July 23, 2009

Why has 2010 recruiting gone so well as of late?

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 Mailbag for July 24, 2009 features a little bit of everything. Not only are there questions about specific players and Oklahoma's current relationship with them but also a look at many different aspects of how, and why, Oklahoma's recruiting this year has found such success.

1) I've seen Dominique Sanders' film a couple times now and continue to go back and forth about whether he could play at Oklahoma. He has really good straight-line speed, but I feel like his agility (or elusiveness) is just slightly above average. He seems more like a Baylor/Oklahoma State/Texas A&M/Texas Tech recruit to me most days. It appears that the only way he would get an offer is if Oklahoma missed out on some better prospects they have already offered and are in good standing with. What do you see happening with Dominique Sanders? Would he be a wide receiver or defensive back at Oklahoma?

What impact if any would not offering him eventually have on Rashod Favors or Darius White?

2) Oklahoma has clearly emphasized recruiting California this year, much more so than previous seasons. If you had to choose one California recruit (other than Brennan Clay) who is most likely to sign with Oklahoma in February, who would it be?

3) These questions center around 3 recruits who do not have official offers: Jatashun Beachum, Holmes Onwukaife, and Chris Littlehead. Just wondering what positions these guys will play in college, if they are good enough to play at Oklahoma, what the chances are that we offer them, and if they would be very interested in Oklahoma?

- DanTheSoonersFan4

To answer your first question I admit I've always been a fan of Sanders, from the first time I saw his film I was always pretty high on him.

That said with the potential commitment of Aaron Colvin and Oklahoma's status with several other elite recruits at wide receiver I just don't see how they will have room for another player at the position.

That said I don't think it's an issue of Sanders not being good enough simply an issue of him, self-admittedly, not staying in good contact with Oklahoma and others perhaps being a notch or two better.

I don't have a great feeling on the remaining California kids but if you made me pick just one guy I'd go with Cassius Marsh simply because the Sooners aren't fighting USC in this case and even with the distance in mind they have a strong chance against any PAC-10 programs aside from the Trojans.

Before I answer the third question I must hand out a congratulations on spelling 'Onwukaife' correctly, well played sir.

In the case of Littlehead and Beachum I think it's clear they are both defensive tackles. Guys that active and that athletic at the position aren't easy to come by. Admittedly Littlehead isn't the biggest guy the position has ever seen but his motor will come up for any perceived physical shortcomings.

Beachum, in my opinion, can be special but that is of course assuming that he can adjust from playing quarterback to being a part of the nastiest battles anywhere on a football field.

Onwukaife is a defensive end all the way in my book, his change of direction and first step are very solid attributes that will allow him to contribute fairly early at the college level.

It seems like every year there are a few players who are recruited to play a position that maybe foreign to them.

A few that come to mind are Austin Box (safety/quarterback in high school, linebacker at Oklahoma), Sam Proctor (quarterback in high school, defensive back at Oklahoma), Travis Lewis (running back in high school, linebacker at Oklahoma), and even Jarrett Lake in this years class (wide receiver in high school, linebacker at Oklahoma).

What is the coaches' thought process when recruiting such players, and how do they gain a comfort level that these guys can make the transition to their 'natural' position in college?

Stoops and Co. have done very well using this strategy, but I was just curious why they employ this tactic on certain occasions, while in other instances recruit kids who already have an understanding of their future position.

- Bling931

While 'spinning down' has become a popular cliché' you do bring up some really extreme definitions of things.

Really Lewis and Lake are the two extremes and if not for Travis' massive amount of quick success I think there would be a lot more trepidation about the Lake offer.

Box and Proctor played positions that while different at least had something to do with their eventual collegiate positions.

Oklahoma has always said 'we're going to recruit the best athletes and let their positions sort themselves out'. Oklahoma isn't worried about fitting square pegs into round holes, they'll simply change a thing a bit schematically if a young player brings too much talent to be kept off the field.

For example, Dan Cody helped bring on the 'Spinner' position that is now nearly a fixture in the defense. And of course we all remember the 'Royback' that while Oklahoma has yet to find a real replacement that certainly has not stopped them from trying.

I guess you'd have to say they simply realize another cliché' that has little to do with football can hold true, 'necessity is the mother of creation'.

Obviously there has always been arguments on the board about the stars and ranking systems and there always will be. Because of that we have had some players that have been seen as "busts" and some "diamonds in the rough."

In your opinion over the past five or six years, what player surprised you the most and what player was the biggest disappointment? Not necessarily based on ranking, but based on a guy that you thought would be a huge star and never panned out and vise-versa.

- JWSooner07

I'll go two ways with the answer to both sides.

First a guy that I really didn't like that was ranked highly and didn't become a whole lot was Aaron Miller. I liked him on film but some of the talk of him being the best safety on the West coast was kind of crazy to me. Whether he was or not, to me was never really answered because I'm not sure the work level of major college football was something that ever truly suited him.

I think most know where I'm going to go with the other direction. A guy that I really liked, regardless of where we had him ranked was John Williams. He came in with the same class as Alonzo Dotson and for me there was never any doubt that Williams was a superior prospect. Before he was simply ravaged by injuries Williams showed flashes of being that type of player.

His performance against TCU in 2005 had him well on the way to the stardom I expected but in the same game he tore his ACL and never could seem to stay healthy from that point on.

To the other side of the argument a guy that I admit I wasn't high on, even if Rivals.com was, that went on to do big things was Duke Robinson. I'm a guy who always tends to lean towards lean offensive lineman who need to add weight rather than massive mountains who need to trim up. My theory being there is a reason a guy is so big to begin with.

That said, Robinson put the work in before his sophomore year and went on to have a really solid collegiate career. While it may not have been what some expected after his sophomore year that doesn't change he was one of the Big 12's better lineman the past three years.

A guy that I wasn't high on and neither was Rivals was Courtney Tennial and man alive did I catch some serious flack for it. I thought Tennial was a good back with average speed who never seemed to run as physically as he was capable of. Tennial had some injury issues on campus and quickly transferred to Tulsa where he had a nice college career.

I feel about as good about this recruiting class, Oklahoma's strategy and everyone that will have a chance to finish it out. Being as nit-picky as you can get, are there any flaws or negatives you see in Oklahoma's recruiting efforts, results, tactics this go-round? Something you would add or change if you were recruiting coordinator?

- Captain_Caveman

Maybe I'd nit-pick on why some states aren't hit a bit harder with recruiting effort but honestly at some point you run into a numbers problem and simply fighting the 'good fight' isn't enough of a reason to stretch yourself too thin.

Oklahoma has made some of the necessary changes this year and I think it's hard to fault them much at this point.

The only thing I'd think of would truly be making some sort of bigger event of their summer camp, or simply making a bigger deal of an invitation to the camp. However, I think to a degree that goes against their team-first mentality.

I had a couple questions that I suppose you can answer. First, how does Trey Franks compare to Trindon Holliday and Brandon James as a kick returner? Seems to have similar stature and speed. Second, how can OU have room to take 26-27 in this class? Here's who I expect to be on scholarship for the 2010 season (so far) so maybe you can clarify it for me.

QB: L. Jones, D. Allen, B. Bell

HB: D. Murray, J. Calhoun, J. Miller, B. Clay, R. Finch

FB/TE: E. Mensik, J. Hanna, L. Johnson, G. Ikard, M. Musil

Slot: R. Broyles, M. Madu, J. Powell, T. Franks

SE: B. Caleb, C. Kenney, J. Reynolds, S. McClain

FL: D. Miller, J. Owens,

OT: C. Brandon, D. Stephenson, J. Vinson, J. Aladenoye, T. Thompson

OG: S. Good, J. Jones, T. Jeffries, T. Evans, B. Irwin, A. Shead

OC: B. Habern, A. Woods

DT: A. Taylor, S. McGee, C. Walker, J. McFarland, J. Chaisson, D. Noble, T. Peterson

DE: J. Beal, F. Alexander, D. King, RJ Washington, P. Macon, J. Brown, C. Ndulue

LB: R. Reynolds, B. Crow, T. Lewis, A. Box, D. Franklin, J. Bird, R. Lewis, T. Wort, G. Jones, J. Lake

CB: D. Franks, J. Nelson, J. Fleming, L. Harris, G. Lynn, M. Trice, D. Hurst, Q. Hayes, J. Haynes

S: Q. Carter, S. Proctor, D. Jackson, J. Ibiloye, K. Brent, J. Harris, E. Lofton, J. Wilson

K/P: J. Stevens, T. Way, B. Easley (I think Stoops deal was for him to be on scholarship after the first two semesters)

Thats 80 players assuming both Bradford and McCoy declare after this season. With the 85 player limit, how can OU have room for 8 or 9 more? Unless 2 more declare early and 2 transfer I don't see how the numbers work. Is this where grey-shirts come into play?

- Anonymous

To answer your first question, while Franks is absurdly fast he isn't like Holiday or James who are guys who could make real runs at the Olympics in the very near future. Maybe Franks can get there but if I'm not mistaken James was timed in sub-10.2-seconds in the 100-meter dash during high school.

That said he is bigger than both and has the chance to have the same type of impact on every aspect of the opponent's gameplan each and every week.

As for your question about the use of scholarships; it seems that every eyar Oklahoma loses a few players who decide the grass is greener elsewhere. So there you've got a few other spots that don't appear available at the moment. It's not even something where you need to know who the defections will be so much as that they are almost unavoidable.

Oklahoma has never greyshirted and I see no reason to think that will be an issue. Each and every year the numbers don't look like they will play out and every year Oklahoma hits it's max, or under it.

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