Oklahoma Sooners: Matt Beyer

Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

January, 3, 2013
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:

  • How did OU get involved with its latest offer in California?
  • ESPN 300 ATH talks about his top two

One setback after another for OU on trail 

December, 7, 2012
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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Matt Beyer’s OU dream comes true 

October, 30, 2012
The only word four-star offensive tackle Matt Beyer (San Antonio/Reagan) could use to describe his experience was "surreal."

For Beyer, it has been a dream to see an Oklahoma home game in person, and that dream came true last weekend when the Sooners played Notre Dame.

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Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

October, 4, 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:

  • An ESPN 150 defensive end/linebacker is still in play for OU
  • Could the Sooners add a commitment on Monday?

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

September, 27, 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:

• More on OU getting back in the mix with a top tailback.
• Could a out-of-state- prospect who was in Norman last weekend visit again this fall?
• Four-star offensive tackle knows he could play early at OU
• Sooners RB commit shaking off poor performance in season debut
• What happens next with OT Matt Beyer? He isn't sure.

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.

Sooners making push again for Bryant

It wasn’t the weekend Oklahoma fans were hoping for, either on the field or on the recruiting trail. With so many top uncommitted prospects coming to Norman, the hope was for some good news.

Tom Hauck/ESPNHS
Three schools are standing out to tailback Greg Bryant and, surprisingly, one is Oklahoma.

And maybe it didn’t happen with some of the visitors, but OU running backs coach Cale Gundy was working the phones hard last weekend to get a familiar name back into the fold.

After nearly two months of no communication, Gundy reached out to former OU running back commit Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage-Boca Delray) and the two spoke for more than 90 minutes, Bryant said.

What does it mean? It's tough to say. It doesn’t mean OU is now the leader again for Bryant, but the Sooners are realistically in the equation once again.

What’s tough for some fans to grasp is why Bryant decommitted in the first place when it seemed like he had no problems with OU or its coaches. Bryant reaffirmed that and said he still has no issues with the program. The issue, he said, was with his commitment on March 31.

“I never should have committed that day,” Bryant said. “I was just having so much fun and feeling right at home that I decided to do it. But I should have waited.

“I don’t regret the decommitment, though. I need to see what else is out there and be fair to everybody. What I should have done was taken that first visit, kept talking with Coach Gundy and then committed on the second visit.”

Of course what’s interesting about any talk of a second visit is the fact that Bryant never had a second visit to OU. He kept wanting to take one in June and July, but the stars never aligned for that to happen.

“It just wasn’t planned out very well on my end,” Bryant said. “I wanted to go, but I didn’t think about how much the plane tickets would cost, and I never got around to it.”

Bryant said he doesn’t have a top school, saying he wants to take official visits to OU, South Carolina and Auburn. For his OU visit, Bryant said he wants to be there for a game day weekend.

OU still has the commitment of No. 3-ranked running back Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Ranch). When asked about the possibility of adding Bryant, ranked No. 2 at the position, back with him, Ford was pretty pumped.

“I’m a team first guy all the time,” Ford said. “I want the best athletes to come with me and be a part of something special at OU. We are going to build something special there. It’s great that Greg is talking with coach Gundy again. I hope it all works out.”

Rodgers felt like part of the team on visit

Going back to the weekend, though, it was a big one in terms of official visitors. One of the biggest, both literally and from a class-need standpoint, was four-star offensive tackle Na'Ty Rodgers (Owings Mills, Md./McDonough).

Rodgers asked his father, Tyrone, to come from California for the visit, but Tyrone opted to stay home because he wanted his son to have his own experience. Tyrone played defensive line for OU in 1988 before transferring to Washington.

After talking to his son following the visit, Tyrone is glad he chose to stay home.

“We talked while he was on the visit. We talked when he got home, and he loved it,” Tyrone said. “He couldn’t stop talking about the school and the coaches.

“That’s what I wanted. I didn’t want people talking to me or for me to influence his visit. Now he has his own memories. That’s great.”

Tyrone Rodgers has spoken incredibly high of his short time with the Sooners, calling it a brotherhood that has never gone away. In his mind, he had a checklist of some things he had hoped Na’Ty would say following the visit.

This was the biggest:

“He said he felt like he was part of the team already,” Tyrone said. “That’s what I really wanted to hear from him. I wanted to hear that he felt a part of that brotherhood. He said he loved hanging out with the other linemen and felt right at home.”

But it never mattered how great the visit was because a commitment is simply not happening until after Na’Ty’s senior season. It was one of the rules Tyrone laid out after Na’Ty’s junior season. Right now Na’Ty’s commitment is tentatively set for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in early January.

“I don’t want him to get distracted,” Tyrone said. “I want him to keep working. I want him to get that 3.5 [GPA] this semester. We still have goals set for him at the high school level.”

It’s clear the OU visit has made a big impression on Na’Ty, and the Sooners have put themselves right in the mix with South Carolina and Maryland. OU has done so well that don’t be surprised to hear about a second visit to Norman.

Tyrone won’t be going on that one, either.

“No, it’s not needed. Every team needs to do a sell job, but the sell job is done with me,” he said. “I know OU isn’t a used car salesman. I know I can trust the program. But I think his mother is going to make that trip. She needs to see it, too, and be comfortable with everything.”

The game outcome obviously wasn’t what OU was hoping for. But sometimes a loss can say more about a team than a victory. That might have been the case with OU and Na’Ty.

“He kept talking about the camaraderie the team still had despite the loss,” Tyrone said. “He really liked that. Everybody was upset they lost, but everybody stayed together. I told you -- it’s a brotherhood.”

Benenoch has chance to make immediate impact

One line of thinking for a recruit after watching a team take a loss on an official visit is to say “that’s why I need to go there, to make an impact.”

That is the case for Katy (Texas) Seven Lakes four-star offensive guard Caleb Benenoch following his visit to OU last weekend.

Max Olson/ESPN.com
Offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch has narrowed his list but won't be committing anytime soon.

Ranked as a guard, Benenoch is one of the top priorities for OU at offensive tackle. For a couple of months the OU coaches have stressed how important Benenoch is because of OU’s lack of depth. Benenoch knows that’s not lip service.

“I had been told about how little depth they have, but it’s one to be told it and another to see it in person,” Benenoch said. “I think they had 10 total offensive linemen running through stuff in pregame. That’s not a lot.

“That really showed me I have an opportunity to go there and compete for a spot very early in my college career.”

Conversely, the situation couldn’t be more different at UCLA. The Bruins now have six offensive linemen commits, which has made OU offer and UCLA commit Christian Morris (Memphis, Tenn./East) contemplate if it might be time for him to look around.

Benenoch has been busy on the visit circuit although OU was his first official trip. He has made unofficial visits to Texas A&M and Baylor this season but things work a little bit differently on an official one.

He said if he had to rank them it would be OU, Baylor and A&M in that order. And like Rodgers said, the way the team responded after the loss made an impression on Benenoch.

“On an official visit you usually hang out with your host after the game and go to a party or something like that,” Benenoch said. “Nobody wanted to go out because they’d just lost. To me, that was a good thing. They hate losing that much that they don’t even want to go out to parties after a loss.”

But they also weren’t dwelling on the defeat. Instead, the guys were already talking about getting back to practice and fixing what went wrong.

“They were already figuring out ways to fix this and how to get better,” Benenoch said. “It was a locker room that you could tell they’re used to winning and they have high expectations for themselves.”

Benenoch is going to make an official visit to Texas next weekend for the West Virginia game and said he wants to see UCLA after his senior season. This visit has changed things up as for now Benenoch said he has no favorite school.

Ford finding groove

A late season foot injury ended Keith Ford’s junior season prematurely. All he wanted to do was get back to playing football.

But for Ford, pressure and attention don’t suit him well. He prefers to be the quiet guy and simply have fun playing the game he loves. That first game of the season was not fun by any means.

Ford was ejected in the second quarter of the season opener with rumors that Ford punched an opponent. He didn’t like people thinking that of him.

“That’s not my game,” Ford said. “I play with sportsmanship. I was trying to get up, and he was holding me down. I was just trying to get up. I went straight to the bench and coach came over and said I was ejected.”

It was a learning experience for Ford.

“People are going to try to get in my head. That’s what I really learned from that,” he said.

Cypress Ranch had a bye week the following week and the Ford of old has returned in two games since. He has rushed for 263 yards and seven touchdowns in the last two games.

“It’s about being comfortable and relaxed,” Ford said. “Practice and games are about having fun, loving what you do. Sometimes you get so uptight before a game you lose your focus and make a lot of mistakes. I’m trying to clear my mind.”

Ford is still in constant contact with the OU coaches and said he is aiming for his official visit to be the weekend of OU’s banquet following the season.

The one thing that has always stood out has been the family environment at OU. When he was on his unofficial to OU last season against Iowa State, he met Cale Gundy’s family and said that was really important.

“We’re very family-oriented and I love that about OU,” Ford said. “If you’re a troublemaker, you’re out. It’s all about discipline. I feel that way here at Cy Ranch. Our coaches really care for us. They make us stay on top of our school work. I get that same vibe at OU.”

Beyer hopeful to still be a Sooner

To say the last two weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions for OU offensive tackle commit Matt Beyer (San Antonio/Reagan) would be an understatement.

Beyer, a four-star prospect, announced two weeks ago he has been forced to give up football because of a neck injury.

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OU commit Smallwood returns with 2 TDs

September, 23, 2012
This wasn’t how Oklahoma wide receiver commit Jordan Smallwood (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) expected the first few weeks of his senior season to go.

Smallwood suffered a separated shoulder against Tulsa (Okla.) Union in the first game of the season and missed the next two games. Worse than that, all Smallwood could do is watch as Jenks got off to an uncharacteristic 1-2 start.

No worries, though, said Smallwood. He returned and so did Jenks with a school-record 82-7 victory against Tulsa (Okla.) Edison on Thursday night.

Jordan Smallwood
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comJordan Smallwood scored his first two touchdowns of the season on Friday.
“It felt so good to be back out there,” Smallwood said. “When I was out, I learned how to be a leader even more. I had to step up my leadership game.”

Smallwood said he felt like himself again. He had four catches for 79 yards, including his first two touchdowns of the season.

“That felt great. I finally got back to the end zone,” Smallwood said. “I didn’t think it would take the fourth game, but that’s OK. It’s not about how you start the season. It’s about you finish.”

Smallwood and teammate Steven Parker were among the numerous visitors for OU’s battle with Kansas State on Saturday. Smallwood said his relationship with OU receivers coach Jay Norvell is better than ever.

“We spoke a couple of days ago. Everything is going great. No worries,” Smallwood said.

Here’s how the rest of OU commits fared in this weekend’s Recruiting Rewind:

Austin Bennett (Manvel, Texas/Manvel, WR): Bye week.

Matt Beyer (San Antonio/Reagan, OT): His second game acting as a coach turned out better as SA Reagan pulled out a 41-37 victory at Laredo (Texas) United. Beyer has been forced to give up football because of a neck injury.

(Read full post)

Fresno Central East DBs put on display

September, 16, 2012
Oklahoma's bye week allowed Sooners coaches to go out and watch some recruits in action over the weekend.

Some chose to watch top targets like offensive tackles coach Bruce Kittle did with UCLA commit Christian Morris (Memphis, Tenn./East).

Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops decided to go back to familiar territory. Stoops first started recruiting OU safety commit Hatari Byrd (Fresno, Calif./Central East) when Byrd was a sophomore and Stoops was at Arizona. The relationship has only strengthened through the years and it was a big reason Byrd committed to the Sooners in July.

[+] EnlargeHatari Byrd
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comOU defensive coordinator was in California over the weekend to watch four-star safety commit Hatari Byrd.
Stoops was in attendance to watch Byrd and the rest of the Fresno Central East secondary do work in a 42-7 victory against Visalia (Calif.) El Diamante.

“It was great to have coach Stoops in attendance for the game,” Byrd said. “We wanted to put on a show, and we did.”

Byrd is one of three 2013 Fresno Central East defensive backs offered by the Sooners. All three -- Byrd, L.J. Moore and Johnny Johnson Jr. -- are going to take an official visit to OU on Oct. 26. The Sooners host Notre Dame that weekend.

But there’s a strong chance Stoops was there to check out the future, too, as OU has also offered 2014 defensive back Michiah Quick.

Quick didn’t disappoint with seven receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown.

“Athletes take over,” Visalia El Diamante coach Mark Rogers said to The Fresno Bee. “And that’s exactly what happened. They’re the best team we’ve played and that secondary is incredible.”

Not too much was expected from Fresno Central East, but the Grizzlies are now 4-0 and have shown the ability to win close games and also blow the competition out. Fresno Central East limited Visalia El Diamante to 64 passing yards and also had two interceptions.

“We feel like this is our year,” Byrd said. “We have so much talent. We’re so hungry. We just have to keep it going. This season has been exciting, and it’s Boomer Sooner all the way.”

(Read full post)

Offensive line search is on for Sooners 

September, 14, 2012
It has been evident for a while that offensive tackle is one of Oklahoma’s major needs for the 2013 recruiting class. Entering the season, though, it looked like OU had two commits in Tulsa (Okla.) Union’s Dalton Rodriguez and San Antonio Regan’s Matt Beyer.

But it’s possible the Sooners don’t have any commits at the spot. Beyer, a four-star prospect, said earlier this week he has to give up football because of a neck injury.

Rodriguez, a three-star prospect, has not played offensive tackle in high school. If he cannot put on the weight needed to be a tackle, he will most likely stay at his more natural defensive end position in college.

OU is looking for at least three offensive linemen in this class. Where are the Sooners going to find that help? Here is a look at the prospects who have had the most recent contact with the OU coaching staff:

Caleb Benenoch (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes, 6-foot-6, 321 pounds, No. 19 OG, Uncommitted)

Caleb Benenoch
Max Olson/ESPN.comCaleb Benenoch will take an official visit to Oklahoma next weekend.
Why OU is in the mix: Because ever since Benenoch decommitted from Michigan State, it has felt like a two-horse race between OU and Texas.

Texas A&M made a strong impression on Benenoch following his visit last weekend, his brother plays at Baylor and he is \ intrigued by what UCLA has to offer after the Bruins’ recent interest.

OU offensive guards coach James Patton has made a strong connection with Benenoch throughout the summer, and Benenoch is going to be one of many top-ranked recruits taking his official visit to OU next weekend for the showdown against Kansas State.

Why OU is out: Benenoch is not bashful about saying he grew up a huge Longhorns fan. And no matter how good of an impression some of the other schools make, it’s going to be tough to top Texas in this pursuit.

Rob Boyd (Vian, Okla./Vian, 6-4, 285, No. 39 OG, Committed to Tulsa)

Why OU is in the mix: Because if history has taught us one thing, it’s that the Sooners can come in as late as they want to and snatch up a top in-state prospect.

OU can show minimal interest initially, but once it decides to get in the race, the Sooners are usually successful.

Boyd has admitted to wanting to play for the Sooners and is the best offensive lineman prospect in the state.

Why OU is out: Boyd has remained adamant that he is a man of his word. He has committed to Tulsa, and he is done with the process. There is no way to guess how things will go if OU makes the offer, but the first part of that statement has to happen. The Sooners have still not offered Boyd.

Aaron Cochran (Atwater, Calif./Buhach, 6-8, 364, No. 24 OT, Uncommitted)

Why OU is in the mix: The Sooners offered Cochran in May. Though not much was reported during the summer, he and tackles coach Bruce Kittle kept in steady contact.

It has been that relationship that has helped the Sooners not only stay in the race but also made them a legitimate candidate in trying to land Cochran.

He is hoping to make an official visit to OU sometime this fall and is eyeing Nov. 9 as his target date. The Sooners host Baylor that weekend.

Why OU is out: Could the Sooners really steal a quality West Coast prospect like this? Especially one who has an older brother that plays for California? Cochran said distance is not a concern at all for him, but what happens if it comes down to UCLA, Cal and OU?

Sean Dowling (Fallbrook, Calif./Union, 6-6, 260, No. 58 OT, Committed to UCLA)

Why OU is in the mix: Dowling has been pretty honest about how much he enjoys talking with Kittle. The encouraging part is most of it doesn’t have to do with football.

Dowling has been so intrigued about Kittle’s life experiences that he said he has felt a different type of bond with Kittle than some of the other coaches.

He promised OU that his first official visit would be with the Sooners. He has kept his word and will be in Norman on Oct. 19, the weekend of the Kansas game.

Why OU is out: Because the Bruins haven’t done anything to make Dowling look elsewhere. Dowling was among several UCLA commits that took a lot of pride in the victory against Nebraska last weekend. It appears he likes OU but it also appears that he hasn’t soured on UCLA either.

Sterling Korona (San Antonio/Reagan, 6-7, 260, No. 69 OT, Committed to Duke)

Why OU is in the mix: With all the time the OU staff spent getting to know Beyer, they didn’t forget about his teammate. Kittle started to increase his interest in the summer and has already contacted Korona in the last two weeks.

No offer has officially been made, but the Sooners would be in the mix if one is extended.

Why OU is out: Because the offer isn’t there and Korona is firmly committed to Duke. He is taking an official visit to see the Blue Devils this weekend, which could reaffirm his commitment to Duke or make him start to think about looking elsewhere. That question can't be answered yet.

Kenny Lacy (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe, 6-5, 260, No. 42 OT, Committed to UCLA)

Why OU is in the mix: The relationship between the OU coaches and Lacy goes back a while, especially with Mike Stoops and Tim Kish back when they were at Arizona.

This spring, Lacy got comfortable with James Patton and Bruce Kittle so he has a good feel about the OU coaching staff and likes what he has heard and talked about with them.

Despite his recent commitment to the Bruins, he said he is still going to take his official visit to OU for Bedlam weekend. The Sooners visit is the last of his five officials and will give OU a chance at a great last impression.

Why OU is out: Nobody thought Lacy was going to make his commitment before taking all five of his official visits. The atmosphere and the coaching staff at UCLA must have been something special for him to make that call less than 48 hours after the visit.

Christian Morris (Memphis, Tenn./East, 6-6, 293, No. 74 OT, Committed to UCLA)

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Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

September, 13, 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:

• More on what happened with an OU commit who has been forced to give up football.
• OU's lone official visitor talks more about his trip for the Florida A&M game.
• Two 2014 DEs talk about their Sooners interest
• Where will OU look now at offensive tackle? We talk with a few targets.
• More from OU's newest basketball commit.

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.

Teammate reflects on Beyer’s impact

It’s the first of OU’s two bye weeks so you knew it would be a busy week in recruiting. And it has been with several new offers being handed out.

But nothing stands out more this week than the news on Monday morning when OU offensive tackle commit Matt Beyer (San Antonio/Reagan) let the world know he will have to give up playing football.

Beyer tweeted Monday morning, “Thank you for all the memories guys! Football has truly been great to me! I love you all! It was just time for me to hang up the pads.”

Beyer, understandably, has not answered text messages or answered phone calls this week. But I did have a chance to catch up with his teammate, Sterling Korona.

Korona said Beyer addressed the team Monday morning and let it know he was being forced to give up the game because of a neck injury.

Beyer did have a serious back injury, too, but tweeted Wednesday that was not why he is forced to give up the game.

Beyer suffered an incomplete fracture of the L5 vertebrae and was forced to watch most of the 2011 season from the sidelines.

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Oklahoma offensive tackle commit Matt Beyer (San Antonio/Reagan) tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that a neck injury has forced him to give up playing football.

Beyer, who is 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, is a four-star prospect who committed to the Sooners in July.

Speculation started Monday following a Beyer tweet Monday morning: “Thank you for all the memories guys! Football has truly been great to me! I love you all! It was just time for me to hang up the pads.”

It was originally believed to be a back injury. Beyer suffered an incomplete fracture of the L5 vertebrae and missed most of the 2011 season.

But Beyer set the record straight with this tweet Wednesday afternoon: “I didn’t quit football. I choose to leave because of a neck injury that I had no control over. The risk out weighed the rewards #hadnochoice.”

Beyer addressed his San Antonio Reagan teammates Monday morning to tell them the news. Following his announcement, individual players spoke to Beyer.

The last one to speak with him was offensive tackle Sterling Korona. A three-star prospect himself, Korona is committed to Duke.

“We’re losing part of our identity,” Korona said. “He was the biggest, but he was also the quietest. He was a silent leader, a leader by example.

“Matt has been out there coaching the younger guys as if nothing is wrong,” Korona said. “He has handled this a lot better than I would. He is still a part of this team in every sense of the word.”

Beyer has not returned phone calls or text messages to comment further on the situation.

OU freshman quarterback Trevor Knight was a driving force in getting Beyer to commit to OU. Since Knight committed to OU in July 2011, he had been trying to get his former teammate to come with him.

In fact, it was Knight who broke the news of Beyer’s commitment. He tweeted it out before Beyer had even told anybody.

The loss of a Beyer is yet another top prospect whose OU career has been cut short by injury before seeing the field. The Sooners suffered the same fate for 2012 tight end signee Laith Harlow. A back injury forced Harlow to quit football although OU has honored his scholarship.

The 2011 class also had a major loss, as a pectoral injury ended the career of tight end Max Stevenson.

OU commit Thomas has memorable outing

September, 9, 2012
Colleyville (Texas) Heritage coach Mike Fuller said the team didn’t make any halftime adjustments. He did, however, decide to let his star quarterback Cody Thomas take over the game.

Good decision.

Thomas, a three-star prospect who is committed to Oklahoma, showed why Sooners fans are so excited about having him come to Norman, Okla. He threw for 363 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 71 yards and two scores in a 54-38 victory against Denton (Texas) Guyer.

“That’s the kind of leader Cody is," Fuller said. "He has matured so much as have a lot of the guys, and he makes really good decisions."

[+] EnlargeCody Thomas
Tom Hauck/ESPN.comOklahoma quarterback commit Cody Thomas had a game to remember, accounting for 7 total touchdowns in the win over Denton (Texas) Guyer.
In the first half he was a bit handcuffed. The Colleyville Heritage offense sputtered at times and Thomas was 11-of-14 with a touchdown and a rushing touchdown while the team trailed 31-21 at half.

The second half was a showcase outing for Thomas, who is 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. He was 19-of-27 with four touchdowns and added another rushing touchdown.

There were some concerns about Thomas. After having juggled baseball and football throughout the summer, some wondered if Thomas could do the balancing act.

It's safe to say that yes, he can.

“This was fun tonight. That’s what it’s all about,” Thomas said. “Give a lot of credit to the offensive line and our running game. We were able to click and get things rolling.”

After initially being non-committal about his performance, Thomas admitted that was the best game he has ever played.

(Read full post)

Stanvon Taylor stars in season opener

September, 2, 2012
For Oklahoma commit Stanvon Taylor and his Tulsa (Okla.) East Central teammates, the message was clear after Friday’s 53-31 victory at Del City, Okla.

“We’re still here,” Taylor said.

[+] EnlargeStanvon Taylor
Jenny Zimmerman/ESPN.comESPN 300 athlete Stanvon Taylor had a stellar start to his senior season.
East Central, led by a new coach with no head coaching experience, is expected to be one of the most talented teams in 5A in the state. For Taylor, though, it was another message. A more personal one.

“I got to get my respect back,” Taylor said. “It was an absolute blessing to be out there again. I’ll earn that respect again.”

Almost a year ago to the day, Taylor's junior season ended just as quickly as it had began. He broke his ankle in the third quarter of the first game and never saw another snap.

He didn’t break his ankle, but he might have broken a few opponents' on Friday. Taylor finished with 183 yards receiving and two touchdowns. He also showed his versatility and threw an 18-yard touchdown.

“That was a special package that we have," Taylor said. "And I have the option that if they bite on the rollout to look to throw. I was running and saw them coming and knew he was open."

So how was the pass?

“Oh, it was on the money. It was a straight spiral into the pocket. This was a big statement for us,” Taylor said.

Here’s how the rest of OU commits fared in this weekend’s Recruiting Rewind:

(Read full post)

Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

August, 23, 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:

• A three-star defensive end isn't ruling out the Sooners.
• OU offers a junior college teammate of a 2012 signee.
• Are the Sooners targeting an offensive lineman from a school with a Sooners commit?
• Why a four-star prospect including OU in his top six wasn't a shock to one OU commit.
• There's another in-state defensive end to keep an eye on in the 2014 class.

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.

Mixon not ruling out Sooners

There was a strong feeling that OU was going to be done with its defensive end recruiting after it offered Arizona State commit Dimarya Mixon (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite) in late May.

Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
Dimarya Mixon is committed to Arizona State but will likely take other official visits.

Mixon committed to the Sun Devils earlier that month but had expressed a big interest in OU. But it’s almost September now and Mixon remains committed to ASU.

“Right now I’m really trying to just focus on my senior season,” Mixon said. “As we get closer to signing day or when the season ends, I’ll think about it more.”

That’s not to say the three-star prospect has forgotten about the Sooners. He said there was something special about getting the OU offer, and he has had contact with Bobby Jack Wright throughout this summer.

“Last time I spoke to him was probably two weeks ago,” Mixon said. “I think I have a pretty good relationship with him. I need to get on the phone more, but we still talk a lot.”

ASU, OU, West Virginia and Missouri were the schools Mixon mentioned when discussing the possibility of official visits. He is not sure who the fifth one will be.

One thing the Sun Devils have in their favor is that first-year coach Todd Graham is a native of Mesquite, Texas, which allowed Mixon and Graham to build an immediate rapport with each other.

There was some thought OU might consider moving Mixon to defensive tackle, but he said that’s not the case right now. Also, he said he hasn’t put on weight like he did last summer. He said he is a comfortable 250 pounds heading into his senior season.

Gregory excited by OU offer

If OU cannot turn Mixon into a commitment, maybe the answer is in the junior college ranks. The Sooners offered Randy Gregory (Yuma, Ariz./Arizona Western CC) on Monday.

Gregory signed with Purdue for the 2011 class but didn’t qualify academically. He is once again committed to the Boilermakers but said it’s an honor to be noticed by OU.

“It’s great. It’s really exciting,” Gregory said. “The coaching staff here said they had talked to OU a couple of days ago and said the offer might be coming. They came to a couple of spring practices so I already have a good start with Coach Wright.”

It’s a good start, but right now it’s not enough to sway Gregory away from West Lafayette, Ind. The OU offer is illustrating something to Gregory that he wanted to see during the recruiting process this time around.

Coming out of high school in Fishers, Ind., Gregory was viewed more as a regional prospect. With offers now from Utah, OU, Ole Miss and several others, Gregory is seeing coast-to-coast attention. And attention is going to mean a lot to Gregory.

“I need a school to show me a lot of love,” Gregory said. “I can’t even talk about official visits yet because I’m not sure which schools are the most serious about everything. We play our games Saturdays, too, so it’s going to be tough to plan those visits.”

Gregory said he sees both sides of the story regarding distance. He would love to come back home so his family could watch him play at Purdue. But he has also enjoyed the college life of being on his own.

One thing he focused on was getting his weight up. It worked.

“I played last year around 215 pounds,” Gregory said. “This year I’m at least 240, put on more than 25 pounds. But I have a real quick first step, and I move real well for as big as I am.”

Gregory said he has watched OU on TV for years and knows the Sooners have had a lot of success sending defensive players into the NFL. But he admits to knowing nothing about the campus and said he would need to visit if anything is going to change.

Gregory is a former teammate of OU running back Damien Williams. Gregory said Williams had nothing but great things to say about OU the last time they spoke to each other.

Korona an option at tackle

OU coaches are trying to make things easier for themselves. It seems like they have found a school in San Antonio Regan that they want to keep targeting.

And why not? OU found its 2012 quarterback in Trevor Knight. The Sooners have the commitment of 2013 four-star offensive tackle Matt Beyer. Now OU might be targeting Beyer’s counterpart in three-star tackle Sterling Korona.

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Every weekday morning, a member of the SoonerNation gives his take on three things happening in the Sooner sports world.

1. New Oklahoma commitment Matt Beyer (San Antonio/Reagan) told SoonerNation Tuesday night that he earned an OU offer after impressing the Sooners coaches at their satellite camp in San Antonio last month. He's the second-straight commit who has earned an offer from an OU satellite camp as receiver Austin Bennett (Manvel, Texas/Manvel) committed shortly after receiving his offer at OU's Houston camp. There were at least two other offers handed out, but just one is left on the board. Offensive tackle Caleb Benenoch (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes) has the Sooners among his favorites, but defensive tackle Hardreck Walker (Houston/Westfield) committed to Texas A&M on Sunday.

2. The only Sooners commit invited to the opening, ESPN 150 running back Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage-Boca-Delray High), had to drop out of the event after a family tragedy. But there will be several OU targets attending the event in Beaverton, Ore. Check out the full roster here.

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The No. 1 reason offensive tackle Matt Beyer (San Antonio/Reagan) and his family took a trip to Minnesota last week wasn’t so Beyer could clear his head of all the distractions in recruiting. Beyer, originally from Minnesota, was there to see family and friends. In the process, though, the recruiting scene became crystal clear to him.

When his family returned to San Antonio, Beyer knew it was time to make a decision. Monday morning he called Oklahoma offensive tackles coach Bruce Kittle and let him know he wanted to verbally commit to the Sooners.

Kittle couldn’t have been happier, Beyer said, and the amazing outpour of OU fan support Beyer has seen in the 24 hours since his commitment has given him confirmation that OU is the school for him.

“This has been incredible,” he said. “I cannot believe these Sooner fans. They’re crazy. I don’t think any school has fans as passionate as them.”

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Top Position Battles Heading In To Spring
While a good portion of the country is buried in snow, spring football is underway. Adam Rittenberg looks at some of the top position battles heading in to spring practice.