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Sooners Recruiting Update: Bryant's loss a tough blow

Greg Bryant
Two additions, one subtraction since the June update.

Let's get to the big loss first, Greg Bryant. Bryant, OU's best verbal commitment, decommitted and appears focused on staying in the SEC. Not sure anything really went "wrong" with OU's recruiting of Bryant. Instead, Bryant's profile exploded after his OU verbal, especially at the Rivals Atlanta event. Could OU get back involved with Bryant? I guess that there's a chance.

OU's biggest verbal commitment was California safety Hatari Byrd. After Max Redfield verbaled to USC, Byrd or Tahaan Goodman were the next best safeties from California. Byrd along with Ahmad Thomas are the kind of elite physical safeties with range that the Mike Stoops scheme needs. Mike did a great job recruiting Byrd and is doing a great job recruiting at DB. Mike needs at last five DBs; he's over halfway there.

OU's OL needs are now half met with the addition of Matt Beyer from San Antonio. Beyer blocked for current Sooner QB Trevor Knight last year and is a big, physical OL prospect that projects at either RT or RG. He's got a huge frame and wingspan and easily projects to be 6-6, 310. He's similar to Kyle Marrs last year, but probably has better overall mobility.

2013 Verbal Commitments: 12
(Class Size: 20 to 24)

DJ Ward, DE
6-4, 235, 4.6

Hatari Byrd, DB
6-2, 195, 4.55

Matt Beyer, OL
6-6, 280, 5.3

Matt Dimon, DE
6-4, 255, 4.8

Dalton Rodriguez, OT
6-6, 255, 4.8

Stanvon Taylor, CB
5-11, 175, 4.4

Cody Thomas, QB
6-5, 220, 4.6

Ahmad Thomas, SS
6-0, 200, 4.5

Jordan Mastrogiovanni, LB
6-3, 225, 4.75

Jordan Smallwood, WR
6-2, 195, 4.55

Austin Bennett, WR
6-0, 170, 4.45

Keith Ford, RB
5-11, 200, 4.5

Notes:

*So glad that Byrd verbaled. It stopped some of the recruiting sky is falling chatter after Bryant bailed. Bryant was a big-time recruit, but if there was any one position that OU could absorb such a loss, it was RB. Ford is a fantastic RB prospect for 2013, and OU has two big time RBs targeted for 2014.

*So far DB recruiting is going very well, QB recruiting is done, WR recruiting is basically done, DE recruiting might be finished. The unfinished business is primarily at DT, LB and OL recruiting.

*OU needs to land on key recruits, but a top 15 class is still very much in play. Also, there are a number of JUCO difference-makers out there who won't get the proper respect/ratings from some services. Also, OU has verbals from a number of camp stars who could have huge senior years. These camp kids generally excel for OU.

*Also, 2014 recruiting continues to proceed at speeds not seen before in terms of OU offers. OU could easily have a number of 2014 verbals this fall. In addition, OU's early offers to 2014 Texas kids forced UT to move off the ridiculous "cleared for an offer" conditional stance. UT is now offering juniors ahead of their high-pressure Junior Day commit fest in February right after signing day. UT already has some verbals for 2014.

Position Updates: (Projected Number)

*QB: QB is done. Cale Gundy is focusing on evaluating the in-state duo of Justice Hansen (6-3, 200) and Coleman Key (6-5, 200) for 2014. Both kids could be Elite 11 QB camp attendees in 2014. Gundy could make an offer to Hansen very early this fall.

*RB: OU might be done. Gundy is already identifying 2014 targets like Broken Arrow RB Devon Thomas and Vegas-Gorman RB Nathan Starks.

*WR (2-3): WR position might be done with Courtney Gardner now being delayed a year. More names have dropped off so that OU WR recruiting is really down to two names. OU will continue recruiting Laquon Treadwell until the end. He's a difference-maker at WR.

This could be an area where a decommit happens and Norvell gets a kid to visit OU officially. Really need to see how OU's WR core shakes out this fall. Bennett is the future slot WR and tore up a recent 7-on-7 tourney in Texas. Smallwood is a future flanker/outside WR.

  • Torii Hunter, Jr. (6-0, 185, 4.5) – Son of the baseball outfielder. Will he go to college? How good could he be if he focused on football? Will off the field problems with his brother put Hunter on the back burner for OU?
  • Laquon Treadwell (6-3, 190, 4.5) – Treadwell was all set to be at the OU spring game before the bad weather had him cancel his planned trip. He's an excellent big WR. Appears to have made a connection with OU signee David Smith who plays in the same HS district. Seems very interested in OU and the rumored Michigan verbal appears delayed until he can visit some other schools.

*TE (1-2): Mattingly chose Notre Dame, Hunter Henry chose Arkansas and Christian Morgan chose Florida State. Right now, there are no high school tight ends on the board. However, OU has made serious progress with JUCO TE Beau Sandland, who is an elite prospect.

Sandland is the kind of prospect who would radically improve the TE position for OU and be a Jermaine Gresham-like threat. At TE, it might be Sandland or bust if OU is able to redshirt Sam Grant. OU could save a scholarship for 2014 and focus its HS attention there. In addition, Geneo Grissom's trial at TE could factor into things.

  • Beau Sandland (6-5, 250, 4.7) – Maybe the best looking JUCO TE prospect since Jeremy Shockey. He's a complete talent at the TE position and I've never seen OU offer a JUCO TE this early. He's a special talent. The entire world of college football is going to want this kid.

*OL (4-5, 6?): OU has two verbals at OL. One longer-term LT prospect in Dalton Rodriguez and one RG/RT guy in Beyer. Beneoch is still in play and could play inside or outside. OU still needs at least two more OT prospects, and the top two guys have been confirmed, Rodgers and Lacy. If Bruce Kittle and James Patton can land those bookend tackles, this could be as good as the 2010 OL class that may provide 4/5 of OU's starting OL this fall (Thompson, Williams, Irwin and Shead).

In addition, in the last month OU has had two OL departures in Dylan Dismuke and John Michael McGee along with Will Latu not qualifying. OU now should consider offering an interior OL, and that offer should go to Rob Boyd.

  • Na'ty Rodgers (6-5, 280, 5.0) – Rodgers is an excellent OL prospect; very physical and athletic. Could easily play inside as well. OU has a connection to his dad, who was at OU for a year before leaving during the Gibbs probation era. Dad is friends with Jamelle Holieway and still talks up OU. The OU-centric OL for the Redskins isn't hurting either.
  • Kenny Lacy (6-5, 275, 5.0) – Best OT in Arizona looks like a surefire offer in his highlights. Athleticism on DE plays is excellent. Raw, but has a huge wingspan. Looks a little like Tyrus Thompson coming out of HS. A DL guy learning that OL is his future in college. The kind of kid that makes OL recruiting so hard. Lacy has apparently been tearing it up at some combines this spring.
  • Caleb Beneoch (6-6, 320, 5.2) – Former Michigan State verbal who has decommitted and is now receiving big time offers from OU and UT. Big physical body who play inside or outside.
  • Rob Boyd (6-4, 290, 5.0) – He's verbaled to Tulsa. I'd like to think that OU is his dream school and an offer would lead to a switch. He's a power OG prospect who could also play center, which is a factor with OU probably having to play Darlington this year and not redshirt him.
  • Zach Hannon (6-5, 295, 5.2) – More of an offensive guard prospect, which begs the question of why Hannon and not Rob Boyd? Hannon has played OT for Rockhurst last year. In highlights, he does look to have a long wingspan, a key for OTs.

*DT (2-3): DT recruiting is really coming down to two prospects, Justin Manning and Toby Johnson. If Jackie Shipp can land both, then he's reloaded the present and the future at DT for the Sooners. OU could even go with two JUCO DTs depending upon how the young lions at DT look this fall. If OU misses on Manning in terms of HS DT, I'm not sure that there's a second option.

  • Justin Manning (6-3, 280, 4.9) – Demarcus Granger's younger brother looks faster and more explosive than his brother. He looks like he's going to be a big-time dominating DT. He's talking about taking his time. Apparently, the timing of OU's offer annoyed Manning. He still seems pretty excited about OU and was annoyed that he missed the OU spring game. He could be the next great Sooner DT. He's easily the best DT in Texas.
  • Deadrin Senat (6-2, 300, 4.9) – An FSU verbal who has decided to reopen his recruiting. Senat may end up back at FSU, but he would be a great interior anchor for the OU DL. As long as he is open I can see OU staying involved.
  • DeAsian Richardson (6-3,285, 4.9) – Like Manning, it's easy to see Richardson being able to play both DTs spots for the Sooners. Your typical big, mobile, physical, SEC-region DL.
  • Toby Johnson (6-3, 300, 4.9) – Might be the best JUCO DT in the country. OU's never offered a JUCO DT this early. SEC schools are the biggest challenge for OU as Johnson might want to return to that region. He's visited Norman, and Shipp is certainly pulling out every stop to get Johnson. A coaching change at Tennessee could really help OU land Johnson.
  • Quincy Russell (6-4, 310, 5.0) – Former UT verbal who had grade issues and went JUCO. UT seems disinterested in re-signing him, and OU is evaluating him at DT.
  • Tutulupeau Mataele (6-3, 285, 4.8) – Just like Johnson, he's ranked as a top DT in JUCO ranks.
  • Edwin Delva (6-4, 295) – Another JUCO DT target. Not sure if OU will offer, but apparently the coaches are evaluating him and asking for film.

*DE (2-3): Does OU need one more DE? Bobby Jack Wright struck three-star gold with Charles Tapper and Michael Ouonha, who are both on campus and look like future elite DEs. Does BJW move to focus on 2014, where he may already have three DEs to track in Sekou Clark, Deondre Clark and Tramal Ivy. I suspect that BJW will continue looking to see if he can find another super-athletic, rangy kid who is raw skills wise at DE but has a high ceiling.

  • Dimarya Mixon (6-4, 255, 4.75) – Could be a DE, but he could also outgrow DE and move to DT like Adrian Taylor. Currently verbaled to ASU, but OU's recent offer could change all that.

LB (2-3): OU now needs to add at least one OLB and maybe a prospect who could play both spots. OU finally got involved with Plano star Mike Mitchell. EJ Levenberry might be back in play. Don't be surprised if several committed LBs take a long second look at OU. Tim Kish is suffering the same problem every first-year assistant faces. Recruiting is a two-year cycle now at a minimum. It's amplified by the fact that Brent Venables was the face of OU LB recruiting for over a decade.

  • EJ Levenberry (6-3, 235) – Okay, he's verbaled to FSU and didn't seem to have any real interest in OU after Venables left for Clemson. However, Kish and Bob Stoops went back to Levenberry, and now his dad is very unhappy with FSU's coaching staff. He's scheduled to visit Norman for the ND game. He makes that visit, anything could happen.
  • Devante Bond (6-3, 230, 4.6) – Awesome looking JUCO star from Pierce CC. Bond could play inside or outside for OU and allow some time for Aaron Franklin and Frank Shannon to develop. Kish will need to figure out if this JUCO addition makes sense, but it would be the ultimate insurance against an injury to Corey Nelson or Tom Wort (who is starting to show a tendency for being hurt).
  • Mike Mitchell (6-4, 225, 4.6) – Is he a DE or big OLB? OU is probably trying to figure that out as well.

DB (5-6): Three down, two or three to go. Last update, I asked if Mike can get one of the big-time remaining California safeties in Redfield, Byrd or Goodman? He got Byrd. Now, it's time for at least one more CB or possibly a big CB who could also play safety. Mike could go with six kids if the right six are there.

  • Priest Willis (6-2, 200, 4.5) – An ideal safety prospect for countering Big 12 offenses. Physical safety with speed and range. Could almost be a big CB. Kish has OU in line for a visit.
  • Cole Luke (6-0, 175, 4.5) – Luke looks like an ideal CB prospect for OU. Fast, agile and excellent ball skills. Could be an OU-UT battle.
  • LJ Moore (6-1, 180, 4.5) – Teammate of Byrd. Looks like he could play CB or safety – the kind of flexible DB for the OU scheme to defend against seven spread attacks a season.
  • Tyler Foreman (6-2, 195, 4.5) – Does OU need a third big safety? Foreman would be the guy.
  • Lamar Robbins (6-3, 185, 4.45) – One of the top big CBs in Florida. Very similar to OU CB Gary Simon. Mike has made great progress in getting him to consider OU. OU fans should be loving the thought of an OU secondary loaded with top DBs from Florida and California.