Signing day, NFL draft spark interest for football fanatics

January 31, 2013
Charles Biggs

It has been said that the top two sports in Oklahoma are college football and spring practice.

Maybe that’s true. Fans of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tulsa are nervous this time of year because on Feb. 6, colleges can begin signing recruits to letters-of-intent.

And then on April 25-27, we get to see if any OU, OSU or TU stars get drafted into the NFL.

Both events lead to a lot of speculation.

Under Bob Stoops, Oklahoma almost always has a Top 20 recruiting class – sometimes in the Top 5. And you can count on a couple of top prospects signing on with the Sooners.

Mike Gundy of OSU has a reputation for finding hidden talent and maximizing their skills – especially quarterbacks, running backs and receivers – when they head to Stillwater. His 2013 group will be in the Top 25.

And TU’s Bill Blankenship has such a great relationship with high school coaches that he gets some really good players that might have been overlooked by the teams in the power conferences.

Rivals has ranked OU around No. 13 but that could rise or fall due to late commitments. OSU was No. 23 at one point and TU was No. 66 – about the halfway mark.

On signing day, when college coaches finally officially comment on athletes who have inked their contracts, all of the prospects will  be “superior” and be projected to have an “immediate impact” in the 2013 season.

Who knows, maybe another Barry Sanders is coming to Stillwater or a Sam Bradford to Norman or a Steve Largent to TU?

There is an equal amount of interest in where college players will play pro ball. And that is complicated because players can jump to the NFL in only three years while they still have college eligibility.

OSU running back Joseph Randle and Oklahoma’s Kenny Stills (wideout), Tony Jefferson (safety) and Tom Wort (linebacker) all decided to forego their senior seasons and test the NFL waters.

The NFL has a service for juniors that helps them predict where they might land in the draft. And coaches like Stoops and Gundy are pretty honest when they tell juniors what life will be like if they jump early. Some do well but a lot don’t.

Predictions for Randle are that he will be in the top five running backs taken – maybe in the second round (according to nfldraftscout.com).

Jefferson has been ranked as high as the No. 2 safety in the draft and is a potential first round pick. Stills is ranked No. 9 wideout by at least one service and is a long shot for the first round. Wort is only No. 15 on the linebacker list and will probably go in the middle rounds.

Among the seniors at OU, OSU and TU, there are some intriguing choices.

OU quarterback Landry Jones came back for his senior year (he was redshirted as a freshman) even though he was a lock for a first-round pick in 2012. Jones had a record-setting senior year and led the Sooners to a shared Big 12 title. But he didn’t win the national championship and he didn’t win the bowl game.

His draft status was severely downgraded and he has been projected as a middle-round pick. That could cost him millions of dollars.

However, look for his stock to soar after the Super Bowl as teams look for a franchise quarterback. Jones is a prototypical pro passing quarterback. Plus, NFL teams always place more value on quarterbacks.

Stoops said during the season that he thinks Jones will go in the first round. I would trust that evaluation more than mock drafts on the Internet.

Jones is ranked the No. 7 quarterback in the draft behind Geno Smith (West Virginia), Matt Barkley (USC), Tyler Wilson (Arkansas), Ryan Nassib (Syracuse), Mike Glennon (North Carolina State) and Zac Dysert (Miami of Ohio).

If leadership and win-loss records mean anything, Jones had a better year than all six of these guys.

By the way, OU offensive tackle Lane Johnson could go in the first round and is rated as high as No. 2 among tackles (a premium position in the pros).

OSU kicker Quinn Sharp is a guy I would want on my team. He is rated the No. 1 kicker but kickers get no respect in the draft and who knows where he will go or in what round.

Alex Singleton of TU is another guy I would draft. He is rated the No. 15 fullback in the draft (and TU’s Dexter McCoil comes in at No. 15 among free safeties).

Two years ago, Dallas drafted OU running back Demarco Murray in the third round after he had been projected as high as the first round. Dallas couldn’t believe he lasted so long and he has become an outstanding player.

Time will tell who might be the sleeper of this draft.

 

• A boy went to the ballet with his mother. As the program began, the boy leaned over his seat and whispered, “Mom, they’re all dancing on their toes.”

“Yes, I know,” said his mother. “That’s the way they do it.”

The boy watched for a moment longer and then said, “Well, why don’t they just get taller dancers?”

• The world’s worst movie actor was giving a press conference after his latest premiere.

“Do you think you have improved as an actor?” asked one of the critics.

“Have you seen my last movie?” asked the actor excitedly.

“We hope so!” said the rest of the critics.

• A woman came from a large family of five sisters and four brothers.

One day she was looking through the family photo album when she noticed that in picture after picture, all of the children were dressed I matching outfits.

Later, she asked her mother why everyone – even the baby – was dressed identically.

Her mother replied: “When we had just four children, I dressed you alike so that we wouldn’t lose any of you. Then when the other six came along, I started dressing you alike so that we wouldn’t pick up any that didn’t belong to us!”

• A little girl was attending a church service with her mother when she started to complain that she was feeling unwell.

“I think I need to throw up,” said the girl.

“Well, go outside,” said the mother, “and use the bushes by the front door of the church.”

The little girl went off but was back less than a minute later.

“That was quick,” said the mother. “Did you throw up?”

“Yes, but I didn’t need to go outside. I used a box near the door that says ‘For the sick’.”

• Rather than drag his tired three-year-old daughter around the shopping mall, a kindly father gave her a ride on his shoulders.

But after a few minutes, she started tugging at his hair.

“Stop that, honey,” he said. “It hurts.”

“But daddy,” she replied, “I’m only trying to get my gum back.”