Oklahoma Sooners: Ra'Shaad Samples

Spring preview capsules: Big 12

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
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Spring football is rapidly approaching.

Here's a team-by-team look at what to watch in the Big 12 this spring:

Baylor

Spring start: Feb. 28

Spring game: April 5

What to watch: Who will replace Lache Seastrunk? The Bears' running back was the engine that helped keep the Baylor offense balanced and defenses honest. Shock Linwood will step in, but is he ready to handle the burden of keeping the offense balanced? . . . Baylor, the 2013 regular-season champion, has to find key replacements on a defense that is losing half of its starters. But several second-teamers -- including Jamal Palmer, Shawn Oakman, Andrew Billings and Orion Stewart -- are poised to fill the void . . . The Bears need to replace guard Cyril Richardson along the offensive line. Several candidates, including junior college transfer Jarell Broxton, will battle for the job. Baylor has arguably the league's best group of skill position players, but that will mean nothing if its offensive line takes a step backward.

Iowa State

Spring start: March 10

Spring game: April 12

What to watch: New offensive coordinator Mark Mangino arrives in Ames to bring more points and creativity to the Cyclones’ offense. The spring is the first opportunity for Mangino to get a feel for the playmakers and the players to get a feel for Mangino’s expectations . . . The quarterback competition is another thing to keep an eye on. Grant Rohach ended the season as the starter, but Sam B. Richardson could take his job back with a strong spring. And there are other young quarterbacks on campus who could insert themselves into the mix . . . Defensively, the Cyclones need to replace linebacker Jeremiah George and safety Jacques Washington, who finished 1-2 in tackles in the Big 12 in 2013 and finished their careers with 59 career starts combined. Iowa State seems to always have quality linebackers, so finding a replacement for Washington could be the defense’s top priority in the spring.

Kansas

Spring start: March 4

Spring game: April 12

What to watch: Shuffling the offensive coaching staff has been the theme of the offseason. New offensive coordinator John Reagan, who was a KU assistant from 2005 to 2009, returns to the Jayhawks after running Rice’s offense last season. The spring is Reagan’s first chance to identify the playmakers who will be the foundation of his offense this fall. Expect wide-open competition across the board after KU finished 115th in the FBS in points scored ... The quarterback position will grab the headlines, with T.J. Millweard joining the competition with Jake Heaps and Montell Cozart, who each started games in 2013. Millweard transferred to KU from UCLA before the 2013 season.

Kansas State

Spring start: April 2

Spring game: April 26

What to watch: Finding John Hubert’s replacement sits high on the Wildcats’ priority list. The former running back carried the ground attack for the past three seasons, and there’s no clear favorite to step into his shoes. Will someone step up during spring football? . . . What will happen with quarterback Daniel Sams? The Wildcats have a proven Big 12 playmaker in Sams, a junior, and another proven quarterback in Jake Waters. Sams is an exceptional open-field runner who started two games in 2013, but look for Kansas State to start exploring ways to have both on the field together this spring . . . Replacing Ty Zimmerman’s playmaking and leadership on defense is another key this spring. The defense has to replace several starters in the secondary and at linebacker. Keep an eye on junior college defensive back Danzel McDaniel, who has the versatility to step in at several different spots.

Oklahoma

Spring start: March 8

Spring game: April 12

What to watch: With Trevor Knight poised to start at quarterback in 2014, Blake Bell moves to tight end after starting eight games under center in 2013. Bell’s transition to tight end will be the talk of the spring, with the senior’s commitment to the program and OU's need for help at the position . . . The battle to be the starting running back is another storyline, with sophomores Keith Ford and Alex Ross hoping to make a statement this spring before ESPN 300 running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine arrive in the summer. Ford forced his way into the lineup as a freshman before an injury slowed him . . . The Sooners will be looking to shore up the secondary after the departure of All-Big 12 cornerback Aaron Colvin and starting safety Gabe Lynn. Sophomore Stanvon Taylor could be set to replace Colvin, while sophomores Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas will battle to replace Lynn.

Oklahoma State

Spring start: March 10

Final spring practice: April 5

What to watch: Incoming freshman Mason Rudolph enrolled early to participate in spring football with the hope of replacing quarterback Clint Chelf. J.W. Walsh has won a lot of games in a Cowboys uniform, but will have to hold off stern competition to earn the starting spot as a junior . . . The Cowboys lose seven seniors off one of their best defenses in recent memory. The overall quality might be upgraded, but spring football will be the first chance to see if those talented yet inexperienced defenders are ready to step into the fire. Defensive end Jimmy Bean, linebacker Ryan Simmons and cornerback Kevin Peterson could emerge as the foundation of the defense . . . Who will step up at receiver? The Cowboys lose three of their top four receivers, with Jhajuan Seales as the lone returnee. But several youngsters appear poised to step in, including sophomore Marcell Ateman and redshirt freshman Ra'Shaad Samples.

TCU

Spring start: March 1

Final spring practice: April 5

What to watch: Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie have arrived to take over as co-offensive coordinators at TCU. The Horned Frogs need a jump start and could get it from the “Air Raid”-style offense the duo will bring to the table. This spring will be an important first step in improving the offense . . . Who will be the quarterback? Trevone Boykin started several games in 2013 but might actually be TCU’s top receiver. Tyler Matthews, a redshirt freshman, also saw time under center, but he faces stiff competition. Don’t expect the battle to end until fall camp . . . TCU needs someone to step up in the secondary, with Jason Verrett NFL-bound after spending the past two seasons as one of the Big 12’s top coverage cornerbacks. Ranthony Texada and Travoskey Garrett are among several young defensive backs who could try to fill the void.

Texas

Spring start: March 18

Spring game: April 19

What to watch: David Ash's health will be one of the main storylines of Texas’ first spring under coach Charlie Strong. Ash has the talent to be a key piece of the puzzle, but head injuries are always tough to overcome. If Ash is 100 percent healthy, the Longhorns will feel better about the overall status at quarterback . . . Strong has talked of instilling a tough mindset in Austin since he arrived in January, and spring football will be the first real taste of what the Longhorns’ new coach is trying to bring to the program . . . Where are the playmakers? Texas has a talent-laden roster, but didn’t have the exceptional talent who could consistently change games. This spring gives several returning skill players, including receiver Jaxon Shipley and all-purpose standout Daje Johnson, the chance to become the foundation of the offense in 2014.

Texas Tech

Spring start: March 5

Spring game: April 12

What to watch: Davis Webb's health is the No. 1 priority for the Red Raiders, who have seen three quarterbacks leave the program since the beginning of the 2013 season. Coach Kliff Kingsbury could have the toughest job of the spring as he tries to manage the lack of quarterbacks with the desire to have a productive spring for the roster as a whole . . . The Red Raiders have some consistency among the defensive coaching staff, meaning they could improve in 2014 despite losing multiple starters, including defensive tackle Kerry Hyder, linebacker Will Smith and safety Tre' Porter. Tech could start seeing dividends of that continuity . . . The Red Raiders have to replace Jace Amaro and Eric Ward, who combined to catch 189 passes for 2,299 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez made a bunch of plays in 2013 and Devin Lauderdale, a junior college transfer and early enrollee, will get the chance to show why he had Texas Tech fans buzzing when he initially signed in February 2013.

West Virginia

Spring start: March 2

Spring game: April 12

What to watch: Finding a quarterback is critical for the Mountaineers, who have talent at the skill positions but won’t transform into an explosive offense without efficient quarterback play. Clint Trickett is recovering from shoulder surgery, meaning Paul Millard, junior college transfer Skyler Howard and former receiver Logan Moore will run the offense this spring . . . Tony Gibson takes over as WVU’s defensive coordinator after coaching the safeties in 2013. His promotion allows some continuity on the defense after former DC Keith Patterson left for Arizona State after the season . . . Replacing defensive tackle Shaq Rowell and defensive end Will Clarke, who started 56 combined career games for WVU, won’t be easy. The Mountaineers will lean heavily on veteran juniors Isaiah Bruce and Karl Joseph, who have started since their freshman seasons.

Big 12 pre-spring breakdown: WRs

February, 20, 2014
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As we wait for the start of spring ball, we’ll be examining and ranking the positional situations of every team, continuing Thursday with receivers (and tight ends). Some of these outlooks will look different after the spring. But here’s how we see them at the moment:

[+] EnlargeTyler Lockett
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesTyler Lockett had seven games with more than 100 yards receiving and two games with more than 200.
1. Baylor: Antwan Goodley hauled in 1,339 receiving yards last year and is back for his senior campaign. Levi Norwood filled in well as a second option after Tevin Reese’s injury, and, like Goodley, can also fly. The Bears are also about to enjoy the fruits of back-to-back monster recruiting classes in the position, including five ESPN 300 players in the last two years. The best of those, incoming freshman K.D. Cannon, has the talent to be Baylor’s next great receiver.

2. Kansas State: The Wildcats have the Big 12’s finest receiver in Tyler Lockett, which warrants them a high ranking even if the supporting cast isn’t tantalizing. Lockett was basically uncoverable downfield last season, and exploded once QB Jake Waters got more comfortable. Curry Sexton has turned into a reliable possession target. The Wildcats also welcome one of the best juco receivers in the country in Andre Davis. If Davis pans out, this has a chance to be among the best receiving corps Bill Snyder has ever had.

3. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders lose an ultra-productive player in Eric Ward and a superstar in tight end Jace Amaro, but this position remains stocked with talent. Jitterbug slot man Jakeem Grant was sixth in the league last year in receiving, and showed in the Holiday Bowl how dangerous he can be when 100 percent focused. Bradley Marquez and Jordan Davis are reliable pass-catchers, but the player to watch here is Reginald Davis. A former high school quarterback, Davis has gradually picked up the nuances of playing receiver. But as he flashed in a kickoff return touchdown against Arizona State, Davis is a playmaker with the ball in his hands, and could be a major factor.

4. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys lose their top three receivers, but outside Baylor, no team in the Big 12 has more WRs ready to contribute in 2014 than Oklahoma State. Jhajuan Seales and Marcell Ateman combined for 61 receptions as freshmen, and will give the Cowboys a physical presence on the perimeter. Brandon Sheperd and David Glidden were also part of the regular rotation, and Austin Hays, who started nine games in 2012, would have been had he not missed virtually the entire season with injury. The two to watch here, though, have yet to play a down, but will bring major speed. Former ESPN 300 recruit Ra’Shaad Samples redshirted last year, but reportedly ran a 4.3-second 40 last summer. That might seem slow compared to Tyreek Hill, the nation’s No. 4 juco recruit, who doubles as a track phenom.

5. Texas: Jaxon Shipley isn’t his brother Jordan, but he’s still a quality college receiver. Even with all of Texas’ QB issues, Shipley already has 159 career receptions. The Longhorns have speed and playmaking elsewhere in downfield burner Marcus Johnson, Kendall Sanders and the versatile Daje Johnson. The Longhorns also signed one of three best incoming WRs in the Big 12 in Armanti Foreman. This group could really thrive with an uptick in QB play.

[+] EnlargeJordan Thompson
AP Photo/Chris BernacchiJordan Thompson showed near the end of the season the type of weapon he can be in West Virginia's offense.
6. Oklahoma: The Sooners graduate Jalen Saunders, who was “Mr. Everything” for the OU offense. But Sterling Shepard seems primed to take over the No. 1 role after hauling in 51 passes and seven touchdowns. Who will surround him? Durron Neal is the only other player on the roster with much experience. But the good news for the Sooners is they’ve recruited superbly at the position. Among many options, the player to keep an eye on is freshman Jordan Smallwood, who was turning heads last summer, until a foot fracture forced him to redshirt.

7. Iowa State: Quenton Bundrage is one of the more underrated receivers in the league despite ranking third in the Big 12 in touchdowns. With Amaro gone, E.J. Bibbs becomes the best receiving tight end in the league after hauling in 39 passes last year. Iowa State’s standing here, though, is contingent on incoming freshman Allen Lazard, one the most highly touted WRs Iowa State has ever signed. If Lazard can make an immediate impact, like the Iowa State coaching staff is banking on, this could become one of the better units in the league.

8. West Virginia: There’s no corps in the Big 12 that could move up more spots than West Virginia’s. The Mountaineers didn’t have a receiver rank in the top 15 in the Big 12 in receiving last year, but Kevin White, Mario Alford and Daikiel Shorts all ranked in the top 20. All three are back, too, as is the diminutive Jordan Thompson, who finally came alive the second half of the season. Former ESPN 300 recruit Shelton Gibson, who redshirted, will also join the rotation. The Mountaineers rank eighth for now, but they are closer to Kansas State than to Kansas.

9. TCU: This week, TCU kicked receiver LaDarius Brown off the team. Considering Brown tied for the team lead in receptions last year, it’s a tough loss. This unit is obviously better with Trevone Boykin, but he might have to play QB, at least until someone else emerges there. The Horned Frogs desperately need Brandon Carter to become a No. 1 receiver. After a promising sophomore year, Carter was basically a non-factor, before showing signs of bouncing back the last month of the season. TCU needs him in a big way in 2014.

10. Kansas: The Jayhawks didn’t have a receiver with more than 11 catches last year. Some of that was the quarterbacks. Some of it was, well, the receivers. The group had little overall impact, which put tremendous pressure on James Sims and the running game. With Sims gone, the receivers have to elevate their game significantly for Kansas to have a chance of taking a step forward. The Jayhawks do have a solid tight end in Jimmay Mundine, who had five TD catches. And Tony Pierson could play more receiver this year. But somebody else needs to emerge.

Skyline players to attend Texas-OU game 

October, 11, 2012
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Three-star defensive tackle Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline) said he will attend Saturday’s Texas-Oklahoma battle at the Cotton Bowl. Three-star wide receiver and Skyline teammate Ra’Shaad Samples is expected to join him.

While both athletes are expected to be in attendance, neither one is going with the intent to shake things up in the recruiting world. Huggins, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound tackle, is still a solid commit to Texas A&M. Samples, a 5-11, 170-pound receiver, is still solid with his commitment to Oklahoma State.

“We’re going to see old Skyline players going against each other,” said Huggins, who then followed up with, “Ain’t no switching Gig’Em.”

Huggins and Samples -- and potentially several other current Skyline players -- will be at the Cotton Bowl cheering on Texas receiver Mike Davis and linebacker Peter Jinkens and Oklahoma defensive back Joe Powell and linebackers Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon.

Five from Friday: OU coaches in Dallas 

October, 1, 2012
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Every week through football season, SoonerNation writer Bob Przybylo will reveal five things he learned while out on the road watching the best in the Midlands area play football.

1. You couldn’t wipe the smile off the face of Dallas Skyline 2014 offensive tackle Ty Barrett. Nobody was more fired up about OU offensive guards coach James Patton being at Dallas Jesuit than Barrett, who is 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds. He had hoped to attend OU’s game last week against Kansas State but couldn’t make it. Powered by Barrett, Dallas Skyline racked up more than 500 yards of offense in a 56-24 victory. Barrett said though he was disappointed about missing the game, he knows he will see OU against Texas and also plans on seeing another Sooners home game later in the season. Barrett said the best relationship he has with any program is with the OU coaches right now.

DeVante Kincade
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comQuarterback DeVante Kincade of Dallas Skyline can beat teams in several ways.
2. Dallas Skyline quarterback DeVante Kincade continues to prove size doesn’t mean all that much when you can produce on the field. Kincade, who is 6-foot and 180 pounds, became a prospect to watch in March by winning the Dallas regional Elite 11 quarterback competition, and the Ole Miss commit has not stopped since. He was 9-of-12 for 197 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown. He never panicked and made some big-time plays when it looked like nothing was there initially. He is somebody you want to know when and where he is on the field at all times because of that dynamic quality he has as a player.

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With the indefinite suspensions of wide receivers Trey Franks, Jaz Reynolds and Kameel Jackson, Oklahoma has gone from taking a maximum of two receivers for the class of 2013 to the search heating up to add viable replacements.

The proof was there late last week. OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel was set to see quarterback Hayden Rettig (Los Angeles/Cathedral) on Thursday. Instead, Heupel has delayed that visit to this week because he told Los Angeles Cathedral coach Kevin Pearson he has urgent team matters to attend to.

That urgent matter? Heupel was in Texas visiting a pair of standout receivers at Wylie (Texas) East, Marcell Ateman and Quan Jones.

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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 Nike Football Training Camp event Sunday brought out the competitive fire in some of the area’s top recruits. So many of these players aren’t accustomed to being tested like that and the passion was on full display. OU offers such as cornerback Maurice Smith (Sugar Land, Texas/Dulles), wide receiver Ra'Shaad Samples (Dallas/Skyline) and linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) were simply on another level than most of the other competitors. It wasn’t a shock that all three have earned invites to The Opening. Samples suffered a fractured fibula during the event and will miss three-to-four months but that shouldn’t hurt his standing with OU at all.

2. Big bounce back week for OU baseball last week. The Sooners went 4-1, including taking two of three games at Texas Tech for their first conference victories of the season. OU (15-10, 2-4 in Big 12) begins a four-game home stand this week with a Tuesday game against Oral Roberts and a three-game set against Kansas State. Pitcher Dillon Overton continues to be consistent, but at the plate, it has been Max White right now. White has a .351 batting average and has a hit in 16 of the last 18 games with eight multi-hit games during the stretch.

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Watch List WR Samples out 3-4 months 

March, 26, 2012
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Dallas Skyline ESPNU Watch List wide receiver Ra'Shaad Samples said Monday that he suffered a small fracture in his left fibula during a one-on-one drill at Sunday’s Nike Football Training Camp at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility in Irving, Texas.

Samples, a 2013 Under Armour All-American, said doctors found a small break and a stretch of his tibia but found no ligament damage. He is expected to miss 3-4 months, but took consolation in the fact his ligaments were in good shape. Ligament damage could have put him out for an extended period and was speculated to jeopardize a portion of his senior year.

“I’m doing all right,” Samples said. “I left the doctor’s office with a cast on. I won’t have to get a plate or anything. I plan to start rehab in about four or five weeks.”

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It won’t be the most eventful weekend on Oklahoma’s campus, but there are going to be a bevy of OU targets on display in Texas.

An Elite 11 quarterback camp will be at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday night, followed by a Nike Football Training Camp event Sunday at the Cowboys' practice facility. About 300 prospects are expected to participate in the event.

Here are 20 recruits with OU interest to keep an eye on:

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It hould be an eventful weekend for Oklahoma on the recruiting trail. With OU having its second junior day on Saturday, here's a look at the confirmed visitors who are planning to be on campus this weekend:

For more on the recruits most likely to commit to the Sooners, check out our forum.

DE Jay Arnold (Heath, Texas/Rockwall-Heath): Offers – Baylor, Ole Miss, Northwestern, Purdue, SMU, Texas A&M, Tulsa. Arnold is one of several defensive ends expected on campus and has the connection with his sister already a student at OU.

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Offer update: OU offers seven receivers 

February, 24, 2012
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The Sooners extended several new offers to 2013 prospects this week. Bob Przybylo breaks down the most recent Oklahoma offers by position:

• Wide receiver isn’t looking like a major position of need for Oklahoma’s 2013 class but that hasn't stopped OU wide receivers coach Jay Norvell from offering several top wide outs from across the country. Through Twitter.


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