There is no telling what the atmosphere is going to be like for Oklahoma’s home game Saturday night against Notre Dame. It’s safe to say the environment will eclipse what the Sooners had last week in their blowout 52-7 victory against Kansas.
But even against a team it was supposed to dominate, three-star offensive tackle Sean Dowling (Fallbrook, Calif./Union) cannot say enough good things about OU and its coaches and fans.
Dowling, who is 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, is a UCLA commit and was the only official visitor for the Jayhawks game.
“I got to meet Coach [Bob] Stoops for the first time," Dowling said. "I mean this is somebody who has won a national championship and somebody I’ve watched on TV for years."
Dowling wasn’t sure how he would react when he met Stoops. Any chance he had of being nervous went out the window with how Stoops introduced himself.
“I was walking down the hallway with Coach [Bruce] Kittle, and there’s Coach Stoops saying, ‘Hey, Sean, what’s up?’ I couldn’t believe he knew my name,” Dowling said.
He has been committed to the Bruins since April, but Kittle and Stoops have made a big impression on Dowling in recent months.
And the visit has only helped OU’s chances. Dowling said there is no chance of him flipping his commitment to OU at this point, especially because his family didn’t make the trip. His father is in the military and is in the Middle East, while his mother had to stay in California to be with Dowling’s brothers.
He said there was no way he was going to make a life-altering decision on a whim like that without discussing things with his family first.
The KU game didn’t have the hype that this Saturday’s showdown will have, but it did allow for a lot of personal interaction with the coaching staff.
“I spent at least an hour apiece with every single offensive coach,” Dowling said. “I really got to know them better as people. I’m not sure the kids next weekend will be able to experience that same thing.”
Dowling didn’t say his view of OU changed because of the visit. He used a different word. He said it has evolved.
“I had never been to Oklahoma before so I had no idea what to expect in terms of the people, landscape, atmosphere and things like that,” Dowling said. “I have a lot more respect for OU and the coaches.
“I got to see the championship rings and seeing how they do things and approach things has made me appreciate the program even more. The fans were nuts. I was walking out the locker room, and they were already asking for my autograph. I’m not even signed with OU. It was crazy.”
Dowling is playing guard in high school but is being recruited as an offensive tackle. His host, however, was actually freshman tight end Sam Grant. He also hung out with another tight end in freshman Taylor McNamara.
Like McNamara, Dowling is from the San Diego area and said it was a big positive to see another San Diego native, Kenny Stills, succeed against KU.
“It was great to see Kenny again,” Dowling said. “I grew up like 10 minutes away from him in that area. He had a big game, and it does mean a lot to see other California kids do big things at OU.”
After a visit to Washington State last week and now the OU visit, Dowling is going to take it easy.
He is still going to take an official to UCLA although he is not sure if it will be for the USC game or if he will simply wait until the season is over. Vanderbilt has also talked to Dowling frequently and his tentative plan is to take a visit to Vandy in January.