Oklahoma Sooners: Joe Mathis

Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

August, 2, 2012
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:

• Why Oklahoma's newest commitment chose the Sooners over a regional school
• Will OU now look at interior offensive lineman for the class of 2013?
• Tim Kish has already made an impact on a top 2014 linebacker
• A standout Texas receiver hopes to take a visit to OU this fall
• A longtime in-state commitment starts school in a new city

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.

Stoops connection gets Byrd to OU

Score one for Mike Stoops when it comes to Fresno (Calif.) Central East four-star safety Hatari Byrd. Ranked No. 293 in the ESPN 300, Byrd committed to the Sooners on Tuesday afternoon.

Most believed UCLA was out in front in the Byrd race, but the connection to Mike and Bob Stoops proved to be enough for the Sooners. Byrd said Mike Stoops has been talking to him since his sophomore year.

Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
New Sooners commit Hatari Byrd could play several positions in Mike Stoops' defensive scheme.

It was still a little bit of a shock considering Byrd has yet to see the campus and won’t see the campus until his official visit Oct. 26. To Byrd, though, that’s not a problem.

“Really how I feel about it is that it’s all football,” Byrd said. “I’m the type of person where I can go away from home, and it’s not going to be that much of a problem.

“And I feel at home when I talk to the coaches. It’s a different type of relationship I have with them.”

With Byrd in the bank, it’s only natural for OU fans to wonder if his teammates, four-star cornerbacks L.J. Moore and Johnny Johnson Jr. will follow suit.

There's no telling at this point, but it won’t be because of a lack of effort made by Byrd.

“I’m going to try to talk them into it, but they are going to do what’s best for them,” Byrd said.

Moore said he knew Byrd was serious about OU for a long time, but he didn’t realize how serious until last weekend at the Gridiron Kings event. He could sense his friend and teammate was ready to pull the trigger and go with the Sooners.

“Normally he would say OU and then talk about another school five minutes later and not really give anything away,” Moore said. “Last week, though, he was really hinting at OU. I’m really proud of him.”

Byrd said part of the reason he picked OU was because of its tradition at defensive backs, something he hopes to only add to the legacy.

“I want to do something better than what they did there,” Byrd said.

Sooners still after Moore

The focus now will shift from Byrd to Moore for the Sooners. Moore and Byrd have talked about wanting to play together, but it’s not set in stone.

“I don’t want to say we’re a package deal,” Moore said. “But what I can say is it’s possible that after I do my research that OU could be the right place for me.”

Moore said he has been talking to Mike Stoops on a regular basis and is doing all he can to learn more about the OU program. And while Byrd was able to commit to the program without seeing it first, don't expect that to happen with Moore.

“It would be too hard for me to commit without seeing everything first,” Moore said. “It’s not just about football. It’s about the atmosphere. Do I really want to spend the next four years of my life at this place? You have to see it all to find out.”

Moore credits most of his success to defensive backs coach Tony Perry. Moore was moved to cornerback last season and said he is fired up about showing what he can do now that he understands the position better.

“He has me ready,” Moore said. “I know what’s going to come now. I’ve been studying film. Last year I played off my athletic ability.

“My aggressiveness and smarts are my two biggest strengths. I like to challenge receivers, (I'm) not afraid to mix it up.”

Moore said last week OU and California are his co-favorites. However, he tweeted a top six Wednesday night of Notre Dame, UCLA, Cal, Oregon State, Arizona State and Washington. In a later tweet, Moore said OU is still in consideration, and he will stay take the Oct. 26 official visit. He said he will definitely visit OU, Notre Dame and Cal.

Interior linemen now an option?

Throughout the 2013 recruiting class, one thing has been consistent. OU has not been searching for interior linemen.

Coach James Patton has had to be the bearer of bad news to several top offensive guard prospects. Patton always tried to keep door just a little cracked open. And now, well, that door might have actually been opened.

With the Sooners losing two linemen this week in center Ben Habern and redshirt freshman Dylan Dismuke to career-ending injuries, is now the time OU does look for some inside help?

Bob Przybylo/ESPN.com
Tulsa commit Rob Boyd says he's solid to the Golden Hurricane.

If it does, the obvious place to look is at three-star prospect Rob Boyd (Vian, Okla./Vian). Boyd is the top offensive lineman prospect in the state and attended OU’s junior day earlier this spring.

When Patton said an offer wasn’t going to come, however, Boyd moved on. He didn’t wait long before committing to Tulsa. And since then, Boyd has been taking it easy.

“It has been great. I know a lot of other kids are sweating it out, but I was able to enjoy my summer and get stronger,” Boyd said. “If [the Sooners] come to me, they come to me.

“It would be awesome and I would be honored if they offered. But like I said before, once I make a commitment, that’s it. I know where I’m going.”

Another option is Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst guard Zach Hannon. A three-star prospect, Hannon visited OU in the spring and, like Boyd, was told by Patton OU simply wasn’t looking for an interior lineman.

Hannon has been closer to coming to a decision, but he did text message on Wednesday saying everything could possibly change if OU came knocking.

“Right now they haven’t contacted me yet. But yea, if they did, it could possibly change,” Hannon said.

And you want a longshot? Look at Lawton, Okla., guard Ryne Yost. A transfer from Elk City, Okla., Yost is 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds.

I got a chance to see Yost during spring practice, and he definitely has the look and feel of a big-time recruit.

“Coach Patton was here in the spring and said they would have offered Ryne if they needed somebody at that spot,” Lawton coach Randy Breeze said. “Ryne did really well at OSU’s camp, and we’re happy to have him.”

Yost has no offers, but with more exposure, expect that to change.

OU in early good spot for Hampton

There has been much discussion among OU fans about how well first-year linebackers coach Tim Kish is doing on the recruiting trail.

The Sooners have one commit in Dallas Jesuit’s Jordan Mastrogiovanni, ranked No. 201 in the ESPN 300. But the rest of their offered 'backers have either committed to other programs or do not have OU in their list of favorites.

But there is one 2014 linebacker where Kish has already made a big dent, and that’s with Dallas Carter’s Cameron Hampton.

Hampton was at six camps this summer, including OU, Texas, LSU and Texas A&M. And which one stood out the most?

“I don’t know, there was just something about being at OU,” Hampton said. “There was a lot of good competition there, and you know OU is always going to have a good football team.”

Hampton attended the one-day camp at OU in June. And since then, his relationship with Kish has only improved. Hampton said he has talked to Kish four times this summer.

“He’s a real cool coach and likes me as a player,” Hampton said. “I can see myself playing for the Sooners.”

But don’t get excited just yet. Although OU has made a strong initial impression on Hampton, he said he is in no rush to make an early commitment.

But if you want to get excited again, you can regarding OU and Hampton’s choice of major. Hampton is looking at mechanical engineering and said he knows OU and Texas both have good engineering programs.

OU, though, went out of its way to do something else for Hampton on his camp visit.

“I had a meeting with the advisers, and they showed what the engineering classes would look like for me,” Hampton said. “It definitely helps because academics is going to be a huge factor for me.”

Hampton is excited about his junior season because he’s not the “young pup” anymore. He is ready to emerge as a leader. He is hopeful he can visit OU in the fall for one of its games, but he said it will all depend on his parents’ work schedules.

Hampton, who is 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, also has offers from Notre Dame and Ohio State to go along with OU, LSU and A&M, among others.

OU door is open for Mathis

It has sort of been my running joke the last month that USC cannot get them all, but there was some reality in the statement, too. The Trojans made their choice Sunday by closing out their class with ESPN 300 defensive end Torrodney Prevot (Houston/Alief Taylor).

It’s an incredible 18-member class with 12 in the ESPN 150 and 17 in the ESPN 300. Sixteen of the 18 commits have OU offers.

Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
Joe Mathis was thought to be a USC lean, but now the Trojans are out of scholarships.

But that leaves a lot of prospects left on the table and one the more prominent recruits is defensive lineman Joe Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland). Mathis, the cousin of USC commit Su’a Cravens, was thought to be among the top choices for USC.

“It is what it is. Nothing I can do about it,” Mathis said. “If they wanted me bad enough, they would have kept a spot open. I have other options.”

One of those options is certainly the Sooners. Though Mathis has yet to see the campus, Tim Kish is doing all he can to keep in constant communication with Mathis.

In the last few months, Mathis has seen Washington, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Cal, UCLA and USC. However, he said he is still in no rush to make a decision and left open the possibility of an official visit to OU in the fall.

Mathis, who is 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, is ranked No. 249 in the ESPN 300. He said he got up as high as 270 pounds, but he is back in the 245-250 range heading into his senior season.

“I’m faster and stronger, but the thing I worked on the most was my technique. I want to show what I can do,” Mathis said.

Hunter busy on the trail

Things can change in a hurry in the recruiting game. Nobody is finding that out more than Prosper, Texas, wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr.

An unknown commodity when the spring evaluation period started, Hunter is one of the most sought after prospects around. He has gone from being not ranked to now No. 50 in the ESPN 150 and No. 8 at receiver. And now he’s making the rounds. Hunter visited Princeton, West Virginia and Notre Dame last week. The Mountaineers and Irish were among the first schools, along with OU, to offer Hunter.

Hunter enjoyed his visits and once again stressed the fact he needs to be able to play baseball, too, for a school to have a realistic shot at getting his signature.

He won’t be able to visit OU before his senior season starts, but he said he would like to make an unofficial or official visit during the fall.

“I have no idea how the schedule is going to break down, but that is one place I would definitely like to see,” Hunter said. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know Coach [Jay] Norvell and want to see what they have to offer.”

Treadwell press continues

In one corner, you have Michigan commit Shane Morris. And in the other, you have OU commits Cody Thomas and Stanvon Taylor. So, who is going to make the lasting impression on ESPN 150 wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee)?

Treadwell has developed a tight bond with Morris. Not only in terms of the proximity of where they live but also because they’ve been to all the same all-star events this summer.

Thomas has reached out to Treadwell a couple of times, but right now, it looks like Taylor is the No. 1 recruiter for Treadwell. The two spent a lot of time together last weekend at the Gridiron Kings event.

Tom VanHaaren/ESPN.com
Receiver Laquon Treadwell stills wants to take a visit to OU.

“Oh yeah, me and Laquon talked a lot,” Taylor said. “He said OU is in his top choices. I can really tell he wants to get down there. He wants to see the campus.”

Taylor isn’t known as a very boisterous personality so he didn’t put on the full court press regarding Treadwell. He simply told him the truth as Taylor sees it.

“I told him everything I feel about the campus and the state of Oklahoma,” Taylor said. “How the atmosphere is in Norman and how he needs to see it on game day. OU is always dominant and successful. It would be great to have him come with.”

Treadwell, who is 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, is No. 38 in the ESPN 150 and No. 4 at receiver.

Coincidentally, Taylor’s roommate at Gridiron Kings was Texas commit Jacorey Warrick. Taylor said Warrick said OU was among his final choices, but he feels the Longhorns will be the best fit for him.

OU’s stability a big factor for Bennett

It wasn’t a long courting process between OU and receiver commit Austin Bennett (Manvel, Texas/Manvel). Bennett picked up the offer at OU’s satellite camp in the Houston area, made an unofficial visit the campus the next week and then committed.

So why did everything happen so fast for him? In a word, stability.

“The coaching staff is out of this world,” Bennett said. “Bob Stoops has been there since 1999 so you know he’s not going anywhere. Jay Norvell knows how to bring out the best in his receivers. The proof is in the pudding.”

Bennett was able to show OU fans a taste of what they’re hoping to see with a quality outing at the Texas state 7-on-7 championships in July. The event was the start of what Bennett hopes is going to be a special latter half of 2012.

“This is my team, and I need to start taking over as a leader,” Bennett said. “I’m very comfortable in that spot and believe I’m a natural born leader.”

Bennett said his relationship with Norvell gets better with each week. He talked to him earlier this week and said each time he talks with Norvell all it does is get him more excited about coming to OU.

And he hopes he’s not coming alone. Teammates Kyrion Parker (Texas A&M) and Tavares Garner (Texas A&M) have committed to other schools, but Bennett has not given up hope on trying to flip them.

If Bennett cannot make a dent with his 2013 teammates, he has also begun making the charge at 2014 tight end teammate Koda Martin.

“He’s a great player and a real hardworking kid,” Bennett said. “I know he is going to make the best decision for him, but I’m doing all I can to convince him OU is the place to be.”

Bennett said he has never been in a better place in terms of his football mindset. He’s ready to show off his speed.

“I have big-time speed,” Bennett said. “Some don’t think it. But when you’re running next to me, you find out how fast I’m going.”

Ward in new home

All OU defensive end commit D.J. Ward wants to do is play football. With all the confusion that has surrounded him in the last few weeks, few recruits are looking forward to the 2012 season more.

Ward officially transferred to Oklahoma City Douglass from Lawton, Okla., this week as Oklahoma City Douglass began school Wednesday.

Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every Monday. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Jack in Oklahoma City asks: We now have two defensive end commits, but we’ve offered so many more. Are we done at this spot for this class?

Bob Przybylo: Most likely not. It believe Oklahoma's target has been to get three defensive ends for the class of 2013. D.J. Ward (Lawton, Okla./Lawton) and Matt Dimon (Katy, Texas/Katy) are a great start and OU is in good position with a number of quality ends.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Video: Four OU offers get ‘Opening’ invites

April, 3, 2012

Upland's (Upland, Calif.) Joe Mathis, Marcos de Niza's (Tempe, Ariz.) Priest Willis, and Rancho Cucamonga's (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) Tahaan Goodman and Chris Hawkins receive invitations to "The Opening" following the Los Angeles NFTC.
Call it a sign of the times. At last weekend’s Nike Football Training Camp event in Irving, Texas, there were a lot of recruits interested in Oklahoma but not necessarily that many prospects that have offers from the Sooners.

Sunday marks the second NFTC event, this time at Cerritos College in Los Angeles. And though it is 1,350 miles to go from Norman, Okla., to Los Angeles, this weekend arguably brings more impact when it comes to the OU recruiting scene.

Here are some prospects to watch:

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Chat leftovers: Recruiting battles with USC

March, 20, 2012

SoonerNation recruiting writer Bob Przybylo chatted with readers Monday. Here's the full transcript. If you didn't get your question answered, send it his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Here are a few highlights from the chat:

Derrin (Plano, TX): Now that OU and Justin Manning are now "on the same page". Will the defensive tackle make his commitment sooner rather than later?

Bob Przybylo: No, not at this time. Manning just came back from LSU's junior day, and he seems pretty content to wait. He has mentioned waiting until December. I have no idea if he can last that long, but the Sooners need to show constant interest in Manning. Do not want him to be one that gets away.

Tony (Richmond, CA): The Sooners appear to be in a battle with USC for both Max Browne and Joe Mathis. How do you rate OU's chances of landing these two top recruits?

Bob Przybylo: Pretty good on both fronts and actually better with Browne than for Mathis. Nebraska is a big-time player, too, for Mathis and his cousin, Su'a Cravens. Mathis does want to visit OU in the summer so don't rule him out. Browne's relationship with Josh Heupel is really good and only got better from the visit.

Jose (El Paso, TX): Who do you feel will be stepping up for the wide receivers this year?

Bob Przybylo: I'm one of the frontrunners for the Kameel Jackson bandwagon. Loved what I saw late last year, and simply got that feeling he's gonna be a name to remember. As for the 2012 stellar group, I don't think there's a thing Durron Neal cannot do on a football field.

Lon Kruger (Norman, OK): Who's the biggest sleeper recruit in the state this year and can I sign him?

Bob Przybylo: A couple of weeks ago would have said the 2012 in-state class is done. However, it will be interesting to see what happens at Tulsa and the coaching change there. PF Dre Wright (Lawton, Okla./Eisenhower) would be a huge 'get' if he were to leave Tulsa. Wright improved immensely in his senior season.

Oklahoma has a number of top defensive ends as targets for its 2013 class. So when one decides to not attend OU’s Red-White game, that should be enough for the Sooners to move on, right?

Wrong. Even though Joe Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland) will not be at OU on April 14, that doesn’t mean the Oklahoma coaches are done pursuing Mathis or that Mathis is no longer considering the Sooners.

Mathis, 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds and on the ESPNU Watch List, had been contemplating for the last month between seeing OU’s spring game or Nebraska’s spring game. Since they’re on the same date, he could only pick one and said last week he will visit the Cornhuskers.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Offer update: OU looking out west for help 

February, 17, 2012
The Sooners extended several new offers to 2013 prospects this week. Bob Przybylo breaks down the most recent Oklahoma offers by position:

• Former Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables let it be known that he loved to get his cornerbacks from the Dallas Metroplex area.

Davide De Pas
California cornerback Johnny Johnson Jr. has offers from coast to coast.

With Venables gone, time will tell if OU still pursues the top Dallas-area defensive backs. But with linebackers coach Tim Kish and defensive coordinator Mike Stoops very familiar with the West Coast, it is clear the two are trying to land the top targets out west.

This week’s recruiting was highlighted by OU looking out to Arizona and California to try to find cornerbacks. As of last week, Kendall Fuller (Olney, Md./Good Counsel) was the only cornerback offered.

But that’s not the case anymore. OU offered three cornerbacks recently in Cole Luke (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), Priest Willis (Tempe, Ariz./Marcos De Niza) and Johnny Johnson Jr. (Fresno, Calif./Central East).

Johnson was the latest offer, getting the word from the Sooners on Thursday afternoon. It punctuated an exciting week for the 5-foot-10, 175-pound prospect. He was offered by USC at its junior day on Sunday and was also recently been offered by Notre Dame.

Johnson’s athletic ability makes him such an intriguing prospect. With Willis and Luke, it’s a lot more obvious why OU is so interested. Both have the size and physicality of what Stoops likes in his secondary.

Willis is 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds and has offers from USC, Nebraska and Oklahoma State, among numerous others. Luke has thought about the Sooners for a long time and was excited about getting the Sooners offer. He is 6-foot and 165 pounds and has offers from several Pac-12 schools.

• OU is not wasting any time when it comes to defensive ends. The Sooners offered Joe Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland) late last week and followed that with an offer to Torrodney Prevot (Houston/Alief Taylor) on Thursday.

Mathis has listed OU in his early top five although USC is in the lead. He is going to decide between going to the OU or Nebraska spring game on April 14. We'll be able to find out more regarding OU’s chances with Mathis with that decision.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

DE Joe Mathis hopes to visit OU in spring 

February, 16, 2012
It’s not every day that junior defensive end Joe Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland) picks up an offer from a high-profile college, but it sure feels that way.

Mathis, 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, has seen his offer total increase dramatically in the last week as powerhouse schools like Oklahoma, USC and Nebraska have been added to his list.

Last week, OU assistant coaches Tim Kish and Bobby Jack Wright called Upland High to let Mathis know he was being offered. A couple of hours later, the process was repeated with the Nebraska coaching staff.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider


Will Eagles' Gamble On Bradford Pay Off?
ESPN NFL Insider Phil Savage discusses Sam Bradford's chances of bouncing back from multiple ACL surgeries.