Sooners set to sign five in-state players, most since 2009
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Friday, February 01, 2013
2/01/13 at 6:57 AM
Norman North's Jordan Evans will be carrying state pride when he enrolls at the University of Oklahoma.
Evans is one of five in-state players who have given verbal commitments to play football at OU. Their pledges become official on Wednesday's signing day.
"This means a lot," said Evans, a linebacker. "People in Oklahoma know who we are. Our job now is to go in there, do well and be a big factor for the university."
Evans is joined by Dominique Alexander (LB, Booker T. Washington), Jordan Smallwood (WR, Jenks), Stanvon Taylor (DB, East Central) and D.J. Ward (DE, Southmoore) as high school players choosing to stay in-state.
The five would be the largest number of state recruits signed by OU since five inked letters of intent in the 2009 class.
"I do think to some degree when you are looking at in-state talent, there's no doubt this is a solid group," said recruiting analyst Josh McCuistion of SoonerScoop.com. "I wouldn't call it elite, but it's definitely a good group ... with guys you have to land."
Could one of these players be the next Aaron Colvin or Gabe Ikard, talented players from Oklahoma signed by the Sooners during the past five years? Or is there another Jameel Owens or Austin Haywood - much ballyhooed players who didn't surpass two seasons in an OU jersey?
One goal for OU's staff is apparent: It's important - just as it is every season - for the Sooners to lock up the state borders and keep top talent in the state.
"It is very important (to keep talent in-state) after what they saw in 2010 and 2011 when Texas came in and got Demarco Cobbs from Central and Josh Turner from (OKC Millwood)," said ESPN's SoonerNation analyst Bob Przybylo. "OU was losing its stranglehold on the state last year, but then they got Sterling Shepard."
Ward could be the next big player to contribute immediately. He was ruled ineligible for his senior season after transferring to two schools following a junior campaign at Lawton.
"He has great ability," said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. "He's explosive and had a great junior year. I watched almost all of his tape as a junior. He was definitely the best player in the state as a junior."
Taylor is a cornerback, which is "a huge need," McCuistion said.
Smallwood caught eyes at last month's Semper Fi All Star game in California.
"Jordan is one of our better athletes in the game," said Lemming, who did analysis for the TV broadcast. "He looked good at practice every day. Jordan was one of the guys that always had positives."
Alexander is shaped for an outside linebacker position.
"I've been doing this for 34 years, and (Washington) seems to have a good one every year," Lemming said. "He's a great one with a lot of potential."
All three analysts agreed that Evans could contribute in the future. The linebacker had 94 tackles and nine sacks in 2012.
Oklahoma's previous five recruiting classes have provided hits (Colvin, Ikard, Ronnell Lewis) and misses (Owens, Haywood, Gus Jones).
Who was the biggest gem of the past five years of in-state recruits?
"The one that sticks out - and maybe I didn't give him enough due early - was Aaron Colvin," McCuistion said. "When I first saw him as a high school senior (at Owasso), I thought he may be a starter in a couple of years. Never did I think he would be a guy that could leave early for the NFL."
Colvin will be a senior leader next season after finishing with a career-high four interceptions in 2012.
What about someone who didn't reach his full potential in an OU jersey?
"You just didn't think you could miss with Jameel Owens," Przybylo said. "For some reason, it didn't work out."
Owens, a widely recruited wide receiver, left the team after playing as a true freshman in 2008 and redshirting in 2009. He transferred to Tulsa, where he participated for one season before leaving the team for personal reasons.
Only days remain until Wednesday's signing day, but that doesn't mean OU isn't already focused on the future.
On Saturday, the program is hosting "Junior Day" to get a jump start on 2014 recruiting.
McCuistion and Przybylo said next year's in-state class talent can rival 2006 (Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham, Gerald McCoy, Dominique Franks) and 2007 (Austin Box, Ryan Broyles).
"This (2014) class is shaping up to be one of the best in the last decade or so," Przybylo said of the in-state recruits. "Where the 2013 class may not be top-heavy but had a lot of depth, the 2014 class has a lot of depth and star quality."
"This may be the best since the 2006 class with so many quality players in the state," McCuistion added. "Oklahoma needs to hit a lot of guys and, give credit to them, they're getting out a lot of early offers and making sure the in-state guys know they want them."
Three state stars
(2010), DB, Owasso
Considered early entry into the NFL draft after becoming a lockdown corner for OU in 2012. He had four interceptions, 52 tackles and two sacks in 2012.
(2009), DE, Dewar
Made transition from eight-man football seamlessly. Declared for NFL draft after junior season during which he had 13 tackles for loss and 59 stops overall.
(2009), OL, OKC McGuinness
Made transition from tight end to offensive line, has started 37 games over past three seasons. Two-time selection to All-Big 12 first team by AP and coaches.
What happened to them?
Highly touted recruit out of high school, never materialized with OU. He had four catches for 44 yards in lone season (2008). Transferred to Tulsa, where he played one year (2010) before quitting football.
(2009), LB, Wagoner
Transferred to Northeastern State after spending only one fall at OU. Then-Sooners defensive coordinator Brent Venables said split was amicable.
(2010), TE, Southmoore
Haywood made a few special-teams plays in his freshman year and had six catches for 42 yards as a sophomore before abruptly quitting mid-season in 2011.
Commitments from in-state recruits for 2013
- Dominique Alexander (LB), Booker T. Washington
- Jordan Evans (LB), Norman North
- Jordan Smallwood (WR), Jenks
- Stanvon Taylor (DB), East Central
- D.J. Ward (DE), Southmoore
OU's past in-state recruits
Michael Onuoha, DE (Edmond Santa Fe): Played in four games as true freshman, finished with four tackles
Alex Ross, RB (Jenks): Redshirt in 2012
Sterling Shepard, WR (OKC Heritage Hall): Played in 13 games as true freshman, had 621 receiving yards (third-most by an OU freshman).
Dylan Dismuke, OL (Duncan): Redshirted in 2011, career ended after off-season knee injury in 2012.
Kendal Thompson, QB (Southmoore): Redshirted in 2011, didn't see action in 2012.
Austin Haywood, TE (Southmoore): Abruptly ended OU career in mid-season 2011. Had six catches for 42 yards, transferred to Central Arkansas, now at Oklahoma Baptist.
Julian Wilson, DB (Southmoore): Wilson played in a dozen games, starting two, during his sophomore campaign (2012). He had 29 tackles, including two tackles for loss.
Bronson Irwin, OL (Mustang): Senior-to-be started in all 13 games at right guard in 2012. He has seen action in 34 games.
Aaron Colvin, DB (Owasso): Coming off outstanding junior season with four career interceptions, 52 tackles and a pair of sacks.
Ronnell Lewis, DE (Dewar): Impact defensive end who only played three seasons. In 2011, his junior year, voted All-Big 12 first team by coaches and second team by AP.
Gabe Lynn, DB (Jenks): Senior who started 10 games for Sooners in 2012 and finished with career-high 34 tackles.
Javon Harris, DB (Lawton): Ended his senior season with team-high six interceptions, which was 11th nationally. He had 86 tackles last fall.
Gabe Ikard, OL (OKC McGuinness): Adjusted to full-time switch to center in preseason, named All-Big 12 first team by AP and coaches.
Gus Jones, LB (Wagoner): Decided to transfer following his redshirt season at OU. Moved to Northeastern State.
Stacy McGee, DL (Muskogee): Played in 34 games during his career, but missed seven games (including Cotton Bowl) in 2012 for disciplinary reasons.
Jameel Owens, WR (Muskogee): Had four catches for 44 yards in lone season (2008). Transferred to Tulsa, where he only played one season.
Tress Way, K (Union): Ended career as school's all-time top punter, averaging 44.0 yards per attempt. Had five career punts of 70-yards plus.
Original Print Headline: Keeping them home
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391
Photos by STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World file (Lewis, Colvin) and ROSS D. FRANKLIN/AP file (Ikard)