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Sooners Recruiting Update: Home stretch

Oklahoma is hitting the stretch run in recruiting. No more game weekends for visits, but OU will likely host one big weekend in December next week after the TCU game. The Sooners will host some late mid-term JUCO targets the following week if need be, then shut down until January.

OU needs a strong end to recruiting. It’s not impossible, and the coaching chaos out there could make even more kids available to OU. OU always flips one kid in late January from another school. Also, OU usually loses a verbal, but maybe that has already occurred with Greg Bryant.

Some new names are bound to bubble up as OU gets late film on prospects who have had big senior years. Remember that last year that at this time, Zach Sanchez and Gary Simon were both nowhere on the OU offer list.

Jackie Shipp has to get at least one JUCO defensive tackle in the next three weeks and then add two more in the remaining time period. Shipp can go from goat to recruiting ace in that short amount of time.

James Patton and Bruce Kittle have to reload the numbers at offensive line. A one-person OL class needs to be as many as six if possible.

Mike Stoops needs to close on his last two or three defensive backs to really reload the talent base in the secondary and have a great first full year of recruiting in his second tenure at OU.

Tim Kish is set up for a great 2014 at linebacker after struggling in 2013. (Jay Norvell had similar adjustment issues, as recruiting is a two-year cycle.)

Cale Gundy is done and already focusing on 2014, where he’s almost done.

Norvell is big-game hunting and has one target in Laquon Treadwell.

Josh Heupel got perhaps the best quarterback in the region and will start breaking down film on the 2014 in-state QB battle before deciding whom to offer.

Verbal Commitments: 14
(Class Size: 24 to 26)

D.J. Ward 6-4, 235, 4.6 – DE

Hatari Byrd 6-2, 195, 4.55 – DB

Matt Dimon 6-3, 255, 4.8 – DE

Dalton Rodriguez 6-6, 255, 4.8 – OT

Stanvon Taylor 5-11, 175, 4.4 – CB

Cody Thomas 6-5, 220, 4.6 – QB

Ahmad Thomas 6-0, 200, 4.5 – SS

Jordan Mastrogiovanni 6-3, 225, 4.75 – LB

Jordan Smallwood 6-2, 195, 4.55 – WR

Jordan Evans 6-3, 210, 4.55 – LB/DE

Jed Barnett 6-2, 210 – P (JUCO)

Dominique Alexander 6-2, 195, 4.5 – LB/S

Austin Bennett 6-0, 170, 4.45 – WR

Keith Ford 5-11, 200, 4.5 – RB

Verbal Update: OU has added two verbals in the last week. The first one was out of nowhere, but makes the most sense. OU offered JUCO punter Jed Barnett, who scheduled a visit for the OSU game. Barnett came to OU’s attention through kicking/punting game guru Chris Sailer. Bob Stoops' new process is using Sailer to vet the kicking/punting credentials after the Jimmy Stevens mess. It’s not a surprise that Barnett knows Michael Hunnicutt from the same kicking camps. With Tress Way gone, Barnett arrives as a mid-term JUCO and can take over punting duties.

The other verbal was from the long-awaited offer to Jordan Evans. Evans has had an awesome senior year for Norman North and is the true catalyst behind the team's run to the 5A State Finals. The son of former Sooner DT Scott Evans, Jordan grew from a 6-1, 185 linebacker in his junior year to a 6-3, 210 LB/DE as a senior. He started this process as a star at OU’s summer camp, and it’s continued ever since. He’s getting sacks at DE, touchdowns as a wildcat QB and finally more TDs returning kicks. His frame could easily allow for a 6-3, 230, 4.6 OLB. He looks good in space and in coverage, or he could be a 6-3, 240,4 .6 rush end.

Class Predictions

QB: Cody Thomas

RB: Keith Ford

WR: Jordan Smallwood, Austin Bennett


OL: Dalton Rodriguez, Christian Morris, Aaron Cochran, Josiah St. John

DT: Justin Manning, Quincy Russell, Maquedius Bain

DE: D.J. Ward, Matt Dimon

LB: Jordan Mastrogiovanni, Jordan Evans

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

Mid-term players in Russell, Ward, Barnett, TBD JUCO OT.

Position Updates

*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 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 he looks to easily be locking up the best RB in Texas label. He’s showing power and home run speed.

Gundy has already moved on to 2014 with Devon Thomas of Broken Arrow (5-11, 200, 4.5) committing. One spot gone, one spot left? Nathan Starks out of Las Vegas?

*WR: OU has two excellent verbals in Smallwood and Bennett. With Derrick Woods redshirting, 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 Illinois) – Treadwell was unable to visit OU due to high school playoffs. Does this visit happen? If Treadwell takes his visits, then a decision could be close to signing day.

*TE: OU had two new visitors – both JUCO, Cam Clear and Emmanuel Bibbs. Clear already verbaled to Texas A&M, but Bibbs is still in play.

Beau Sandland (6-5, 250, 4.7 Pierce CC California) – Sandland has visited Norman already, but based on interviews, it looks like either Nebraska or Arizona State. Stlll the Notre Dame game highlighted how much OU needs a power TE who is receiving threat in the gaps of a Cover-2 defense, as well as giving OU that 7th blocker to run on teams dropping six or seven defenders.

Emmanuel Bibbs (6-3, 245, 4.7 Arizona West JUCO) – He shows an excellent receiving game both flexed out and inline. Blocking highlights are few, but he shows good overall speed. Not the monster athlete that Cam Clear is (6-6, 270), but might be a more polished talent at TE.

Mitchell Parsons (6-5, 230, 4.6 Colorado) – A top-flight HS TE who shows great ability to get downfield. Would be a great addition to OU’s young TE core. I think OU is waiting to see what Sandland does before offering.

*OL: I’ll be honest. I have zero feel for OL recruiting right now.

OU has Rodriguez, who might want to be a DE/DT in college. OU coaches still think he projects better at OT. OU is recruiting three JUCO OTs when they have Thompson and Williams returning at OT. A high school OT hasn’t visited in a month. No signs of verbals from anyone, either.

This OL class really needs four HS players, with preferably three OTs. It’s not trending in a great way right now. Have to hope Patton and Kittle know something we don’t.

Na’ty Rodgers (6-5, 280, 5.0 Washington, D.C.) – Rodgers is an excellent OL prospect, very physical and athletic. Sounds like South Carolina now.

Caleb Beneoch (6-6, 320, 5.2 Texas) – Former Michigan State verbal who has decommitted and is now receiving big-time offers from OU and Texas. Big, physical body who can play inside or outside. Beneoch visited UT for the WVU 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 Oklahoma) – No offer, no signs of an offer.

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

Aaron Cochran (6-7, 330, 5.3 California) – A big RT prospect from California who is still on the OU radar. Jeff Tedford is gone. Will that help OU?

Kyle Meadows (6-6, 280, 5.0 Ohio) – Meadows is from a big Ohio program that produces D-I talent. Meadows is a very athletic big man with a frame to add more weight and could be very good. High ceiling again.

Christian Morris (6-6, 295, 5.1 Memphis) – Another UCLA verbal that 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. OU visit needs to happen soon.

Sterling Korona (6-7, 255, 5.0 San Antonio) – No offer yet. Matt Beyer’s HS teammate currently committed to Duke. Korona was a former BBall 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 Houston) – 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 Cali JUCO) – A tall, very mobile OT prospect that could turn into an absolute star. Unreal ceiling. OU visit went well from all reports.

Trenton Brown (6-7, 350, 5.4 JUCO Georgia) – Committed to Georgia, bailed on UGA and seems like he’s a lock for UF. Visited Norman for the Oklahoma State game.

Josiah St. John (6-6, 310, 5.2 Trinity Valley JUCO Texas) – Just visited for the Notre Dame game. He has an OU offer. OU will definitely be in his final three.

Clay Rhodes (6-5, 280, 5.1 Kansas) – OU evaluated Rhodes in the 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 de-committed from Missouri.

*DT: The Justin Manning Saga ends next Friday. If he does not commit to OU, then Shipp has a massive problem on his hands. After Manning, I’m not sure that OU will sign another HS DT. OU’s JUCO DT recruiting got a huge twist with the injury to Toby Johnson and the decommitment from Tennessee by Ben Bradley. In addition, Quincy Russell finally visited for the OSU game. OU appears to be tracking California Juco DT/DE Demetrius Campbell, too. OU has to have at least one JUCO DT in for spring.

Justin Manning (6-3, 280, 4.9 Dallas) – Demarcus Granger’s younger brother. He looks faster and more explosive than his brother. OU needs to lock up Justin. 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 Florida) – Like Manning, it’s easy to see Richardson being able to play both DT 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.

Toby Johnson (6-3, 300, 4.9 Hutchinson CC) – He blew his knee out, putting his recruiting into chaos. He may be able to play next fall, but more likely he’s looking at redshirting. He’s still only visited NU and OU.

Demetrius Campbell (6-4, 270, 4.8 Cali JUCO) – Campbell plays both inside and outside and has racked up some great stats with over 30 tackles for loss. Great athleticism and a frame to add some weight.

Ben Bradley (6-3, 310, 5.1 Hutchinson CC) – Was committed to Tennessee, but that disappeared with the firing of Derek Dooley. Johnson’s teammate is more of a run stopper but OU needs that as well. Hasn’t visited OU yet, but OU is chasing him.

Quincy Russell (6-4, 310, 5.0 Trinity Valley CC Texas) – Former UT verbal who had grade issues and went JUCO. UT seems disinterested in resigning him, and OU is evaluating him at DT. Russell like in HS has amazing athletic ability for his size, but still continues to disappear for stretches. His stats at JUCO indicate a much better second half, productivity-wise. The ceiling is high but so is drop to the floor.

Donovan Munger (6-4, 285, 5.0 Ohio) – Another HS DT who might visit OU in December/January. Munger is impressive at both OG/DT. Not sure how OU will get him away from the Big Ten schools but he mentions OU.

Maquedias Bain 6-5, 290, 5.0 Florida – A huge DT prospect who could also end up on the OL. Bain visited for the OSU game and had a good time based on his Twitter traffic. He has more visits he’d like to take, but nothing is scheduled.

*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 has pulled an offer to Dimarya Mixon, but Okoronkwo appears to be still in play. In addition, Evans could be a 6-3, 245 rush DE as well.

Is there a JUCO DE about there? Perhaps BJW loves the 2014 DE group (in-state targets included) more and wants to save a ship for 2014.

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (6-3, 220, 4.6 Houston) – OU just offered this kid based on 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 Oklahoma State right now. Another witness to OU abusing UT for the second year in a row.

*LB: The ND game and OU’s struggles against running teams spreading OU out would seem to indicate that OU needs an upgrade at LB to a more physical, every-down presence. OU now has Alexander and Evans at LB potentially as well. I still think OU would take verbals from E.J. Levenberry and/or Mike Mitchell.

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

Devante Bond (6-3, 230, 4.6 JUCO) – Awesome-looking JUCO star from Pierce CC. Kish will need to figure out if this JUCO addition makes sense but it would be the ultimate insurance against an injury to Nelson or 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 JUCO) – 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 Texas – 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. Ohio State is the leader. No timetable for a decision, but not sure where OU is with Mitchell.

DB: Three down, two or three to go.

Why does OU need 3 safeties in this class? The backup 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 3rd-and-long almost all the time, so OU needs to reload the secondary numbers.

Mike’s got 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.

OU appears to have dropped L.J. Moore and Johnny Johnson due to concerns that both kids really want to stay out west. And Cole Luke in a surprise chose ND. Tyler Foreman picked Wisconsin after a great visit.

Mike appears close to fine-tuning this final list. Lamar Robbins just visited along with teammate Jamal Carter. Adrian Baker is back in play with Mark Stoops moving on. And there’s still Internet rumors about Tee Shephard ending up in Norman. Shephard is an elite CB prospect from last year who left ND.

Lamar Robbins (6-3, 185, 4.45 Florida) – 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 SEC country 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.

Adrian Baker (6-1, 170, 4.4 CB Florida) – A big-time cover CB from Florida. Verbaled to FSU, but with Mark Stoops leaving FSU, OU will once again make a big push for a visit. Mike didn’t want to compete against Mark while Baker was verbaled to FSU. He’s the kind of big cover corner Mike loves and turns into Thorpe winners.

Jamal Carter 6-2, 185, 4.4 Miami – Teammate of Robbins is verbaled to Miami, but just visited OU with Robbins and verbal Ahmad Thomas. He’s the kind of big physical coverage safety OU is recruiting under Mike. He just fits with Byrd and Thomas, and Mike wants to play three safeties most of the time.