Copyright by James Hale, Alan Hitchcock, ‘J.R.’ Ross, Tony Sellars, Andrew Ford, Chris Joseph and the 247sports.com reporting staff.
LSU Joins the NCAA Doghouse . . .
The NCAA dog pound, (generally a ‘no-kill’ facility), opened its gates this week to LSU who was slapped for a one year sentence for an improper benefit arranged by former LSU assistant coach D.J. McCarthy. The referenced benefits were not huge, improper transportation and housing during a recruiting visit, but those relatively minor infractions became inflamed when McCarthy tried to cover up those actions.
The NCAA hates it when you lie, (Note to Jim Tressel: It’s ‘vest’ to stay clear of that August 12 meeting).
Les Miles had better shut the door tight hoping that the Willie Lyles scandal does not seep in to his program after the school admitted to paying Lyles the relatively small sum of $ 600 for a recruit video.
Miles says video purchased as part of a controversial scouting package was necessary so he could see potential players in action.
"What I need to have is film," Miles said this week. "Because we make all the decisions ourselves on whether the guy's good enough to play, nobody else. As long as they give us the video, that's all we really need."
But several sources who obtained and reviewed copies of the tape in question, say it was typical Willie
Lyles junk bond quality, most pirated from other services and common you tube highlights. And Lyles is known to have hung around in the shadows of the Tiger program for several years now.
An ESPN review of video-scouting reports purchased by LSU last fall from Lyles found they contained highlights of players who already were playing Division I football at other programs and poor-quality, full-game shoots that did not isolate or identify any players at all.
OU's Ronnell Lewis
Miles might want to change his story while he still has time.
In addition to the probation, the NCAA accepted LSU's self-imposed reduction of two scholarships during the 2010-11 academic year, and a reduction in on campus visits and recruiting calls. LSU had already begun reducing official visits during 2010-11, but the NCAA expanded the punishment to include 2011-12.
The Bengal Tigers now join Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Boise State and USC in the NCAA penalty box with North Carolina, Auburn, Ohio State and Oregon anxiously awaiting trial.
Calm Before the Storm . . .
Most of the Sooners are through with summer workouts and are beginning to take a final break before reporting for two-a-days on August 3rd.
The big news of the week came from Ronnell Lewis, who, as we have predicted now for three weeks, passed his summer course required to become eligible.
That, and the return of Jamell Fleming, (whose return we also have been predicting for over a month), leaves the defensive staff as excited as they have been in some time over the prospects for the upcoming season. The staff honestly believes that all eleven starters are All-Conference, (or better), quality
As for nagging injuries, Tony Jefferson appears to be completely over an ankle sprain suffered in the spring. Although Jefferson practiced at full strength all summer, as a precautionary measure Scott Anderson recommended he wear a boot or a wrap when not going through drills. Those measures, when witnessed by casual observers, were the catalyst for several rumors, but Jefferson appears to be fine.
RS freshman Geneo Grissom, who was expected to be a star this spring at defensive end, also appears to be ready, but a little more uncertainty surrounds him, as the staff prefers not rule on his health until two-a-days begin.
Dusty Dvoracek is one veteran who spent some time in Norman this summer working out with the Sooners. Double ‘D’ says this defense will be spectacular, and in particular lauds senior linebacker Travis Lewis.
“Travis is vocal, but when it comes to himself, he’s very humble and maybe too tough on himself,” Dvorcek said.
“He’s an amazing football player, I don’t think he gets the recognition he deserves,” Dvorcek added. “But I can’t name too many four year starters who have played at that high of a level, and too, he’s returned for his senior year. And remember, he never played linebacker in high school – there’s just so many amazing things you could say about him.”
Regardless of the accolades, Travis will again be one of the leaders on defense, along with Ronnell Lewis and Gabe Lynn.
Spread or Pro-Set? -- Inquiring Minds Want to Know . . .
With two new offensive coordinators, there may be some question as to what the Sooners might change offensively.
“We’re a pro-set offense that, most of the time, uses an up-tempo pace,” Heupel says.
OK, so how do we separate fact from fiction? What’s the difference, as it relates to Crimson and Cream?
The spread is basically a quick hitting offense that primarily relies on a plethora of receivers running to ‘space’ and catching the ball; and using a tailback to keep the defense on it’s toes.
The pro-set, as defined by Oklahoma coaches, is a more balanced attack designed to take advantage of weaknesses in defense alignments or personnel. On the field, it differs from a traditional spread offense, by using a full back and a tight end, which are normally missing in a spread formation.
Now that we’ve established what it is we’re talking about, it’s easier to apply James Patton’s goals for his O-Line this fall. It’s no secret that at times the Sooners couldn’t blow the suds off a beer in the red zone last fall.
Three agonizing goal line stands by Texas A&M underlines that point.
Patton went into spring addressing that problem. For the solution as to how Patton did that, we turn to O-Line guru Merv Johnson who explained the changes he saw this spring.
“We changed some of the blocking assignments and the general philosophy behind how we block,” Johnson observed.
“This year I think our run game will be more successful, the offensive line will generally fire out and block directly in front of themselves, as opposed to blocking at angles. This means the back will have to hit a pre-determined hole, as opposed to the back having to look for a seam when the blocking is at an angle.
“Or, to say it another way, you might say it’s more power and less finesse.”
“We came back and really looked at that and what we’re doing in our power run game and our short yardage game,” said Assistant Coach Bruce Kittle, who coaches OU’s tackles and tight ends.
“We just really wanted to improve on that, and I felt pretty good about it overall.”
When we understand this we suddenly see why the coaching staff was also pleased with reports of increased numbers in the weight room over the summer.
The second half of the ‘better run game’ equation is the running back, where Cale Gundy says he’ll play the two best all-around backs the majority of the time. (Translation: ‘who blocks best might play most’).
And if that is the determining factor, we immediately assume that size matters, which allows us to predict that Brennan Clay and Dominique Whaley will be a hard combination to beat. At least until more is proven over the next six weeks.
That does not mean that Gundy is unaware of Brandon Williams and Roy Finch possessing home-run potential, we can only speculate that they will be used for that exact purpose at times this fall, if Clay and Whaley do indeed finish as the one-two punch.
Or, perhaps Gundy will go with Jonathan Miller, who offers the best of both worlds with size and speed.
Certainly you could not run a pro-set without multiple receivers, and here the Sooners should get word that Trey Metoyer has made the necessary academic requirements and will join the team sometime in August. If Metoyer is cleared as we expect him to be, he gives the Sooners one more home run threat opposite Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills.
Again, Merv Johnson weighs in on the likelihood of a late comer contributing.
“There are probably two positions, running back and receiver, where one could -- but you still need to know the plays,” Johnson said. “If someone at one of those positions joined the team in mid-August, it would probably be mid-season before he could be a factor. But, talent trumps experience at those two positions, so yeah, a very talented player could impact early, although probably not on a consistent basis, but you couldn’t just ignore their presence on the field either.”
Recruit List: Projected 15-16 / Committed Prospects - 11
Kyle Marrs, (6-6 / 308 / 5.2), San Antonio, (Brandeis), TX – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Alex Ross RB/LB, (6-2 / 205 / 4.5), Jenks, OK – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Sterling Shepard (5'10, 160, 4.47), OKC, (Heritage Hall), OK – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Daniel Brooks, (5-9 / 180 / 4.4), Rockdale, TX – Committed to OKLAHOMA
DeVante Harris, CB, (5'11 / 160 / 4.4), Mesquite, (Horn), TX – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Laith Harlow, TE, (6-5 / 230 / 4.7), Tallahassee, (Godby), FL – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Eric Striker, LB, (6-1 / 198 / 4.6), Seffner, (Armwood), FL – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Durron Neal, WR, (6-1 / 194 / 4.5), St. Louis, (DeSmet), MO – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Ty Darlington, OC/OG, (6-3 / 275 / 4.9), Apopka, FL - Committed to OKLAHOMA
John Michael McGee, (6-4 / 262 / 4.9), of Texarkana, TX - Committed to OKLAHOMA
Trevor Knight, QB, (6-3 / 193 / 4.6), San Antonio, (Reagan), TX - Committed to OKLAHOMA
We expect Alex Ross (6-2 / 205 / 4.5), of Jenks to get some good news any day now, as he will be added to the Under Armour All America roster as only the third running back selected. ESPN currently has Alex ranked as the #4 back nationally, but will reevaluate all positions in mid season this fall.
If Ross does what we think he'll do, he could be America's top ranked back by Thanksgiving. Regardless, OU fans will get to see him compete in Orlando against the nation's best in the week preceding that game.
Two weeks ago Oklahoma QB coach Josh Heupel contacted San Antonio’s Trevor Knight, (who had committed to Texas A&M in early March), and asked if he was still interested in playing football at Oklahoma. If so, would he be willing to trip to Norman over the weekend (July 9-10), and discuss the possibilities?
Knight responded favorably and after the visit became the sole recruit at the QB spot in the class of 2012. Knight described how it all unfolded:
“Coach Heupel and Coach Stoops stayed in touch for a while now, and Coach Heupel came down to watch me throw. I was always interested in OU and I went up to their Junior Day and everything went well, but they offered Gunter Kiel and they told me that he was their number one guy and I understood that.
“They finally came in and told me that it was finally time for me to get an offer, and so they offered me. I told them that I might as well go up and at least visit so I would have no regrets. So I went up there and kind of fell in love with it, and felt it was a better opportunity for me and my family so we are real excited about it.”
Reagan head football Coach David Wetzel described Knight for us:
“Number one he’s a good young man, has good character and that’s the first thing that comes to my mind, but he’s blessed with an enormous athletic ability. He knows it is a blessing and he’s one of the hardest workers that we have ever had.
“He has always played several sports, so I think the one thing that the college football fans will be excited about is that his best football is in front of him. He is going to get better and better because he is always a guy going from football to basketball to baseball and then he does track and plays baseball in the summer. So he’s never been a guy that has been totally immersed in the whole quarterback film watching, go to all the camps and be tutored by the college coaches. This is a deal where he’s going to get better and better the more time he spends with just football.”
“He’s definitely a duel-threat quarterback,” Wetzel added. “When he came out of middle school we were just amazed with his arm. We just thought he had an incredible release, we thought he had an outstanding touch on the ball, understood placement of the football, and he had a rocket arm for a young kid coming from the eighth grade to the ninth grade. As a ninth grader he threw the ball very well and just kind of commanded the offense and he started as a sophomore for us and won the district championship.
“He likes to run and he runs a lot better than I ever thought that he would, and he is deceptively fast. We like the ball in his hands and so do his teammates. He certainly could play in a pro-style under center offense, but we right now are more of a shotgun zone-read option throw the ball down the field kind of team. However, he can do whatever he is asked to do.”
With 11 commitments on-board and only 16 scholarship estimated to be available, the question now is. Who’s left?
Two weeks ago a medical issue forced freshman TE Dan Tapko to give up football. The OU staff apparently would like another tight end on the roster and now will reach out to a very unusual story.
In 2009, Terrell Mitchell, (6-6 / 245 / 4.6), from Powder Springs, Georgia was one on the nations top TE prospects, after catching 26 passes for 450 yards and eight touchdowns during his senior season. However he did not qualify after signing with Kentucky, and enrolled at Ft. Scott Community College where an ACL set him back.
Now Mitchell, (who has four years of eligibility remaining), is ready to enroll somewhere, and the Oklahoma staff is making a late run at him, along with Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Texas A&M, hoping to get him on campus in August.
The biggest shake-up is at defensive end where Bobby Jack Wright saw his top target, Katy Morton Ranch star Dan Hunter. (6-4½ / 218, 4.6), suddenly commit to LSU.
Although BJW will undoubtedly continue to call Hunter, recall that his strategy early on was to go coast to coast, offering the top dozen or so defensive end prospects and take who ever jumped on board.
Now that we take another look at the defensive end prospects, here’s how we think they’ll appear on OU’s chart:
We suspect that Euless Trinity DE Polo Manukainiu, (6-3 / 235), is probably now top-dog, with Channing Ward, (6-3 / 248 / 4.7), of Aberdeen, Mississippi nipping at his heels. Charles Tapper, (6-3 / 235 / 4.7), of Baltimore, may be the biggest name left nationally, and Wright could also go hard after Utahs’ Troy Hinds, (6-4 / 225 / 4.6), or stay closer to home and court Dominique Ramacher, (6-3 / 230 / 4.7), of Denton, (Gyer), Texas.
Along with Hiunter, we suspect that Coach Wright will also stay connected to Devonte Fields, (6-4 / 220 / 4.6), of Arlington Martin, who is committed to TCU.
James Patton also has one new name to add to his short list. Lakewood, Washington offensive tackle Zach Banner, (6-9 / 325), joins Joshua Garnett, OT, (6-5 / 275 / 4.9), Puyallup, WA; Patrick Miller, OT (6-6 / 275), Palm Beach Gardens, (Dwyer), FL; Kyle Murphy, OT (6-6 / 290 ), San Clemente, CA; Ronnie Stanley, OT (6-6 / 287/ 5.0), Las Vegas, (Bishop Gorman), NV and Avery Young, (6-6 / 270 /4.9), also of Palm Beach Gardens, FL as a Sooner target.
But it won’t be easy, as Banner, one of the most heavily recruited offensive line prospects in the country has over 50 offers. Still, the Sooners have hope:
"Oklahoma is making a big jump lately," said Banner this week. "They were already in my top 10 but coach (Bob) Stoops and the other coaches are working on me hard right now."
His top 10 list of schools include Oregon, Washington, USC, Cal, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Michigan, Alabama, LSU and Florida State.
In the secondary, it’s still San Antonio’s Colin Blake is at the top of Willie Martinez’s wish list, and behind Blake sits Sherman Texas corner Ryan Reid, (5-10 / 186 / 4.5), who had an impressive in person workout and because of it may have moved into the #2 position on the secondary wish list.
Also, we’ll say that there is one corner in Texas committed elsewhere that the Sooners are trying to turn. He is still taking their calls, and there is a possibility of a switch here. But first Martinez wants to hear something from Blake.
Brent Venables has one slot open at linebacker and hopes to land Brian Nance, (6-3, 215, 4.5) of Euless Trinity, Texas; Alabama’s Kwon Alexander, (6'2 / 212 / 4.6), of Oxford, Quanzell Lambert, OLB, (6-3 / 210 /4.5), of Sickerville, (Timber Creek), NJ. or Dalton Santos, (6-2 / 238 /4.6), of Vann, TX.
Michigan commits of LB Royce Jenkins-Stone and CB Terry Richardson, (both of Detroit Cass Tech), who now think that they might like to take some visits. Venables and Martinez aren’t holding their breath, but if they do show up in Norman you can bet that OU will try to sway them.
At wide receiver Jay Norvell is concentrating most on Dorial Green-Beckham, Jordan Payton and fellow Californian Derrick Woods. Payton, (6-2 / 200 / 4.5), a former USC pledge, is serious about OU and says they are one of the schools on his short list. Other possible receivers are LSU commit Avery Johnson, (6-2 / 175 / 4.5), of Pompano Beach, Florida and D’Vario Montgomery, (6’3 / 205 / 4.6), from Winterpark, Florida and Nelson Agholor, (6-1 / 180 / 4.5), of Tampa Berkley Prep.
Jackie Shipp may have a chance to get back in on the nation’s top DT Eddie Goldman who is also rumored to have Alabama, FSU, Auburn and Cal among his current top five, although more realistic chances surround Sheldon Day, (6-2 / 278), Indianapolis, IN; Vincent Valentine, (6-4 / 309 / 4.9) Edwardsville, IL; Ondre Pipkins, (6-2 / 320 / 5.0), Kansas City, (Park Hill), MO and Ashton Henderson, (6'2 / 312 / 5.3), Jenks, OK.
Recruiting Watch List 2013 . . .
Most of the recruiting activity has shifted to prospects who will be juniors this fall. The Sooner staff is slowly getting ‘unofficial’ offers ready, although no new names appear this week.
It’s a long way off until a quarterback is offered for 2013, but Waco’s Jordan Darling, (6-5 / 225 / 4.8),Waco, (Midway); Brayden Scott, (6'2 / 185), Tahlequah (Sequoyah) and Kohl Stewart, Houston, St. Pius X remain the current leaders.
Here are the juniors that OU is most interested in at this time. More will be added in the fall, as the Sooners typically offer between 75 – 100 top prospects each year. (* Although ‘official’ written offers cannot be made until February, these prospects are holding verbal offers from OU).
Marcell Ateman, WR, (6-5 / 200), Wylie, TX
Dakota Austin, SS, (5'11 / 165 / 4.4), Lancaster, Texas
Trey' Vonne Barre, ATH, (5'10 / 170 / 4.5), Jenks, OK
Will Barrow, CB (5-9 / 161 / 4.5), Dallas, (Skyline), TX
*Robert Boyd, OL, (6-4 / 284 / 5.2), Vian, OK
Jacob Burtch, QB, (6-1 / 197 / 4.7) Seminole, TX
Braden Calip, DB (5-9 / 181 / 4.5), Jenks, OK
*Su'a Cravens, LB, (6-1 / 205 / 4.5), Murietta, (Vista), CA
Jordan Darling, QB, 6-5 / 225 / 4.8),Waco, (Midway), TX
Teriyon Gipson, CB (5'9 / 168) Dallas, (Kimball), TX
Derrick Griffin, TE (6'6 / 220 / 4.6), Rosenburg, TX
Brandon Harris WR, (6-1 / 175 / 4.5),Cedar Hill, TX
*Jason Hatcher, DE, (6-1½ / 235 / 4.5), Louisville, (Trinity), KY
Quan Jones, WR, (6-4 / 196), Wylie, TX
Sam Laptad, TE, (6-4 / 218 / 4.7), Jenks, OK
*E.J. Levenberry. LB (6-3 / 230 / 4.6), Riner, (Hylton), VA
*Justin Manning, DT (6-3 / 278 / 5.0), Dallas, (Kimball), TX
*Dorian Miller, OT, (6-3 / 276 / 5.0), Metuchen, NJ
Robert Nkemdiche, DE, (6-4 / 262 / 4.6), Loganville, (Grayson), GA
*Heath Nowland, OL/DL (6-3 / 300), Edmond, (North), OK pending
*Jake Raulerson, OT, (6-5 / 250), Celina, TX
Zac Robinson, WR, Tahlequah, (Sequoyah), OK
*Devin Rolen, RB/LB, (6'0, 220, 4.6), McAlester, OK
Brayden Scott, QB, (6'2 / 185), Tahlequah (Sequoyah), OK
Taion Sells, S, (5'9 / 170 / 4.5) Irving, (MacArthur), TX
*Darrell Songy, S/LB, (6-1 /205 / 4.5), Pflugerville, (Connally), TX
Kohl Stewart, QB, Houston, (St. Pius X), TX
*D.J. Ward, LB (6-4 / 230 / 4.6), Lawton, OK
Dontre Wilson, RB/DB/ATH, (5-10 / 163 / 4.4), DeSoto, TX
Cameron Wrenn, RB, (5-11 / 177 / 4.5), Broken Arrow, OK
Recruiting Watch List 2014 . . .
It’s almost too early, but here are a few young ones that have already turned heads for 2014. These prospects will only be sophomores this fall, and many more names will eventually join them.
Tyrus Barrett, OT (6-2 / 280), Dallas, (6-2 / 280), TX
James David, LB, (6-2 / 210), Rockdale, TX
Jakari Dillard, ATH, (6-4 / 185), Princeton, TX
Cedric Collins, DB/ATH/WR (5’8 / 170 / 4.4), Dallas, (Skyline), TX
Nick Harvek, Lancaster, TX
Dominique Little, RB, Lawton, OK