Oklahoma missed out on some juco offensive tackles during December, including Fahn Cooper and Sebastian Tretola. That places even more emphasis on OU signing quality high-school OTs by February.
With coaching changes and assistants moving around, look for January to be a wild month of decommitments, recommitments and new names appearing and disappearing off the Sooners' recruiting list.
It’s a dead period for recruiting until after the big coaches convention that runs until Jan. 14, so the biggest news will be the all-star games and the verbal commitments that are announced during that game.
The biggest OU target who plans to make an announcement will be Joe Mixon, a running back from California. Mixon is likely choosing between OU and UCLA with the distance factor putting UCLA as the pregame favorite. In addition, OU linebacker target Dwight Williams should be announcing at the Army game. There’s also a chance that Natrell Curtis might announce as well.
OU has commits and targets in the three major all-star games:
*2014 Under Armour Game (Jan. 2 at 4 p.m. ET, ESPN) – Justice Hansen, Adoree Jackson.
*2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl (Jan. 4 at 1 p.m. ET, NBC) – Mark Andrews, Joe Mixon, Natrell Curtis, Dwight Williams, Nathan Starks.
*2014 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl (Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. ET, Fox Sports One) – Tito Windham, Marcus Green, Carson Meier, Dallis Todd, Steven Parker, Deondre Clark, Kenyon Frison.
Other than chasing down the last remaining big-time targets, the biggest story of January will be offensive line targets for coach Bill Bedenbaugh.
In addition, look for OU to sign a smaller class than originally projected, especially if some late targets go elsewhere. In particular, defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery appears ready to stand pat and hold back one or two scholarships for his 2015 DL class. Montgomery is making great progress in 2015, so he may hold back to sign “impact” guys for 2015. Running backs coach Cale Gundy wants one more RB for depth reasons. Wide receivers coach Jay Norvell is done unless he can land an elite slot receiver. Linebackers coach Tim Kish needs at least one more LB with OU playing more 'backers in its new scheme. And Mike Stoops is always going to need more defensive backs.
2014 Verbal Commitments: 18
(Class Size: 24-27)
Devante Bond, OLB
(6-3, 240, 4.6)
Isaac Ijalana, TE
(6-5, 240, 4.6)
Projected early enrollees
Dallis Todd, WR
(6-5, 210, 4.5)
Justice Hansen, QB
(6-4, 200, 4.6)
Dimitri Flowers, TE/FB
(6-3, 225, 4.6)
Vontre McQuinnie, DB
(6-1, 200, 4.6)
Samaje Perine, RB
(5-11, 225. 4.45)
Carson Meier, TE
(6-7, 220, 4.7)
Marcus Green, DB
(6-1, 175, 4.6)
Tito Windham, DB
Alex Dalton, OL
Brandon Glenn, DT
(6-4, 269, 4.8)
Jeffrey Mead, WR
Jonathan Alvarez, OG/OC
Tay Evans, LB
Curtis Bolton, LB
Mark Andrews, WR
Dwayne Orso, DE
(6-6, 255, 4.8)
OU got LOIs from two key juco verbals, LB Devante Bond and TE Isaac Ijalana. They will enroll at OU in early January and be ready to go through spring camp. Ijalana could jumpstart the TE position in the OU offense, while Bond could usher in a new era of big pass rushers at OLB in the Sooners' new hybrid 3-4 scheme. Often in recruiting you are projecting two to three years into the future, but both of these players could be in the starting lineup for the season opener against Louisiana Tech in August 2014.
In addition, OU will enroll three HS players early. While Justice Hansen will likely redshirt unless something drastic happens, look for Dimitri Flowers and Dallis Todd to both make a push for playing time. Flowers has very little competition at the dual-threat H-back role. With the returning talent at receiver, Todd could have a tougher time.
OU did not receive any additional verbal commitments during the month of December., which was frustrating.
Recruiting Baker’s Dozen
(With maybe eight spots left, the list is only six.)
1. Michiah Quick
2. Steven Parker – Elite CB or safety for the OU defense.
3. Joe Mixon – If Perine is bringing the power game, then Mixon could be the all-around RB doing everything else. Think Jerald Moore/James Allen, but with more speed.
4. Kenyon Frison – OU needs HS OTs prospects, and Frison just visited.
5. Dwight Williams – Arguably the best LB on the board for OU. No longer a pipe dream.
6. Ismael Murphy- Richardson – Awesome looking OLB with speed and range from Arizona.
Done with the pledge from Hansen, who had a great senior year.
Running Back: 2
Juco target DeChavon Hayes committed to Arizona State, so we’re back down to the waiting game on Mixon. Mixon will announce at the Army game. If OU lands this talented player, then RB recruiting is done. If Mixon stays at home and chooses UCLA, then Gundy has a choice to make between Starks and Michael Warren from Lawton.
Nathan Starks (6-0, 210, 4.45) – Starks offers/interest level from schools tumbled as a result of his expulsion, so getting back on the field is important in terms of his recruiting status. It almost seems like he has conditional offers right now. Starks is talking about an after the season decision.
Joe Mixon (6-1, 190, 4.45) – Mixon’s favorite NFL player is AD, so I think the Sooners have a shot. Mixon has an OU offer and is an excellent RB with home run speed. An all-star game verbal is likely.
Michael Warren (6-1, 190, 4.5) – Had a huge senior year where he was the best big RB in state. Eligibility concerns have impacted his recruiting, so his first semester transcript and test scores loom large. His film, though, is excellent.
Wide Receiver: 3?
Three big WRs have verbaled. To slot or not to slot is the question. The only must take guy at slot, K.D. Cannon, chose Baylor, so I think OU is done.
One top 100 kid, another one who should be in the top 100 and Jeff Mead, who should easily be a four-star kid on potential alone. I don’t see any way OU adds a slot right now. With Austin Bennett and K.J. Young redshirting, it is just not a need.
Offensive Line: 6?
OL recruiting is still pretty much a mystery at this point. I wish that I could tell you who are the top four targets or top four leans to OU.
This isn’t a case of James Patton and Bruce Kittle not being aggressive. Bill Bedenbaugh is out everywhere, and the 2015 OL recruiting is already off to a great start with commitments from Bobby Evans and Josh Wariboko. (2015 OL Jalin Barnett from Lawton might be on board soon.)
Natrell Curtis has officially decommitted from Washington and seems ready to make a decision soon. OU's West Coast verbals are all over Twitter talking up the Sooners to Curtis, and it seems like a verbal could be coming soon. This would make for a very good interior OL class, but OU really needs HS OTs. Denzel Ward has fallen off the radar, and it appears Jovan Pruitt will stay with Arkansas. If OU could flip both Frison and Lukuyas McNeil, then everything would be fine and the OL class would be excellent. If OU cannot flip those two kids?
OU missed out on juco OTs, mainly because the Sooners are returning two senior OTs. I fully expect Bedenbaugh next year to be able to sign an impact OT with two open playing spots to pitch in recruiting.
Natrell Curtis (6-3, 285) – Teammate of UCLA signee Kenny Lacy. OU has offered along with host of Pac-12 schools. Just excelled at a recent all star camp. Might be the best OG prospect on the board.
Kenyon Frison (6-7, 290) – OU has offered this Utah verbal who has a huge frame and excellent athleticism. Can OU get a visit to try and turn Kenyon? Unknown at this time.
Lukayus McNeil (6-7, 270) – Committed to Louisville, but visited OU during December. McNeil would be a natural left tackle with a huge wingspan and excellent mobility.
Tight End/H-Back: 3
Mission accomplished by Jay Boulware: Juco mid-term TE, HS TE with excellent potential, H-back/FB who excels in passing game and run game. And Boulware pulled this off while OU had zero TE presence in games this year. He’s pitching a product that is not on the field.
Defensive Tackle: 1
Done. Unless an impact prospect becomes available for OU, I fully expect the Sooners to stick with just Brandon Glenn. OU is now only playing one DT/nose guard and has great depth if Jordan Phillips can return from his back surgery. (Phillips is telling everyone that his back feels great.)
For 2015, OU has a great in-state target in Jenk’s Marquise Overton. Also, the Sooners have already scored a verbal from big-time Texas DT Du’Vonta Lampkin.
Defensive End: 1
The exact same story as DT. Montgomery will hold back a scholarship or two for 2015 unless a big-time kid appears on the radar during the confusion of January.
Tim Kish landed Tay Evans and Curtis Bolton. That’s a good LB class. Both Evans and Bolton are a little under-ranked at LB due to playing DE on film for their junior years. If they show out at LB like they did at DE, their athleticism is four-star potential.
OU now has Bond to add a big OLB for its scheme. Kish can focus on adding at least one more HS LB. Or maybe a five-LB class now that OU is using more LBs and had to play both Alexander and Evans as freshmen.
Dwight Williams (6-3, 215, 4.55) – Might be the best OLB in California. Shows excellent power, burst, and pursuit. Seems interested in his OU offer.
Deondre Clark (6-3, 245, 4.6) – In OU’s new scheme, Clark would be a pass-rushing OLB, not a DE. Clark has been committed to LSU for so long that I don’t really believe that he will bolt. But he’s talking up OU, Bob Stoops visited him in home and Clark would be a terror in the new OU scheme.
Ishmael Murphy-Richardson (6-4,210, 4.5) – An explosive elite athlete at OLB. He shows great range and power at OLB. It’s pretty easy to see why OU offered.
Tegray Scales (6-1,214,4.55) – Scales shows good run-stopping ability on film and also shows some nice coverage skills against some spread offenses. Does a nice job against some pistol offense attacks as well.
Jonathan Thomas (6-3, 210, 4.6) – How does an elite defender fall through the cracks in the talent rich Atlanta area? No idea, but it happens every year. Thomas was more of a soccer player and emigrated from Africa. He’s now an explosive powerful OLB prospect. OU is trying to get him on campus before the rest of the country wakes up to how good this kid is.
Greg Miclisse (6-2, 230, 4.6) – I’m adding McLisse back since he’s still listing OU and his recruiting won’t really heat up until January as teams make sure his transcript is fine. Would be an ideal MIKE LB for the Sooners.
Defensive Back: 5-6
It seems that OU has targeted Windham at CB and Green at one of the three safety spots that the Sooners will use almost every down. McQuinnie could be a big strong safety or grow into an OLB – OU will let that situation figure itself out. Parker and Quick are the big-time targets.
OU really needs at least one more safety and one more CB. OU has offered two new Florida CBs as Mike continues to uncover prospects. This CB spot could also see a committed player visit OU.
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.
Cornelius Floyd (6-1, 170, 4.5) – Tall, rangy CB who would excel in OU's scheme. Underrated CB who is starting to get noticed by bigger programs.
Juwan Dowels (5-9, 170, 4.4) – Underrated CB who had a great senior year, making play after play.