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Weekend Wrap-Up by Alan Hitchcock

Copyright 2012 by OUInsider; James Hale; Alan Hitchcock; Mike Della Vecchio; Dave Hunt; Tyler McComas; Tony Sellars and the 247 Sports reporting staff.

by Alan Hitchcock

Death of a Lion? . . .

Unfortunately, the infamous Freeh Report, released Monday, catapults the entire Penn State-Sandusky-Paterno mess out in the open for everyone to throw up over. It’s something we’d all like to forget and certainly wish never happened, but it did and it will continue to send echoes through college sports for some time.

The NCAA will now take charge, and the first question is: ‘By what authority do they have to step into a case where no explicit NCAA rules were broken?’

"That's the problem — there isn't (a rules violation)," said David Swank, a former chair of the NCAA infractions committee, (and not exactly a favorite past OU president).

Mike Glazier, an attorney who represents schools during NCAA investigations, said: "If they (the NCAA) decide to get into it and apply their enforcement procedures, it would be unprecedented for them."

Swank and Glazier are far more familiar and focused on traditional rules violations, generally regarding extra benefits and recruiting abuses, because almost all of the infractions that come before the NCAA fall into one of those categories. But the NCAA does indeed have authority, and will specifically investigate whether Penn State lost "institutional control" over its athletic program, (Article 6), and violated ethics rules, (Bylaw 10.1). Those are two steep cliffs that Penn State must scale in order to escape punishment, an almost impossible task in light of the sordid details contained in this week’s released investigation.

‘Lack of Institutional Control’ has long been a blanket that the organization throws on a program when there is evidence, but little proof, of major violations. However the ethics rules have seldom been applied and this could be the first time that they are used to justify major sanctions, including possible use of the so called ‘Death Penalty.’

OU's Brennan Clay

To escape the guillotine, PSU must satisfy four questions that NCAA President Mark Emmert laid out months ago, when all he had at the time was an account of testimony from the Grand Jury. On November 17, 2011, Emmert sent Penn State authorities a letter and asked the school to satisfy these four questions, (condensed):

1. How has Penn State complied with the Articles of the Constitution and Bylaws, (regarding Article 6 and Bylaw 10.1)?

2.How has Penn State exercised Institutional Control over issues identified and related to the Grand Jury report?

3.Have each of the alleged persons, identified and involved in issues outlined in the Grand Jury report, (i.e. Sandusky, Paterno, university President Graham Spanier, PSU Vice President Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley), behaved consistent with principles governing ethical conduct and honesty? If so, how?

4.What policies and procedures does PSU have in place to monitor, prevent and detect the issues related to and identified in the Grand Jury Report?

Emmert asked PSU to submit their answers in 30 days, (by mid December, 2011). However the school asked for a delay in order for an independent study of the entire scandal to be conducted before they responded.

Now that request seems to have made what once was a steep hill into an impossible mountain if PSU is to escape serious punishment, as the Grand Jury report was fairly thorough, but the comprehensive 267 page report of the investigation, headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh, is much more detailed, and far more damning than anything the NCAA would have been able to uncover on their own.

While the end result for Penn State is still undetermined, we can only guess that punishment will be severe, as the NCAA has already raised the stakes with the public comment made by its’ president Monday evening.

OU's Roy Finch

However, for the rest of the NCAA members, the scandal will surely put presidents and athletic directors on notice that they will be held accountable for actions of coaches and those under them.

And, if given the chance, maybe Coach Paterno would have liked to re-consider a response made years ago when someone asked if he was ready to retire.

”And what, leave college football to the likes of Jackie Sherrill and Barry Switzer?” Joe Pa responded.

Sherrill did have his problems at several stops.

Switzer admitted to buying a kid a winter coat, to paying for a young man to go home to attend the funeral of a grandmother that raised him, and to giving his assistant coach, (Mack Brown), money out of his own pocket to make good on a promise of a raise after state budgets were cut. The NCAA considered those to be ‘major infractions.’

As far as we know, Paterno never gave his assistants money out of his own pocket. He never bought a kid a coat, or paid for a plane ticket home, all he did was to allow the pedophile in the office next to him continue his sordid activities for 13 years so that the reputation of his so called ‘Grand Experiment’ -- that was Penn State football, remain pristine.

In retrospect, college football would have surely been better off if it were not left to the likes of Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky.

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OU's Dom Whaley

Many Happy Returns . . .

Bob Stoops wants to once again install the return game to the Sooner arsenal.

It may be hard to believe, but the Sooners have not had a kickoff return for a touchdown since 2007 when DeMarco Murray went 91 yards against Baylor, and they have not returned a punt for a TD since Ryan Broyles sprinted 87 yards vs OSU in 2009.

The coaching staff would like to see someone mirror past Stoops era punt returning greats such as Antonio Perkins, (who had a career best of 7 return TD’s), and J.T. Thatcher who shares the school record for average punt return (16.6 yards per return), with Tommy McDonald.

The all time OU kick-off return averages are also headed by three Stoops era players, DeMarco Murray, (27.6); Juaquin Iglesias, (26.4); and Antwone Savage, (25.5).

Last year the Sooners averaged 21.6 yards on kickoff returns but only a paltry 8.7 yard on punt returns. In 2011 Brennan Clay had the teams’ best KO return average (26.5), but only touched the ball twice. The second leading average was by the departed Trey Franks, who averaged 23.9 on 22 returns while Roy Finch had a 20.3 yard average on 11 touches.

“We need to do a better job on all of our returns, and I think we have the talent to do so, we just have to find out who’s comfortable, and who can produce,” one Sooner assistant said.

After Ryan Broyles was injured last year better, Kenny Stills took over the punt return duties with mixed results.

“He didn’t drop any, so he took care of job one,” Cale Gundy said. “That’s the first thing you want to do, consistently catch the ball, every time. The best way to lose your job back there is to drop a punt. He didn’t, so if anyone plans on taking that job, he’d better be able to catch the ball first.”

But Stills only managed 4.8 yards per punt return, and Gundy agrees the Sooners need to average closer to 10 yards per punt.

There are plenty of contenders for both kick off and punt return jobs this fall. Vying for the kick off honors will be Brennan Clay, who would almost be an automatic if he had maintained his 26.5 yard average on more than two returns last fall.

“Brennan's not our fastest guy, but he’s one of the better ball carriers,” Gundy says. “It’s not just about pure speed. If it was, we’d just line everybody up and give it to the fastest man. But it’s the ability to anticipate, use blockers and sense where the daylight might suddenly open. Brennan is very good at those things.”

Beyond Clay and Finch, newcomers crowd the field. Throw in freshmen Durron Neal, Sterling Shepard and Derrick Woods and JC transfer Damien Williams as well as RS freshman Danzel Williams and there are probably more options this year than at any other in the Stoops era. Texas 3A 100-meter champion Daniel Brooks completes the freshmen contenders, and will get a shot as well.
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Team Notes . . .

Cale Gundy reports that Dom Whaley is not quite 100%, “but he’s still ahead of schedule.” Gundy says Whaley is running well, and progressing, but won’t be challenged until he puts on pads.

“That’s when we’ll really see where he’s at. Will he still be able to make cuts with pads on?” Gundy asks, “We think so, but he hasn’t done that yet, and right now there’s no need to rush it.”

Courtney Garner and LaColton Bester both tell us that they are through with finals and headed to Norman after submitting their transcripts to OU. Bester in a few days, Gardner in a week to ten days, as he anticipates it will take that long for the NCAA clearing house to give him the green light, and does not want to be quarantined off campus while awaiting word..

"It's good news, although not official," Jay Norvell says, "But yeah, I expect them both to be here."

Meanwhile offensive lineman Will Latu stumbled in his attempt to complete his JC degree in a class at OU and one source says it’s now totally up to him to pass in an intersession class, if he chooses to do so.

Alex Ross has been one of the more impressive freshmen attending ‘Camp Schmitty’ this summer, drawing comparisons to Adrian Peterson, but don’t pencil him in as a starter just yet.

Because an injury sidelined him for much of last year, Ross only played running back in less than ten high school games at Jenks and while no one questions his running ability, it is yet to be determined just how fast he can master the finer points of blocking and catching passes out of the backfield.

Another freshman making an early impression is Eric Striker. Striker is an aggressive head hunter on a mission and the work ethic has shown this summer, despite everything that Jerry Schmidt has thrown his way.

“Eric is going to surprise some people,“ Mike Stoops says. “He’s had over 100 tackles in both his junior and senior years, and realize he was doing that playing for one of the top ten teams in the country.” (Seffner, (Armwood), Florida where Striker holds the school record for career sacks with 42).

So how will Stoops use this sack champ?

“We’ll see where his body takes him, but right now he’s a nickel-linebacker hybrid, and could easily grow a bit more and be a perfect ‘WILL’ linebacker,” Stoops added. “I’m not too worried about it, I’m just anxious to get to work with him, you just don’t get guys like that every day.”

DB Gary Simon, another Stoops favorite from Florida, remains the last holdout of the 2012 class and he appears to be close to satisfying entry requirements at OU. The results may not be known for another week or so, but it does look much more promising than it did a month ago and he should be in Norman soon barring a last minute glitch.

And don’t put RS freshman P.L. Lindley (6-2 / 240), at DE for good just yet. Lindley was moved in the spring, but could easily drift back to linebacker in August now that Londell Taylor is academically ineligible. Sooner coaches say that for now, Lindley is at defensive end, but would not guarantee he would be there on opening day.
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Recruiting 2013 . . .
Projected 22 – 23 / Committed 12

Keith Ford, RB/ATH (5-11 / 195 / 4.5), Cypress Ranch, TX – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Matt Dimon, (6'3½ / 255, 4.84), Katy, TX – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Greg Bryant RB, (5-11 / 191 / 4.5), Delray Beach, (American Heritage), FL – Committed to OKLAHOMA
D.J. Ward, LB/DE, (6-4 / 252 / 4.6), Lawton, OK – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Dalton Rodriguez, OT, (6-6 / 255 / 4.9), Tulsa, (Union), OK – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Stanvon Taylor, CB, (5’11 / 160 / 4.45), Tulsa (East Central), OK – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Cody Thomas, QB, (6-4½ / 220 / 4.6), Colleyville, (Heritage), TX – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Ahmad Thomas, SS, (6'1/ 202 / 4.5), Miami, (Central), FL – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Jordan Smallwood, WR, (6’2, 190, 4.6), Jenks, OK – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Jordan Mastrogiovanni, ILB (6-2 /225 / 4.7), Dallas, (Jesuit), TX – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Austin Bennett, WR, (6'0 / 170 / 4.4), Manvel, Texas – Committed to OKLAHOMA
Matt Beyer, OT, (6-5½ / 275), San Antonio, (Reagan), TX – Committed to OKLAHOMA
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Early commitments are on the rise, and they have not helped Oklahoma as many of the top prospects on OU’s list nationally have never visited Norman, and have committed elsewhere..

"We considered that it may be the case, because we’re going more national, and until the fall, kids more or less have to pay their own transportation costs, so for many there’s just no way to visit, and they often fall in love with the first school they see,” one Sooner coach said this week.

“But the flip side to that is that we think we’ll see more ‘de-commitments’ than ever before,” he added.

“It’s crazy, we already have several official visits scheduled for players who are committed elsewhere, and I know we’ll have more.

“When the season begins it sometimes brings more doubt. Some of these teams sold a kid on how they are an up and coming program. Fine, but some of the shine wears off quickly when you start losing games you’re supposed to win.

“And then, coaching changes effect a lot of commitments. Not just the head coach, but an assistant that the recruit feels close to leaves, and so does the enthusiasm for that school. Then you have the unknown. Maybe that school suddenly gets a pledge from another defensive end, or quarterback after telling the recruit that he’d be the only one taken in the class, or you have a sudden totally unexpected mess like at Arkansas or Penn State.

“On the other hand, if we have a great year, the kids see us on Sports Center or Game Day, and our phone calls get answered a lot faster -- we start getting calls from parents saying, ‘maybe we made a mistake,’ Those things happen, and I guarantee you there will be more defections this year, we’re already starting to see them, and it’s only July.”

A quick look at OU’s early offers does reflect that ‘National’ trend. To no one’s surprise the state of Texas leads the list with 35 prospects offered followed by California (22) and Florida (18). But there are a few surprises. Arizona and Maryland (5 each) come next. And, New Jersey, North Carolina, Illinois and Indiana prospects have as many offers as the state of Oklahoma (4).

It’s easy to see that the face, methods and terms associated with recruiting are quickly changing, and ‘committed’ now seems to mean only a temporary state of mind.

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Top 2013 Targets

Here is a condensed look at where OU’s recruiting efforts stand with seniors -- by position:
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Linebacker: If there is a ‘glass half emptyl’ position this is it after Tim Kimbrough, (6-1 / 222 / 4.6), of Indianapolis committed to Georgia last Friday. That leaves Tim Kish with several ‘backers who have committed elsewhere, as well as two or three that will get another long look, including a JC.

As we have said for a few weeks now, Kish is also focused on a handful of linebackers who have committed elsewhere, currently headed by UCLA commit Deon Hollins; Chans Cox, (Arizona State); Raaquan Davis, (Baylor); and Courtney Love, (Nebraska). Of those only Cox appears to be solid in his choice, as of now.

Plano linebacker Mike Mitchell, (6-4 / 215 / 4.6), is one Kish will once again look at, and if the Sooners get enough supporting evidence to back Mitchells’ sudden ascent up the recruiting rankings, you can bet an offer will be extended.

Norman North linebacker Jordan Evans will remain on this falls’ watch list and if he has a fasrt start could earn an offer in September after a great showing at OU’s camp in June.

The Sooners want to only take two linebackers in this class, but we can almost bet that at least one safety will have the size to move up in time.

Top Target: JC star Devante Bond, LB/DE, (6'3 / 230), and a three committed linebackers, (Deon Hollins; Raaquan Davis, and Courtney Love), grab the spotlight with Plano’s Mike Mitchell ready to steal it at any moment.
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Secondary: Mike Stoops has identified and offered the players that he thinks best fit his defensive principles and it appears that the entire list of prospects is made of up elite players. With Stanvon Taylor and Ahmad Thomas already committed, Stoops is looking for three more.

Stoops still is high on two Arizona prospects he has been familiar with for some time, (Priest Willis and Cole Luke), but has a list of defensive backs that fit his ideal defender, headed by Fresno’s duo of Hatari Byrd and John Johnson, and Floridians Jamal Carter and Lamar Robbins at powerhouse Miami Southridge.

The 6’ 3” Robbins is unusually big, and strong, for a cornerback, with a 235 pound bench and a 405 pound squat and has over 35 offers to date.

“I don’t have a favorite or a top five right now. I’m still developing that and still trying to put that together.”

Oklahoma is one of those schools in the mix for that Final Five as the Sooners have offered both Robbins and teammate Carter.

“Oklahoma is one of the schools that we have together and that we are considering going to. When I make my decisions on my top schools, Oklahoma is going to be one of those schools and I’m sure that will be the case with Jamal as well. My top list will probably be Oklahoma, Auburn, Louisville and West Virginia on that list, but I’m not ready to narrow it down yet.

“I am going to take all my official visits and by the time our season rolls around I should have a top five and really a top two. I’m going to get my mom’s input . . . . I’m going to want her to go and see that college and check out the coaching staff to make her own impressions on that school.”

Top Targets: This list could quickly change, but as of this moment it’s Mackensie Alexander, CB, (5'11 / 175 / 4.4), Immokalee, FL; Hatari Byrd, (6-2 / 195 / 4.5), Fresno, (Central East), CA; Jamal Carter, S, (6-2 / 193 / 4.5), Miami, (Southridge), FL; Chevoski Collins, (5-11 / 182 / 4.5), Livingston, TX; Tyler Foreman, (6'2' / 195 / 4.5), Encino, CA; Tahaan Goodman, (6-1 / 185 / 4.5), Rancho Cucamonga, CA; John Johnson, (5-10 / 175 / 4.5), Fresno, CA; Cole Luke, (6-0 / 168 / 4.4), Chandler, (Hamilton), and Priest Willis, (6-2 / 200 / 4.5) Tempe, (Marcos De Niza), AZ; Lamar Robbins, CB, (6’3, 188, 4.45), Miami (Southridge), FL.
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Defensive Tackle: Jackie Shipp most needs maturity here, and two Juco’s are a top priority, along with high school prospects, Justin Manning and De’Asian Richardson. Shipp is also in contact with a couple of committed DT prospects who have apparently called lately, stay tuned.

Jaynard Bostwick, (6'4, 291, 5.0), of Port St. Lucie, Florida belongs on the list talent wise, but must work harder on his academics to stay there. JUCO DT Toby Johnson is still panning to visit before fall drills open at Trinity Valley, and right now OU is in a dead heat with Nebraska and a handful of other contenders.

Top Targets: Toby Johnson, (6-3½ / 303), Hutchinson CC, KS; Justin Manning, (6-3 / 278 / 5.0), Dallas Kimball and Quincy Russell, (6'4, 305), Trinity Valley JC.

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At Receiver Jay Norvell now has two of his three needs met, and now will concentrate on one wide out focusing on three, in addition to a couple committed elsewhere.

Treadwell is likely the No. 1 target, and is still scheduled to visit OU before his season starts. Phoenix receiver Devon Allen, with true 4.3 speed, however, is moving up OU's chart quickly, and may be the best bet, although any of the offered receivers could jump up and gram the last scholarship here.

Top Targets: Laquon Treadwell, (6-3 / 195 / 4.4), Crete, IL; Devon Allen, (6-0 / 187 / 4.3), Phoenix AZ; and Jordan Cunningham, (6-1 / 195 / 4.5), Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Norvell will also stay in touch with Baylor commit Robbie Rhodes all fall to see if there is a change of heart. No receiver nationally has climbed the rankings faster than Rhodes and the Sooners have had success in the past getting Bear commits to defect to Norman.
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Defensive Tackle: Jackie Shipp most needs maturity here, and two Juco’s are a top priority, along with high school prospects, Justin Manning and De’Asian Richardson.

Jaynard Bostwick, (6'4, 291, 5.0), of Port St. Lucie, Florida belongs on the list talent wise, but must work harder on his academics to stay there. JUCO DT Toby Johnson is still panning to visit before fall drills open at Trinity Valley, and right now OU is in a dead heat with Nebraska and a handful of other contenders.

Top Targets: Toby Johnson, (6-3½ / 303), Hutchinson CC, KS; Justin Manning, (6-3 / 278 / 5.0), Dallas Kimball and Quincy Russell, (6'4, 305), Trinity Valley JC.
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Tight End: The Sooners will take only one here, and now that Hunter Henry has committed Arkansas, the spotlight falls squarely on JC star Beau Sandland, (6'5½ / 248 / 4.7). Sandland says he will try to visit OU before his drills start p in August, and if not, is planning to officially visit the fall.

But the Sooners will look hard at several others and closely watch freshman Taylor McNamara, (6-5 / 234), as well as Sam Grant, (6-7 / 235), and recent convert Geneo Grissom (6-4 / 247). If any of those exceed expectations, the urgency is suddenly quelled and the Sooners could by-pass anymore offers this year. OU likes A&M commit Derrick Griffin, (6-2 / 217), as a tight end, but Griffin, like so many others, needs to get serious about academics first.

Top Targets: Beau Sandland, (6'5½ / 248 / 4.7), Pierce JC, CA.

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Offensive Line: James Patton and Bruce Kittle have one, and at most only two OT positions open. Florida’s Laremy Tunsil, (6-6 / 275 / 5.1), the nation’s top ranked OL, says OU has made his top five, (but most still expect Tunsil to end up in Gainesville, where his mom works). Tunsil named five schools he plans to take official visits to this coming fall and winter.

“USC, Oklahoma, LSU, Alabama and Ole Miss, I don’t have dates yet,” Tunsil said.

Meanwhile Na’ty Rogers is climbing up the charts and says he’ll visit OU two times in the upcoming months, to get a better feel of how OU coaches and players operate in practice and on game day despite not attending OU’s camp in June.

“I’m going to try to get out there for two games,” Rogers told us.

“When I get there for a game I’m going to get to see the coach’s work a little bit. Sure, I’m going to go there and have a good time, but also I want to see how their coaches do things, especially (when) something goes wrong.

“I want to see what adjustments they make with their offensive linemen, what happens when they go to the sidelines, and what do they do with players that make mistakes. Do they keep them in the camp? And what do they do as a coach or coaching staff to help players in the game?

“I want to watch them on the sideline and get a feel for how they handle a game. I want to get a complete feel for their game atmosphere and how they work within it. It is all good to see their practice, but when you see a real game you see how people react under pressure.

“So really I feel going to games at Oklahoma will actually give me a better feel for what that program is really about than just going to a summer camp. Then I get to go on the official and I get the best of both worlds at OU.”

Benenoch is still a priority and is currently leaning to Texas or OU. Ken Lacy says he’ll wait and take all five visits before making a decision, good news for OU as he’s scheduled to visit Norman November 23rd.

The Sooners will continue to watch Maryland commit Derwin Gray, OT, (6-5.5 / 295), this fall, and if they offer could interest teammate linebacker Yannick Ngakoue, (6-3 / 230 / 4.7),who is also committed to Maryland.

Top Targets: Na'Ty Rodgers, OT, (6-5 / 275), Owings Mills, (McDonogh), MD; Caleb Benenoch, OT, (6-6 / 315), Katy, (Lakes), TX; Ken Lacy, OT, (6-5 / 270), Phoenix, (Mountain Pointe), AZ; Laremy Tunsil, (6-6 / 275 / 5.1), Lake City, FL.

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Defensive End: Bobby Jack Wright has two and needs one and therefore is willing to wait on a great one.

There’s no change here, and like tight end, with newcomer Charles Tapper now enrolled the need is less urgent with the two 2013 commitments, including D.J. Ward, who is transferring to OKC Douglass, due to his father’s new job in Oklahoma City Still, Coach Wright would take any of the remaining three prospects.

Top Targets: Sitting atop OU’s defensive end board are still Jordan Sherit, (6-4 / 243 / 4.7), of Tampa, Torrodney Prevot, (6'4 / 218 / 4.6), of Alief Taylor and Arizona State commit Dimarya Mixon, DE, (6-4 / 250 / 4.7), of Mesquite, Texas who may still be thinking things over.

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Quarterback: OU commit Cody Thomas is one of two dozen Elite 11 quarterbacks now working out at Redondo Beach, California. The competition and instructional camp will continue until the 24th.

So far, Coach Josh Heupel looks like a seer after his assessment that Greg Olsen, (Miami) and Max Browne, (USC), were the nation’s top two quarterbacks last March. However, at that time, Heupel also predicted that Cody Thomas, with more size and athleticism, had a bigger future upside, and would begin to flourish once his arm was further separated from baseball.

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