Oklahoma Sooners: Laith Harlow

Signee Laith Harlow will not play football

April, 18, 2012
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Oklahoma Sooners tight end signee Laith Harlow's college football career is over before it could even begin.

Harlow, who suffered a back injury during his senior season at Godby High School in Tallahassee, Fla., that resulted in nerve damage, was told by Oklahoma coaches on Wednesday evening they would honor his scholarship and place him on a medical hardship. Harlow had hoped to rehabilitate from his injury and play again, even if he had to redshirt in 2012.

"I talked to coach [Bob] Stoops and coach [Bruce] Kittle this afternoon, and it meant a lot to hear from those guys," Harlow said. "There is no nice way of saying that your dream is being taken away."

Read the rest of the story here.

Triple Option: OU's attendance problem 

February, 15, 2012
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Every morning, a member of the SoonerNation gives his take on three things happening in the Sooner sports world.

1. Attendance at Oklahoma basketball games is a huge problem. Last night against Texas, for instance, there were just 5,314 fans in the stands inside the Lloyd Noble Center, which has a capacity of 12,000. In fact, there were fewer people in the stands last night than in any other Sooners conference game this season. Here are the numbers for the other conference games in Norman: Missouri (7,994); Iowa State (9,272); Baylor (8,004); Texas Tech (7,786); Kansas State (8,812); Kansas (11,268). What's going on?

2. Someone asked in Jake's chat on Monday if Tom Wort would change positions next season, implying that he shouldn't be starting at middle linebacker on OU's defense. Are you crazy, anonymous Internet reader? Wort was far down the list of defensive problems in 2011 and even though he struggled with injuries, he flashed greatness on a few occasions, particularly against Florida State. He absolutely was the Sooners' best linebacker last season. Is he Brian Bosworth? No, but he'll most likely end up being a three-year starter, which is rare.
Jake Trotter answers readers' questions about Oklahoma football in his mailbag every Friday. Got a question for Jake? Submit it here.

Chad in Edmond, Okla., writes: What is the big concern recruiting wise for 2013?

Jake Trotter: Defensive tackle will be a major point of emphasis. The Sooners will lose Casey Walker, Stacy McGee and Jamarkus McFarland from next year’s senior class. OU could use a difference-maker there. The Sooners will also need to replenish the depth at cornerback and safety. This year’s class was heavy on offense. Expect next year’s class to be heavy on defense.


D.A. in Tulsa writes: Jake, how will the receiving corps shape out in 2012 with Stills, Reynolds, Franks and Jackson already on campus and Metoyer, Gardner, Neal, Shepard and Woods coming in? Who will get redshirted, who will play in the rotation and who will switch sides of the ball?

Jake Trotter: The only player guaranteed of a starting spot is Kenny Stills. After that, it’s wide open. Kameel Jackson earned a spot in the rotation with the way he closed the 2011 season. If he can clean up some attitude issues and his kidney heals accordingly, Jaz Reynolds figures to be in the mix, too. I can see Courtney Gardner, >Trey Metoyer and Durron Neal being instant impact players, and it wouldn’t shock me if Sterling Shepard got on the field, too. Jay Norvell prefers to play six guys in his WR rotation, and for the first time in awhile, he should have that luxury next season.

(Read full post)

TE Sam Grant commits to Oklahoma 

January, 30, 2012
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It’s not a signing day shocker, but Oklahoma received a nice surprise on Monday when tight end Sam Grant (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward) gave his verbal commitment to the Sooners.

St. Edward athletic director Paul Michalko, who confirmed the news to SoonerNation, needed to know because he was looking to finalize the signing day ceremony for St. Edward. He spoke with St. Edward football coach Rick Finotti on Monday morning and Finotti said Grant chose the Sooners. The signing ceremony is set for 1 p.m. CT on Wednesday.

For the last month, it has seemed like a two-team race between OU and Michigan, but it appeared the Wolverines had the edge because of the distance factor with how much closer Ann Arbor was compared to Norman from Grant' hometown in Ohio.

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Sooner Snapshot: TE Laith Harlow

January, 16, 2012
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As National Signing Day approaches on Feb. 1, Brandon Chatmon is breaking down every commitment and signee in the Sooners' 2012 recruiting class. View all of our profiles here.

Name: Laith Harlow

Position: Tight End

Height, Weight: 6-foot-3, 235 pounds

Hometown/School: Tallahassee, Fla./Godby

Committed: May 31, 2011

Scout grade: 78. Three star prospect.

Scout rankings: No. 25 tight end, No. 277 in Southeast Region, No. 93 in Florida

Picked OU over: Alabama, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Arkansas, Miami (Fla.), UCLA and others

State of the position: The tight end spot is wide open with the departure of seniors James Hanna and Trent Ratterree. The Sooners like to use two tight ends often and Harlow will join Taylor McNamara and Brannon Green at the position. The only thing between those three players and seeing the field immediately is themselves.

Pros: “Harlow comes across as a fiery kid who enjoys playing the game and is going to give maximum effort. He has good size for a tight end and looks to have the frame to be able to pack on some more good weight as he physically matures.” - ESPN analyst

Cons: “He is best suited as a short range and potentially intermediate target. He needs to develop as a blocker but as he does he can be a solid productive in-line tight end.” - ESPN analyst

Similar to/potential role: Trent Ratterree. If he gets healthy, Harlow, who is overcoming a back injury, could develop into a pass catching version of Ratterree. He’s not the blocker that Ratterree is but should develop that part of his game and be a solid option in the middle of the field in time.

Expected impact: 2013. Getting healthy is Harlow’s No. 1 priority. Even though tight end is a major need, don’t be surprised if OU tells Harlow to get his body right first with a redshirt season. Once healthy, Harlow could be a valuable redzone and short yardage receiving threat with his hands and size.
With less than a month until National Signing Day, Oklahoma’s prospects on offense look a lot better than on the defensive side of the ball. The Sooners have been able to nab several top targets and have one of the best offensive classes in the country.

But the search is still far from over as OU is still in play for a lot of top kids on their board.

Quarterback

Committed: Trevor Knight (San Antonio/Reagan). The Sooners cannot ask for a better signal-caller than Knight. Since switching his commitment from Texas A&M to OU in July, Knight has quickly and rightfully become a favorite among OU fans and fellow commits.


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Analysis: TE could make immediate impact 

December, 29, 2011
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The biggest thing in Oklahoma’s favor was its winning tradition when it came to tight end Taylor McNamara (San Diego/Westview). The biggest thing in Colorado’s favor was the chance to be a huge part of the offense.

Tradition won the battle and the war as McNamara became the Sooners’ third tight end for the 2012 class, verbally committing to OU on Wednesday night.

[+] EnlargeTaylor McNamara
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comTight end Taylor McNamara could start as a freshman for the Sooners.
But as confident as McNamara is, he believes once he gets to Norman, Okla., the coaches will have no choice but to make him a big part of the offense.

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TE Jackson passes on OU, picks Cowboys 

December, 6, 2011
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The last impression was the right one for junior college tight end Blake Jackson (Scottsdale, Ariz./Scottsdale CC).

Jackson, who seemed to favor Georgia for a long time, gave his verbal commitment to Oklahoma State on Tuesday night. Jackson's other favorites were Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Jackson, 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, got very familiar with the state of Oklahoma in the last two weeks. He took an official visit to OU to watch the Sooners’ game against Iowa State on Thanksgiving weekend. He followed that with an official visit to Oklahoma State last weekend for Bedlam.

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Since Austin Haywood quit a couple of weeks ago, the Sooners have been down to two healthy scholarship tight ends on roster: seniors James Hanna and Trent Ratterree.

Redshirting freshman Max Stevenson has been out with a pectoral muscle injury, coach Bob Stoops revealed Tuesday.

“He would have redshirted anyway,” Stoops said. “But he'll be fine.”

Considering Stevenson will be the only returning tight end next season – unless Haywood returns – the Sooners continue to recruit tight ends.

Terrell Mitchell (Fort Scott, Kan./Fort Scott CC) told SoonerNation Tuesday that he has verbally committed to OU pending a medical review by the OU training staff. Mitchell tore his ACL in spring practice and hasn't played since. The Sooners also have the commitment of Laith Harlow (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) and are recruiting Arizona commit tight end Taylor McNamara (San Diego/Westview), who intends to take an official to OU on Thanksgiving weekend.

Stoops was asked if there was any chance Haywood, who remains enrolled at OU, could rejoin the team down the line.

“I don't know where that comes from,” Stoops replied. “I don't see that happening.”

TE Harlow takes in OU-A&M atmosphere 

November, 7, 2011
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Last weekend's trip wasn’t the first to Oklahoma for tight end Laith Harlow (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby), but it was his first time on campus during football season.

Harlow, a three-star prospect and OU verbal commit, had already spent time in the summer getting to know the campus and the area. However, the atmosphere in Norman on a game day is completely different than in the summer, and Harlow was one of five commits to make their official visit for the Texas A&M game.

“It was wild and crazy. The fans were screaming the entire time,” Harlow said. “Being on the field and being a part of that atmosphere gets me excited.”

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Several recruits miss Oklahoma visit 

November, 6, 2011
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Oklahoma was supposed to have its biggest recruiting weekend of the season against Texas A&M. But several factors -- including the colossal LSU at Alabama matchup -- resulted in a missed opportunity for the Sooners on the recruiting trail.

It looked like two of the top three prospects in the nation might show up on campus, but neither Mario Edwards (Denton, Texas/Ryan) nor Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest) made the trip.

Courtesy of Mario Edwards Sr.

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OU commits talk about realignment

September, 23, 2011
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When the idea of Oklahoma moving from the Big 12 to the Pac-12 was presented, nobody was more excited than OU sophomore Tony Jefferson.

Jefferson was one of three California natives who signed with the Sooners two years ago, joining running back Brennan Clay and wide receiver Kenny Stills. Jefferson said he believed they wouldn’t be the last ones, either. With OU playing a more prominent role on the West Coast, the Sooners were going to build a pipeline and be a factor with some of the top prospects in the area, according to Jefferson.

[+] EnlargeDeVante Harris
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comOklahoma's success at sending players to the NFL helped secure DeVante Harris.
It might still end up that way, but the Sooners are going to have to work for it. The announcement Tuesday by Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott that the conference wouldn’t expand didn’t just surprise OU fans. It also shocked OU verbal commits.

“I had accepted that we were going out west,” said defensive back and OU commit De’Vante Harris (Mesquite, Texas/Horn). “I was going to be able to play against some friends out west and against their speed. The weather was going to be great. But like I’ve said before, it doesn’t matter what conference we’re in, because we’re going to dominate no matter where we go.”

Most Oklahoma natives grow up as big OU fans and this year’s duo of commits Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma City/Heritage Hall) and Alex Ross (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) are no different. Conference affiliation doesn’t matter to them.

But Florida native Ty Darlington (Apopka, Fla./Apopka) did have a preference.

“Of course I wanted OU to come to the SEC. It would be a lot closer to home, playing in Florida and Georgia and places like that,” Darlington said. “My family is going to have to travel if they’re going to attend a game anyway, but it would have been nice if it was closer to home.”

Remaining in the Big 12 is not a deal-breaker for anybody, either. Tight end Laith Harlow (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) said conference affiliation doesn’t have him second-guessing anything.

Remaining in the Big 12 does have the advantage for Texas high school recruits who want to stay close to home. OU commit defensive end Polo Manukainiu (Euless, Texas/Trinity) said OU’s location played a role because his family and friends could watch him play.

It might take a while for the conference shakedown to be completed, but the commits are confident everything is going to work out.

“Wherever OU goes, that’s where I’m going,” said offensive guard and OU commit John Michael McGee (Texarkana, Texas/Texas). “If we went out west, my family could have watched it on TV. If we stay here, then they can watch me play. We’re going to make the best out of whatever situation we’re in.”

OU recruits impressed with win over FSU

September, 19, 2011
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Oklahoma wasn’t hosting any recruits Saturday night in its game against Florida State, but it might have won over some prospective recruits.

In front of a national television audience on ABC in primetime, the Sooners showed the type of poise championship teams display in tough situations in a 23-13 victory against the Seminoles.

“That was tight. I’m not going to lie,” said linebacker Brian Nance (Euless, Texas/Trinity). “I was surprised to see Travis Lewis out there. I was looking at the defense and how they handle a big pressure situation. That was impressive.”

Nance is one of the top Sooners targets for the 2012 class and has listed OU as one of his favorites.

For Florida natives and OU verbal commits Ty Darlington (Apopka, Fla./Apopka) and Laith Harlow (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) it was about bragging rights.

Darlington made the four-hour drive and watched the game with his brothers and said it was one of the best experiences of his life.

Harlow had no problem playing the villain role in Tallahassee, proudly wearing his Sooners apparel all week. He attended ESPN’s "College GameDay" Saturday morning before watching the game back home.

But the trash talking didn’t just go on in Florida, as wide receiver Durron Neal (St. Louis/De Smet Jesuit) had to endure a week of taunts.

“It was so exciting to watch that game,” Neal said. “All week people had given me stuff about how OU didn’t deserve to be No. 1. I told them to just sit back and watch. I was really excited to see how they responded to adversity.”

Defensive end Polo Manukainiu (Euless, Texas/Trinity) is the latest OU commit. And for someone who was a little torn between the Sooners and Baylor, Saturday night is a step in the right direction.

“It was an absolute dogfight,” Manukainiu said. “It gave me chills. Who wouldn’t want to play in an environment like that? It has me excited about the future.”

Visitors for Oklahoma-Florida State

September, 15, 2011
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Here’s a list of recruits planning to attend Saturday's OU-Florida State game in Tallahassee.

Recruits with OU Offers:

Eddie Goldman (No. 1 DT on ESPN.com), Collegiate Academy (Washington, D.C.)
The Sooners are one of many teams to offer the 6-foot-4, 310-pound interior defender.

Jameis Winston (No. 1 QB)*, Hueytown (Ala.)
The Sooners offered Winston before his senior year -- and before he committed to the 'Noles.

Ty Darlington (No. 2 C)**, Apopka (Fla.)
Darlington spurned an offer from FSU to commit to the Sooners. He’ll be attending the game with his brothers to cheer on his future teammates.

Nelson Agholor (No. 7 ATH), Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Fla.)
One of the top uncommitted prospects in the nation, OU has offered Agholor but has some ground to make up to become a factor in his recruitment.

Marvin Bracy (No. 14 ATH)*, Boone (Orlando, Fla.)
The Sooners offered the speedy Bracy, but the 5-foot-9, 168-pound prospect has committed to FSU.

Laith Harlow (No. 24 TE)**, Godby (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Harlow plans to attend ESPN "College GameDay" festivities then return home to watch the game with family and friends.

Recruits without an offer from OU:

Barry J. Sanders (No. 6 RB), Heritage Hall (Oklahoma City, OK)
Chris Casher (No. 3 DE)*, Davidson (Mobile, Ala.)
Josh Harvey Clemons (No. 3 OLB), Lowndes (Valdosta, Ga.)
Kent Taylor (No. 4 TE), Land O’ Lakes (Fla.)
Mario Pender (No. 5 RB)*, Island Coast (Cape Coral, Fla.)
P.J. Williams (No. 6 S)* Vanguard, (Ocala, Fla.)
Dante Fowler (No. 9 DE)*, Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Justin Shanks (No. 10 DT)*, Prattville (Ala.)
Alphonse Taylor (No. 21 OT)*, Davidson (Mobile, Ala.)
Evan Goodman (No. 26 OT), Lakeland (Fla.)

* FSU Commits
** OU Commits


(Special thanks to ESPN recruiting guru Corey Long for compiling the list.)

Q&A: Oklahoma TE commit Laith Harlow

September, 13, 2011
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You’ll have to forgive tight end Laith Harlow (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) for being a little excited right now.

He caught a touchdown pass on a fourth-down conversion last week in a victory. He turned 18-years-old Saturday. And this weekend, the Oklahoma verbal commit gets the opportunity to play in front of his future coaches.

With OU in town to play Florida State, some of the coaches will watch the 6-foot-4, 235-pound, three-star prospect on Friday night.

SoonerNation: How excited are you about Friday night and having OU coaches watch you play?

Laith Harlow
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comTE commit Laith Harlow will be attending ESPN "College Gameday" Saturday morning.
Laith Harlow: I’m real excited to know that they’re going to be there. I won’t play any different, though. Every game I play, I train really hard for. I’m ready for Friday.

SN: Living in Florida, there aren’t too many times an OU commit gets a chance for his future coaches to be able to see him play in person. What was your reaction when you found out they were coming?

Harlow: I think this is really great. When they told me they were coming to my game, I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I have a great relationship with the coaches, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again.

SN: You’re a Tallahassee kid. The game’s in Tallahassee. You’re definitely going to this game between the Seminoles and Sooners, right?

Harlow: It’s funny, because I won’t be at the game, but I’m going to be everywhere else Saturday. I’m going to GameDay in the morning, wearing my OU colors. When the game starts, I’m going to be back home watching it with my family and friends. There was no way we could get tickets for everybody, so we thought it would be better to watch it as a group.

SN: What did you work on the most heading into your senior season?

Harlow: Everything. You can never stop getting better. I want to be able to run better. I want to be able to block better. You can never be satisfied.

SN: You also had offers from Notre Dame, Miami (Fla.), South Carolina, among others. What was it about OU that appealed to you?

Harlow: I think the better question is what about OU doesn’t appeal to me. It’s known as a prestigious school on the field and with academics. I want to be a journalism major, and it has that great journalism building. The stadium is incredible. Every year OU is in the national-title picture. It’s a great place to be.

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