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Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Sooners Recruiting Update: Drought season

Bob StoopsStill no new verbals. OU had an interesting month of October with a big win over Texas Tech and dominating performance in Dallas that was witnessed by a host of top Texas 2013 recruits and perhaps an even larger number of 2014 Texas kids. It was easily the best list of recruits OU has ever gotten to Dallas to see OU smash the Horns. Then OU arranged a second grouping of recruits to watch OU lose in the fourth quarter to Notre Dame.

I think OU is close on several kids, but the seal is not broken yet. It’s frustrating for OU fans, but the Sooners have gone through verbal droughts like this in the past.

Verbal Commitments: 11
(Class Size: 24 to 26)

D.J. Ward, DE
6-4, 235, 4.6

Hatari Byrd, DB
6-2, 195, 4.55

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, Texas
5-11, 200, 4.5

Commitment Predictions

QB: Cody Thomas

RB: Keith Ford

WR: Courtney Gardner, Jordan Smallwood, Austin Bennett

TE: N/A

OL: Dalton Rodriguez, Na’Ty Rodgers, Christian Morris, Sean Dowling, Josiah St. John

DT: Justin Manning, Toby Johnson, Quincy Russell, Josh Augusta

DE: D.J. Ward, Matt Dimon

LB: Jordan Mastrogiovanni, Mike Mitchell

DB: Stanvon Taylor, Hatari Byrd, Ahmad Thomas, Dominique Alexander, Lamar Robbins

Mid-term players: Gardner, Ward, Johnson, St. John, Russell

Position Updates (Projected Number)

*QB: Thomas has continued his awesome senior year. He’s a one-man gang out there, showing an elite arm and good mobility to be effective in some QB run game action. His upside/ceiling looks elite. He may not get a bump in rankings, but anyone who has seen Thomas play this fall has commented on how awesome he looks. OU has the best HS QB from Texas in this class.

*RB: Ford is having an awesome year. Some fumbling problems, which need to stop, but looks to easily be locking up the label of best RB in Texas. He’s showing power and home run speed.

Is Greg Bryant back in play for OU or not? I think unless Bryant schedules an OU visit soon, this idea is a non-starter.

*WR: OU has two excellent verbals in Smallwood and Bennett. With Derrick Woods redshirting along with the arrival of Courtney Gardner, WR is pretty set. I think the only kid in play is Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell is a special talent that you have to keep chasing if he’s still talking to OU.

Laquon Treadwell (6-3, 190, 4.5) – Treadwell was unable to visit OU due to HS playoffs. Does this visit happen? If Treadwell takes his visits, then a decision could be close to signing day.

*TE: For a while it’s been JUCO Beau Sandland or bust at TE. But previous HS target Mitchell Parsons has decommitted from Colorado and OU could get reinvolved.

Beau Sandland (6-5, 250, 4.7) – Sandland has visited Norman already, but based on interviews it looks like either Nebraska or Arizona State. Stlll the ND game highlighted how much OU needs a power TE who is a receiving threat in the gaps of a Cover 2-type defense as well as giving OU that seventh blocker to run on teams dropping six or seven defenders.

Mitchell Parsons (6-5, 230, 4.6) – A top-flight HS TE who shows great ability to get downfield. Would be a great addition to OU’s young TE corps.

*OL : No Matt Beyer, so OU has one verbal in Dalton Rodriguez, who is not playing OT this fall at all. He’s having a very strong season at DE (like a "why move him to OT?" season), but he’s certainly not bulking up or playing OL.

Since Aug. 1, OU has lost three OL players (Latu, JMM, Dismuke). The number of OLs needed is around five.

While many Sooner fans are clamoring for JUCOs, the reality is that OU will return their nine out of its top 10 OL next fall. JUCO mid-term slots are tight, and any JUCO OT worth a slot is going to want more of a starting opportunity than competing with redshirt juniors who were starters the year before. JUCO OTs/OGs makes much better sense for 2014. (If OU could find an August enrollee at OT who is willing to redshirt or that had three years to play, that would be great.)

What OU needs are HS OT/OG prospects. At a minimum, OU has to sign three OTs and one OG. Anything less is an outright numbers failure at the position. The real concern right now: I’m going to list eight names (three are verbaled to UCLA, one to Duke), and the only one who might be an OU lean is Rob Boyd, who OU has not offered as of yet.

Patton and Kittle need to ABC (always be closing) like madmen this fall and lock down some of these kids. To repeat, OU HAS to get three more OL guys who are HS prospects or this class is a critical failure. Kenny Lacy is off the board completely, but Sean Dowling might be more of a target.

It’s getting critical for OU to get some OL kids verbaled.

Na’ty Rodgers (6-5, 280, 5.0) – Rodgers is an excellent OL prospect who is 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 Gary 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.

Rodgers just visited for the Kansas St. game, and all signs indicate that OU is firmly in this battle. Rodgers has a big Sooner connection with his dad, and now that he has experienced Norman, it might put OU over the top.

Caleb Beneoch (6-6, 320, 5.2) – Former Michigan State verbal commitment who has decommitted and is now receiving big-time offers from OU and UT. Big, physical body who can play inside or outside. Beneoch visited UT for the West Virginia game and fell back in love with the 'Horns. Despite witnessing the shredding of UT, it looks like he’s back to being a 'Horn.

Rob Boyd (6-4, 290, 5.0) – OU is not offering Boyd. I have no idea why. There’s isn’t a single young interior OL on campus, save for Ty Darlington at center.

Sean Dowling (6-6, 265, 5.2) – Another UCLA commitment OU is after. Dowling has been committed to UCLA since the summer. Dowling visited for the KU game. OU might really be in play for this tackle prospect.

Aaron Cochran (6-7,330, 5.3) – A big RT prospect from California who is still on the OU radar. He is visiting for the Baylor game. Cal, where his brother plays, may not be the leader everyone thinks. Jeff Tedford might be in trouble this year.

Christian Morris (6-6, 295, 5.1) – Another UCLA verbal who has blown up in recruiting. OU has offered and will try and get him on campus. He’s a big athlete who again looks like he could be a great LT/RT.

Sterling Korona (6-7, 255, 5.0) – No offer yet. Beyer’s HS teammate is currently committed to Duke. Korona was a former basketball player who has just recently focused on football. He has a huge frame and wingspan for OT. Excellent athlete, but very raw at OT.

Christian Daimler (6-6,280, 5.1) – No offer yet. Daimler’s senior year film shows a player who is much much improved in pass protection to go along with his physical play in the run game. It’s almost night and day in the quality of his film. His film is the reason why you wait to offer kids as seniors.

Desmond Harrison (6-8, 310 5.2) – A tall, mobile JUCO prospect who could turn into an absolute star. Unreal ceiling. OU has a visit scheduled for the OSU game.

Josiah St. John (6-6, 310, 5.2) – Just visited for the ND game. He has an OU offer. OU will definitely be in the JUCO OT's final three.

Clay Rhodes (6-5, 280, 5.1) – OU evaluated Rhodes in spring, but he verbally committed to Missouri before OU offered. OU has evaluated Rhodes based on his play this fall and offered. He has not decommitted from Missouri.

*DT: OU is still in a holding pattern on Manning and Toby Johnson.

Manning saw OU smash UT in Dallas and saw the ND game. Manning seemed ready to decide, but will probably hold off for couple more weeks. Johnson is still talking about taking some final visits in December. OU managed to get Greg Gilmore on campus for the ND game. OU appears to be trailing LSU and Florida, but the Sooners did everything possible to close that gap.

While the senior DTs have done a good job this year, OU’s defense really appears to need that playmaking DT who plays in the opponent’s backfield. Manning or Gilmore could be that guy in the near future, while Toby Johnson is the best bet for an immediate impact guy at DT for 2013.

Justin Manning (6-3, 280, 4.9) – Demarcus Granger’s younger brother. He looks faster and more explosive than his brother. OU needs to lock him up. 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.

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. Richardson verbaled to WVU, but an OU visit is still on the schedule. I could really see OU flipping Richardson if that visit happens.

Greg Gilmore (6-4, 285, 4.8) – Next to Manning he’s probably the best bet for an impact freshman DT.

Josh Augusta (6-5, 280, 4.8) – This name has been listed before and removed. Augusta indicated he didn’t want to leave the area, but now he is talking about visiting OU again. So raw, but such a high ceiling and upside.

Toby Johnson (6-3, 300, 4.9) – Might be the best JUCO DT in the country. From Georgia originally, but not placed in JUCO by any school. 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 Jackie Shipp is certainly pulling out every stop to get Johnson. A coaching change at Tennessee could really help OU land Johnson. Also, Shipp needs to convince Johnson that the OU 4-3 scheme is ideal for him to excel, as opposed to UGA’s 3-4 scheme where he would be forced to play DE.

Quincy Russell (6-4, 310, 5.0) – Former UT verbal who had grade issues and went JUCO. UT seems uninterested in resigning him, and OU is evaluating him at DT. Russell has amazing athletic ability for his size, but still continues to disappear for stretches.

Maquedias Bain (6-5, 290, 5.0) – A huge DT prospect who could also end up on the OL. Bain is set to visit for the OSU game. He could easily be an OL guy as well.

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.

*DE: 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. Dimon is having a great senior year so far, and D.J. Ward will be enrolling early, giving him a huge chance to be a factor at DE next fall. OU just hosted Dimarya Mixon, and it would not be a huge surprise to see him switch to OU. He also might be a DE/DT hybrid like David King or Frank Alexander for OU.

Dimarya Mixon (6-4, 255, 4.75) – Could be a DE, but he could also outgrow DE and move to DT like Adrian Taylor. Or like David King be a big DE on running downs and move inside as a pass rusher on third-and-long. Still verballed to ASU, but he saw both the UT and ND games recently.

Randall Gregory (6-6,235, 4.6) – A JUCO DE whom OU offered earlier in August. Gregory is a placement by Purdue, but he’s now decommitted. He’s a got a huge wingspan and excellent speed. Does OU need a JUCO DE?

Torrodney Prevot (6-3,210, 4.6 ) – He’s verbaled to USC, but has a trip to Norman scheduled. Some question if he’s an OLB or a DE. Supposed to visit OU for the OSU game. His rating might be in a bit of a decline.

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (6-3, 220, 4.6) – OU just offered this kid, per Twitter traffic. His teammate Torrodney Prevot who is committed to USC is more highly rated, but some folks who have watched their first games lately think Ogbonnia looks better than Prevot. His offer list in the last week has exploded. He’s verbaled to OSU right now. Another witness to OU abusing UT for the second year in a row.

*LB: This position in preseason looked like it needed more numbers, but overall things seem okay with the young LBs Frank Shannon, Aaron Franklin, and Eric Striker looking pretty good. In addition, OU is barely playing any three-LB formations. OU could definitely use another HS LB, though. The ND game and the Sooners' struggles against some power running teams would seem to indicate that OU needs an upgrade at LB to a more physical every-down presence.

E.J. Levenberry (6-3, 235) – Okay, he’s verbaled to FSU and didn’t seem to have any real interest in OU after Brent Venables left for Clemson. However, Tim Kish and Bob Stoops went back to Levenberry. Levenberry is the kind of physical frame OU wants in an every-down LB. He visited for ND, but this is looking like a case where he will stay with FSU.

Devante Bond (6-3, 230, 4.6) – JUCO star from Pierce Community College. 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). The only problem is that I’m not sure Bond can play MIKE LB for OU.

D’vante Henry (6-5, 215, 4.5) – Westmoore grad who was an amazing athlete with bad academics. He’s apparently a mid-term graduate and has had productive years in JUCO. The upside is very high, but needs to add some weight to his frame. Enrolling early would allow for that development over winter and summer.

Mike Mitchell (6-4, 225, 4.55) – Is he a DE or big OLB? OU is probably trying to figure that out as well. He has visited OU unofficially already in August. An official visit during an upcoming home game before he decides is very likely.

Dominique Alexander (6-2, 195, 4.55) – The most recent in-state offer, Alexander is having a great senior year as a playmaker on defense. He’s very similar to Eric Striker. LB or safety? OU will worry about that later.

Jordan Evans (6-3, 205, 4.6) – Every year it seems that there’s an in-state prospect who comes on strong his senior year and forces OU to re-evaluate its stance. Evans could be the kid this year. Son of Sooner DT Scottie Evans (too bad he’s not 6-4, 290 like his dad), Jordan as a junior was only 6-1, 180. He’s now added nearly 30 pounds and grown two inches. He had a great Sooner summer camp and has started his senior year with big plays on defense. He probably has the frame to carry 225 pounds easily now.

*DB: Three down, two or three to go.

Why does OU need three safeties in this class? The back-up behind Tony Jefferson is Jesse Paulsen, a senior walk-on. The backup behind Gabe Lynn is Julian Wilson, who is also the primary dimeback. OU’s playing five DBs all the time and six DBs on third-and-long almost all the time, so OU needs to reload the secondary numbers. Mike Stoops has a great three-player class going and just needs to get some official visits from his remaining targets.

Mike right now appears to be have improved as a recruiter significantly since his last tenure at OU. Both Foreman and Harris visited for the KSU game, and both kids enjoyed their visit. It sounds like OU might be close on Foreman to getting a verbal. Harris is rumored to be a big-time Gator lean, but in a weird coincidence, Harris’ dad was coached by Bob Stoops at UF. So, there’s a family connection there.

OU appears to have dropped L.J. Moore and Johnny Johnson due to concerns that both really want to stay out west. And Cole Luke in a surprise chose ND.

Mike appears close to fine tuning this final list.

Tyler Foreman (6-2, 195, 4.5) – Does OU need a third big safety? Foreman visited for KSU, and OU appears to be out in front. Distance may become an issue.

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. Robbins is giving indications that OU leads and is just waiting for the official visit to verbal. Was supposed to visit for ND, but got derailed due to weather.

Marcell Harris (6-2, 208, 4.55) – The best safety on the board. Big hitter would be an ideal strong safety for OU. He has family connections back to Florida, so he’s likely a Gator, but he has visited UT and OU.

Leroy Clark (5-11, 180, 4.45) – A smaller DB, but he apparently has an OU offer and is very interested in the Sooners. On film, he’s a fast, agile slot WR, punt returner and CB.