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Sooners Recruiting Update: First look at 2014

Oklahoma just had a very successful first junior day with more than 25 kids visiting. OU got one verbal out of the weekend, and the Sooners appear to have jumped into the lead for possibly a half-dozen additional prospects. If OU was somewhat passive at the beginning of last year’s recruiting season in making offers, then this year OU is going all out with early offers to players.

OU’s next junior day appears to be set for Feb. 16. With big talent pools in Texas for defensive backs and linebackers and good overall talent in Oklahoma, it would not be a surprise to see a flurry of early verbals again.

The biggest concern right now in recruiting is that it’s not a great year in Texas or Oklahoma for offensive linemen, OU’s ability to land out of region OL prospects is suspect at best right now. OU needs numbers at OL and, ideally, some players like Adam Shead, Nila Kasitati and Darryl Williams who were able to be productive frontline players as redshirt freshmen.

Verbal Update: First two commitments are in the books

OU now has two verbal commitments for 2014: Armanti Foreman, who is arguably the best wide receiver in Texas, and Vontre McQuinnie, a safety/outside linebacker from Lancaster, Texas.

Foreman definitely will end up in the top 50 of most Texas lists. Right now, based on their junior years, it’s either Foreman or K.D. Cannon for best WR in Texas. Foreman will continue the new tradition of fantastic slot WRs (Mark Clayton, Ryan Broyles, Jalen Saunders, Sterling Shepard).

McQuinnie was offered right before OU’s junior day this weekend and verbaled while in Norman. He’s a big safety and possible nickel LB. Mike Stoops seems convinced that he needs to stockpile big safeties as a response to spread passing games with mobile QBs. (It would not surprise me if the rumors of a hybrid 3-4 defense really are true.) Where is McQuinnie going to be ranked? I’m not sure, since the DB class in Texas is absurdly good – a theme that is sure to be discussed all year long.

2014 Verbal Commitments: 2
(Class size: 22-24)

Armanti Foreman, WR
(5-11, 180, 4.45)

Vontre McQuinnie, DB
(6-1, 200, 4.6)

Class Breakdown

Quarterback: 1

(*If Cody Thomas goes pro in baseball, OU might think about signing two QBs.)

Justice Hansen (6-3, 195, 4.6) – This name has been out there in Sooner recruiting circles for nearly two years. Hansen has been a factor at Sooner summer camps for the last two years and had a fantastic junior year, showing improvement over his excellent sophomore season Hansen has an OU offer, and his dad played baseball for OU in the 1990s.

David Cornwell (6-4, 205, 4.7) – Small-school QB has moved to Norman for his senior year. His film is excellent. It is just a shame that there are two great in-state QBs in the same year. He’s probably right behind Hansen in terms of an OU offer.

Running Back: 2

OU only signed one RB last year with Keith Ford, but it has three senior RBs graduating. Taking two RBs in this class seems likely.

Nathan Starks (6-0, 210, 4.45) – It’s about time that OU signed a great RB from Bishop Gorman again. Starks is that RB. He has been very clear that OU is one of his favorites and that Murray is one of his favorite RBs. A very possible five-star RB.

Joe Mixon (6-1, 190, 4.45) – Any RB who wears 28 and wants folks to call him "the next Adrian Peterson" is probably interested in hearing from OU. Mixon has an OU offer and is excellent RB with home run speed. Like Starks, he has a number of big-time offers.

Wide Receiver: 3?

OU surprisingly took four WRs in 2013, so it’s hard to know what the number will be for 2014. LaColtan Bester and Jalen Saunders are graduating, so OU is looking at least taking two. Can OU take Cannon to go with Foreman since they are very similar players?

Jeffrey Mead (6-7, 170, 4.6) – Is Mead a basketball player or a football player? His junior year showed a tall WR with great hands and excellent speed who was a consistent mismatch against smaller DBs. Seems like Mead is more interested in basketball, but offers from OU and OSU for football might make this more of a choice.

Nick Alexander (6-3, 195, 4.5) – A superstar at the OU summer camp of 2012, Alexander had an uneven junior year from all reports.

K.D. Cannon (6-0, 170, 4.4) – Best WR in Texas? Cannon is a legit contender for that crown. Extremely fast and elusive, Cannon would make an awesome slot WR for the Sooners. Can OU sign both Armanti and KD with such similar receiving games?

Dorian Leonard (6-5, 190, 4.5) – Malcolm Kelly redux? Leonard looks great on film. He's a big, fluid athlete making those big down field catches that Kelly did so well in 2006/2007. Has an OU offer.

Mark Andrews (6-7, 226, 4.6) – Huge WR/TE who has been very public about his interest in OU. Andrews on film looks like an excellent big WR, but you have to wonder if a natural move to TE is in his future.

Offensive Line: 5 (at least)

OU tanked again on Signing Day at OL, and situation is getting desperate.

Oklahoma has great depth in the junior and senior OL group, but underclassmen-wise, it’s very shallow. OU needs depth, and at least two or three of these kids need to be players who can contribute quickly, not in three years.

OU has a bunch of offers out there to national OL prospects. The list below includes players in the region who appear to have an interest in OU. After the last two years, it’s hard to project OU landing a top 10 national OL prospect. There isn’t an in-state OL prospect right now on the offer list, and it does not appear to be a great year in Texas, either.

Ty Barrett (6-5, 295, 5.2) – Athletic tackle prospect from Dallas Skyline. OU has numerous players from Skyline. Just visited for junior day and has an OU offer.

Braden Smith (6-6, 275, 5.0) – Nationally ranked OL prospect who starred last summer at the OU summer camp where he was probably the top prospect. OU will be in the hunt, but all the big powers have offered Smith.

Andy Bauer (6-6, 300, 5.0) – Former teammate of Durron Neal might be a top five OL in the country. Bama is after him along with a host of other teams. OU could get a visit in the spring.

Jovan Pruitt (6-6, 290, 5.2) – Recently offered by OU and Notre Dame. Huge-framed kid looks a little stiff in his stance, but he shows some power on film.

Blake Blackmar (6-5, 300) – Blackmar has some flexibility by playing center in HS, so he could play anywhere on the OL. Blake has expressed interest in OU previously.

Jacob Bragg (6-3, 290,5.2) – If OU wants to recruit a pure center, Bragg would be a great target. Bragg has previously expressed interest in OU and looks like an excellent center prospect.

Tight End: 2

OU struck out at TE in 2013, so two tight ends would make a lot of sense for 2014. OU really needs to use the TE more in their offense. Hopefully, Taylor McNamara and Sam Grant return the TE position to relevance this fall.

Koda Martin (6-6, 250, 4.8) – Looking for a big prototype blocking TE? Martin is it. Last year he started showing some receiving skills as well. The only question is: Like Eric Winston, does he grow into an elite mobile OT or stay at TE?

Dalton Schultz (6-5, 220, 4.7) – Top-ranked national TE who has received an OU offer. Not sure at this point where OU stands.

Nic Weishar (6-5, 220, 4.6) – Excellent pass-receiving TE from the Chicago area. Shows excellent speed with the ability to stretch the field down the seams.

Mike’Quan Deane (6-4,220, 4.6) – A possible Sooner from Tulsa Memorial! (Go Chargers.) Big WR/TE target. Shows excellent receiving skills and speed, but not much in the way of blocking footage/skills. No offer yet, but he was just at the OU junior day.

Defensive Tackle: 2

The Sooners are not quite in the desperate place for DTs that they were in with the 2013 class. Still, you’d like to see OU sign a top DT every year. No prospects in Oklahoma right now, and Texas does not look to have a deep pool of candidates.

Zaycoven Henderson (6-2, 285, 5.0) – Recent OU offer and junior day attendee. His film is excellent, and he shows run-stopping and pass-rushing ability. Nice combination of burst and strength. He might be the best DT in Texas.

Khairi Clark (6-3, 310, 5.0) – The entire world is recruiting Clark. His film is elite – massive frame, explosive burst, playmaking ability on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

Travonte Valentine (6-3, 285, 4.9) – Valentine has verbaled to Louisville and now Florida, but he has an OU offer as well.

Defensive End: 2

OU signed an excellent three-player DE class in 2013, but I’m guessing Bobby Jack Wright still has the green light to add two top-flight DEs if he can find them. OU has offers out to national targets like DaShawn Hand, but I don’t see it going anywhere.

Solomon Thomas (6-3, 260, 4.8) – Probably the top overall DL prospect in Texas. Thomas could be a 3-4 DE or possibly grow into a DT. OU has offered, and he just visited for junior day. Very impressive film.

Myles Garrett (6-4, 230, 4.7) – After Thomas, Garrett is getting a lot of attention as the next best DE.

Deondre Clark (6-4, 240, 4.8) – After Justice Hansen, Clark is probably the top prospect in OK. Unfortunately, he has a brother at OSU playing basketball and seems very interested in LSU. OU is recruiting him and has offered, but he seems focused elsewhere.

Linebacker: 4

Last year it was DTs, this year’s desperate recruiting position that has the message boards worried a year before signing day is LB. Tim Kish has already been labeled by some as a disaster.

Fortunately, it’s a great year for LBs from Texas (unlike last year), and Kish appears to have made some excellent connections with these prospects. In addition, two excellent LBs from Illinois have expressed serious interest in OU.

Kish could very quickly dismiss the "problem coach" label with some early verbals at LB.

Otaro Alaka (6-3, 210, 4.5) – Wow. I love this film as an OLB to help OU deal with spread attacks. Alaka does a great job attacking the perimeter and also in coverage. Great range, power.

James David (6-3, 226, 4.6)  – Might be the best MLB in Texas. David tore his ACL last year, so there’s some question about when he will be back on the field. His junior year film is great. James is the younger brother of Derek David, whose career has been derailed by off-the-field legal issues.

Gyasi Akem (6-2, 215, 4.6) – Best-looking OLB prospect in state of OK. Very physical and excellent speed. Probably is leaning to OSU and will join his Broken Arrow teammate Devon Thomas.

Cameron Hampton (6-2, 210, 4.6) – Another great-looking OLB prospect.

Josh Mabin (6-2, 225) – With David hurt, Mabin might be the best MLB prospect in Texas. Very physical, does a great job in coverage and stopping the run with some power inside.

Niles Morgan (6-2, 215 4.5) – OU has already offered this speedy physical OLB. OU has a connection back to David Smith, so a visit is not out of the question. Has a lot of big-time offers.

Zach Whitley (6-2, 215, 4.6) – Have not heard a great deal about Whitley. He might be leaning to Texas.

Christian Sam (6-2, 205, 4.5) – Just visited for OU’s first junior day. No offer yet, but his film is excellent.

Clifton Garrett (6-2, 225, 4.6) – If Morgan is the speed LB from Illinois, then Garrett is the power LB. The entire Big Ten has offered him. OU has offered, and a visit would not be a surprise.

Defensive Back: 3-4

This might be the best and deepest talent pool of DBs from Texas in forever. There’s legitimately 15 to 16 four-star-type DBs in the state. It’s going to be nearly impossible to really rank the guys – the talent level is that high. The top 50 in Texas could easily be populated with 20 DBs.

OU has to take advantage of this group and sign three or four kids.

Darrion Johnson (5-10, 185, 4.5) – OU offer. Visited for the junior day. Very physical CB with excellent cover and open-field tackling skills.

Arrion Spring (5-11, 190, 4.5) – OU offer. Visited for junior day. Safety prospect who is excellent in coverage and very physical in run support. Excellent tackler.

Edwin Freeman (6-2, 190, 4.5) – OU offer at safety. Huge frame with excellent speed and range.

Dylan Sumner-Gardner (6-2, 190, 4.5) – OU offer at safety. Visited for first junior day. Was verbaled to Clemson.

Nick Watkins (6-1, 185, 4.5) – Best big CB in Texas? His offer list (OU included) sure lends credence to that statement.

Nick Harvey (5-11, 180, 4.5) – Might be the best CB in Texas. Verbaled to Texas A&M. OU will try to get him on campus for a junior day.

Tony Brown (6-1, 180, 4.5) – Okay, Brown might be the best DB in Texas. OU offer, but he is rumored to be a lean to LSU.

Steven Parker (6-2, 185, 4.5) – Best DB prospect in Oklahoma. Has an OU offer and was a star at the OU summer camp.

Michiah Quick (6-0, 175, 4.4) – Despite his HS having three big-time DBs just sign LOIs, Quick might be the best one overall. After signing Hatari Byrd and L.J. Moore, OU will be all over this California offer.

Jamal Adams (6-1, 190, 4.5) – Both OU and UT are after this big, talented safety. Might be the best safety in Texas.

John Bonney (6-0, 185, 4.5) – OU offer out of the Houston area. He has not visited yet for a junior day.