Thursday, March 6, 2008

Team Recruiting Countdown: No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners

No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (Big 12 No. 1)

2008 Haul: 21 signees, 7 Athlon Consensus 100

Scouting Report:

The first order of business here is to congratulate Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners on their Big 12 2008 recruiting crown, a position that Stoops has found himself in regularly, considering his five conference titles in eight season as head coach in Norman.

Few teams were hurt by early departures to the NFL draft more so than the Sooners. Defensive back Reggie Smith and wide receiver Malcolm Kelly were expected but linebacker Curtis Lofton’s choice to test the NFL waters was a bit of a surprise to OU fans. This leaves the linebacker position lacking depth, at least by Oklahoma standards.

Stoops addressed the depth issue by landing three, possibly four, linebackers in this class. The group is led by JUCO signee J.R. Bryant (Garden City, Kan.) and sleeper Daniel Franklin (Mt. Airy, Ga.). Bryant brings experience and “ready to play now” ability while Franklin, with some work, could be a tackling machine for the Crimson and Cream. The wild card is Justin Johnson (Gilmer, Texas). Some recruiting sites have him listed as the No. 2 running back prospect in the nation while others see him as a linebacker.

If Johnson stays at running back, the ball carrier position in Norman should be set for years. Standout redshirt freshman DeMarco Murray returns after an explosive freshman year and Johnson is joined by fellow stud recruit Jermie Calhoun (Van, Texas) in his trip north to Oklahoma. Calhoun is the No. 2 ranked running back in nation according to the AC100. He is a complete runner. He can run between the tackles with power, turn the corner with speed, catch passes from out of the backfield and will be a solid blitz pick-up option with some teaching. Calhoun is a special player. 

Stoops was not shocked by Kelly’s early departure, which is evident by the stellar wide receiver class heading to Norman in 2008. Jameel Owens (Muskogee, Okla.) was the top in-state talent in ’08 regardless of position and will be the next big star on the outside in the Big 12. Josh Jarboe (Ellenwood, Ga.) put on a show at the Under Armour Classic in Orlando and Dejuan Miller (Metuchen, N.J.) has the physical (6-6, 210) gifts to be a great deep threat. Lamar Harris (Gilmer, Texas) is likely to end up catching passes in Norman. Look for all of these talented prospects to spend one season learning behind seniors Manuel Johnson and Juaquin Iglesias (as well as the younger Adron Tennell) before their true impact is felt.

Quantity was clearly not Stoops’ main focus for this class. The quality, however, across the board, was astounding. R.J. Washington (Keller, Texas) is likely the most talented player in this class and trails only Clemson’s DaQuan Bowers in the national defensive end ranks. Stephen Good (Paris, Texas) was the top offensive line target from the state of Texas.

Washington, Good and Calhoun were the top-3 players in the state of Texas this season and all three are headed to Norman. Stoops, unsurprisingly, landed 11 total prospects from the talent rich Lone Star State.

To round out an already great class, Stoops added yet another stellar quarterback prospect. Landry Jones (Artesia, N.M.) has all the physical tools to be a ‘franchise’ player for Oklahoma. With Sam Bradford breaking NCAA single season freshman records, however, actually getting on the field is an entirely different matter.

Top Prospect: R.J. Washington – DE – Keller, Texas (6-3, 240) AC100 No. 10

Washington, who many consider the top player in the state of Texas, offers a wonderful blend of size and speed from the defensive end position. He consistently shows the ability to get to the edge and, subsequently, the quarterback. Washington may be the best edge pass rusher in the nation. In addition, he might also have the quickest first step off the line of scrimmage. He has great explosion and burst off the ball.

What makes Washington special is the complete nature of his game. Not only is he a speed rusher, he has the power and strength to dominate blockers. He will hold his point of attack well and with some added weight and bulk could be an absolute machine at the defensive end position.

Washington is simply a great athlete. He has the speed to pursue backside rollouts, the burst to get up field and around a bigger offensive tackle, and the brute force to hold his ground against powerful run blockers.

Best of the Rest:

Jermie Calhoun – RB – Van, Texas (6-0, 210) AC100 No. 8
Stephen Good – OL – Paris, Texas (6-4, 290) AC100 No. 29
Jameel Owens – WR – Muskogee, Okla. (6-3, 210) AC100 No. 45
Josh Jarboe – WR – Ellenwood, Ga. (6-3, 190) AC100 No. 63
Justin Johnson – RB – Gilmer, Texas (6-1, 210) AC100 No. 89
Landry Jones – QB – Artesia, N.M. (6-4, 225) AC100 No. 100
Stacey McGee – DT – Muskogee, Okla. (6-4, 265)
Joseph Ibiloye – DB – Garland, Texas (6-2, 195)
Ben Habern – C – Argyle, Texas (6-3, 270)
DeJuan Miller – WR – Metuchen, N.J. (6-5, 210)

Sleeper: Daniel Franklin – LB – Mt. Airy, Ga. (6-2, 215)

Blessed with a great frame, Franklin will add 15-20 pounds of strength and be a solid player for the Sooners. He is at his best when he is attacking the line of scrimmage. He does an excellent job of taking on blockers and getting through to the football. He shows nice speed and agility in pass defense but will need work in this area before he becomes a complete player.

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