Oklahoma Sooners: Max Browne

NORMAN, Okla. -- If you’re waiting for a litany of Oklahoma quarterback offers for the Class of 2014, you’re going to be waiting for a long time.

Sorry, that’s simply just not the way OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel has approached the pursuit of his quarterbacks. He’s patient. He’s deliberate. He’s thorough. And you might even say he’s stingy. He knows how important it is to not miss at the quarterback position.

With spring break this week, it’s a great time to evaluate who exactly are the leading contenders for the OU spot, the story behind the candidates and ultimately and who will be the recruit to pledge to the Sooners:

Junior quarterback Brayden Scott (Tahlequah, Okla./Sequoyah) has no problems admitting it. He is not ashamed to say he had tunnel vision regarding recruiting. His No. 1 choice was Oklahoma. His No. 2? Well, that’s what Scott is trying to determine now.

It has been an eventful couple of months for Scott. He understood his place on the totem pole when it came to OU’s quarterback situation. Four-star prospect Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) was OU’s first choice. When Browne chose USC, it opened the door for Scott and others with the Sooners.

That door closed last Tuesday night when four-star prospect Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas/Heritage) committed to OU.

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No position gets scrutinized more in the recruiting world than quarterback. A prime example of that was Oklahoma’s pursuit to find the perfect signal-caller for its 2013 class. In most years, schools are only looking for one quarterback. It takes time and a lot of effort.

For the Sooners, it wasn’t easy. There were a lot of bumps and turns in the road, but OU landed one of its prime targets in Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas/Heritage). Thomas, a four-star prospect, is ranked No. 11 as a pocket-passing quarterback and verbally committed to the Sooners on Tuesday even though he went public with the news on Thursday.

How did we get here? A timeline of Oklahoma's quarterback search for the class of 2013.

November 2011: Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright, Texas/Whitewright) attends Oklahoma’s victory against Texas A&M. It is on this weekend that Swoopes says his OU offer was implied, and he is clearly one of OU’s top choices.

Tom Hauck for ESPN.com
Max Browne chose USC over Oklahoma on April 4.

Feb. 3, 2012: A day before OU’s first junior day, the Sooners make their first known offer at the position to four-star prospect Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline).

Feb. 4: OU’s first junior day brings in two top quarterbacks. Swoopes is joined by top in-state signal-caller Brayden Scott (Tahlequah, Okla./Sequoyah). Swoopes is happy with the visit but not blown away by everything. Scott doesn’t receive an offer but is told by OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel they will stay in contact.

Quarterback Kelly Hilinski (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame) is invited initially before being asked by Heupel to stay home. Quarterback J.T. Barrett (Wichita Falls, Texas/Rider) is also invited but cannot attend.

Feb. 17: Swoopes, ranked the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country and coming off a fantastic visit at Texas’ junior day, commits to the Longhorns. He is ranked No. 9 in the ESPN 150.

March 3: On OU’s second junior day, there is not much focus on quarterbacks. Barrett once again is invited but cannot make it. Austin Robinson (Houston/Bellaire Episcopal) is invited, but the distance keeps him from making the trip.

March 9: Browne makes an unofficial visit to OU. He is given the red-carpet treatment by the staff. He is shown the Sooners’ target board. It’s Browne at No. 1 ... and then everybody else. Browne says he could not have had a better time and has OU and USC as his top two choices.

March 28: A new name enters in Cody Thomas. Busy with baseball, Thomas manages to sneak in an unofficial visit on a Wednesday. He is not offered and is told by Heupel they will keep in touch.

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The commitment of Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas/Heritage) is a huge get for quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel and Oklahoma.

Thomas has tremendous physical ability, combining solid passing skills with above average athleticism. He fits the mold of the athletic, run-pass threats the Sooners have pursued in recent recruiting classes. A four-star prospect, his long-term upside is among the highest in this class of quarterback recruits.

Colleyville Heritage High School football
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comCody Thomas might have a future in baseball, but for now he's an Oklahoma quarterback commit.
The Sooners have been very diligent in their evaluation of quarterback prospects for 2013 and it is clear Heupel considered Thomas the best uncommitted quarterback of the bunch over the past few weeks.

Since the beginning of the recruiting process, the Sooners have taken a “greatness or bust” approach. They have been stingy with their offers at the position, offering Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) before he committed to USC and Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright, Texas/Whitewright) before he committed to Texas.

After losing out on both prospects, the Sooners offered Thomas. They were actively recruiting other prospects but were candid about their offer process and refused to offer anyone just to make sure they have at least one quarterback in this class.

Yet, even with Thomas commitment, there’s still a risk the Sooners end up without a quarterback on national signing day in 2013. Thomas is a terrific baseball player and could be selected in the MLB draft in June 2013 and if he were to chose professional baseball, the Sooners after left without a true freshman quarterback on campus heading into the 2013 season.

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If quarterback Brayden Scott (Tahlequah, Okla./Sequoyah) doesn’t get an Oklahoma offer, it won’t be because of a lack of effort.

Scott, 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, was the first of OU’s remaining quarterback targets to receive an in-person evaluation by the Sooners. OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel stopped by Sequoyah-Tahlequah Friday afternoon to watch Scott workout with his team and stayed for more than three hours.

[+] EnlargeBrayden Scott
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comJunior quarterback Brayden Scott has offers from Arkansas, Memphis, Houston, Clemson, Arizona State and Arizona, among others.
“We did everything you can think of when it comes to being a quarterback,” Scott said. “We did three-step, five-step, seven-step drops, throwing on the run, hitting stationary targets. Any and everything.”

He also benched 225 pounds 10 times and took a little break to show off his athleticism by dunking basketballs in the school gym.

Scott didn’t earn an OU offer Friday, but he said he is not worried about what the future holds. It is believed Heupel is going to watch all the quarterback finalists before making his decision and he is expected to watch Kelly Hilinski (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame) in early May.

Scott said getting an opportunity to throw in a competitive environment at the Elite 11 QB regional camp in Atlanta the week before made him more in sync for Heupel’s visit.

“It definitely helped because I threw really well in front of him,” Scott said. “That was one of my better days, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.”

Scott said he finished in the top 10 of the Elite 11 regional and will also be attending an Elite 11 regional event in Las Vegas on June 16. The goal remains the same for Scott, who hopes to earn the invite to the finals in July.

He also wants to be done with his recruitment by the Las Vegas event. Scott declined to comment on most of the conversation he had with Heupel because he promised Heupel he wouldn’t say anything.

One thing Scott didn’t get answered was the timetable on when a decision will be made.

“I really want to know and wanted to ask, but I didn’t just want to throw it out there. There was no way to sneak it in, either, but that’s OK,” Scott said. “I’ll just be ready.”

And as much as Scott is hoping an OU offer is just around the corner, he won't have much downtime to contemplate things.

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Przybylo's Mailbag: Moving on at QB 

April, 9, 2012
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.

[+] EnlargeMax Browne
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comThe Sooners missed out on elite junior quarterback Max Browne last week.
Danny in Stillwater, Okla., asks: Not getting Max Browne is a big loss, I think. Where did OU go wrong in pursuit of the quarterback?

Bob Przybylo: I don’t think anybody is at fault for this one. Sometimes a recruit simply likes one school more than the others. Once Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) got a chance to see what the USC culture was all about, there was no turning back.

Browne had nothing but positive things to say about Oklahoma and its coaching staff. Finishing as a runner-up for a national prospect won’t sit well for some fans, but this was a case where OU didn’t drop the ball. The Sooners were upfront and honest about what they thought of Browne and did everything in their power to get him to Norman, Okla. It just didn’t work this time around.

The silver lining is with Browne announcing things as early as he did, it has given OU plenty of time to find its quarterback for the 2013 class. And despite these recruits being regarded as “backup plans,” they’re all pretty excited about the potential of being the signal-caller for the Sooners.

Dennis in Oklahoma City asks: I don’t think defensive tackle is getting enough attention for this class. Do you think there is a position that OU is not attacking enough so far?

Bob Przybylo: OU is being very diligent with its defensive tackle search, not wasting offers at the position. I would like to see the Sooners ramp it up when it comes to tight end.

OU has offered four tight ends and two of them already have committed elsewhere. There are a couple that stand out in Christian Morgan (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) and Jeremiah Gaines (Red Oak, Texas/Red Oak).

Morgan has a good relationship with OU tight ends coach Bruce Kittle and the hope was for Morgan to make this weekend’s Red-White game. However, Morgan and Gaines both won’t be in attendance for the same reason as they will be two of several top recruits who will be taking the ACT that morning and unable to make the trip.

Larry in Kansas City, Mo., asks: All the news regarding defensive tackle has been very negative so far, especially regarding Justin Manning. What is Jackie Shipp doing right now?

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There was a lot of speculation that following the decision of quarterback Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) to commit to USC, the dominoes would start to fall.

The speculation is over. The other quarterbacks considered by Oklahoma for its 2013 class are starting to show their hand.

And one of those quarterbacks is tired of playing the waiting game. Kelly Hilinski (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame) said the time for patience is over.

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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. After listening to Mike Stoops yesterday, if I had to guess today, OU's starting secondary in the fall: Tony Jefferson at FS, Javon Harris at SS, Aaron Colvin and Demontre Hurst at CB, Joe Ibiloye at NB; with Quentin Hayes and Gabe Lynn the backups at safety, Lamar Harris and Joe Powell the top reserves at CB, and Lynn working in at NB, perhaps even starting, against the faster offenses.

2. It hasn't been the greatest few days for OU's recruiting efforts. First DT Justin Manning criticized how the Sooners have recruited him. Then Max Browne, quite possibly the top QB in the nation, committed to USC over the Sooners. It might feel like the sky is falling, but these things happen. The Sooners have a strong foundation for the '13 class in potential 5-star RBs Keith Ford and Greg Bryant, and are in on a number of blue-chip prospects defensively. Remember, everyone was knocking OU's 2012 class in December. Then the Sooners closed as strong as anyone in the country and finished with a borderline Top 5 class. It hasn't been a great couple of days, but OU will be fine again this year.

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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. The fears of several Sooners fans were realized on Wednesday when defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) told HornsNation’s William Wilkerson that he was upset by how the Sooners have recruited him.

“If Oklahoma wouldn’t have waited so long I probably would have committed on the spot,” Manning told Wilkerson.

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Wednesday night wasn’t just a big occasion for quarterback Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline). It was a huge night for anybody who could be considered on Oklahoma’s short list for quarterback in the 2013 class.

One of the top names is Brayden Scott (Tahlequah, Okla./Sequoyah). Upon hearing the news of Browne’s commitment to USC, Scott responded in a text message, “Dang!!!”

It wasn’t a message of disappointment but more of excitement about what could potentially happen in the near future for Scott with the Sooners. He has had a great relationship with OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel since he was in eighth grade, but the interest had gone to another level in the last nine months.

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It didn’t look good for Oklahoma when quarterback Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) said earlier this week he was going to make his commitment announcement Wednesday night.

Coming off a great three-day visit to USC, the writing was on the wall that Browne wanted to become a future Trojan. Those suspicions were confirmed as Browne made it official, committing to Southern California on Wednesday.

[+] EnlargeMax Browne
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comElite junior quarterback Max Browne chose the USC over Oklahoma, Alabama and Washington.
OU, Washington and Alabama were the other finalists for Browne, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound prospect who could be a five-star recruit when the ESPNU 150 is released in two weeks.

For the Sooners, the story sounds all too familiar to the tale told for the 2012 class. OU has come close, maybe even as close as the runner-up to a national target, but falls just short in the end.

Oklahoma was a finalist for the top defensive prospect in 2012, defensive end Mario Edwards (Denton, Texas/Ryan) and the top offensive prospect, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest), but came up short. Edwards signed with Florida State, while Green-Beckham stayed home and will attend Missouri.

Edwards didn’t have positive things to say about his official visit to OU, while Green-Beckham never made an official visit to campus during his senior year.

Browne, however, did visit Oklahoma last month. It wasn’t a good visit for Browne; it was a great visit. Browne said the visit re-affirmed to him why he felt so passionate about the Sooners being one of his finalists.

OU coaches didn’t mince their words. The Sooners sometimes aren’t too forthcoming in the process, but they let Browne know early and often that he was their No. 1 overall prospect on their 2013 board.

One of the biggest highlights of Browne’s visit to OU was when he got to break down a Sooners huddle during practice. Browne said, regardless of his decision, that will be a moment he will never forget.

OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel also had developed a great relationship with Browne in the last few months. It went from a recruit-coach relationship to a genuine friendship. Browne had no problem talking to Heupel about school, and Heupel had no problem talking to Browne about his own family.

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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. It's a big day in the Sooners' recruiting world as Oklahoma's lone quarterback offer Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) is set to make his college announcement at about 10 p.m. CT. Based on the timing of his decision, Browne -- who is coming off a weekend visit to USC -- is expected to pull the trigger and verbally commit to the Trojans. But it wouldn't be surprising if he chose OU because of his outstanding relationship with quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel. If he chooses USC, the OU coaches are sure to get the ball rolling soon on one of their other signal-caller targets.

2. The forgotten man in Oklahoma's backfield received some praise from after last night's practice. Redshirt freshman Danzel Williams, who sat out all of last season with a shoulder injury, has been progressing nicely, according to his teammate Tyler Evans. Can Williams, who was the No. 64 recruit in the 2011 ESPNU 150, make an impact next season? It seems unlikely at this point, but no one was talking about a walk-on named Dominique Whaley at this time last year.

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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. The waiting is over and the stage is set. Oklahoma's only quarterback offer, Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline), said Monday that he is going to make his college decision Wednesday night after his team’s workout. Provided everything goes as planned, that would put his announcement around 9 p.m. CT. His four finalists are OU, USC, Washington and Alabama. Browne had an incredible visit to OU in March, and it sounds like he had as equally good of a visit to USC last weekend. Browne said he will not do any interviews until after his announcement. It feels like a battle between the Sooners and Trojans at this point.

2. The Sooners needed a ninth-inning rally to take last weekend’s series against Kansas State but better late than never. Evan Mistich drove in the series-winning run to help OU to a 4-3 win Sunday afternoon. OU (18-11, 4-5 in Big 12) hopes to ride that wave of momentum into a crucial three-game set at sixth-ranked Texas A&M (22-6, 4-2). Unlike every other weekend series, OU will play the Aggies on Thursday through Saturday. The final game of the series will be televised on ESPNU.

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It wasn't expected to be a big weekend for Oklahoma, but the Sooners picked up a huge commitment from running back Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage-Boca Delray) on Saturday. 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.

Greg Bryant
Courtesy of Corey LongESPNU Watch List RB Greg Bryant chose OU over offers from LSU, USC, Florida State, Georgia and others.
Ben in San Antonio asks: How surprising was Bryant’s commitment? I hoped he would commit but never thought it would happen.

Bob Przybylo: It was very surprising, Ben. Few could have seen it coming. Heck, not even Bryant saw it coming. After spending less than two days in Norman, Okla., Bryant had a feeling that OU was the right spot for him.

Bryant, who hadn't been vocal lately about his interest in the Sooners, said that Saturday changed everything. He loved the family atmosphere at OU and feels like he could compete immediately for a starting running back spot. He is very excited about this opportunity.

Bryant was seriously looking at visiting USC, South Carolina and Notre Dame before committing on Saturday. He said taking more visits was part of his plan, but his plans have now changed. Things aren’t progressing as much with defensive recruits, but Bryant has OU fans feeling good again.

Brian in Edmond, Okla., asks: I keep seeing all these top-tier recruits slipping through our fingers and committing elsewhere. Since defense is the priority for 2013, please give me some good news regarding our stance on the defensive side of the ball? Besides Justin Manning, which would be a huge disappointment if he committed somewhere else, give me a few guys who are on the so-called “short list.”

Bob Przybylo: Stay patient, Brian, as OU is making good progress on the defensive side of the ball even if the commits aren’t rolling in.

Recruits to be on the lookout for are defensive end D.J. Ward (Lawton, Okla./Lawton) and linebacker Chans Cox (Pinetop, Ariz./Blue Ridge). Both have expressed big-time interest in the Sooners and OU has made them a priority.

Defensive back continues to be an intriguing spot. Things should clear up this month regarding some top cornerbacks such as Cole Luke (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), Antwuan Davis (Bastrop, Texas/Bastrop) and Maurice Smith (Sugar Land, Texas/Dulles), who all attended Texas' spring game on Sunday but were not offered. OU is in the hunt for all three and next few weeks will be interesting.

Cody in Wichita, Kan., asks: I get that Max Browne is the No. 1 quarterback, but has Josh Heupel alienated the other quarterbacks with this philosophy?

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Brayden Scott staying patient with OU 

April, 2, 2012
When you’re as talented as quarterback Brayden Scott (Tahlequah, Okla./Sequoyah), it can be tough to hear that you’re second choice. But Scott, joined by a small group of other signal-callers, is a secondary option for Oklahoma when it comes recruiting quarterbacks for the class of 2013.

The Sooners have made it clear that it's potential five-star QB Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) ... and then everybody else.

Scott, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and on the ESPNU Watch List, wasn’t familiar with the OU campus at this time last year. He was, however, familiar with OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel as he had been talking with Heupel since Scott was in the eighth grade.

[+] EnlargeBrayden Scott
Courtesy of Kim LivingstonQuarterback Brayden Scott took an unofficial visit to Oklahoma over the weekend.
A lot has changed for Scott, who saw the Sooners play twice last season. He attended OU’s first junior day on Feb. 4 and was back on campus Friday for an unofficial visit.

“It was one of those days where I got to go into the meetings room and see how everything went,” Scott said. “I got to talk to Landry Jones, Drew Allen and Blake Bell.

“I walked around with the quarterbacks in spring practice. I got to act like an OU quarterback Friday. It was something I could see myself doing for the next four years.”

Scott spent a lot of time talking with Heupel and OU coach Bob Stoops. But Scott said the opportunity to talk about his offer status never really came up in their conversation.

“It was on my list of things to talk about with Heupel, but it wasn’t really a business day, you know,” Scott said. “We didn’t really talk about things like that at all.”

Scott understands Browne is OU’s first choice, and he is trying to accept that. He said his opinion of OU has not changed, and that he hopes to earn an OU offer but knows it is something he cannot control.

Scott is trying to stay patient and follow the words that he told himself when the recruiting process started.

“I told myself from the beginning to not have a favorite team,” he said. “Most likely your favorite team isn’t going to pick you. You can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. It’s a business decision. I know they’re looking at Max just like I know they’re looking at me.”

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