Oklahoma Sooners: Dalton Rodriguez

Rodriguez decommits, heading to Tulsa 

December, 13, 2012
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).

Offensive tackles remain OU's focus 

December, 10, 2012
Oklahoma’s last offensive commit for its 2013 class was three-star athlete Austin Bennett (Manvel, Texas/Manvel) on June 20.

[+] EnlargeAustin Bennett
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comATH Austin Bennett pledged to OU in June, which was the last time an offensive player committed to the program.
June 20? The Sooners have gone nearly six months without a commit on that side of the ball. Heading into the final two months until national signing day, that will obviously have to change.

Here is a position-by-position breakdown of who OU is looking at to close out the class.

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Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

November, 29, 2012
Every Thursday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

  • Crazy week continues for new OU commit
  • More on the defensive end situation

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Five from Friday: Parker not slowing down 

November, 26, 2012
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.

[+] EnlargeJordan Smallwood
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comReceiver Jordan Smallwood and Jenks will play in the 6A state title game on Friday night.
1. Class of 2014 safety Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) is making his case as the best in-state prospect for 2014. Entering the season, Parker was moving from cornerback to safety and he wasn’t sure how he would do. Let’s just say he’s doing OK. Parker has become the quarterback of the Jenks defense and was dominant in a 41-10 dismantling of rival Tulsa Union in the Class 6A state semifinals. Parker had an interception and eight tackles despite not playing most of the second half as Jenks ran out to a 35-3 halftime lead. Already with offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Alabama, Parker is going to be a hot commodity once his junior film gets wide release.

2. It’s not just the 2014 kids having fun at Jenks, though, as OU wide receiver commit Jordan Smallwood showed why the Sooners hold him in such high regard. Smallwood didn’t have and didn’t need many chances to show what he can do. However, he came up big the only time his number was called. On third-and-12, Smallwood won a jump ball on a 36-yard reception that brought Jenks down to the 1-yard line. A play later and it was 21-3 Jenks and the rout was on. Smallwood also showed his defensive back skills with a nice pass deflection on an errant throw later in the game.

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Five from Friday: Watching Alexander 

October, 29, 2012
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.

Dalton Rodriguez
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comOU commit Dalton Rodriguez was recruited as an offensive tackle but hasn't played the position in high school.
1. You have to give a lot of credit to three-star athlete Dominique Alexander (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington). His senior season has been an absolute disaster in terms of team success, but he hasn’t given up. His spirited efforts this season have to be a reason why Oklahoma came knocking on his door and offered him. He was everywhere on the field in a 48-21 loss to Tulsa (Okla.) Union. There's still a question of which position the Arkansas commit will play in college, but he’s going to make an impact somewhere. He has more than 100 tackles and will most likely play the final game of his high school career this week as Tulsa Booker T. is unlikely to make a playoff run.

2. While Alexander has crept up OU’s board, three-star prospect and OU commit Dalton Rodriguez (Tulsa, Okla./Union) is quietly going about his business. Rodriguez didn’t see much time at all in the blowout victory as it was actually 42-0 in the third quarter before Tulsa Union took its foot off the gas pedal. In his limited time, Rodriguez had seven tackles, including two for loss. He also has six sacks this season. Rodriguez still hasn’t played a second at offensive tackle so the defensive end/offensive tackle question will linger on until he hits campus.

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Déjà vu for OU commit Cody Thomas

October, 7, 2012
Keep an eye out for the first weekend of November, because right now, whenever it’s the first weekend of a month, something special happens for Oklahoma quarterback commit Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas/Heritage).

Thomas had his second seven-touchdown performance of the season in a 69-27 victory against Grapevine, Texas, on Friday night.

[+] EnlargeCody Thomas
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comOU quarterback commit Cody Thomas was 23-of-31 for 463 yards on Friday night.
He was 23-of-31 for 463 yards with all seven touchdowns coming through the air. None of his touchdowns were short, either, coming from 50, 35, 40, 26, 80, 14 and 26 yards en route to another memorable night.

The night was important in a couple of aspect for Colleyville Heritage. It was its first district win, and it showed the team could bounce back after a tough loss to Euless (Texas) Trinity last week.

In a shootout win against Denton (Texas) Guyer on Sept. 6, Thomas also had seven touchdowns. In that game, he accumulated more than 440 yards of total offense and threw for five scores and ran for two more.

For the season, Thomas is 110-of-173 for 1,573 yards with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions. He said he is going to take his official visit to OU later this month for the Notre Dame weekend.

(Read full post)

Oklahoma running back commit Keith Ford (Cypress, Texas/Ranch) made a promise that he was going to do everything in his power to beat Houston Langham Creek on Friday night.

There isn’t much more Ford could have done. He rushed for 267 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown. He returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score. He had a 61-yard reception that led to a touchdown. And capped it by scoring the game-winning two-point conversion in a 64-63 overtime victory.

[+] EnlargeKeith Ford
Max OlsonThe nation's No. 3 running back Keith Ford has rebounded from a poor open to the season.
“Last season they needed to beat us by eight to keep us out of the playoffs. They did it, and I haven’t forgotten about it,” Ford said earlier this week. “I don’t want to win this week. We have to win this week.”

Following a disastrous opening night, when Ford fumbledthree times en route to being ejected in the second quarter, he is putting on the type of performances that have OU fans so excited about the third-ranked running back in the nation.

Friday was his third consecutive game of rushing for at least 100 yards and scoring at least two touchdowns.

He said the difference has been he has been more focused and ignoring distractions. For Ford, that means hitting the film room.

“I’ve always been good at learning about opponents, but I’m watching film every day now,” Ford said. “My coach says I think like a quarterback the way I try to understand the little things at every position.”

Ford was the first commit of OU’s 2013 class and there hasn’t been one question of where he stands ever since. He said he talks to OU running backs coach Cale Gundy on a weekly basis and his excitement about being a Sooner has not waned one bit.

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

(Read full post)

OU commit Smallwood returns with 2 TDs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Read full post)

Sooner Intel: Recruiting news and notes 

September, 20, 2012
Every Thursday, SoonerNation releases the Sooner Intel, a sneak peek inside Oklahoma Sooners football recruiting with news and notes on the latest happenings around the program. Talk about it on our forum. A few things discussed in this week's update:

• OU is hosting recruits that have visited the Sooners many times, and some that have never seen the campus.
• A 2013 running back is "definitely interested" in Oklahoma.
• OU just offered a four-star DT. Are the Sooners a factor?
• A Florida State commitment still plans to visit OU.
• A look at linebackers coach Tim Kish's philosophy on recruiting.

Read the Sooner Intel after the jump.

Manning reflects on first OU experience

There is no question this is a big recruiting weekend for OU with Kansas State coming to town. For some prospects, it will be their first taste of the campus.

That is not the case for ESPN 150 defensive tackle Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball). It won’t be his second or third visit to OU but he might be more familiar with the campus than any other class of 2013 recruit.

Damon Sayles/ESPN.com
The next month could have a big impact on Justin Manning's recruitment.

Manning, the younger brother of former OU defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger, has been going to OU for visits since he was in sixth grade.

He still recalls his first memory of OU.

“It was in sixth grade. OU was looking at my brother, and we were at this hotel. They gave me all the chocolate cake and ice cream I wanted. It was great,” Manning said.

Manning never thought about following in his brother’s footsteps at the time because he didn’t even like football. He admitted he was initially playing football because that’s what people told him to do.

That’s not the case anymore as Manning said he loves the game and appreciates the opportunity it is giving him.

This will be the first of four consecutive weekends of official visits for Manning. He will be at Texas A&M next weekend, TCU after that and then at LSU.

Manning is one of several notable visitors to campus this weekend. For a full list that is continually being updated, read the SoonerNation forum.

Foreman ready for first taste of OU

Three-star safety Tyler Foreman (Encino, Calif./Crespi Carmelite), however, is one of those recruits who will be getting his first look at OU.

The Sooners were one of the first schools to offer him. Many more would come later, but he never forgot about the interest defensive backs coach Mike Stoops showed initially.

Foreman said he has been talking to Stoops every week, and he is really excited about finally getting to see the campus.

“I know OU has a really good program and tradition, but I need to see how I feel when I’m there,” Foreman said. “I want to see the campus and see how everything fits.”

Foreman has already scheduled an official visit to Utah in October and said more schools are in the running for visits although he has not finalized when or which schools those will be.

He did say California and UCLA are also among his top schools. With most of his favorites being pretty close to home, is distance a factor for Foreman?

“No, not at all,” Foreman said. “I’m used to being independent. I’ll be fine on my own. Distance isn’t a concern. It’s going to be about team chemistry and how I interact with the coaches and players.”

Foreman said another major part of the visit will be about academics. He is looking to major in business and is hopeful that he likes the OU business program.

The Katy invasion

One thing that cannot be overlooked when looking at this recruiting weekend has been timing. It’s a perfect storm of everything coming together. Most notably when it comes to bye weeks as several top recruits in Texas will be able to make the trip.

It’s almost as if the whole city of Katy, Texas, will be taking it easy. And that’s a good thing for the Sooners as defensive end commit Matt Dimon (Katy) and offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch (Katy Seven Lakes) will both be taking official visits.

Dimon is not coming alone as running back Adam Taylor is also making the trip. Taylor wanted to commit to LSU in the spring but was told he had an uncommittable offer. He was adamant during the summer he was still going to be with the Tigers.

But now it looks as though Taylor has accepted that he needs to move on. And the Sooners might just be the home he is looking for.

Max Olson/ESPN.com
Running back Adam Taylor has been progressing after tearing an ACL last fall.

“He is definitely interested in OU now that the other running back is out [Greg Bryant],” Dimon said. “He definitely wants to take this visit.”

Taylor’s junior season was cut short because of a torn ACL. Dimon hasn’t minced words about his friend, saying Taylor hasn’t been the same player of old. Last weekend was a step in the right direction. Taylor rushed for 184 yards and five touchdowns in a blowout 63-10 victory against The Woodlands.

The margin of victory is the largest in school history for The Woodlands, who is the last team to beat Katy in a regular season game.

“He had been real tentative, but I was real proud of him,” Dimon said. “He was hitting people again and looked great. He’s not the old Adam Taylor, but he’s getting there.”

Taylor might not be the only Katy teammate coming along. Dimon is hopeful 2014 linebacker Jake Blomstrom can make the trip, too.

As for Dimon, there are no concerns regarding his commitment. He said he talks to OU defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright about once a day in one way or another. And when Katy took on Houston Alief Taylor, Wright, Tim Kish and Cale Gundy were all in attendance.

“There were so many schools at that game. It was a good game. Alief Taylor is a good team. I think they saw a good show,” said Dimon about Katy’s 23-9 victory.

Dimon is also pretty familiar with Benenoch. The two have been tweeting back and forth in the last week about seeing each other at OU.

Things weren’t always so friendly between the two.

“We had a strong hatred for each other my sophomore year, no doubt about that,” Dimon said. “He just thought he was all-world. I wasn’t impressed.

“Last year I killed him one-on-one. We’re not best of friends by any means, but we’re not the bitter enemies we used to be.”

Better late than never with Billings

We’ve talked a lot about the patient approach OU has shown with its 2013 offers but this is a case where maybe it might hurt the Sooners regarding four-star lineman Andrew Billings (Waco, Texas/Waco).

Billings had initially talked about making his college announcement this week. That doesn’t appear to be the case, but the clock is ticking before Billings does make his call. OU is the latest school to jump into the sweepstakes for his signature.

Billings has had a top five of Texas, Baylor, SMU, Mississippi State and TCU for a while. Of those five schools, Texas is the only program that has wanted him to play on the offensive line.

He has made it clear he prefers defense although he told HornsNation last week he is starting to come around to the idea of the offensive line.

But when he starts talking about playing on the defensive line, he does get a little excited.

“Defensive linemen get a lot of recognition, and I can really see the progress that I’ve been making,” he said.

The interest between Billings and OU is rather new, Billings said. It has only been in the last few weeks the Sooners have shown any interest.

With the rash of issues with interior lineman, it was possible OU was looking at Billings to fill that slot. But nope, Billings confirmed OU wants him at defensive tackle, and it is Jackie Shipp that is talking to him.

“He came down here recently, and I was a little shocked. But it’s pretty cool, too,” Billings said.

Billings didn’t grow up a big college football fan so the Sooners can still get in the hunt. But he also admits he has never really considered OU as a potential future home. Either way, Billings is hoping to have his decision done soon.

“This has been stressful,” Billings said. “I’m grateful for all the opportunities, but it’s not easy.”

Baker still set to see OU

It’s a different feeling for four-star athlete Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) in his senior season.

Corey Long/ESPN.com
Defensive back Adrian Baker will be in Norman in October.

He was under the radar last season, allowing him to make big play after big play. This season? Everybody is scared of him and not looking in his direction.

“It’s still fun, but it gets a little frustrating and boring,” Baker said. “It’s allowing other members of the secondary do big things, and we’re 3-0 so that’s all that matters.”

Baker, recruited as a cornerback by OU, has been committed to Florida State since the summer. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still talking to other schools. It seems evident the Baker race is down to FSU, OU and Clemson.

He was supposed to take his official visit to Florida State this weekend for the mega-showdown with Clemson but tweeted Tuesday night he is unable to attend.

He is very familiar with the Stoops family. He has weekly talks with Mark at Florida State and Mike at OU.

“I definitely feel like I know the family," Baker said. "It’s a pretty unique situation, but it has been a lot of fun. Both coaches are alike and different at the same time."

Though firmly committed with FSU, Baker said he still intends to take his official visit to OU on Oct. 26, the weekend of the Notre Dame game.

“The resume speaks for itself,” Baker said. “The tradition is incredible. The distance is a concern, and that’s why I want to see everything for myself.”

Baker does have an OU alumnus in his ear in former star OU offensive lineman Davin Joseph. Baker said Joseph spoke to him last week for Baker’s 18th birthday. He jokes about Baker playing for the Sooners, but what he really stresses to Baker is to keep his focus and not get distracted.

High schools are preparing for Baker differently this season and so is Baker when it comes toward watching college games.

“I’m looking at tendencies and what the defenses are doing and things like that,” Baker said. “I’m not watching as a fan anymore. I’m taking notes when watching FSU, OU and Clemson.”

Baker said he would like to set up an official visit to Clemson, but he is not sure when he can make the trip.

Morris eyes OU visit

A couple of weeks ago three-star offensive tackle Christian Morris (Memphis, Tenn./East) said if OU made an offer, it definitely wasn’t too late for the Sooners to enter the chase.

Two days later OU officially did make that offer and Morris, a UCLA commit, has been a man of his word saying OU is definitely in consideration.

“Coach [James] Patton had called me a day earlier, but I missed the call,” Morris said. “I called him back and he asked if I was still interested. I told him I was. He gave me a breakdown and said I’m a high priority for them at this point going forward.”

Morris was rumored to have been at Arkansas last weekend, but he said that wasn’t the case. Instead, he stayed home and said he will most likely stay home the rest of this season. He would prefer to take his official visits after his senior season.

The three schools he is looking toward the most are UCLA, OU and Nebraska. He has an official visit with Nebraska coming up next week.

OU tackles coach Bruce Kittle was in attendance for his game last week. Morris said it was good to see Kittle out there, and he was excited about showing what he could do.

“We have different running backs this year so we’re having to work harder to the pave the lanes for the new backs,” Morris said. “I think I’m becoming a much better run blocker, too.”

Since the OU offer, UCLA has picked up another offensive tackle commit in Kenny Lacy (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe). With Lacy, the Bruins have three tackle commits. Coincidentally, Lacy, Morris and Sean Dowling (Fallbrook, Calif./Union) are all on OU’s short list for tackles, too.

Morris said he it doesn’t affect him one way or the other with the addition of Lacy.

“It doesn’t faze me,” Morris said. “I’m a competitive guy. The better linemen we have as a group, the better we’ll be as a team. But I know what I can do and the confidence I have in my abilities.”

Hardison with no favorites yet

With Matt Dimon and D.J. Ward, OU is pretty set at defensive end for the 2013 class. It does seem like the Sooners want one more to strengthen the bunch, though.

That answer could be in the junior college ranks with Marcus Hardison (Dodge City, Kan./Dodge City CC). But right now even Hardison doesn’t know what he wants.

“No, I don’t have any favorites right now,” he said. “I’m having fun right now. I don’t know where I want to go yet at all.”

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Five from Friday: QB Key making strides 

September, 17, 2012
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.

[+] EnlargeColeman Key
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comJunior QB Coleman Key faced some stiff competiton in his first three games for Broken Arrow (Okla.).
1. Summer camps helped put 2014 quarterback Coleman Key (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow) on the map, but the first three games have shown that camps aren’t everything. Key is a work in progress, but he is not discouraged. He admitted he had a horrible performance last week against Bentonville, Ark. He threw three interceptions and was fired up to play Tulsa (Okla.) Union this week. His first pass was a touchdown pass. Key started 5 of 5 but cooled off to a 9-of-19 clip for 85 yards in a 26-21 loss. Key threw for two touchdowns and also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. On the next drive, however, Key led Broken Arrow down the field and rushed for a touchdown. His competitive drive shouldn't be questioned, and he started off with about as tough a three-game stretch to start a season as you can find in Oklahoma.

2. Numbers aren’t everything in regards to Tulsa (Okla.) Union defensive end Dalton Rodriguez. He didn’t make the eye-popping plays he made against Jenks (Okla.) two weeks ago, but he was still very effective. The OU commit has become the leader of the Tulsa Union defense and is taking that role seriously. Rodriguez has also gone from uniform No. 77 to No. 34 because Tulsa Union has added some wrinkles with Rodriguez in special teams. Haven’t seen those wrinkles in the two games he has worn No. 34, but it will be something to watch moving forward. Rodriguez said he talked to OU coaches Bob Stoops and Bruce Kittle after each of his first two games and everything is solid between himself and the Sooners.

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Fresno Central East DBs put on display

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Read full post)

Offensive line search is on for Sooners 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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OU commit Thomas has memorable outing

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

Good decision.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Five from Friday: Rodriguez's big day 

September, 3, 2012
Every week through football season, SoonerNation writer Bob Przybylo will reveal five things he learned while out on the road watching the best prospects in the Midlands area play football:

1. The maturation process of 2014 QB Justice Hansen continues. The Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe quarterback took another step Thursday in the season opener. Edmond Santa Fe trailed 27-8 at Midwest City, Okla., only to rally to a 50-42 victory. Hansen was 19-of-29 for 287 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for two scores. “We just had to get our focus back. It’s a little different this season because everybody is gunning for us,” Hansen said. “This was a good first step. We definitely wanted this one.”

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Stanvon Taylor stars in season opener

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

“We’re still here,” Taylor said.

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

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

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

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

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

So how was the pass?

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

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

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