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December 14, 2011

Notebook: Sooners Preparing for Biggest Weekend in Years

Obviously the biggest news of the week is a collection of visitors that surpasses anything that has been brought in on a single weekend in the entirety of Bob Stoops' tenure in Norman. Leading that list of visitors are potential four five-star visitors who could be showing up on campus this weekend. To put that into perspective, neither Alabama nor Texas have had four five-star official visitors for the entirety of the recruiting cycle.

And though no five-star visitor is 'just another guy' considering the ranks of No. 1 Dorial Green-Beckham, No. 4 Mario Edwards, No. 8 Stefon Diggs, and No. 12 Nelson Agholor it's safe to say that this accumulation of talent is truly the 'best of the best' type of scenario.

It is worth noting that only Edwards Jr. seems set on his visit this weekend with Green-Beckham, Diggs, and Agholor all expected but not finalized.

However, while the four prospects are leading the way they are far from the only prospects expected during Oklahoma's celebratory banquet weekend.

Joining them will be Sooner commitments John Michael McGee, Ty Darlington, Trevor Knight, Kyle Marrs and most recent Sooner pledge Brannon Green.

Aside from those already pledged to Oklahoma the Sooners will see Marrs' teammate, and current Texas A&M soft commitment Colin Blake. Also visiting is another current member of new-head coach Kevin Sumlin's class in College Station is Marion Grice of Brenham (Texas) Blinn C.C.

Joining them among players committed elsewhere is current Arizona soft commitment Kyle Kelley, along with former Wildcat commit Taylor McNamara.

Finally, Oklahoma's most recent offer, in-state star Kevin Peterson will make his second official visit in as many weeks after visiting Tulsa last weekend.

To show what a wild break this class has come from early expectations, bear in mind that many thought Oklahoma would sign roughly as many prospects as they are bringing in on visits this weekend. Or another way of looking at it, the current count of 13 visitors is just shy of the 16 the Sooners have hosted on every other visit weekend to date.

The weekend's most interesting aspect will be where it falls as a measuring stick for the current state of Oklahoma's psyche. Are things in trouble, or are the rumored departures simply a product of a young team with young players simply seeing the writing on the wall?

It's a weekend that could rival any in the country this season as well as any of the Stoops era if all comes to pass but with all but Diggs and Green-Beckham now confirmed it seems hard to imagine the weekend slowing down much.

Hamilton and Sooners are No More

However, it hasn't been all good news in the circuit of five-star recruiting.

Along with Edwards Jr., Oklahoma has been working in pursuit of elite defensive ends for quite some time and in late November when they decided to get involved with one of the nation's best, Darius Hamilton of Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep, it surprised many that he seemed interest in delaying his choice and making an official visit to Norman.

However, after a few people had a chance to talk with him the past few days it seems rumors that the quick courtship has come to an end with Hamilton telling several sources that the Sooners are no longer likely to get a visit.

Bowman to Delay Things a Bit

One of Oklahoma's most highly-ranked remaining targets is Woodland Hills (Calif.) Pierce C.C. safety Gerald Bowman who had been high on Oklahoma prior to his official visit on Nov. 9 but since has repeatedly said the Sooners are in a two-horse race with USC. The interesting aspect for Bowman is whether or not he could commit to the Sooners in the Trojans backyard.

However, on Tuesday night news emerged that Bowman will be waiting beyond the first day of the junior college early enrollment signing period, Dec. 21, to make his decision and will actually be flying back home to discuss things with his mother and the rest of his family.

Interestingly Bowman may be making the announcement at the playground he grew up playing football on in Philadelphia.

However, it does look as though his teammate, Kasseim Everett is still set to decide between the Sooners and Red Raiders on the original date of Dec. 21.

Brooks Situation Settling

Last week news broke that during defensive back coach Willie Martinez's in-home visit with Sooner commitment Daniel Brooks the 5-foot-9, 175-pound athlete was told the Sooners were eyeing him as a defensive back rather than running back. Brooks, and his father Tony Brooks, had been told at the time of his commitment in early March that he would be a running back when he arrived to campus.

Not surprisingly the realization of that not being the case was a bit of a disappointment to the Brooks family but in spite of many concerned Sooner fans the family maintained that they were still committed to Oklahoma in spite of overtures from Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas and many others in recent months.

It appears their faith was rewarded as the Brooks family had a chance to speak with Bob Stoops this week and the Sooner head man made it plain that Oklahoma was going to give Brooks his shot at running back before any moves were made.

So should Brooks excel at running back, as he did this year for Port Lavaca (Texas) Calhoun then the concern that arose from last week's news should subside quickly.

Run(ing) on Backs

With the commitment of Alex Ross in the spring and the Sooners decision not to offer Donovan Roberts from the shadow of Memorial stadium it seemed Oklahoma truly was steadfast on not taking another running back in the class of 2012. However, the best laid plans of mice and men…

With that in mind the Sooners have now offered three running backs in the matter of the last two weeks and two have already sets up visits to Norman. Of course above Marion Grice was mentioned as a new name and on Wednesday news broke that Oklahoma was in pursuit of Yuma (Ariz.) Arizona Western C.C. three-star running back Damien Williams.

While Grice will be in Norman this weekend, Williams has set up his trip for Jan. 20 to join his other visits to Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas Tech.

The interesting question is that with Grice and Williams, along with prep star Mike Davis - if one were to commit, would the Sooners think of replacing the departures of Jermie Calhoun, Jonathan Miller, and now, apparently, Brandon Williams with three new running backs rather than just two?

Stronger Sooners?

Though it's not exactly immediate news it's hard to argue that one of the most interesting storylines of the Sooner coaching staff hitting the recruiting trail as any time in recent memory is an apparent new-found interest in bigger and more physical players.

As mentioned above Grice and Williams are physical backs who are as likely to pound run over a linebacker for four yards as outrun a defensive back for 40.

Along with the powerful backs two new players of interest are Brannon Green a mauling run-blocker of a tight end in the mold of former Sooner standout Brody Eldridge. When you consider the last few years of players like James Hanna, Austin Haywood, and Max Stevenson it conjures up images of pass-catching tight ends and while Green may be a more able receiver than Eldridge was that doesn't change that he is special in the running game.

A player that could be helping him open holes, and furthers the idea of a more physical Sooner offense moving forward, is Walnut (Calif.) Mt. San Antonio offensive guard Visesio Salt. Though listed as a defensive tackle, Salt is being pursued as an offensive guard and at 6-foot-3, and 340-pounds he is certainly a departure from Oklahoma's current group of offensive linemen.

Are these mere coincidences or is there a change in philosophy for the Sooners?

Editor's Note: After the completion of this story Brian Perroni reported that Marion Grice was asked to take his trip after the Christmas break rather than this weekend.


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