June 25, 2009

Mailbag full of five-star WR talk

The Mailbag is a SoonerScoop.com feature for our fans to get questions that may require a little more depth and clarity of explanation directly from assistant editor Josh McCuistion. Each Monday and Tuesday we'll field questions for the mailbag and get you all answers on Thursday.

This week's Mailbag has a heavy focus on wide receivers and notes on how how some of Oklahoma's summer campers may fare down the road.

What has happened to change our coaches efforts in regards to becoming more active regionally this year? Do you think this change came out of necessity due to some positions this year being thin, trying to take advantage of our success in recent years, or? Also, how will this effect the local recruiting landscape and how we handle in state prospects? It seems there are a number of posters that seem baffled as to how Oklahoma recruits sometimes.

- pcwoodrow


I think the reality is two-fold.

I think part of the problem was that some of Oklahoma's biggest needs, wide receiver and offensive line simply could not be filled solely by sticking to their usual recruiting territory. While there are certainly some good players, including Darius White and Adam Shead that Oklahoma has a very real shot at their national focus has given them more opportunities in case something goes wrong with a recruit they currently feel confident about.

The issue is, Oklahoma is a program that can come in late on some guys in the Big 12 area and snag them away from programs who have been there from the start.

I also think there is something of a shift in focus as far as the way they look at recruits. With so many elite players in California and so little equal competition in the state I think Oklahoma knows it's a place if they can win even a few guys they've more than gotten the reward out of the effort they put in.

All in all, it's a trend I expect to see continue and furthered in the coming years as the focus heads towards a more official change.


On our board overall this season it seems as though we are beginning to sacrifice a little size for speed. However, this doesn't seem to be the case for our top targets at WR. Our top targets seem to be Darius White, Kyle Prater, Justin McCay, Demarco Cobbs, and Marcus Lucas. All of whom project to be the bigger wideout types. If we do land commits from 2-3 of the guys I mentioned, what slot guys are we showing the most attention to/do we have the best shot at?

Well obviously you already have Joe Powell and Sheldon McClain as guys who could be used potentially seen as players like Manuel Johnson and Juaquin Iglesias.

Aside from them though I'd look at some names you know like Kenny Stills, DeAndrew White, and Kadron Boone who are all potential official visitors this season.

As far as some names to keep an eye on Michaelee Harris, Chris Hawkins, and Jordan Jolly.

Oklahoma is really finding a nice balance to their wide receiver recruiting with some guys with size, some with speed, and a few of the elite guys that have a nice combination of both.


Other than Blake Bell, do you see any other Kansas kids committing to OU? (like perhaps McCay) Or are there any others on Oklahoma's radar from the sunflower state?

- Sooner in KS


McCay is the only guy that I see as a realistic option for Oklahoma from the state of Kansas and I think there is no question that they have a very real shot at him. If I had to pick at this point in time I'm not sure that I could but it's tough for me to ignore all the ties to Notre Dame with him.

However, Jay Norvell has built a tremendous relationship with him and those around him that I think will give Oklahoma as strong a shot as anyone.


Can you give us a story of a very interesting, particularly funny, recruiting story. Like you went to go see a recruit play and all hell broke loose.

- SoonerFactor


First off, when I get asked something like this it's almost always the ever-quotable R.J. Washington that comes to my mind, but a lot of those stories don't need to be repeated.

I'll go with the latter and talk about a game when literally 'all hell broke loose'.

I was at the Shawnee-Booker T. Washington state quarterfinal game in 2005 that has now become infamous around Oklahoma high school football and sparked a legal battle that suspended the state semi-finals for nearly a month.

The game had been odd all throughout with a lot of peculiar flags, in a situation in which I'd hate to assume the worst, and it seemed to be a powder keg that was building throughout.

Well finally as Shawnee was attempting to run out the clock all of the jawing came to a halt and one Hornet player gave quarterback Tucker Brown a bit of an excessive pop. While in the bottom of a pile Brown kicked a Hornet player and a fight ensued. It was broken up before anything too severe happened, but with two sides both in the stands and on the sidelines that were not fond of each other it was the only time I can remember being a bit concerned for my health while doing this job.

Brown was suspended for the semi-final game and his father, Shawnee head coach Billy Brown, filed an appeal and subsequent suit against the OSAA to remove the suspension. Of course while that was going on the 5A playoffs were put on hold for weeks.


I wanted to know how Bronson Irwin and Adam Shead compare to other top interior linemen in the region like Dominic Espinosa and Trey Hopkins? Were we ever close to offering Garrett Gramling?

Also, who does Blake Bell most remind you of as a QB and how high do you think his ceiling is? Does he have the most potential of any OU QB recruit in recent memory?

Finally, could you rank this year's WR recruits?

- Soona


After seeing Irwin and Shead up close, I'd take Irwin.

I mean that as no slight to Shead but Irwin was hands down the best offensive lineman I saw all spring and that includes about a dozen guys holding BCS offers.

As far as comparing them to Espinosa and Hopkins; I think Espinosa probably is more reminiscent of Shead with both having good feet and a rare ability to move in space for young men of their size. Espinosa moves a bit better and I always like a guy who needs to put weight on rather than remove it but they are comparable in a lot of ways.

In the case of Hopkins, he has better feet than one could hope for a guard to have, I think it's quite possible he ends up as a guard/tackle in the college game. Simply put the guy is more than worthy of his ranking.

Irwin is different from all of the above, he is a mauling guard that I think could be more college ready than any of them. His loss of weight this spring has done wonders for his movement and makes me think right tackle is a real option for him, though I still think he has immense potential at offensive guard.

No, Oklahoma was not going to offer Gramling.

As to the Blake Bell question it's been incredibly difficult for me to try and find a solid comparison. In frame and size he is built a lot like Drew Bledsoe but Bledsoe made Phil Loadholt look like Usain Bolt. Athletically I think the most able comparison I can come up with is a guy like Alex Smith. I know that isn't as attractive as a comparison as it once was but Smith's release and overall athletic ability makes him a solid comparison, though I think Bell has more overall tools.

Finally my list of wide receiver targets reads like this:

1. Darius White
2. Justin McCay
3. Kyle Prater
4. Kenny Stills
5. Demarco Cobbs
6. Marcus Lucas


In James Haynes' latest update he mentioned that Oklahoma, Florida, Arkansas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M are on his current list of five. His recruitment seems to have been rather quiet even though he consistently lists us as a school in contention.

So, on to the questions. Is OU the favorite for Haynes? What position will he likely play? If he commits, then what impact will that have for other players at his position? Will his commitment have an impact on his speedster teammate Trey Franks?

- Iopsych


In the article Haynes also talked about how much of a feeling he would get from the place he would eventually sign with.

When I spoke with him following his Oklahoma visit he was complimentary but I didn't get the feeling he thought it was a place he had fallen in love with and that's what it seems that he is looking for.

It may be me simply reading too much into the situation but when we spoke after the visit it seemed too much like a guy saying the right things rather than saying them because he felt them.

Again, I may be making a mountain out of a mole hill as Oklahoma is certainly one of his favorites and it wouldn't shock me if I'm wrong and he ends up in Norman.


In your opinion, considering the needs at each position, who do you think are the Top 8-10 players left on our Board? Who are the players we will hold scholarships for even if a "lesser" player wants to commit?

- Sethdiesel


I think this seems more complicated but is a pretty straight forward question and it's one you guys probably know for yourself.

I think Darius White, Corey Nelson, Seantrel Henderson, Jackson Jeffcoat, Kyle Prater, Justin McCay, Torrea Peterson, Christian Thomas, Brian Vogler, and Evan Washington are all guys that Oklahoma would like to save a spot for if at all possible.

I do think on that list after McCay you've got guys that Oklahoma would really like to have but may not have room for. Prior to that, those guys are takes during the opening kickoff of the 2010 season if they wanted to wait that long.


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