Sooner Intel, Pt. I: News and nuggets

Sooner Intel, Pt. I: News and nuggets

A one-time only FREE look into the week that was in Oklahoma recruiting.

The Sooner Intel was started by Bob Przybylo in the fall of 2011 at ESPN as a sneak peek into all things Oklahoma recruiting. It has become a staple of his reporting since that time, including the last year at Sooners Illustrated.

The Intel has never been a free feature, always been for members only. But for the first (and maybe only) time this week the Intel is free to all readers.

The hope is you realize this is the type of content you get from Sooners Illustrated on a weekly basis and will come along for the ride for what should be a great 2014 season in Norman.

Without further ado, the Aug. 8 edition of the Sooner Intel.

Wariboko returning home?

There were big-time recruits all over the place in Norman last weekend. Most were expected. A return trip by Oklahoma City Casady offensive lineman Josh Wariboko, however, wasn’t.

Wariboko committed to OU last June before decommitting in the spring. And after virtually no contact at all with anybody at OU during the spring evaluation period, it sure had looked like the ship had sailed between the Sooners and the Scout 300 prospect.

But Wariboko wasn’t trying to hide the fact he was back at OU. He freely tweeted it Saturday morning to let everybody know. After having taken an unofficial visit to Oklahoma State the day before, it was back to Norman for Wariboko.

“I was talking to my family about it and about what I would still like to see,” Wariboko said. “Both schools welcomed me with open arms.”

Wariboko didn’t have an active summer, instead enjoyed being a kid and getting himself mentally ready for his senior season. He only visited OU, OSU and UCLA.

But it is obvious the work he has put in. Wariboko said he was at 333 pounds at one time but has trimmed down to 302 as Oklahoma City Casady started practice this week.

“I’m feeling great,” Wariboko said. “My endurance has improved. I owed it to myself and my team to be the best player I can be.”

With his summer goals accomplished, he said he would start focusing on recruiting once again during the upcoming months.

Nobody thought that would include heading back to OU. Besides one phone call from Josh Heupel in the spring, Wariboko hadn’t talked to anybody from OU since his decommitment.

“I wanted to see if it was different from when I was committed, it definitely was. The program is going in a great direction. It’s a championship vibe right now. The way they interacted with each other and got down to business – it’s a championship mindset.”

It was definitely a different feeling for Wariboko back at OU, but it was the good kind of different feeling, reconnecting with coaches Bob Stoops and Bill Bedenbaugh.

“That was the first time I spoke to them and actually like the whole staff in some time,” Wariboko said. “There wasn’t any awkwardness at all. They were happy to see me.”

Happy to see him, and Wariboko said they have brought a different attitude toward recruiting. One thing Wariboko said he didn’t feel he had enough of was time with players when he was a commitment. He said he a lot of time interacting with the players Saturday, and it was a different vibe.

A different vibe? Here’s Wariboko saying what that means.

“I can tell they’re working a lot harder on the recruiting side of things,” Wariboko said. “They’re going to win games, but they’ve stepped it up with recruits. I felt great up there.

“I wanted to see if it was different from when I was committed, it definitely was. The program is going in a great direction. It’s a championship vibe right now. The way they interacted with each other and got down to business – it’s a championship mindset.”

Slowly but surely the bridge is being repaired in the relationship, but that’s not to say other schools aren’t still a factor. He said he knows some schools that are definitely in his top choices, but he doesn’t want to disclose that information yet.

No doubt OU, OSU, Clemson, Ohio State USC, UCLA, Arkansas and Texas A&M are in the mix. But California is making a strong charge, too, as the newest school to really turn up the pressure for Wariboko.

Wariboko is a frequent visitor to the state, which has many believing he wants to live out on the west coast.

“Not so much the state, but the schools out there are incredible and have so much to offer,” Wariboko said. “It’s great places to live and a great opportunity.”

One school Wariboko still wants to see is Ohio State. He was hoping to be in Columbus last month but it never panned out. It’s safe to say the Buckeyes will be one of his five official visits.

What’s not accurate to say is OU or OSU will be eliminated from the official visit race because of proximity. Even though a lot of his choices are far away from home, there is no hesitation to take an official to Norman or Stillwater if that’s what he feels is best.

“I’d definitely take an official there because it could help me get an even better feel of the program,” Wariboko said.

Wariboko is now set on focusing on his senior season. But anytime Casady plays Thursday, he’s certainly eyeing any college visits he can take, and OU is definitely back in the picture.

Allen off the board; Akamnonu, Samia in play

Not too much in terms of top OU targets going elsewhere this week, but one notable one was offensive tackle Patrick Allen committing to Georgia.

Allen was always a strange topic with OU because he constantly said great things about the program and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, but it was clear no visit was ever talked about.

He could still find his way to OU for an official visit as just about every recruit is tinkering with the idea of coming to OU’s home game against Tennessee, but it seems like OU will move on.

And that next big offensive tackle announcement is just around the corner. Arlington (Texas) Bowie’s Madison Akamnonu is still set for his Aug. 24 decision between Texas Tech and OU.

The date was already known, but Akamnonu went one step further this week by saying he would make his decision on Twitter.

Akamnonu has made two trips to OU and his father graduated from the university. But it remains a legit 50-50 shot between the Sooners and Red Raiders.

Not to be outdone, OU made another offer this week to Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley offensive tackle Dru Samia.

Samia, a four-star prospect, made an unofficial visit to campus Thursday. The feeling was as long as he showed up to campus, he was going to leave with the offer.

He showed up, he got the offer. OU immediately becomes a major player for Samia, who said he was sort of waiting to see if OU was going to come around.

He now has 14 offers, but his plan all along has been to decide pretty soon. That could mean some good news for the Sooners in the near future.

Montgomery a presence in the bayou

Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery hasn’t just been a breath of fresh air to the team but also to the recruiting efforts of the team.

One huge area he has taken on is Louisiana. The Sooners were virtually non-existent in that area in the years leading up to Montgomery’s arrival. But OU signed two players from New Orleans (Joseph Paul, Courtney Garnett) for 2014 and already have one Louisiana commit for 2015.

Montgomery said he has a lot of ties to the area, with family Lafayette, while also living in Lake Charles in the past. It is definitely helping out.

“I have little league, junior high coaches, high school coaches – I’m definitely well tied in with New Orleans and those areas,” Montgomery said.

But Montgomery wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a new thing for OU to hit the Bayou State. In fact he wanted to give Sooners Illustrated a little history lesson.

“Look at your history, though,” Montgomery said. “There have been a lot of great players from New Orleans come to OU. When we were in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl and walking around with that OU hat on, people recognized.

“One high school coach told me Barry Switzer owned New Orleans.”

Montgomery refused to give himself any of the credit for OU’s success in the state, saying it’s a team effort by all coaches. But it’s clear he made OU a player in the state where a foothold hadn’t really been established in recent years.

OU has plenty of offers to kids from Louisiana for this class, nine at this time. OU isn’t going to win them all, but there’s no reason it can’t be in the mix going forward.

“There are enough kids down there,” Montgomery said. “LSU can’t take them all. We might as well get a piece of that, too.”

Parker with message for Sunderland

It was a different feeling for Midwest City (Okla.) High safety Will Sunderland, who returned to campus last weekend. He didn’t have his unofficial tour guide with him anymore, Steven Parker.

The two got introduced to each other way back when at OU’s camp in 2013 and made a lot of the same unofficial visits to campus during last season.

Following the season and with Parker signed, Parker talked to Sunderland often at the spring game and at OU’s camp in June.

But this time around Parker could only talk after practice with him 100 percent on the team. He had a clear message for Sunderland.

“He was talking to me, just saying how bad he wants me to be back there with him,” Sunderland said. “He was saying how much he loves it there.”

Parker was the top prospect in the state for the 2014 class, and Sunderland is definitely the top safety prospect in the state this time around. After initially looking like the two didn’t necessarily didn’t want to play with each other, those thoughts are long gone.

“I would love to play with him,” Sunderland said. “You want to play with the best.”

Despite visiting Saturday, Sunderland was once again back in Norman on Thursday for OU’s second practice of the day.

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