relentlessness and quickness off the edge. Playing a standup linebacker who consistently blitzed on passing downs, Striker proved to be one of OU’s top pass rushing threats with 3.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss. He wasn't among the team leaders in tackles but he was always active when he was on the field.

Newcomer of the year: Alexander. The coaching staff had raved about Alexander since the preseason but his opportunities were limited until Nelson’s injury. He had 10 tackles in his first four games but had 19 tackles in his first start against Texas after Nelson was sidelined. He finished with 75 tackles, second on the squad.

Most improved player: Tapper. The defensive end stepped on campus as a raw former basketball star with plenty of potential. He ends his sophomore season leading the Sooners in sacks (5.5) and tackle for losses (9). His size, speed and quickness will make him one of the Big 12’s most feared defenders in 2014.

Early Offer: USC builds all-star staff 

December, 6, 2013
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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Sooners' recruiting roundup

August, 16, 2013
NORMAN, Okla.--Reestablishing Oklahoma as one of the nation’s most talented squads was one of the priorities for Bob Stoops during the offseason. Don’t believe it? Stoops brought in three coaches known for their recruiting prowess in tight ends coach Jay Boulware, offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery.

The Sooners are off to a decent start as they look to put together a Top 25 group in the Class of 2014. OU, which currently sits at No. 20 in ESPN.com’s team class rankings, has 12 current commitments including five members of the ESPN300.

Here’s a closer look at the Sooners’ remaining needs, top current commits and key visit dates as the season approaches.

Remaining needs: Although the Sooners have commitments from Troy (Ohio) center Alex Dalton and Irving (Texas) Ranchview defensive tackle Brandon Glenn, the Sooners still have a lot of work to do to land some game changers in the trenches.

They’ve missed out on several offensive prospects, particularly TCU commit Ty Barrett (Dallas/Skyline), forcing the Sooners to go back to the drawing board at that position. But some key names remain on the wish list along the defensive front. OU would love to land Coppell (Texas) defensive end Solomon Thomas, No. 31 in the ESPN300, and the standout prospect has visited Norman several times.

Linebacker is also a position of need, despite the positive early signs from 2013 signees Dominique Alexander and Jordan Evans. A pair of ESPN300 linebackers from the West Coast, Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra’s Dwight Williams and Los Angeles Salesian’s Jamardre Cobb, would be a dream duo for OU.

Headliners: Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen leads the way as the Sooners’ top ranked signee, ranked No. 97 in the ESPN300. He brings excellent size, intangibles and dual threat skills to the backfield. He’ll be surrounded by talented ESPN300 receiving targets when he arrives on campus with La Mirada (Calif.) receiver Dallis Todd, Tulsa (Okla.) Union tight end Carson Meier and Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain receiver/tight end Mark Andrews sitting next to him on OU’s commitment list.

Key remaining targets: If the Sooners don’t land Jenks (Okla.) safety Steven Parker, it will be a major blow to OU’s recruiting efforts. Parker has visited Norman several times and has developed a solid relationship with defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.

Fresno (Calif.) Central East athlete Michiah Quick, No. 43 on the ESPN300, has two former teammates (Hatari Byrd, L.J. Moore) in the Sooners program and family living in Oklahoma. If the Sooners put on the full court press with him, and Oakley (Calif.) Freedom running back Joe Mixon, they could continue their California pipeline started in recent years.

Key date: Several top recruits, including Quick and Mixon, will be in Norman on Oct. 4 when the Sooners face TCU. It will be critical for the Sooners to knock their socks off during their visits and cap it off with a victory over the Horned Frogs if they hope to secure their signatures.
NORMAN, Okla. -- The foundation of championship teams is often built upon the disruptive nature of its defensive line. The foundation of a quality defensive line is unearthed on the recruiting trail.

Cracks in both foundations emerged during the 2012 season at Oklahoma.

The Sooners finished 10-3 with a Big 12 co-championship but had one of their least disruptive defensive fronts in recent memory. And they’ll kickoff the 2013 with a very inexperienced defensive interior.

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NORMAN, Okla. -- The first time he stepped on the field as a Sooner, defensive end Charles Tapper felt uncertainty.

“It was nerve-racking,” he said.

In the Sooners’ 2012 season opener, the UTEP offensive tackle on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage did his best to intimidate Tapper, then just a freshman.

[+] EnlargeCharles Tapper
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiDefensive end Charles Tapper player sparingly for the Sooners in 2012, but he'll be a key member of the defense this season.
“I was kind of scared to go out there at first,” Tapper said. “The offensive tackle was just staring at me and I was just shaking.”

So instinct took over.

“So I tried to do a basketball move and he just threw me out of the way,” said Tapper, who was a standout basketball player who didn’t play football until his junior year at Baltimore (Md.) City College High School.

Later in the game, Tapper got the best of his one-on-one battle, pressuring UTEP quarterback Nick Lamaison in the final minutes of OU’s 24-7 win.

“After my first snap I was OK, I was ready to play,” Tapper said.

Those moments in El Paso, Texas, define Tapper's first season at OU. During times of uncertainty, the raw defeensive end turned to his basketball roots yet when he focused on his football fundamentals, he saw success.

(Read full post)

NORMAN, Okla. -- Defensive line is a period of transition for Oklahoma. For years it has been coached by Bobby Jack Wright at defensive ends and Jackie Shipp at defensive tackles.

That changes this year as all defensive line responsibilities have been given to first-year coach Jerry Montgomery. Wright is coaching the secondary, while Shipp was let go and is now coaching at Arizona State.

Montgomery was a star recruiter for Michigan, and OU fans are hoping for the same. But he has his work cut out for him. Here is an early look at some notable targets at defensive end and tackle:

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Corey Holmes' interest in Oklahoma didn't happen when the Sooners showed interest in the ESPN Watch List receiver. Holmes (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) has had his eye on the Sooners for years.

"I’ve always liked Oklahoma," he said. "I watched them when they came down to play Florida in the national championship game."

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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 target in Texas is visiting Oklahoma for the second time this spring.
  • OU offered a Florida linebacker who hasn't heard much from the Sooners -- but he's interested.
  • More on the Sooners targeting an east Texas high school.
  • An in-state wideout is blowing up this spring.
  • Could the Sooners offer the brother of a current player?
  • An in-state tight end is working out with a former Sooner, trying to improve his footwork.
  • Could the Sooners find a hidden gem in Norman?

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.

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NORMAN, Okla. -- Uplifting. Intense. Intelligent.

Those are a few of the words that have been used describe Jerry Montgomery during his first spring as defensive line coach at Oklahoma. There’s been a change at practice as the Sooners' energetic new assistant starts to make his mark, and it has been noticed, even by players at other positions.

[+] EnlargeJerry Montgomery
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiOU players like new assistant Jerry Montgomery's demeanor on and off the field.
“He is outspoken,” linebacker Corey Nelson said. “He remains positive no matter what. He uplifts a lot of the players. He coaches them up very well and just teaches them how to have character on the field and to work hard with that character.”

Several Sooners have pointed toward Montgomery’s intensity on the field and sincerity off the field as key attributes that the former Michigan defensive line coach has infused into the program.

“I see the intensity on the field,” said center Ty Darlington, who was recruited to Michigan by Montgomery out of high school. “But I think it’s great he couples it with what seems like sincere care for his players off the field and developing relationships with those guys. He seems like an easygoing guy away from the field.”

He has combined a laid back off-field demeanor with intensity while making a point to hold his guys accountable with a positive slant behind his words.

(Read full post)

NORMAN, Okla. -- As Oklahoma’s defense undergoes a transformation this spring, new defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery reiterated the point to junior defensive end Rashod Favors. His words provided a summary of the change in mindset for the Sooners' defensive line this spring.

“I need you to come off the football and knock the line of scrimmage back,” Montgomery told Favors during practice in a "Mic'd Up" video posted at SoonerSports.com. “You’re reading. We’re not playing last year’s defense, you gotta be aggressive.”

[+] EnlargeJerry Montgomery
Lon Horwedel/Icon SMINew defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, who recently arrived from Michigan, is hard at work teaching OU's new approach.
Clearly, change is in the air.

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has expressed the desire for the Sooners defense to play more aggressively during the second year of his second stint as defensive coordinator in Norman, Okla. And that change is desperately needed after a season in which the Sooners finished No. 70 nationally in sacks per game (1.7), No. 112 nationally in tackles for loss per game (4.3) and No. 80 in turnover margin (minus-0.3).

Last season, the Sooners' defensive line played a two-gap scheme, removing the aggressiveness from their front four while looking to funnel plays to their secondary with safeties Tony Jefferson (119 tackles) and Javon Harris (86 tackles) roaming the defensive backfield and finishing first and second on the team in tackles.

“When you do what we did a year ago, you’re asking guys to take up two gaps and all you’re doing is being a plugger,” Montgomery said. “Your production is going to be down. You’re going to muddy things up, and linebackers come clean it up. That’s what that is made to do.”

This spring, the Sooners' defensive line is adapting to a one-gap scheme, which will allow its defensive linemen to play more aggressively and (hopefully) become more disruptive in opponents’ backfields.

(Read full post)

Montgomery must reverse fortune at DT 

April, 1, 2013
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.

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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:

  • Could the Sooners add a top receiver at their spring game?
  • A Texas wideout is hoping to visit Oklahoma soon.
  • Texas athlete is focused on a handful of schools.
  • Will an in-state linebacker make another visit to OU?
  • A Sooners signee is "like a big brother" to a 2014 target.
  • What's next for ESPN Watch List safety Steven Parker?
  • A Florida wideout has a connection to a new OU assistant coach.

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.

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