Oklahoma Sooners: Bruce Kittle

Oklahoma has never been in a bad spot with ESPN Watch List offensive tackle Ty Barrett (Dallas/Skyline).

Former offensive line coach James Patton was the first coach to start pursuing him. Barrett visited OU last season, and he was offered at OU’s junior day in February.

Patton and former offensive line coach Bruce Kittle, who was also recruiting Barrett and made the offer to him, are gone, and first-year O-line coach Bill Bedenbaugh is the man in charge. Barrett and Bedenbaugh are in constant communication, but Saturday marked the first time Barrett got to meet his potential future coach.


Roughly 90 percent of college football programs would be thrilled to win 10 games in a season. Oklahoma is not one of those programs.

Sharing a Big 12 title? That trophy is a whole lot less satisfying when there are seven others waiting in the trophy case since 2000 that weren't shared with anybody.

"Our expectations are different than everybody else. Everybody’s not Oklahoma," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "When you have Oklahoma across your chest, you expect to win championships, and that’s never going to change here."

He knows firsthand. Stoops helped his brother, coach Bob Stoops, win Oklahoma's seventh national title back in 2000, and the Sooners came up short two more times, once losing in the title game with Mike Stoops in 2003 and again a year later with Stoops coaching at Arizona. Without him coordinating the defense, the Sooners gave up 55 points to USC, more points than any team has ever scored in the BCS National Championship Game.

Arizona fired Mike Stoops six games into the 2011 season, and the Sooners' struggling defense needed an offseason jolt, despite winning 10 games that same season. Mike Stoops returned and brought assistant Tim Kish with him to coach linebackers and help coordinate the defense.

"Sometimes change is good, new ideas are good always, and change is good sometimes," Mike Stoops said. "That happens for whatever reason, and whether it’s complacency or just being stagnant, those things occur. Just trying to reinvent ourselves is something we need to do."

In 2012, there were more late-season defensive struggles after a strong start, but yet again, a 10-win season and a shared Big 12 title weren't enough. Losing three games isn't good enough, and nobody wants to hear that all three losses came to teams that spent time in the top five last season. The Sooners want to get back to competing for national titles, and Bob Stoops went the route of coaching changes to help get Oklahoma back there.

Assistant coaches Jackie Shipp and Bruce Kittle were shown the door, along with offensive line coach James Patton. The Sooners scooped up Bill Bedenbaugh from West Virginia to replace Patton and brought in Jerry Montgomery from Michigan to coach the defensive line. Jay Boulware filled Kittle's spot on the staff after coaching tight ends at Auburn. The Sooners' reboot was complete, and they're working toward results in the spring.

"[They bring] a new perspective in some areas, new ideas. They’re not drastic changes," Mike Stoops said. "Obviously, the coaches we had in here were involved and knew our systems well, but there’s always little changes in technique and little things schematically that can help you, so we’re always looking for fresh ideas."

Ten wins tastes bitter when you're used to winning 11 or 12, which can be the difference between proving yourself as a very good team and a great team. Oklahoma won at least 12 games six times since 2000 and 11 games on three more occasions. Ten wins isn't good enough, and a few former players and one famed coach were more than willing to speak up about it, echoing fan concerns.

Barry Switzer started it in September when he told one local paper that the Sooners "just don't have the talent."

"We’re not as good as we have been," Switzer said. "We don’t have the Tommie Harrises or Gerald McCoys squatting down there in the middle [of the defensive line]."

Offensive lineman Jammal Brown, an All-American who played in Norman from 2000 to '04, said he was "mad as hell" about the Sooners' 28-point Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M to cap the 10-win season, calling the Sooners "soft." CBS analyst Spencer Tillman, a Sooners running back in the '80s, said Oklahoma lost concentration on what made the program great in the first place.

Considering the Sooners let Shipp go at the end of the season, it's hard to believe Bob Stoops didn't agree in part with what Switzer had to say. As for the rest of it?

"We may not be as skilled at some of the positions as we want to be, but our toughness and pride is what made Oklahoma what it is, whether it was Bud Wilkinson or Barry Switzer or Bob Stoops, I think that’s the common thread that goes to being a great team," Mike Stoops said.

"Some of those, from the outside, may have felt like we didn’t have that common thread between us. I never felt that; I always thought our teams played hard and together. They’re certainly entitled to their opinions, you know. We’ve got to look at ourselves, and if it’s true, we need to change it. The things we needed to change, we’re working on changing, and nobody knows our program like we do.

"There’s areas we certainly need to get better at, and we’re aware of those. Some of those take time. Some of those take adjustments each day to get better."

The Sooners lose a four-year starter at quarterback in Landry Jones from last year's team, along with seven starters from Mike Stoops' defense. The task of winning more than 10 games seems difficult in a Big 12 that's deeper than it has ever been.

"We just need to get better, again, individually and schematically and play better across the board and come up with better ideas and a better scheme. We’re not far off when you look at the big picture," Mike Stoops said. "We had a chance to win 12 games, we lost them all late in the game and down the stretch and didn’t make the plays we needed to, but again, we’re not that far off."
Every Friday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • Two prospects from a north Texas high school will be on campus this weekend. One is the son of a former Sooner.
  • ESPN Watch List OT is building a relationship with OU's new assistant.
  • A Dallas safety target talks about being a lifelong Sooners fan.
  • OU is hosting a defensive tackle this weekend who's looking to see what the Sooners are all about.
  • An ESPN Watch List safety is visiting, too, but maybe not for junior day.
  • How the Sooners lost out on their top defensive tackle target.
  • More on ESPN Watch List DE Deondre Clark's decision to drop OU ... for now.
  • More on OU basketball target Frank Booker and what the coaches are telling him.

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.


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Position breakdown: Offensive line 

February, 20, 2013
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NORMAN. Okla. -- The players on the offensive line will be largely the same in 2013. The coach directing them will not.

One of the first moves Bob Stoops made after signing day was firing Bruce Kittle and James Patton and replacing them with Bill Bedenbaugh, who was formerly at West Virginia.


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Every Friday (starting this week), SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • Two California prospects might be visiting Oklahoma in the summer
  • More on where one in-state tight end stands with the Sooners
  • One OU signee is working hard to make sure he ends up a Sooner
  • Is another running back emerging for 2014?
  • San Antonio defensive back enjoys OU junior day
  • A 2014 receiver has the Sooners on top
  • One in-state wideout is receiving more interest
  • The Sooners' second junior day is set

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.


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OU signee unfazed by coaching move 

February, 11, 2013
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Oklahoma didn’t sign any interior offensive linemen for its 2013 recruiting class, so the departure of former line coach to James Patton to Indiana on Monday didn’t resonate in a huge way among incoming recruits.


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OT Johnson talks Wazzu visit, offers 

January, 15, 2013
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It's going to be a busy January for Houston Bellaire offensive tackle Dwayne Johnson.

In many ways, it already has been busy for the former Purdue commitment. Every weekend leading up to national signing day will be used for an official visit as the 6-foot-6, 275-pound Johnson tries to find the right fit for his future.


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Q&A: 2014 Okla. TE MikeQuan Deane 

January, 9, 2013
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Tulsa (Okla.) Memorial made the state playoffs for the first time in 23 years in 2012. And with the talent coming back, the school is hoping it won’t be a one-shot deal.

It can be optimistic as 2015 cornerback Markale Moses is already getting looks from colleges, and Oklahoma has recently taken notice of 2014 tight end prospect MikeQuan Deane.


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The plan was for four-star offensive tackle Aaron Cochran (Atwater, Calif./Buhach) to make his decision at the Semper Fidelis All-American game.

But with the game looming later this week, Cochran is in no position to make that call. Instead of trying to force a decision, Cochran is opting to delay the decision.


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Each week SoonerNation recruiting writers Bob Przybylo and Brandon Chatmon face off on one issue regarding Oklahoma recruiting.

This week’s question: It was a huge week for OU on the trail, but what was the biggest news from the last seven days?

Brandon Chatmon: Trinity Valley Community College defensive tackle Quincy Russell's decision to sign with Oklahoma was an early Christmas present for the Sooners. Landing a junior college standout at a position of major need should provide an energy boost for the recruiting class and give OU plenty of momentum heading into January. Several great things happened for OU in recent days, but none better than Russell's signing.


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Oklahoma has been in search for offensive tackles all fall, and the Sooners finally got one. Four-star junior college offensive tackle Josiah St. John (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley) committed to OU on Wednesday, he announced on his Twitter page.

St. John, who was also considering Kansas, is ranked No. 6 in the ESPN JC 100 and is the No. 1 offensive tackle in the nation. St. John has pledged to OU, but he cannot sign with the Sooners until February. He will not be enrolling at OU in January, said Trinity Valley recruiting coordinator Will Reed.

He initially wasn't going to be doing anything Wednesday, but he tweeted in the morning he would make his commitment annoncement at night and came through on his promise.

OU made the offer to St. John in August even if he didn’t find out about it until October. He took an official visit to OU for the Notre Dame game in October, but the Jayhawks made a late push to try to sway him to Lawrence, Kan.

St. John made an official visit to KU two weeks ago, but OU coaches Bob Stoops and Bruce Kittle did what they could to make sure St. John would be a Sooner.

There has been a sense of panic among some OU fans with the Sooners have no pledges at the position. This single signing won’t erase all fears, but it’s a step in the right direction.

OU has hoping to land three offensive tackle commits for the class. Oddly enough, the Sooners had two commits at one point but lost four-star prospect Matt Beyer (San Antonio/Reagan) to an injury and three-star tackle Dalton Rodriguez (Tulsa, Okla./Union) flipped to Tulsa last week.

The Sooners are still in the running for three-star tackle Sean Dowling (Fallbrook, Calif./Union) and four-star prospect Aaron Cochran (Atwater, Calif./Buhach). But the Sooners can relax if they cannot land both of them. Getting St. John is the first step in what OU hopes is a strong close at the position.

St. John is OU's 17th commitment for the 2013 class and third juco player. He'll be joined by teammate defensive tackle Quincy Russell, who signed with OU on Wednesday.

OU's eyes on St. John, Bibbs, Russell 

December, 19, 2012
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Going into the first day of the junior college signing period, Oklahoma knows it has one commit locked down. Punter Jed Barnett (Oakland, Calif./Laney CC) is not going anywhere.

Toby Johnson
Hutchinson CC Sports InformationToby Johnson is one of the top juco priorities on Oklahoma's recruiting board.
But if the Sooners have their way, three more names are going to enter the fold. Two of them could come from the same juco, Trinity Valley in Athens, Texas.

As OU prepares to see which letters of intent come its way, here are some of the top junior college targets on OU’s board.

Commit

Jed Barnett: Again, no question about Barnett. He said he is expected to reach Norman Jan. 11 weekend and is going to live with friend and fellow kicker Michael Hunnicutt.

Targets

DT Toby Johnson (Hutchinson, Kan./Hutchinson CC): Johnson is ranked No. 4 in the ESPN JuCo 100 despite the fact he is currently recovering from a torn MCL and partially torn ACL.

He has made official visits to OU, Georgia and Missouri and has one set for Mississippi State in January. He feels like a strong lean toward the Bulldogs, but OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp has not stopped trying to lure Johnson to the Sooners.

Johnson said he is not going to sign during this period and will wait until February before making his decision.

OT Josiah St. John (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley): A four-star recruit, St. John is ranked No. 6 in the ESPN JuCo 100. He made an official visit to OU earlier this season.

He also made unofficial visit to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State during the summer, but it feels like this might be a battle between OU and Kansas.

Yes, that Kansas. St. John took an official visit to KU earlier this month. Though the program hasn’t had much success, the Jayhawks are making a living off juco kids for their 2013 class. St. John would be the seventh ESPN JuCo 100 signee for KU if it happens.

The Jayhawks have already enticed No. 1-ranked overall prospect Marquel Combs (Woodland Hills, Calif./Pierce College) to come to Lawrence.

TE Emmanuel Bibbs (Yuma, Ariz./Arizona Western): Bibbs sort of snuck on OU’s radar in the last month, but it’s clear he has become one of the top priorities for OU tight ends coach Bruce Kittle and OU coach Bob Stoops.


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Juco TE Emmanuel Bibbs down to ISU, OU 

December, 17, 2012
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There are two days until the first day of the junior college early signing period, and tight end Emmanuel Bibbs (Yuma, Ariz./Arizona Western) is not sure which school he's going to choose.

Bibbs, a three-star prospect who is 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, has been committed to Iowa State since June. He thought his recruitment was over. And then Oklahoma entered the picture. Now it’s a mess.

“Yeah, I have no clue right now,” Bibbs said. “At this point, I don’t know where I’m going to go.”

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OT Sean Dowling decommits from UCLA 

December, 14, 2012
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Saying he needs to figure out what is the best situation for him, offensive tackle Sean Dowling (Fallbrook, Calif./Union) decommitted from UCLA late Thursday night, he confirmed via text message to ESPN.com.

Dowling, a 6-foot-6 and 260-pound three-star prospect, was the first offensive lineman to commit to the Bruins in April. UCLA has added seven more commits on the line since then, including two in the last seven days. Dowling declined to say if that was a factor in his decision.

He has taken official visits to Washington State, Oklahoma and Oregon State and has said in the past he is hopeful to take an official visit to Vanderbilt.

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Rodriguez decommits, heading to Tulsa 

December, 13, 2012
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Saying it was the best decision for him, three-star offensive tackle Dalton Rodriguez (Tulsa, Okla./Union) tweeted he has switched his commitment from Oklahoma to Tulsa on Thursday afternoon. Rodriguez confirmed the news via text message to ESPN.com.

Dalton Rodriguez
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comThe Sooners wanted Dalton Rodriguez to play offensive tackle, a position he had never played before.
Rodriguez, who is 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds, was being recruited as an offensive tackle by the Sooners. However, he never took a snap at the position during high school. He has been one of the best defensive ends in the state the last two seasons.

OU picked up another defensive end commit in Houston Alief Taylor’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo on Wednesday afternoon, giving the Sooners three quality defensive ends to go with ESPN 300 prospects D.J. Ward (Moore, Okla./Southmoore) and Matt Dimon (Katy, Texas/Katy).

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