Tide win helps OU recruit

February 13, 2014

Fresh off a big win over Alabama, Oklahoma filled some specific needs with a Top 15 recruiting class.

And as usual, the Sooners signed some marquee offensive players.

OU loses all but two of its top running backs and the signees will have a chance to contribute early. “Dimitri Flowers is a fullback and a guy who reminds us very much of Trey Millard and that is a huge compliment to him,” said OU coach Bob Stoops. “He is the first guy in about four years that we have said that about.

“Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine are two very physical and tough backs. Joe is a guy who goes 6-2, 215 pounds and has a tough, physical running style but is elusive and can move out in space catching the football. Samaje is just incredibly physical. He is already 235 or 240 pounds. He was here for our junior day and you would have thought he was a junior in college already. He is just a strong physical player.”

“Everyone is going to be excited about the running backs,” said OU Co-offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel. “They are very special players. Samaje (Perine) is a big, strong, physical, impressive-looking kid. When you see him walk in the door he looks like a grown man. He’s 238 pounds right now, but looks are a little bit deceiving. He’s got great feet.

“Joe (Mixon) is a special kid we’ve had come in here physically. Big, strong, athletic kid, catches the ball extremely well out the backfield, has the ability to be extremely versatile player and I can really see him playing a variety of different roles for us with his ability to split out and do some things as a wide receiver, as well.”

OU running back coach Cale Gundy said Mixon reminds him a little bit of Demarco Murray ( Dallas Cowboys) and Adrian Peterson ( Minnesota Vikings).

“I said that he shows some aspects of both of them,” Gundy said “And I also said let’s be careful of comparing anyone to Adrian Peterson. You can look at him in the sense that he’s a legit 6-2, he might even be taller. He is 215 pounds. There’s not a lot of those guys running around and playing high school football.  When I watched him play basketball for his high school team, he reminded me a lot of Adrian Peterson. He’s just a football player running around on a basketball court, banging around and running into people. He’s going to have some dunks, grab some rebounds and probably foul out in the fourth quarter because he plays really physically. But he’s extremely explosive and extremely talented.”

Quarterback Trevor Knight demolished Alabama and that set the stage for Blake Bell to move to tight end.

“Blake (Bell) wants to play, wants to help this team, wants to compete, believes that that’s a great position for him to do that,” said Heupel. “I think everybody in our staff believes in him as a competitor, as a player, so it’s going to be a lot of fun for him to make a change and see where he can grow in the 15 days of practice, but we feel like he’s going to be a good player there. He’s all in at tight end.”

Freshman quarterback Cody Thomas is going to fight for playing time even though he is a standout player on the OU baseball team.

“He’s going to push himself to become the starting quarterback here,” Heupel said. “If he’s not the starting quarterback, he’ll be ready to play. He’s different because of the baseball skill set that he has so he’s over there working, taking his cuts, and I think when given the opportunity he’ll play extremely well for them.

“I think he’s going to get, out of the football side of it, everything that he needs to.”

Justice Hansen is the lone quarterback in this signing class.

“Justice Hansen is already here on campus and is a guy who we love,” said Stoops. “He is athletic. He is already about 220 pounds at 6-3. He has excellent strength but more than anything he has a great arm and you love the way he passes the ball.

“When we recruit a quarterback, first and foremost we want him to be a great passer. Justice (Hansen) is that but then you look at him and he can run. We’ve watched his athleticism and he got hurt some this year, but when he’s been out there you see it and we see it here, and he’s working out doing the things he’s doing. He’s an excellent athlete and a strong athlete with his arm.”

Heupel thinks Hansen will fit right in at OU.

“We ran the quarterback this year more than we have in a long time,” Heupel said. “Some of that has taken pressure off of those guys; taking some of the decision making, pushing the ball down the field out of their hands a little bit. Trevor (Knight) has got a great comfort with it. You saw his style is dramatically different than the other guys that we played this year, speaking mainly about Blake (Bell). But as we go forward in the way we’ve recruited here, we do want athletic quarterbacks.”

Former Texas Tech starting quarterback Baker Mayfield did not win an appeal for a transfer to OU but he will walk on and is enrolled in classes this spring.

Signing defensive back Steven Parker out of Jenks was a big plus for this class.

“The biggest needs we had were at defensive back where our numbers were definitely low a year ago,” said Stoops. “We signed five guys that are really all good players. Steven Parker was a big get. He’s from right here in-state. He is a difference maker in the back end, especially in the middle of the field. Vontre McQuinnie is a safety with him, Tito Windham and Jordan Thomas as corners and Marcus Green is a guy who could play corner, he could play safety, could play nickel – we love his versatility, speed and size.”

OU loses Aaron Colvin, Gabe Lynn and Kass Everett in the defensive backfield.

“We had three guys out of the six that played the majority of the snaps for us that we’re going to have to replace and gain some depth in the secondary,” said OU Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops. “We play with five DBs every snap, so getting five was what we needed to do. Certainly, we look for some of those guys to contribute for us and I think when you look at those guys that bring versatility and size, range, and that’s what we needed to do.

“I thought we got two pure cover guys in Jordan Thomas and Tito Windham. I thought Steven gives us a great cover guy. Vontre [McQuinnie] gives us a great presence and Marcus Green is a guy I think can play all five positions. The versatility, the different types of players that play to their strengths give us some flexibility in the secondary and we’re really thin right now. We were a couple guys short a year ago so it was good to get a good, solid class of DBs.”

OU signed other players from Tulsa.

“We love those guys,” Bob Stoops said. “Carson Meier at tight end – he just fits the really good tight ends we’ve had here. He’s a tough guy. He runs and catches well. He’s an excellent basketball player. Then Jeffrey Mead is the same thing. He’s a really tough matchup and really is so smooth with being a long guy. A lot of times those long guys can be gangly, but he’s anything but that. He’s excellent on the basketball court with how smooth he is. We love his route running and how he goes after the football, so we’re excited about those guys, definitely.”

Mike Stoops thinks the big win over Alabama was a plus in recruiting but not the only factor.

“Oklahoma’s an elite program, so we’re going to recruit against elite schools for these types of athletes and players and certainly competing against the best for the best, and they are the best. I think you have to measure yourself against the best,” said Mike Stoops.

“What we were able to do against Alabama was no fluke. That was our team playing on all cylinders as a young team. I think that certainly gave us a lot of momentum heading in to the last month of recruiting. To see what we were able to do with such a good, young team, then be able to add great players to this team, we feel like we’re a championship caliber team and that’s what kids want to play for.”