NCF On The Trail: Jackie Shipp

DT Matthew Romar is OU commit No. 21

January, 30, 2013
Two weeks ago it looked like Oklahoma was done looking for defensive tackles for its 2013 class. Assistant coach Jackie Shipp had put in major work and landed three quality commitments.

But Shipp wasn’t done. He went to Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial last weekend and offered three-star prospect Matthew Romar.

Romar saw OU’s campus for the first time this weekend and took some time to think it over before committing to the Sooners, Port Arthur Memorial coach Kenny Harrison confirmed on Wednesday afternoon.

Romar, who is 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, also had offers from Tulsa and Baylor, among others. Once the Sooners fully entered the race, though, it became clear it was up to OU to simply close the deal.

He played a little bit of running back in high school so there was some speculation about his size. Harrison said once Shipp saw Romar in person two weeks ago, all the doubts vanished.

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During December, there was no bigger position of need for Oklahoma than defensive tackle. In the span of 31 days, OU has gone from having zero commits with panic engulfing Sooner fans to having three and looking pretty.

The latest came Saturday night, as three-star tackle Charles Walker (Garland, Texas/South Garland) confirmed he has committed to the Sooners.

Walker, who is 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, is ranked No. 40 in the nation at defensive tackle. Injuries hampered him during his sophomore and junior seasons, but he was healthy and effective this season.

And OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp noticed that. North Texas and Houston were other schools looking at Walker, but Shipp saw something in Walker that no other big-time BCS-school universities saw.

Walker was offered by OU last month and admitted he wanted to commit right there on the spot. But he held off, saying he wanted to see the campus.

That was taken care of this weekend as Walker was one of eight official visitors for the Sooners. Baylor started talking to Walker earlier this week, but OU had already put in the work to secure his commitment.

Walker tore his labrum in the summer but played his senior season anyway. He underwent successful surgery last month and said he should be good to go by March.

He saw OU practice at the Cotton Bowl two weeks ago and all it did was fire him up more about his trip to Norman. Safe to say the trip lived up to his expectations.

Walker is ranked No. 40, one spot below fellow OU commit Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline). Huggins, who flipped from Texas A&M to OU on Dec. 14, is ranked No. 39 and was OU’s first commit at the position.

The Sooners will also get some immediate help at tackle as three-star ESPN JC 100 prospect Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley) signed with OU on Dec. 19.

Russell makes choice, signs with Sooners

December, 19, 2012
(Update: Russell has now signed his letter of intent to play at Oklahoma.)

Last week Oklahoma was in dire need of defensive tackles. Today, the Sooners got stronger up front.

Three-star junior college prospect Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley) signed with Oklahoma on Wednesday, choosing the Sooners over Nebraska.

For the last month or so, it looked like the Cornhuskers were the leader for Russell, who is 6-foot-4 and 308 pounds. But OU coaches Bob Stoops and Jackie Shipp went to work on the defensive tackle, visiting him at Trinity Valley and taking in-home visits with Russell’s parents in San Antonio.

Russell, who is ranked No. 51 in the ESPN Junior College 100, made an official visit to OU for Bedlam and is now going to be on the other side of the Red River Rivalry. Russell was initially a four-star prospect signed for Texas’ 2011 class, but he failed to academically qualify.

Now Russell hopes to be a part of a couple of OU teams that take care of the Longhorns in October in Dallas.

Russell is the second defensive tackle pickup for OU in the last week. The Sooners flipped the commitment of three-star tackle Kerrick Huggins (Dallas/Skyline) from Texas A&M last Friday.

OU is gunning for three defensive tackle commits for the class. And that sense of desperation some fans had seven days ago is long gone at the position.

Dominique Alexander shocked by OU offer 

October, 16, 2012
Three-star athlete Dominique Alexander (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington) thought it was pure lip service by Oklahoma assistant coach Jackie Shipp.

Alexander camped at OU in June, the week after Shipp told Alexander the OU coaches would keep tabs on him during the season.

The last couple of months have seen interest pick up dramatically for four-star athlete Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central). But in the last week, things have hit an all-time high.

It began Monday with a scholarship offer from the Oklahoma Sooners. And it ended with a better than expected experience in Manhattan, Kan., for the Kansas State spring game.

“This last week has definitely been a lot different than some of the other weeks,” Taylor said. “It has been real exciting, and I’m having a lot of fun.”

[+] EnlargeStanvon Taylor
Bob Przybylo/ESPN.comIn-state cornerback Stanvon Taylor said receiving an Oklahoma offer was 'special.'
The Wildcats were one of the first teams to offer Taylor. And though some expected him to verbally commit to OU once he got the offer, he wanted to see what KSU had to offer as he had never seen the campus before. As it turns out, the Wildcats did everything they could to make Taylor feel at home. Taylor said they stressed being a part of a family.

Though none of his former teammates are on the roster, KSU has eight Oklahoma high school products on the team and five from the Tulsa area, including former Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington stars defensive back Dante Barnett and wide receiver/kick returner Tyler Lockett.

“I had a real good time with those guys,” Taylor said. “I’ve been playing with them for years, and they didn’t have anything bad to say about the program.”

K-State made Taylor one of its top priorities, while the Sooners elected to wait to offer. Though OU never doubted Taylor’s ability on the field, there were health concerns. Taylor broke his ankle in the first game of last season and never played another snap. Taylor was on Oklahoma’s radar, but the OU staff needed more time to evaluate him.

That ended last Monday when he was offered. Taylor said he was close to committing last week, but he needed to make sure his mother was on board. She spoke to OU coaches Bob Stoops and Jackie Shipp last week and the result was good news for Sooners fans.

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Stanvon Taylor earns coveted OU offer 

April, 25, 2012
Cornerback Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central) didn't take it personally when the Oklahoma coaches elected not to offer him at their junior day in February.

A four-star athlete, Taylor has been picking up offers on a weekly basis since then from schools such as Houston, Arizona State and Kansas State, among others, but, until recently, there had been minimal contact from the Sooners.

On Monday afternoon, however, Taylor couldn't hide his elation after Oklahoma finally extended him the offer he had coveted.

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The trend for Oklahoma’s 2013 recruiting class has been a patient approach. Offers haven’t just gone out to any recruit.

The Sooners have made early offers to a few prospects that are gaining national interest from top programs, but OU was a little late in making a move on defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer).

Vanderdoes, 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds, has almost 30 offers, but OU didn’t officially enter the picture until last week.

With Vanderdoes’ mindset, though, there's no need for Sooners fans to worry.

“I like everybody at this point,” Vanderdoes said. “I don’t have a set list of favorites or like one or two teams that really stand out. I’m looking to evaluate all the schools a little bit more in the next couple of months and go from there.”

Vanderdoes also wasn’t active on the junior day scene, only attending California’s and USC’s events. He is contemplating going to Oregon’s junior day in April, but he is not sure yet.

As for OU, the interested started via Facebook with OU defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp. It also helped to have a connection with first-year linebackers coach Tim Kish.

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Oklahoma has offered a handful of defensive tackles for the 2013 class, but one key name had been missing until Saturday.

It was assumed by many people that the OU coaches were going to offer Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) early in the recruiting process, but as January turned into February and February into March, the offer still hadn’t come.

The Sooners wanted to offer Manning in person and did just that at Saturday’s junior day.

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