Thursday, January 17, 2013
3-star commit Bennett sticking with OU
By Bob Przybylo
Things got a little more interesting this week with the recruitment of three-star athlete Austin Bennett (Manvel, Texas/Manvel).
A firm Oklahoma commit since June, the Sooners’ Red River Rival jumped into the picture as Texas offered Bennett on Tuesday.
Austin Bennett hauled in a previously coveted offer from Texas, but Bennett is staying solid to his Oklahoma commitment.
It felt like a pretty good shot at a perfect storm coming for the Longhorns. OU had two wide receiver commits heading into last weekend. By the time the Texas offer was made the Sooners had four, and it wasn’t certain how much OU still coveted Bennett.
Bennett really wanted a Texas offer during his freshman and sophomore seasons. That combo felt like it gave Texas a shot. But now that the offer was issued following his senior season, it’s too little and too late.
“It was a bittersweet moment to be offered by Texas,” Bennett said. “When I was a freshman or sophomore, I really wanted that offer. But OU has been loyal to me this entire time. I’m going to be loyal to them.”
Bennett said he was offered by new Texas running backs coach Larry Porter, with Porter explaining to Bennett how Texas was looking for wide receivers and how Bennett was perfect for the spot.
That news didn’t go unnoticed by OU coaches. Bennett said within 24 hours of the Texas offers, he talked with OU coaches Bob Stoops, Cale Gundy, Jay Norvell and Tim Kish. Norvell even made a visit Tuesday night.
For Bennett, that amount of dedication let him know OU was still the place he should call home in the future, and he said he has no plans on making a visit to Texas.
“The OU coaches let me know they still really want me,” Bennett said. “They wanted me to stay committed and stay strong.”
Bennett, who is 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, was originally an Arkansas commit before decommitting following the firing of Bobby Petrino.
He was offered by OU in June following an impressive performance at OU’s satellite camp, took an unofficial visit a week later and committed to the Sooners.
Two months ago Bennett was considering a trip to Arkansas just to see how things are, but Stoops and Norvell both told him that wasn’t a good idea. Bennett agreed, saying he needed to listen to his coaches.
Following his official visit to OU last month, things had been quiet with Bennett until news of the Texas offer.
OU picked up commitments from three-star receiver K.J. Young (Perris, Calif./Citrus Hill) and ESPN 300 receiver Dannon Cavil (San Antonio/Madison) on back-to-back days earlier this week. But Bennett said he is not worried about a little competition.
“They see me as a slot receiver, and you can’t be afraid of a little competition,” Bennett said. “If they can help out the team, that’s great.”
Bennett got a first-hand taste of the Red River Rivalry this season with OU’s dominant win against Texas. It’s something Bennett hasn’t forgotten.
“I was there, and I remember what happened,” Bennett said. “Right now Texas is not a school I want to be to play wide receiver.
“If this offer had come in May or June, then it might have been something to think about. But OU has been on me constantly since the spring. They only needed to see me once and made the offer.”
Bennett is the second OU commit to turn away Texas this week. After Cavil flipped to OU from California on Monday, the Longhorns offered Cavil on Tuesday. An in-home visit by Stoops and Norvell secured his commitment, and Cavil plans to enroll early at OU.
Bennett said he is excited about the chance to play with Cavil.
“I’m OU all the way,” Bennett said. “We’re going to be a part of something special.”