Sooner Intel: OU news and nuggets

Safety Steven Parker

An exclusive to SoonersIllustrated subscribers, the Intel is a sneak peak at what is happening with OU recruiting.

The Sooner Intel is an inside look into Oklahoma football and basketball recruiting and is solely for Sooners Illustrated subscribers. It is a sneak peek into what's happening with OU recruiting and is not to be distributed anywhere else.

Parker content with recruiting approach

It's this time last year it was a bit overwhelming, but Jenks (Okla.) High four-star safety Steven Parker is used to the recruiting attention by now.

There isn't a day where an Oklahoma fan is asking him when he's going to commit to the Sooners. There isn't a day where an Oklahoma State fan isn't doing the same about the Cowboys. It's good to be wanted, but Parker is trying to keep it all in perspective.

"I really did think about committing before the season, but I don't want to rush anything," Parker said. "My parents want me to take in everything as a recruit and enjoy the experience. I'll never get this experience again."

One experience he has had is visiting OU. At this stage, it's almost pointless to count the number of visits to campus for Parker. It's well into double digits.

Sooners fans, though, were a little more excited when he visited a couple of weeks ago. Maybe this time it would be something different? No, not really.

"It never crossed my mind," Parker said. "It was more about getting a chance to see the coaches work in person and see the team in action again. It was good to see Alex Ross and Jordan Smallwood again, too."

Ross and Smallwood, of course, were former teammates of Parker at Jenks. The trip also marked the first time Parker has been in OU's Headington Hall, its newest residence hall that opened late last month.

If first impressions mean anything, OU has done well with Parker regarding his potential future housing.

"Alex showed me around all the dorms," Parker said. "It's a great place, very beautiful. They did a great job on it."

Parker hasn't narrowed his list of schools yet, but he said he's getting there. An offer from USC earlier this week only complicates matters, but he's down to about 10 in his mind that are still legit candidates.

The summer plan was for Parker to make a lot of unofficial visits. That never happened. Parker was hoping for it, but he opted to work on his strength and conditioning for this season.

"I would have liked to seen more places, but I really wanted to get bigger and stronger," Parker said. "I thought that was more important. My goal was to finish first or among the first all the time in the conditioning drills."

He wants to focus on his senior season, but he has little birdies in his ear at all times. His teammate, three-star safety Dylan Harding committed to Oklahoma State recently. And of course, four-star quarterback Justice Hansen continues to badger him about joining him at OU.

"Justice is really trying to push me to get to OU," Parker said. "He never stops."

Parker's role could be a little different this season for Jenks. There is a strong possibility he will play safety and sometime at wide receiver. This was discussed last season but never actually happened. This year, though, looks to be in the cards.

"I think me and Dylan are going to play both ways," Parker said. "We've practiced it all spring and summer. I'm excited. I'm not worried at all about being tired. This is what I've worked for."

Parker hasn't set up any official visits at this point and said he is in no rush to do so right now.

Scales eyeing OU trip

Cincinnati (Ohio) Colerain linebacker Tegray Scales talked earlier this month about making an official visit to OU. A few weeks later, that's still the plan but hasn't been set up yet.

OU is one of the few schools Scales is pursuing that isn't within driving distance. He lists Indiana and West Virginia as among other schools he really wants to check out this fall.

So why OU?

"It's a powerhouse football team," Scales said. "They have great coaches, and a lot of players have come to the NFL from OU. It's a place I can see myself playing at for college."

The distance could be an intriguing factor. He said his parents would have to be comfortable and that he would love if his parents could see a couple of games. But heading into the fall, Scales said he has never been on an airplane in his life.

But Scales also talked about how the distance won't matter as long as the comfort level is there for both him and his parents.

"I have to get there and check it out," Scales said. "For me, whenever I feel like I belong or something like that, the feeling will hit me."

Scales said he has yet to talk to an OU coach on the phone but has exchanged numerous Facebook messages with OU linebackers coach Tim Kish basically on a daily basis.

As for the official visit, he's not backing down from that one.

"I just don't know yet because some coaches will tell you which game to attend, while others you tell them," Scales said. "I have to see what OU wants to do, but I definitely want to get out there."

Lodge gets first taste of Sooners

Everybody knows OU wide receivers coach Jay Norvell can recruit with the best of them in the nation. All that has to happen is an introduction.

The introduction between Norvell and Cedar Hill (Texas) wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge finally happened two weeks ago. Lodge, a Scout 300 receiver for the Class of 2015, made his first trip to OU two weeks ago.

"Everything went really well," Lodge said. "The facilities were great. I really liked the environment. It opened my eyes a lot."

That's a good thing for OU. Because as recently as two months ago, the Sooners weren't in the picture for Lodge at all. He had the offer, but he admitted he didn't know too much about the program. And it looked like maybe he didn't want to know much about the program.

Lodge had been primarily recruited by defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. That makes sense since Stoops was so consumed with Lodge's teammate, OU cornerback commit Marcus Green, but the door is now open for Norvell and Lodge to build that bond.

"I really like what he's doing with the receivers. You can tell he knows what he's doing," Lodge said. "He knows how to get his guys in position to succeed and knows how to motivate them to make plays."

Like every other recruit, Lodge was impressed with Headington Hall, and he's hopeful to return to Norman this season for an unofficial visit.

One visit won't get Lodge's commitment for the Sooners, but now they're legitimately in the conversation. Lodge had to sit patiently behind some talented kids at Cedar Hill, but he's ready to shine this season.

"I run better routes now," Lodge said. "I've watched a lot of film in the spring and summer and know my coverages a lot better. I can't wait to make another run and get that state championship."

Barnett a rare breed

It's a good thing OU got in nice and early for Lawton (Okla.) High offensive guard Jalin Barnett because they're all coming for the lineman now.

Barnett, a Scout 300 lineman for the Class of 2015, continues to visit OU time and time again, while other schools are left waiting to see when they can get him on campus.

He grew up an Oklahoma State fan, but that has changed dramatically in the last few months.

"I know his family real well and his grandfather is a diehard OU guy," Lawton coach Randy Breeze said. "That new coach [Bedenbaugh] has done a great job."

But the secret is out with Barnett with offers from schools like Auburn and Stanford. Sometimes you don't need to see a recruit in person to make an offer.

"I was talking with the Auburn coach, and he was saying how you never buy a Cadillac without giving it a test drive first," Breeze said. "But he looked at Jalin and said I'll go ahead and buy it right now. That's just the way people have reacted to Jalin."

What has impressed Breeze more than anything is the maturity Barnett has shown in handling the process. He said nothing has changed with Barnett.

"When he gets out of his pickup truck, he just looks like an old farmer," Breeze said. "And then he puts his hand in the dirt, and he has those quick feet and can back pedal well. His hand punch is incredible, as good as anybody in the country."

Barnett has open invites to attend any OU home game he wants to this season, and he said he'll go to as many that he possibly can.

As for what he needs to work on, Breeze hesitated.

"I'm not sure," Breeze said. "There are little things, of course, but there's no skeletons in this closet. He's got all the tools."

McQuinnie open to linebacker

Let's talk linebackers. Houston (Texas) Summer Creek linebacker Dakota Allen is the latest name to come off the board, selecting Texas Tech last weekend.

OU is set with Allen (Texas) High three-star linebacker Tay Evans, but it's very possible the Sooners already have a linebacker commit but just don't know it.

If you ask Lancaster (Texas) High star Vontre McQuinnie, it simply doesn't matter to him if he's at strong safety, free safety or linebacker.

Originally recruited as a safety by OU, the Sooners pledge said there have some talks about a potential switch although nothing is set in stone.

"There has been a little talk," McQuinnie said. "I have this weird build. I'm like 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, but I'm really quick. I can put on weight or drop the weight, whatever is asked of me."

McQuinnie said Iowa has offered him as a linebacker so it's not out of the realm of possibility. He said safety was what Mike Stoops talked about in the spring, but he's willing to hear about anything the team needs the next time he visits.

High school, he said, has prepared him well.

"I can play any role that's needed," McQuinnie said. "I can play up or I can play down. I can fill any gap on the field. I can play in coverage. I'm not worried about anything."

McQuinnie has been encouraged by his parents to visit other schools, a lot like Steven Parker. McQuinnie grew us as a fan of LSU and Alabama but said neither school has shown much interest.

None of it matters now as McQuinnie is solely focused on his senior season.

"This team has a lot of promise and a lot of expectations," McQuinnie said. "It's all I'm worried about right now. I'll deal with my visits after the season."

So McQuinnie could realistically be a linebacker commit. And might even be probable if OU can land the commitments of Parker and Houston (Texas) Lamar four-star safety John Bonney. Bonney, who has been adamant about committing before the season, might be a little more open toward taking his time.

OU is gunning for five defensive backs so Parker and Bonney could solve any safety dilemma. Ideal world would be Parker and Bonney at safety, with Michiah Quick, Tito Windham and Marcus Green at cornerback.

And linebacker still has a lot of options when you consider the fact Los Angeles (Calif.) Salesian linebackers Marquis Ware and Jamardre Cobb will each visit OU on Oct. 4 despite their Arizona commitment Wednesday night.

OU should also get an official visit from Vista (Calif.) Murrieta linebacker Curtis Bolton so it's not all gloom and doom at the position.

The recruiting season should dictate where McQuinnie ends up with position, but it's good news for OU to know he's willing to adapt to any situation that is needed.

Trip opens Sutherland's eyes

No doubt OU is faring well with offensive linemen for the Class of 2015. Both of its commits, Allen (Texas) High's Bobby Evans and Oklahoma City (Okla.) Casady's Josh Wariboko, are Scout 300 commits.

That doesn't mean Bedenbaugh is slowing down. Already a great rapport with Jalin Barnett, the latest is Flower Mound (Texas) offensive tackle Keaton Sutherland.

Sutherland had no idea an OU offer was coming his way when he visited last week. Nobody was more surprised about the offer than Sutherland.

"It never even crossed my mind," Sutherland said. "That was the first time I was talking to any of the coaches ever. He said how he liked that I was a big guy but knew how to move my feet."

Sutherland was just going up to OU because his coach arranged the trip. He said he had seriously never given OU much of a thought at all. That has changed.

"The campus was really nice, and I really liked the football facilities," Sutherland said. "I knew a little bit, but I know a lot more and want to know even more."

Sutherland has offers from TCU and Arkansas and said all three schools see him at offensive tackle. That might be a little surprising since he has never played offensive line in high school. He has been a defensive lineman the entire time but is moving to offensive tackle this season.

The Sooners are now in the race, and Sutherland said he definitely hopes to be able to make a trip to OU for a game this season.

First weekend visits

It's not the most glamorous first home game, but OU isn't faring too bad in terms of getting visitors for its contest against Louisiana-Monroe.

Already confirmed is junior college tight end Jean Sifrin, and Whitehouse (Ohio) Wayne punter Jake Hartbarger indicated this week he will also be visiting next weekend.

Hartbarger was pretty bold in saying all he needs to do is visit OU, and then he'll commit. Other schools are showing interest, but he's locked in with OU.

He said it would either be next weekend or West Virginia weekend but seemed pretty set that it will be sooner instead of later.

Hogan a name to watch

In a scrimmage featuring two Scout 300 quarterbacks, who made the biggest impression? Norman (Okla.) North Class of 2016 running back Quan Hogan.

Hogan, who is listed at 6-foot and 175 pounds, had himself quite the night running the ball and catching the ball out of the backfield. He scored one of Norman North's two touchdowns.

It's not that David Cornwell, an Alabama commit, and Justice Hansen, an OU commit, didn't perform well, but Hogan made sure he wasn't forgotten.

"Explosive," Cornwell said. "He proved tonight that he has definitely earned that offer from Tulsa. He is making a lot of plays that guys cannot make at this level. I'll give him a high-five tonight and run with him all year."

Hansen was solid in the scrimmage, throwing for a touchdown and rushing for another despite playing a mere three series. The highlight of his night came on a 65-yard touchdown run where he stiff armed a defender going down the sideline.

"I'm real happy with everything," Hansen said. "I don't think we've ever had a team come together as fast as this one has. We've been together for a long time and know what to expect from each other."

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