Oklahoma Sooners: 2013 Signee Q&As

The Sooners have one big shoe to fill at left tackle, as Lane Johnson was recently picked fourth overall in the 2013 NFL draft. The Sooners signed the No. 1 junior-college offensive tackle in Josiah St. John to help ease the sting.

St. John checked in with SoonerNation earlier this summer to talk about Johnson, his native country and what he wants to accomplish at Oklahoma:

SoonerNation: What jersey number are you wearing?

Josiah St. John: 55. I’ve worn it since high school. It’s the number I’ve been wearing since I’ve played offensive line. Like it, staying with it.

SN: What have the coaches told you about your potential role this fall?

St. John: They’ve told me that I can come in and compete and try to win a job. If not, I’ll be a backup and in the rotation.

SN: Which side of the line?

St. John: I’ve been playing on the left side, but I’m going to try and play both. I feel like I can play.

SN: What will you be working on before you get on campus?

St. John: Strength and stretching, those are two thing I’ve been working on.

SN: What was missing spring football like?

St. John: It felt weird. You try to work out with the same intensity, but it’s kinda weird being on your own, not being involved. I’m ready to be around a team again.

SN: When did you know in your heart OU was the place for you?

St. John: My dad, brother, mom, we were weighing my options. The tradition OU brings, the competition you face every day, the history with offensive tackles, it was a good school for me. I grew up watching teams like Texas and Oklahoma, so to be able to play at Oklahoma and face Texas, that will be crazy.

SN: What player do you look up to on the current OU team?

St. John: I watched a whole lot of Lane Johnson. I watch Jammal Brown, too. Lane has that athleticism, speed. He looks like an athlete playing tackle, that’s exactly what he is. He’s fast, stays on blocks, gets to the second level.

SN: What are you going to major in?

St. John: Right now, marketing. But I’m thinking of switching that.

SN: What’s it like to be believed to be the first Canadian to play football at OU?

St. John: It’s crazy. Knowing that I’m the first Canadian. I got to represent now. I want to give a good impression, so they can go back and get some more Canadians. There’s a lot of good players up there.

SN: Since you’re Canadian, are you a hockey fan, too?

St. John: No, I’m into basketball. A lot of my friends like hockey. I never played, and I can’t skate. When people are talking hockey, I don’t know what they are talking about.

SN: But you’re a Raptors fan, right?

St. John: I am. Right now we’re struggling, so I’ve been a LeBron fan. I’ve been on that bandwagon.

SN: You might want to keep that quiet in Oklahoma City.

St. John: I know, I know. But I’m a LeBron dude.

SN: When you leave OU, what do you want your legacy to be?

St. John: I want to be remembered as a great player. My thing is go hard 100 percent. I want to be one of the great O-linemen, be a great player to come out of Canada, a great role model, great person with kids. That’s what I want people to say when I leave.
Bob Stoops couldn’t keep the grin off his face. Mike Stoops compared him to Aaron Colvin.

The Oklahoma coaching staff’s reaction when asked about Stanvon Taylor on signing day could be a lot of pressure for a freshman. But the cornerback signee has taken all the praise in stride.

Before he arrived on campus in early June, Taylor spoke with SoonerNation about the expectations, learning behind Colvin and what he hopes to improve heading into his freshman season.

SoonerNation: How have things gone since signing day?

[+] EnlargeStanvon Taylor
Jenny Zimmerman/ESPN.comESPN 300 athlete Stanvon Taylor will play cornerback for the Sooners.
Stanvon Taylor: Everything has been going good. I got my [workout] book during basketball season so I’ve just been checking out the book and combining some of those workouts in with some of mine to make myself better before I get down there.

SN: Anything in particular you’ve focused on?

Taylor: Really just gaining weight so I could be college-ready. And working my techniques and talking with Aaron for small pointers on things to work on.

SN: He’s coming back, which is important for the Sooners, but it sounds like it’s important for you as well.

Taylor: It’s great. I am glad to have him come back, return for his senior year so I can practice with him and learn from a great player.

SN: Do you know who you’re rooming with?

Taylor: I believe I’ll be with Dominique Alexander.

SN: What have the coaches told you about your potential role?

Taylor: Talking to Mike, he wants me to learn the corner position right behind Aaron and play the right side corner because it’s the tough side to play. He really wants me to work with Aaron and get better at that position. In the future, I’ll be ready to take that role.

SN: What are your thoughts on playing that position?

Taylor: It’s a good feeling. Knowing they recruited me to play corner instead of offense it shows that they see a lot of potential in me. It just makes me want to work harder, want to be better.

SN: Have you thought about the long-term impact of playing corner since there’s a increased need for corners at all levels of football?

Taylor: From a lot of people’s standpoint, corner is the hardest position on the field. Having the ability to do that is a blessing. I’m ready to work hard, be the best I could be at the position.

SN: What excites you the most about getting to Norman?

Taylor: The whole environment, especially the coaching staff. Playing with the Sooners is a great opportunity to be coached well and with Coach Smitty [Jerry Schmidt] and the weight-training program, everything will make me a better player. Playing for Bob Stoops and Mike Stoops is going to be great.

SN: Speaking of Smitty, what have you been told about summer workouts?

Taylor: It’s going to be tough. Come in mentally strong and everything is going to be fine.

SN: Are you looking forward to trying to separate yourself as someone who can help immediately?

Taylor: Oh, yeah. I’m going to bust my tail and work hard. To be the best ain’t easy. I’m going to work hard, push through the workouts and try to separate myself.

SN: Is there any part of you that feels pressure? Knowing OU needs corners and how much the coaches praised you on signing day?

Taylor: Not too much pressure. I just feel like the coaches have big expectations of me. And I don’t want to let them down. Working hard is the main thing on my mind. I don’t want to let the coaches down, or myself. I’m ready to work hard and live up to the expectations the coaches think I’m capable of.

SN: Have you thought about your expectations of yourself?

Taylor: Sometimes people let media stuff get to them, or this and that. Me, I’ve been self-focused and a team player and I want to make myself better and I’m going to take that same mentality to the college level.

SN: What about special teams?

Taylor: That haven’t really talked to me about it, but if I get an opportunity on kickoff or kickoff return, I’ll go out there and try to separate myself.

SN: When did you know OU was the right spot for you?

Taylor: The day they offered me I knew that’s where I wanted to go. When I got the offer, it was just a whole different feeling. Then and there, I knew it was the place for me.

SN: When you leave OU, what do you want your legacy to be?

Taylor: I want people to say he was a great player, great student-athlete, great guy on campus who wanted to help others and make everyone around me better, especially the guys that will be under me at the position I’m playing. I just want to be someone they can learn from and be a great alumni for the Oklahoma Sooners football team.
It was better late than never for Oklahoma and L.J. Moore. The Sooners’ cornerback signee waited until signing day to pick OU after an on-again, off-again recruitment during his senior season. Moore has a chance to play early and make an impact on a Sooners defense in dire need of quality cornerbacks.

Before he arrived on campus earlier this month, Moore took some time to talk with SoonerNation about his hopes for the future, potential role as a freshman and when he knew Norman would be his college choice.

SoonerNation: What are you looking forward to the most?

L.J. Moore
Erik McKinney/WeAreSC.comFour-star cornerback L.J. Moore could play immediately for the Sooners.
L.J. Moore: Learning a new environment and getting to play with a bunch of guys I’ve never played with before.

SN: At what point did you feel like OU was the right place for you?

Moore: A couple weeks before signing day.

SN: What happened during that time?

Moore: The last visit with Coach Mike (Stoops) sealed the deal. I realized it was the best opportunity for me, the best place for me and a place I would fit in well. So I was just excited about it and I made the decision that Norman would be a great place for me.

SN: OU is looking for cornerbacks. What impact did the fact you could step on campus and potentially play right away have?

Moore: As a football player you want to be on the field as soon as possible, as much as possible. That definitely played a part because that’s a goal of mine, to play as a true freshman. I felt like I could come in and have a chance to prove myself, that I should be on the field.

SN: OU has one of the best corners in the nation in Aaron Colvin. How will his decision to come back help you?

Moore: It will be great to get to learn stuff from him and learn the stuff that made him the corner he is. It also helps that I get to see him on the field playing, with a corner like that on the other side maybe you don’t have as much responsibility and you can learn at a slower pace and still be on the field.

SN: Do you know you’ll be rooming with?

Moore: I think I’ll be rooming with Dakota Austin.

SN: What things have you been working on to prepare yourself?

Moore: One thing everyone has said is real important is to stay in shape and being ready to learn and show I can endure whatever physical task I have to do. The other thing is just getting stronger, as I’ve been working out here and maintaining my speed.

SN: Is there anything fundamentally or technique-wise?

Moore: I definitely want to work on using my feet at the line of scrimmage. I like to jam a lot, press a lot, so I’m always fine tuning my feet and trying to get better footwork at the line of scrimmage. Then maintaining my tackling form, knowing that I’m moving up a level and the players are going to start changing.

SN: What have the coaches told you about your potential role?

Moore: They said I’ll definitely have the opportunity to come in and play some corner, so that’s a positive. They said I could be a good nickel as well, knowing they play a nickel package 90 percent of the game. Either way it sounds like if I come in and handle the business I need to, I’ll be able to get on the field early.

SN: Is there any Sooner you might consider a mentor other than Colvin?

Moore: Jalen Saunders. He’s from my area, I knew him before and seeing how well he’s growing as a player on the offensive side of the ball. I work out with him because I know he’s a good receiver, he’s real shifty and I need to work on staying in front of small receivers that are faster than the bigger ones.

SN: How will having Hatari (Byrd) coming with you help as far as having familiar faces around?

Moore: That’s always a plus. Knowing somebody from California, because that (Oklahoma) is far away, having him that will provide some comfortability and knowing Jalen is there will provide a comfortable environment.

SN: How much have you talked about playing together for three or four years?

Moore: Our goal is to play at the next level, after college. It’s going to be great having somebody back there and I have already played with and am familiar with. I seems like that will help us going into camp, being able to communicate with each other and show we can play on the field as well as anyone else.

SN: How much did knowing Coach Mike would push you to reach your dreams, reach that next level, help when he was recruiting you?

Moore: Coach Mike did a great job recruiting me. I watched his style of coaching and he’s a fiery coach that seems like will keep me going and always keep me on type of my game. I’m very excited about the situation with Coach Mike.

SN: When you leave OU, what do you want your legacy to be?

Moore: I want to be remembered as a hard worker who kept working hard to be the player he wanted to be. Somebody who had a lot of interceptions, gave a lot of help on the defense side of the ball and in the program.
The Sooners have gotten some pretty good players to flip from Oklahoma State in recent years, notably Ryan Broyles and Demontre Hurst. This year, the Sooners were at it again, picking off defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo from the Cowboys.

Okoronkwo checked in with SoonerNation prior to enrolling at OU in June to discuss what made him switch, and what he thinks of the defensive end position in Norman:

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comCould 2013 signee Ogbonnia Okoronkwo become the Sooners' pass-rushing specialist?
SoonerNation: What jersey are you wearing?

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo: I’m hoping it stays 12. I know there’s a 12 on offense, but not on the defense. But I don’t know for sure.

SN: 12 is an odd number for your position. Why 12?

Okoronkwo: My coach gave it to me. I remember I had a choice between 99 and 12, and I grabbed the 12, and have been sticking with it ever since.

SN: Have the coaches talked with you about your potential role this fall?

Okoronkwo: They have been been telling me to really get after the passer, that they might have me as a third-down specialist, to bring pressure. That’s my specialty, the strength in my game.

SN: What will you be working on before you get on campus?

Okoronkwo: What I’ve been working on most is my versatility, as far as being able to move in the flats, as well as my physicality. I know the game speed is going to change, but I know the strength of the O-linemen will, too. I’m not going to be able to throw O-linemen around like I did in high school.

SN: What are you most excited about coming to OU?

Okoronkwo: I’m most excited about getting up there and earning my spot.

SN: What are you planning to get your degree in?

Okoronkwo: Pharmacy. I’ve always been interested in medicine.

SN: What player do you look up to most on the current OU team?

Okoronkwo: I admire Tapp [Charles Tapper]. He’s got a basketball background, can move really well.

SN: Who did you like watching the most last year?

Okoronkwo: I think I watched Chuka [Ndulue] the most. Or David King.

SN: What did you make of Chuka moving inside?

Okoronkwo: I thought it was a good move for him, just for the fact he’s very strong, explosive, he could bring speed. Moving inside he can bring more of a pass rush.

SN: Seems like OU has several up-and-coming players at your position. Is that exciting?

Okoronkwo: I am excited. We have all types of different D-ends. The traditional D-ends, Then a lot of new D-ends. Those coming in are more speedy that can get after the passer.

SN: When did you know OU was the place for you?

Okoronkwo: I knew it was the place maybe six hours into the visit. The atmosphere, it was nothing like I had seen before.

SN: You were previously committed to Oklahoma State. How did they take it when you told them you were coming to OU?

Okoronkwo: They were actually pretty understanding, but I knew they felt like it was a slap in the face.

SN: Who did you tell?

Okoronkwo: Coach [Bill] Young and coach Van Malone.

SN: What’s it going to be like playing them?

Okoronkwo: I know when we play them I’ve got to ball. I know that game is going to be the game I have to show up.
There’s always going to be a positive feeling for Oklahoma fans when it comes to Fresno (Calif.) Central East safety Hatari Byrd.

Byrd committed exactly when the Sooners needed some good news, as ESPN 150 running back Greg Bryant had decommitted from OU the previous day.

[+] EnlargeHatari Byrd
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comHatari Byrd made a quick connection with Oklahoma, committing to the Sooners before he had visited campus.
He committed without seeing the campus. His official visit sealed the deal, as Byrd never seriously considered looking at other schools.

Prior to his arrival on campus, Byrd spoke to SoonerNation one more time to discuss the potential Fresno pipeline developing.

SN: Any idea what jersey you’re going to wear?

Byrd: I don’t know what jersey. I have no idea. I don’t really care. I just want to work.

SN: What have the coaches told you about your potential role this season?

Byrd: Playing free safety, so there’s a good chance I can get in there and play early. With Tony Jefferson leaving early, it left a spot open. I know I can be that guy.

SN: With that in mind, did that change the way you worked this spring?

Byrd: It has. My training has gotten so intense. I’m just focused on the next level. I’m getting bigger and faster. Work -- that’s all I do. Running every day. Hitting the weights. Doing all the little things.

SN: When did you know in your heart OU was the place for you?

Byrd: I knew right when I committed. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t seen the campus yet. I already knew I was going to some place far from home, so it didn’t matter to me. The atmosphere. The thought of playing in front of 80,000 fans. It gets me pumped just talking about it.

SN: What do you expect during your first year at OU?

Byrd: It’s going to be a big change. The biggest difference I expect is with the game speed. It’s going to be a whole ‘nother level with the speed.

SN: Who have you developed a relationship with that’s on the team already?

Byrd: Wide receiver Jalen Saunders. We have a pretty good relationship. He was from Fresno, too, and he was a big factor during my visit last year.

SN: When you leave OU, what do you want your legacy to be?

Byrd: Ooh, that’s kind of a hard one. That I left everything I had at OU and tried to get better every day. There was a reason they recruited me, and I showed everybody what I’m all about.

SN: You and L.J. are coming to Norman. OU would love to add ESPN 150 athlete Michiah Quick to that equation. How much are you trying to encourage Michiah to join you?

Byrd: I talk to him a lot about the recruiting process, but I’m leaving him alone now. I want him to follow his heart, but I always put that OU in his head. I think he wants to play football with us.

SN: A big influence in your life has been Fresno Central East defensive backs coach Tony Perry. Can you put into perspective what he has meant to you?

Byrd: I can’t even say any more about what he has meant to me. He has done so much for me. From the training on the field to the guidance off the field, it’s unreal. He means so much to me.

SN: Does this feel real to you yet? How hard you’ve had to work to get here and all the personal issues you had to overcome?

Byrd: Every now and then I stop and think about it. I can’t wait to get it done. This is what I want to do with my career. It’s an incredible blessing, and I’m very thankful for everything I’ve got. I can’t wait to say I’m doing it. Not that I’m going to do it but that I’m doing it -- living my dream.
There’s a special distinction that comes with being the first commit. For Oklahoma’s 2013 class, that first commit also happened to be its top-rated recruit in running back Keith Ford.

He committed at OU’s second junior day and never entertained the thought of looking elsewhere. Other schools tried to make a push, but Ford remained solid to the Sooners.

OU is solid at running back for 2013, but Ford has fans salivating for what can be in the future and believe he might even be good enough to see the field in the fall.

Prior to his arrival on campus, Ford spoke to SoonerNation one more time to discuss his expectations.

[+] EnlargeKeith Ford
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comFour-star RB signee Keith Ford has high expectations for his time at OU.
SoonerNation: You talk running backs and OU, you talk No. 28 with Adrian Peterson. What’s your number going to be?

Keith Ford: No. 21. They gave me 21, 27, 31 and 35, so I picked the lowest number I could.

SN: Who is your roommate going to be?

Ford: Austin Bennett. I actually played against him last year in the playoffs. I didn’t really know who he was during the season. But then we played against each other and went on the official visit at the same time and got to know each other a lot. We call each other a lot.

SN: What have you been working on since the end of your senior season?

Ford: I run a lot. Working out five days a week and eating the right foods. My mom is not going to be able to cook for me in college so I’m teaching myself now. Most of the time I’m cooking my own meals and learning to eat right. Nutrition is important.

SN: When did you know in your heart OU was the place for you?

Ford: I felt comfortable there. My parents felt comfortable. I love the coaching staff. Coach [Cale]Gundy sold me on more than the team and the school. He sold me on the people.

SN: What have the coaches told you about your potential role this season?

Ford: I don’t really talk about that. For me, it all starts with discipline. I never ask the coaches about playing time. My goal is to play next year as a true freshman, but it’s up to me to make that happen.

SN: What’s the biggest difference of going from high school to college?

Ford: The speed of the game. It’s going to be a lot of faster. You have to make real quick decisions. I feel like I have a good feel of what it’s going to be like.

SN: You met Class of 2014 running back commit Samaje Perine at the spring game. What was that like?

Ford: It was great. He’s huge. We text from time to time. He’s another Texas running back coming here, too. Like him, I’m just ready to play football in that stadium. Not too many people get that chance.

SN: Who are some of the players you’ve been talking to the most on the team?

Ford: Sooner Dave [David Smith]. I talk to him a lot. I talk to Alex Ross and Roy Finch, too, and Kendal Thompson. I feel very comfortable with all of them.

SN: When you leave OU, what do you want your legacy to be?

Ford: To be the best running back to ever come out of OU. That’s what I’m striving for. I won’t accept anything else.
If anybody wants to know if Oklahoma coaches keep their word, ask linebacker signee Dominique Alexander. After camping at OU last June, he was told the Sooners would do more evaluating and get in touch with him.

It took four months, but they did so and quickly Alexander went from being an Arkansas commit to pledging to the Sooners.

Prior to arriving on campus, Alexander spoke to SoonerNation one more time to reflect back on his crazy year of recruiting.

[+] EnlargeDominique Alexander
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comOklahoma linebacker signee Dominique Alexander says he feels he's ahead of the curve of the other incoming freshmen.
SN: Who is your roommate?

Alexander: Stanvon Taylor. It’s going to be great to not have to go against him anymore. We’re going to come together and dominate.

SN: It’s a unique dynamic that you guys have competed against each other since elementary school and only in college will you finally be teammates. What’s your relationship like?

Alexander: No matter the sport we were always guarding each other, talking trash to each other. In middle school we played in the same league. As freshmen, we got to know each other real well. Sophomore year was funny because we played them in the state championship. Who’s better than who? We both had real great games [Alexander’s Tulsa Booker T. Washington team won]. I knew in middle school how great he was going to be. I’m just glad he’s on my side now.

SN: What have the OU coaches told you about what your potential role can be in the fall?

Alexander: They’ve said I have the chance to play if I work hard. I’ll be behind Corey [Nelson], who has been there forever right now. But if I show I’m the best, they’ll play the best. I know they’re really going to use me on special teams.

SN: What did the OU coaches tell you to work on before you got to campus?

Alexander: Coach [Mike] Stoops wanted me to work on my speed. Coach [Tim] Kish wanted me to work on zone drops and reads and stuff like that. They wanted me to get my size up. I was around 195. I’m a solid 210 now. They sent me pages and pages of stuff. Pages of how Coach Kish wants his linebackers to play and reading formations. They gave me some drills on how to be a better linebacker. I feel like I’m ahead of the curve.

SN: When did you know in your heart OU was the place for you?

Alexander: At the Notre Dame game. It just felt right. It felt like I was a part of the family. The more I went there, the more it felt like it was the right thing to do. They showed a lot of love, and I knew those were players I could vibe with.

SN: Who are the players you have looked up to on the current team?

Alexander: Aaron Colvin, for sure. I’ve known Aaron for a long time so I knew he wasn’t going to tell me wrong. With my position, I look up to Frank Shannon a lot. He hosted me on my official, and we hit it off there. I like the way he plays.

SN: When you leave OU, what is your legacy going to be?

Alexander: That I was a hard worker. A leader. I’m not going to ask anybody else to do something I wouldn’t do. I want to be remembered as somebody wanting to win and somebody who wouldn’t accept failure.
Under-the-radar prospects can be found all the time. During the spring evaluation period, during camp season and even after the season, prospects pop up everywhere. Wide receiver K.J. Young falls into that last category. Not many people had heard of the Perris, Calif., product until after Christmas.

Following an Oklahoma offer, things picked up in a hurry. Other schools tried to snatch him away late, but Young stayed solid with the Sooners.

He committed at the airport following his official visit, saying he realized he was home. Prior to his arrival on campus, Young spoke to SoonerNation one more time about what being a Sooner means to him.

[+] EnlargeK.J. Young
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comOklahoma wideout signee K.J. Young said his visit to Norman sealed the deal on his commitment.
SoonerNation: Nobody knew who you were before December. What was that media rush like during those final weeks before signing day?

K.J. Young: It was incredible the way everything just changed. I couldn’t believe OU was interested. But after I took that visit, it was incredible. I knew it was where I wanted to be.

SN: Any lingering thoughts about the recruiting process and how long it took to get noticed?

Young: I could only control what I could control. I couldn’t worry about it. I’m blessed that some schools thought I was worthy to begin with. I’m just going to work as hard as I can to show OU that they’ve made the right choice.

SN: Your size has some wondering if you’ll be lined up out wide or in the slot. Any insight from the coaches on your position?

Young: Coach [Jay] Norvell said there is a great chance that I could play either spot, slot or wide. OU has had a lot of success with slot receivers. Ryan Broyles was incredible and set all those records. It’s a great spot to be.

SN: When we first talked, you mentioned video games a lot when it came to your OU knowledge. Just how big of a factor was that in learning about the university?

Young: It was pretty big. I used to always play with OU on NCAA, and I always did good with them. I knew their team was pretty good. Then I watched a lot of OU games on TV and learned how dominant they could be.

SN:: How different was Norman from your expectations?

Young: It was so different. That visit was what sealed the deal for me. I thought it would be like in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do. It was so much better than I expected. It gave me even more of a reason to want to go there.

SN: What does this opportunity mean to you?

Young: My school [Perris Citrus Hill] isn’t really known for its football tradition. We have a couple of guys here that can change that. I know I can be one of those guys. I can be an example for the younger kids to let them know good things can happen. But it’s not just on the field. It starts in the classroom.

SN: Has the reality hit you’re going to be a Sooner?

Young: After signing day, I took some time off to relax and sort of soak it all in. Life has been so great. All it has done is motivate me to work harder, and that’s what I’ve done all spring.
NORMAN, Okla. -- When he signed with Oklahoma last February, offensive tackle Christian Daimler drew comparisons to departed Sooner Lane Johnson, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. A raw yet athletic offensive lineman, Daimler probably won’t make an immediate impact for the Sooners. But he could end up being one of the hidden gems of the Class of 2013.

Before he arrived on campus earlier this month, Daimler talked with SoonerNation about his potential role, what he wants to improve and being compared to Johnson.

SoonerNation: How have things been going since signing day?

[+] EnlargeChristian Daimler
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comOffensive tackle Christian Daimler has drawn comparisons to first-round pick Lane Johnson.
Christian Daimler: Everything has been going fine. I’m just spending a lot of time in the weight room to get where I need to be.

SN: Is there anything in particular you’ve been focusing on?

Daimler: I’ve worked a lot on my legs, a lot on my core. My overall body strength was something I really needed to work on. I’ve been hitting the weight room really hard to improve my body strength and be able to compete with everybody.

SN: Do you know who will be your roommate?

Daimler: I’ll be rooming with Matt Dimon.

SN: What have the coaches told you about your potential role this fall?

Daimler: I’m going to go into fall camp, compete with everyone else and see how things go. We’ll decide after fall camp whether I’m going to redshirt. It will be a good possibility that I do, though. If that’s the deal, I’ll work as hard as I can to do whatever I can to help the team and hopefully win a national championship.

SN: What’s it been like with the coaching changes and Coach [Bill] Bedenbaugh coming in?

Daimler: It hasn’t been too drastic. Obviously not having [former offensive line] Coach [James] Patton there has been a little weird since he recruited me but Coach Bedenbaugh has been awesome. I kind of like how it’s going to be just one offensive line coach. I’m really looking forward to being with the entire offensive line and one offensive line coach.

SN: Was it frustrating to have things change in the middle of the recruiting process?

Daimler: It wasn’t real frustrating. I’d built a relationship with Coach [Bruce] Kittle and Coach Patton, and it was real odd right after I signed for them to be gone. But I’d built such a good relationship with so many other coaches on the coaching staff it wasn’t too drastic. I still felt Oklahoma was the place I wanted to be.

SN: What are you most excited about?

Daimler: Getting together with a team, building that bond that a team has and getting to know the older guys, though I know some already.

SN: What have you been told about summer workouts?

Daimler: I’ve been told, whatever I’m expecting, don’t be shocked if it’s worse. It’s going to be really tough and push you until you can’t push anymore. But they’re just doing it so you can be as good as you can and because you have potential. I know whatever they do is going to be what’s best for me so I’m going to work as hard as I can to do what they want me to do.

SN: When the coaches talked about you, they tended to bring up Lane Johnson. What was that like to be compared to him?

Daimler: That was pretty cool. I never got to meet Lane but watching his film, I can definitely see my name comparing to him and that’s a guy I can mold myself after to try to get to where he is. He’s put in a lot of hard work, and I’m willing to do the same to get to where he is.

SN: When you leave OU, what do you want your legacy to be?

Daimler: I want to be one of those offensive linemen from OU that everybody remembers. They’ve had such an awesome tradition with offensive tackles. I want to leave my mark and hopefully, one day, be able to continue on to the NFL. That’s my goal, and I’m going to do whatever possible to get to that. I want people to look back and say, 'That was a really good offensive lineman.'
It sure felt like linebacker Jordan Evans was just an afterthought at Oklahoma’s camp a year ago. OU appreciated him coming out for the event, but the Sooners' coaching staff was looking elsewhere.

But all Evans did was make one big play after another in his senior season, earning an OU offer during Bedlam weekend. Once the offer was made, it was a countdown to his commitment.

Less than 72 hours after being offered, Evans was committed and is set to follow in his father’s footsteps while blazing his own trail. His father, Scott, was a defensive tackle for OU from 1987-1990.

[+] EnlargeJordan Evans
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comSignee Jordan Evans says he plans to play linebacker, not defensive end, for the Sooners.
Before his arrival on campus, Evans talked to SoonerNation.

SoonerNation: What jersey are you going to be wearing at OU?

Jordan Evans: I do not know right now. I want No. 6, but I might be No. 26. I’ll find out later.

SN: Who is your roommate going to be?

Evans: Obo [DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo]. I’ve become really close to the guys in Houston. We were all on our visit together and have developed a strong bond.

SN: What have the OU coaches said your potential role could be in the fall?

Evans: They don’t have a specific role for me right now. They’ve just told me to come in and compete. Go as hard as I possibly can.

SN: There has been some talk about moving to defensive end. Has that been brought up?

Evans: No, I’m a linebacker.

SN: With that said, what did the OU coaches want you to work on before getting to campus?

Evans: They wanted me to get my weight up. I’m about 220 right now. I ran track in the spring but kept lifting. I feel really good right now.

SN: Craziest week of your life, right? Win the state semifinal game Friday, offered by OU on Saturday and getting ready to play in first ever state championship game in Norman North history?

Evans: That really was a crazy time. They offered. I took a few days. A lot of thoughts were going through my head. It almost seemed unreal. Going to state, going to the OU game and committing. I never would have thought that possible.

SN: Who are some of the players you have been talking to the most?

Evans: I talk to the linebackers a lot, obviously. Frank Shannon, Corey Nelson, Eric Striker and Londell Taylor. I talked to Shannon when I was up there, so he has been the main guy.

SN: What do you want your legacy to be when you leave OU?

Evans: I hope it’s for being a stud, on and off the field. That I was somebody who did everything he was supposed to do.

SN: Now that the process is over with, what sort of insight did your father give you about everything? How happy is he that you’re going to be a Sooner, too?

Evans: Throughout the process, he was giving me tips. But now it all starts over again. It’s time to restart. I’ve got to do this and do that. Listen and work hard. Now’s the time for me to make my own footsteps. I love my father, but I have to become my own man.
One day can change a recruit’s life forever. For wide receiver Jordan Smallwood, it was the camp at Oklahoma last June.

He entered the day with Wyoming as his only notable offer. Four days later, he was committed to the Sooners.

Smallwood carried that chip on his shoulder into his senior season, helping Jenks (Okla.) High win a state championship.

Prior to his arrival on campus, Smallwood talked to SoonerNation one more time about what he expects at OU.

Jordan Smallwood
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comOklahoma signee Jordan Smallwood said he wants to become one of the Sooners' best ever wideouts.
SoonerNation: Who is your roommate going to be?

Jordan Smallwood: Quarterback Cody Thomas.

SN: Wait, what? I had never heard of you and Cody as being buddy-buddy. How did this all happen?

Smallwood: It just sort of happened that way. Coach [Josh] Heupel got us talking. I didn’t have a roommate. He didn’t have a roommate. Last time I talked to him was the spring game. I know he’s ready to play at OU as much as I am.

SN: What have the coaches told you about what your potential role could be this season?

Smallwood: To come down there and compete. If I can learn the system, I can get on the field. If nothing else, I’ll definitely play some special teams this year.

SN: When did you know in your heart OU was the place for you?

Smallwood: After the very first game I went to. After seeing them play, even though it was the Notre Dame loss, I knew. Watching them play and perform and compete, I knew that was the place for me. It was home.

SN: What do you expect for your first year at OU?

Smallwood: To learn a lot of new things. A lot of things. Coming from Jenks, it’s a great school, but it’s a big step going from high school to OU.

SN: Who is going to help you out with that transition?

Smallwood: Jalen Saunders. We’ve been talking, and he said he would definitely look out for me. Of course there’s Alex [Ross], too. I’m not worried.

SN: What do you want your legacy to be when you leave OU?

Smallwood: That I gave it everything I got 100 percent of the time. I want to go down as one of the best wide receivers to go through OU.

SN: I know when you committed to OU, you had that chip on your shoulder about the lack of big-time offers. At this point, though, is it all water under the bridge?

Smallwood: It was God’s plan. I can’t really complain about it. You’re right, it’s not really a chip on my shoulder anymore. This is my assignment now. Now it’s up to me for what happens.

SN: The Jenks pipeline is strong with Alex Ross, yourself, and of course OU is looking at four-star safety Steven Parker for 2014 and defensive tackle Marquise Overton for 2015. What are your thoughts on recruiting kids from your high school?

Smallwood: Que [Overton] keeps saying he’s going to meet me there at OU so nothing really needs to be said. Steven is different, though. I’ve been leaving him alone and letting him do his own thing. I know he’ll make the right choice for himself. I hope it’s OU.

SN: Let’s look way into the future. Whenever I would talk with your father, he would talk about you and your younger brother, Julian. He’s going into the ninth grade this fall. Is he going to be better than you?

Smallwood: Julian is going to be better than me.

SN: Wait, you admit it?

Smallwood: Yeah, I don’t have a problem with it. It’s crazy how big he is already. I know he’s already talking about going to camps this summer. I’m glad I could open the door for him, and I’m excited to see what he does.
Since position coach Jay Norvell arrived in Norman, the Sooners have been stockpiling talent at receiver. To complement bigger receivers like Trey Metoyer, Norvell signed inside playmaker Austin Bennett to OU's 2013 class.

As he prepared to arrive in Norman for summer workouts, Bennett checked with SoonerNation to talk about his future roommate, what he wants to major in and Texas making a run at him just before signing day:

SoonerNation: Who are you rooming with?

[+] EnlargeAustin Bennett
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comThe Longhorns tried to flip OU receiver signee Austin Bennett late in his recruitment.
Austin Bennett: Keith Ford. We actually ended up becoming pretty good friends. We went on our official visit together. Went to a couple games together.

SN: What are you most looking forward to at OU?

Bennett: The experience of college. Getting on the field as quickly as possible, adjusting to the speed.

SN: What personal goals do you have?

Bennett: To try to earn a spot on the field and not be redshirted. If I do get redshirted, I’m not going to make a big deal about it, and [I will] take advantage of it. But short term, I want to help the team out as much as I can.

SN: What have the coaches told you about a potential role?

Bennett: Coaches have said my role is to be a slot receiver. Punt returner, kick returner, too. If my role is to play special teams, so be it.

OU has some good receivers. But I definitely think I have a shot to earn a position with my football knowledge. I think I can come in and make a big impact.

SN: What happened with Texas trying to get you to flip late?

Bennett: Well, a week to two weeks before signing day, they came to my school and told me they wanted a shot with me, that they had been looking at me my freshman year. Which was true, but they hadn’t really made a big impression on me. They haven’t produced a lot of great receivers in the last four, five years. Texas, it’s a great school to go to, but I chose Oklahoma over Texas.

SN: So you never gave it a second thought?

Bennett: I never thought about leaving Oklahoma. Once I make a commitment -- that’s where I wanted to be unless something major happened. Oklahoma is where I want to be.

SN: What are you planning to major in?

Bennett: Biology. I want to try to be a physical therapist.
There weren’t many defensive players in Oklahoma incoming’s recruiting class more productive in high school than defensive end Matt Dimon. The Katy, Texas, native recorded 55 tackles, 12 sacks and forced six fumbles for Katy High, which captured the Class 5A Texas state championship.

Dimon, who was ranked No. 284 in the ESPN 300, checked in with SoonerNation recently as he prepared to arrive in Norman for summer workouts:

[+] EnlargeMatt Dimon
Max Olson/ESPN.comESPN 300 defensive end Matt Dimon said he knew OU was the place for him after the Red-White spring game in 2012.
SoonerNation: What jersey will you be wearing?

Matt Dimon: 90. That’s what was available.

SN: Who is your roommate going to be?

Dimon: Christian Daimler. He lives just down the road here in Houston. So that worked out real well.

SN: Have the coaches talked with you about your potential role this fall?

Dimon: No, they just said they expect me to work my hardest. If I do that, everything will work out. I could get an opportunity; if not, I’ll just learn from the guys in front of me.

SN: There were discussions before the spring about OU possibly going to a 3-4 defense. Did the coaches talk to you at all about that?

Dimon: We did talk about the 3-4 before spring ball. I went over the defense with one of the coaches. Once spring ball started, the talk just disappeared. I don’t know what happened, I guess it didn’t work out. I’m comfortable with running any defense. It’s not like we had a bad defense. We had a really good first half, then the second half was not so good, but we also played some really good offenses. The 4-3 will work if we can just tweak it a bit.

SN: What are you most excited about coming to OU?

Dimon: I don’t really have one thing. It’s going to be a whole experience, a whole new lifestyle. Get to meet new friends, get to work my butt off for a great program. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to play in a great bowl or a national championship.

SN: What are you planning to get your degree in?

Dimon: Not sure yet. Maybe energy management or business or something.

SN: When did you know OU was the place for you?

Dimon: I went up there for the spring game (in 2012). I went to Baylor’s spring game before, and OU’s facilities were just -- this is personally my opinion, 20 times better than Baylor’s. Everything is just so prestigious at OU, I just really, really liked it. I told my dad I was going to commit soon after that spring game. And I did. I loved it up there.

SN: The game you’re most looking forward to playing in?

Dimon: Probably the Notre Dame game. My family is from Chicago, so I’ll get to see them and stuff. But the Texas game is always crazy. I’m really excited about every game.

SN: What OU player did you like watching most last season?

Dimon: I was a Landry Jones fan. I liked the way he threw the ball around. I thought he was a leader. Liked the way Tony Jefferson played. Thought his pursuit angles, his tackling ability were bar none.

SN: Were you surprised Jefferson didn’t get drafted?

Dimon: I was surprised. I felt for him. It’s a bummer to leave early and not get drafted. I’m sure he’s going to use that as motivation. I would. That should drive him.

SN: What goals do you have at OU?

Dimon: First and foremost want to get a degree. I want to go in there and win football games. I could really care less about personal stats or what happens to me. I just want to win. That’s why you play the game, to win. I hope that we can work hard as a unit, and accomplish what we set to accomplish.

Signee Q&A: CB Dakota Austin

June, 11, 2013
Four years ago, the Sooners unearthed quite the gem in lightly recruited cornerback Aaron Colvin. The Sooners hope they have unearthed a gem in another lightly recruited corner. The weekend before signing day, OU snagged a commitment from Dakota Austin, who went largely under the radar with both major college coaches and recruiting services. Like Colvin, Austin turned heads at the OU camp going into his senior year, which ultimately led to his OU offer.

As he prepared to arrive in Norman, Austin checked in with SoonerNation to talk about the OU defense, his frustrations through the recruiting process and what he's been doing to get ready for the season:

[+] EnlargeDakota Austin
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comCornerback Dakota Austin didn't have many offers before the Sooners offered in late January.
SoonerNation: Who are you going to room with?

Dakota Austin: Either Hatari (Byrd) or L.J. (Moore) -- one of those two. I’m not sure yet.

SN: What have the coaches told you about a potential role?

Austin: They told me the defense will be a little bit different. But they told me I’ll be playing the nickel or cornerback. I’ve played both in high school.

SN: What is going to be different about the defense?

Austin: They said they’re going to run some more 4-2-5.

SN: What personal goals do you have?

Austin: I just want to play a significant role on the team this year. That’s all I want to do.

SN: What are your thoughts on your chances to do that?

Austin: To me, the spot is open. (Aaron) Colvin is going to be on corner. The other one is for the taking. I think I’m the guy to do it. I’ve been putting in the work with some D-1 athletes, so I’m going to be ready.

SN: Sounds like preparation has made you more confident?

Austin: That’s the key. I feel more confident when I’m working every day versus taking time off. I’ve been working and I feel confident.

SN: Who are some of the guys you’ve been working with?

Austin: Jalen Mills, a cornerback at LSU. Some juco guys. A corner from Texas, a guy from K-State. Receiver from Baylor. Guy from Abilene Christian. We’ve been getting in some good work.

SN: When did you know OU was the place for you?

Austin: I’ve been liking OU since my sophomore year. I thought I could get the offer long time ago if Brent Venables had stayed. He really loved me. But it picked back up after I went to camp over the summer. I connected with the new coaches.

SN: So the OU camp, it picked back up?

Austin: I had a pretty good camp. Coach Mike (Stoops) and Coach (Josh) Heupel started talking to me.

SN: You really didn’t get recruited hard until late. What was that like to go through?

Austin: Real frustrating. Real frustrating throughout the whole recruiting process. I started my high school career with a really good high school recruiting coordinator. Then the whole staff, and he left, too. The next dude didn’t have as many connections. So my recruiting slowed down. Then my going into my junior year I broke my wrist. They had to take bone from hip and put it in my wrist. I was stitched up the whole summer, so couldn’t go to any camps. But going into my senior year, I was healthy. I was able to work out, and get well conditioned.

SN: Sounds like you’ve traveled a road similar to Colvin, who because of an injury went under the radar during recruiting for awhile.

Austin: I think it’s kinda like Demontre (Hurst) too. He went to my high school, got the (OU) offer late.


Stoops, Players Want To Effect Change
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops sits down with Gene Wojciechowski to discuss his team's stand against racism.