Oklahoma Sooners: Kelly Hilinski

The 2015 quarterback class in California is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory, and Tyler Hilinski (Upland, Calif./Upland) is well on his way to putting himself in the middle of that conversation.

The 6-foot-3 quarterback led his team to the finals of the Gamebreaker Classis this past weekend, as he put together a terrific performance on the second day. In a tournament filled with 2015 talent, Hilinski stood out as one of the most productive underclassmen in attendance.

Every weekday morning, a member of the SoonerNation gives his take on three things happening in the Sooner sports world.

1. The dominoes are falling when it comes to the Oklahoma quarterback search. OU assistant coach Josh Heupel has already had an extensive visit with Brayden Scott (Tahlequah, Okla./Sequoyah). And it was revealed Monday that four-star prospect Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas/Heritage) earned an OU offer. However, four-star prospect Hayden Rettig (Los Angeles/Cathedral) also said Heupel is going to visit him Wednesday. Coincidentally enough, Thomas is ranked No. 11 as a pocket-passing quarterback, while Rettig is right behind him at No. 12. Kelly Hilinski (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame) has also been in constant communication with Heupel.

2. Spring football is alive and well in states like Texas and Florida, but for the top programs in Oklahoma, there is still one more week to go. In taking a trip to the Tulsa area Monday, the recruits are itching for things to start. Cornerback Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central) and offensive tackle Dalton Rodriguez (Tulsa, Okla./Union) want to show why OU has faith in them. Tulsa East Central teammates Devanta Johnson and Kimmie Carson want to prove that OU should take a look at them. There is no telling how many more in-state recruits the Sooners are really looking at, but the kids are ready to put on their best performances possible when May 14 rolls around.

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Every weekday morning, a member of the SoonerNation gives his take on three things happening in the Sooner sports world.

1. For some schools, the evaluation period won’t mean much, but there are a couple of positions where it will be key for OU. This period should help OU find its solution at quarterback as OU quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel wants to see Brayden Scott (Tahlequah, Okla./Sequoyah), Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas/Heritage) and Kelly Hilinski (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame) throw in person. Offensive tackle will be another key spot as OU only has two uncommitted offers at the spot, but Coach Bruce Kittle has told numerous recruits that OU would take a second look at them during this six-week period.

2. It's a huge week for OU baseball, and the Sooners have a chance to build on that momentum. OU is coming off a 4-0 week that included a three-game sweep against Missouri. What was impressive against the Tigers was OU winning the first game in extra innings. Twice before, against Texas and Texas A&M, the Sooners lost the first game in extra innings and couldn’t recover the rest of the series. OU (22-14, 7-8 in Big 12) is at Oral Roberts on Tuesday night and hosts Alabama State for a three-game set at L. Dale Mitchell Park starting Friday.

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Forum chat wrap: OU quarterback targets

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
2:40
PM ET

The SoonerNation staff -- joined by ESPN.com Midlands recruiting writer Damon Sayles -- held a live chat on our forum Thursday night to talk about OU football and recruiting. Check out the full transcript here. Insider

Here are a few highlights from the chat:

From ari20dal7: Of OU's current QB recruits, who has the highest ceiling as a Sooner? Who has the most bust potential?

Bob Przybylo: I think Cody Thomas has the highest ceiling. Love his film, love his measureables and enjoyed talking to him at the Elite 11 event three weeks ago. With that said, all three have questions.

1. Brayden Scott - Will he grow? 6-2 is nice, but 6-4, 6-5, would be better. He dominates the Oklahoma HS scene, but what does that really mean at a 3A level?

2. Kelly Hilinski - Got the passion, but does he have the game? His footwork is a real concern. Everybody thinks he will blow up with offers, but it's mid-April, and it still hasn't happened yet. Gotta be a reason, right?

3. Cody Thomas - It's all about baseball. If OU takes a chance on Thomas and then he elects to play baseball instead, well, yea, don't really to illustrate how tough that will be.

It's sad you have to nitpick like this, but when you're looking for your potential future quarterback, it's what you have to do. I've enjoyed getting to know all three. And regardless of what some have told me, no, I really don't have a dog in the race.

From SoonersFanSteve: Who do you seeing getting the most time at slot this year?

Jake Trotter: That's a tough one. Probably Trey Franks, but it wouldn't shock me if Kenny Stills gets a lot of time there.

Brandon Chatmon: Ideally you move Kenny or Trey Metoyer in there because the bottom line is you need a playmaker at slot so why not throw Metoyer in there a little bit this season, why wait? All this said, I wouldn't be shocked to see a freshmen come in and become a key rotation player in the slot, particularly late in the season.

From S O O N E R S: Looking ahead to 2014 recruiting.... Do you think OU will see a bounce in signings on the defensive side of the ball due to Mike Stoops and Tim Kish having been in place for a full year and being more rooted in the program?

Damon Sayles: A year in the system helps anybody ... even when your last name is Stoops. The Sooners will have a great chance to evaluate what they have and what they need probably by the fourth or fifth game, and the coaches will be ready to rock and roll with the 2014 class. Personally, I think it's all about taking the aggressive approach and gunning for who you want. Look where it's gotten Texas A&M with the 2013 class thus far.

There is a lot of overlap in the recruiting world when it comes to Arkansas and Oklahoma. But nowhere is it more prevalent than at the quarterback position.

Among Arkansas’ offers at the position are Kelly Hilinski (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame), Brayden Scott (Tahlequah, Okla./Sequoyah) and Cody Thomas (Colleyville, Texas/Heritage). All three are considered to be on the short list for who OU is targeting at the quarterback position.

Following the firing of Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino on Tuesday night, nothing has changed for both Scott and Hilinski.

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Chat wrap: Kenny Stills in the slot?

April, 10, 2012
4/10/12
4:25
PM ET

SoonerNation writer Jake Trotter chatted with readers Monday. Here's the full transcript. If you didn't get your question answered, send it to Jake's mailbag to be published on Friday.

Here are a few highlights from the chat:

Jess (Oklahoma): Thoughts on Chaz Nelson and the D-line as a whole?

Jake Trotter: I think Chaz will help. His speed gives the position a change of pace off the sidelines. The starters there, though, will be King and R.J., with some combination of Walker, McGee and McFarland starting at tackle. The line has a chance to be good, but replacing Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis is not going to be easy.

Andy (OKC): Do u think Kenny Stills will play the slot receiver position this year?

Jake Trotter: I think that's a possibility, although I don't know if I see him as the full-time slot guy the way Broyles was. But with Metoyer coming on, they need to find a way to get both he and Stills on the field at the same time. That could require Stills sliding to the slot on occasion.

Adam (Wagoner, OK): What do you see as the biggest positive and negative to this upcoming team?

Jake Trotter: Positives: Veteran QB, several potential playmakers, veteran line, battle-tested LBs, 3 stars in the secondary; Negatives: No proven No. 1 WR, injury prone RBs, no experienced TE, questionable as to whether there are any difference makers on the d-line, return game.

Joshua (Lawton): With a QB corps of Blake Bell, Drew Allen, Kendal Thompson, Trevor Knight, and potentially Brayden Scott/Kelly Hilinski...which QB is most likely to transfer?

Jake Trotter: I can't see any of them transferring. Allen will be a senior next year, it makes no sense for him to transfer if he loses the job to Bell. Bell could still start his senior year, even if he loses the job to Allen, and could still operate the Belldozer. Thompson could always play another position if QB didn't work out. Knight is the only QB in his class, and really the only upperclassmen he would have to beat out would be Thompson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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It wasn't expected to be a big weekend for Oklahoma, but the Sooners picked up a huge commitment from running back Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage-Boca Delray) on Saturday. Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every Monday. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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Call it a sign of the times. At last weekend’s Nike Football Training Camp event in Irving, Texas, there were a lot of recruits interested in Oklahoma but not necessarily that many prospects that have offers from the Sooners.

Sunday marks the second NFTC event, this time at Cerritos College in Los Angeles. And though it is 1,350 miles to go from Norman, Okla., to Los Angeles, this weekend arguably brings more impact when it comes to the OU recruiting scene.

Here are some prospects to watch:

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Przybylo's Mailbag: Panic button? 

February, 20, 2012
2/20/12
12:15
PM ET
Bob Przybylo answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting in his mailbag every Monday. Got a question for Bob? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Larry in Wichita Falls, Texas, asks: That’s three recruits that picked Texas over OU this last week. What’s going on?

Bob Przybylo: It wasn’t a great week for OU recruiting, but it wasn’t a disaster as some have labeled it. It became clear in the last week or so that OU had fallen off in its quest for dual-threat quarterback Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright, Texas/Whitewright). He said he liked his OU junior day visit but wasn’t overly impressed. He went to Texas', and the Longhorns closed the deal.


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Every morning, a member of the SoonerNation gives his take on three things happening in the Sooner sports world.

1. Had to wait a couple of weeks, but the Tim Kish effect on the West Coast is starting to take shape for Oklahoma and its new linebackers coach. The Sooners are a big-time player for linebacker Chans Cox (Pinetop, Ariz./Blue Ridge), who has ties to Kish. OU offered Cox on Monday afternoon. Talking to one California high school coach, he said OU is now a major factor in California and Arizona. He said Kish did a great job at Arizona, a program that doesn’t have near the tradition of the Sooners. Now with Kish in Norman, the West Coast is wide open.

2. OU men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger has picked the right time to hit the in-state talent as the 2013 Oklahoma high school class is easily going to be the best since 2009 that produced NBA players Xavier Henry (Oklahoma City/Putnam City) and Daniel Orton (Oklahoma City/McGuinness). On Monday night, Kruger was in attendance for a showcase performance by point guard Stevie Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass). Clark, ranked No. 58 in the ESPNU Super 60 for 2013 and with an OU offer, had 35 points and 16 assists. Clark said Monday night he hopes to be at OU-Texas on Tuesday.

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With just two days left before national signing day, Bob Przybylo answers all your recruiting questions. Have a question? Send it to his mailbag at bprzybyloespn@gmail.com.

Jerry in Norman, Okla., asks: Are we being set up for disappointment again in terms of getting involved with Davonte Neal?

[+] EnlargeDavonte' Neal
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comScottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal could take an official visit to Oklahoma after signing day.
Bob Przybylo: This year has certainly felt like the year of the “miss” when it comes to the big-time recruits that were legitimately on OU’s board. But right now not enough has happened for Sooners fans to get too down about Davonte Neal (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral). We will find out a lot more about Neal’s interest, or lack thereof, later this week when he decides where his final official visit is going to be.

It is clear from talking to Neal’s father, Luke, that this isn’t just some casual interest, though. The Neal family is so tight with OU linebackers coach Tim Kish that any connection means something. Neal is not wasting Kish’s time and vice versa.

Neal, a five-star prospect, has let it be known that he is going to wait until well after signing day, which should actually help the Sooners' chances. OU doesn’t have to play catch up in a week, especially a crazy week like this one. Kish is excited about being at OU. You know he wants to make a good first impression and getting Neal would be a great start.


Tommy in Dallas asks: It’s the final week. Where do the Sooners stand regarding wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham?

Bob Przybylo: It’s not looking good, especially after what sounds like a positive Missouri visit over the weekend for Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest), the third-ranked prospect in the ESPNU 150. Green-Beckham was treated like a celebrity his entire time on the Tigers campus, and it’s tough to not let that affect you.

When it comes to his final four choices of OU, Missouri, Texas and Arkansas, the Sooners were the only team not to get an official visit. Despite a six-hour in-home visit last Monday, it definitely does not look good for OU.

It would be a major disappointment after all the time, effort and resources the OU staff has put into trying to land Green-Beckham. It’s possible that OU’s wide receiver class is so good that it won’t matter, but it’s also possible the class is so good that it made Green-Beckham look away.

Commit Durron Neal (St. Louis/De Smet Jesuit) thinks that might be the case as he said two weeks ago that OU’s receiving class was a concern for Green-Beckham because it was already too loaded.


Alex in Oklahoma City asks: I know we’re pumped for signing day, but 2013 is right around the corner with junior day on Saturday. What will be the storyline of Saturday?


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Three thoughts this morning:

1. Oklahoma's quarterback recruiting under coach Josh Heupel has evolved and it will be interesting which way the Sooners go for the class of 2013. Since Heupel became the quarterbacks coach in 2005, here's the list of OU quarterbacks: Sam Bradford, Joey Halzle, Keith Nichol, Landry Jones, Drew Allen, Blake Bell and Kendal Thompson. Every quarterback since 2008 (Jones) has been a dual-threat, and the trend continues with the 2012 QB Trevor Knight, who rushed for 943 yards and 15 touchdowns this season to go along with 2,092 passing yards and 27 passing touchdowns. In 2013, the Sooners seem to have an early list of four quarterbacks that they're targeting: two pro-style and two NFL-style, drop back passers. Those are Tyrone Swoopes and J.T. Barrett for the former category, and Kelly Hilinski and Brayden Scott for the latter category. And though none have been offered yet, Heupel will surely have to make up his mind soon. If it were me, I'd go with Barrett who, right now, is more of a polished passer than Swoopes.

2. Looking ahead for Oklahoma basketball, virtually all of the Sooners' rotation will return next season. Their only seniors are C.J. Washington, Barry Honoré and T.J. Franklin. Can they compete for a Big 12 title next season with this roster? Not likely. But they have to get more production out of forward Cameron Clark, who has had a disappointing sophomore season. Most projected him to have a breakout campaign, but his stats are down across the board and he's playing just 24 minutes per game, down from 34 last season. Clark was No. 32 overall on the 2010 ESPNU 100 and his athleticism is off the charts. But he has yet to put it together on the court, and if the Sooners want to contend in 2012-2013, Clark must improve tremendously.

3. Which Sooner will get taken first in the 2012 NFL draft? Most people think defensive end/outside linebacker Ronnell Lewis will get taken in the first two rounds, but my vote is for cornerback Jamell Fleming, who was the only OU player selected to the Senior Bowl. I don't know how fast he'll run the 40-yard dash or if he'll impress much at the NFL combine in March, but he can play in the pros. And I think his game tape is much more impressive than the extremely raw Lewis. I'll predict both Fleming and Lewis get drafted late in the second round.

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There are a lot of great spring break destinations for high school kids. And when you live in Sherman Oaks, Calif., staying at home isn’t a bad idea, either.

But that’s not what junior quarterback Kelly Hilinski (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame) chose to do during his spring break in March.

Instead, Hilinski went to Tahlequah, Okla., as part of a Habitat for Humanity project.

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