In this edition of the “Recruiting Summary” I’ll actually provide some new or clarifying information as well as a summary of some notes we’ve passed along:
Juwan Dowels – I’ve had a lot of people write in and ask about Juwan Dowels. I’ve been tight lipped about it because I felt it was in his best interest from a recruiting stand point to not divulge what was happening. But the information got out yesterday so I’ll try to clarify what happened and is happening in hopes that the truth will prevent any negative perception of Juwan. In terms of talent Juwan was at the top of Oklahoma’s board after Tee Shepard. It was my understanding from two sources that he graded out the highest on Oklahoma’s evaluation. However, as has been leaked now by a number of folks, Juwan isn’t eligible just yet.
The people around Juwan have tremendous respect for Oklahoma and specifically Coach Mike Stoops and his ability to develop cornerbacks. One of those people is my friend, Stanford Samuels, who I’ve mentioned before when I posted his impressions of Juwan’s ability (Stanford is a former FSU CB who played us in the 2000 NC). For those who didn’t see that write up you can read it here: http://thefootballbrainiacs.com/?p=2508. Needless to say Stanford and others around Juwan believed that Oklahoma was the best place for Juwan because they believed in Coach Mike’s ability to turn the small but “super explosive” Dowels into an elite cover corner. So Oklahoma was sitting in a REALLY good spot with Juwan.
Last week Juwan and an Oklahoma coach had a discussion about his academic situation and it seemed they were going to remain in the hunt for Juwan. There were even plans to take a trip to Miami. In fact the initial change in visitation date from Jan. 17th to Jan. 31st was NOT initiated by Oklahoma. It was initiated by Juwan. For whatever reason the Oklahoma coaches changed their mind earlier this week and Oklahoma did indeed back off due to the concern that Juwan may not be eligible by signing day.
However, the story isn’t quite done yet. There does seem to be a discrepancy between the academic grades/numbers that Oklahoma has received and the actual grades/numbers that have been reported to Juwan by his counselor. I do not know how this happened, however I do know that there is work being done to get clarification on it. Once things are finalized one way or another I will pass the information along to you if I’m given the “ok”.
I know it’s easy for readers who don’t know much about these kids to assume that if someone has eligibility issues they are underachievers, etc. What you have to understand first of all is that when a GPA for a young person is taken into account by the university it is a core GPA. In other words a player may have a 2.9 GPA (which is mostly B’s with a few C’s – not bad) but the core GPA may be a 2.5 (which is a mix of B’s and C’s in the core courses and does not include any potential weighting). Additionally, in competitive football cities elite players are often moved from school to school. Juwan is one of those people. He was not originally at a prestigious private school like American Heritage. And in fact even at American Heritage they have a two-tiered curricula. This issue of transferring and players being moved around is a long subject that would require it’s own post but those moves affect things as well.
Some might think it’s not my place to defend these kids and I’m not saying every kid is perfect. I’m just saying there are often times things that readers don’t understand about a young man and their circumstances. And these are 17 year olds who are subjected to a high degree of public scrutiny. I know that Oklahoma is dealing with academic eligibility issues with other players and you may have noted that I tend not to talk about it. It’s not because I don’t know. It’s because I wouldn’t want people talking about my little brother that way. I know that’s just part of this news world and I know that these athletes are benefited by the publicity. My father taught me that it’s better to mistakenly assume the best in 100 bad people than to mistakenly assume the worst in one good person and sometimes I fear that putting out information about a kids academic situation could lead some to assume the worst in a good kid. As a new blog and as new bloggers it’s something we’re still trying to navigate. Anyhow sorry for the long-winded and perhaps unnecessary addition to this part of the update but with the information getting out there I felt it necessary to clarify things.
Jonathan Thomas – Others have reported and we have as well, that Oklahoma and Jonathan have parted ways. He’s a great kid and we wish him well. Don’t be surprised if you see that young man in the league one day. UPATE (5:50 am): This morning Jonathan reached out and told me that UGA is coming by to see him today! Very exciting news for a great great kid!
Steven Parker – A reader sent me an article that some of you may have read from the TAMU Rivals site. The article included quotes from Steven Parker that seem to have alarmed some people. I can tell you that I know Steven’s father. I’ve spoken to him on many occasions even as recent as this past Sunday. I obviously can’t divulge everything I’m told and obviously nothing is done until it’s done but I still fully believe that Oklahoma has reason to be optimistic here. If Steven ends up somewhere else it will be a big shock to me. And just fair warning so that we don’t replicate the situation that happened with De’Chavon Hayes – that was a situation where he was very close to committing to Oklahoma and I had reported we were confident OU would land him and the morning he was going to make the commitment to OU, he let me know he had changed his mind to ASU but asked me not to divulge it; and I did not, however I did attempt to leave some clues a couple days before his commitment date but it would appear most folks didn’t pick up on that. So fair warning, if I start to sound less confident at any point you should take that as reason to be alarmed because it means I’ve been told something that I cannot divulge haha. But for now I’m still optimistic.
Lukayus McNeil – As I reported yesterday, Lukayus McNeil’s coach informed me that Oklahoma dropped by the school to visit Lukayus. In fact HC Coach Stoops made the visit himself. Clearly OT is a priority. Lukayus appears to be down to Oklahoma, Indiana and Louisville. McNeil’s coach wasn’t able to tell me how good Oklahoma’s chances are but he said Oklahoma is definitely in it. My best guess is it’s going to come down to whether distance matters too much. If it doesn’t matter enough then I’ve got to think Oklahoma is in a great position. If it does then obviously we’re not in such a great position.
Tristan Hill – Tristan is the underrated Mustang, HS OT that we featured last month. We are big fans of Tristan’s ability and we believe he can play BCS ball. Since the feature North Carolina State has started showing a lot of interest in the 6’6 OT. And they will be coming by to visit Tristan this coming Monday. I have also heard that Baylor and Washington St. are intrigued by Tristan as well though a visit has not been scheduled. But here is the interesting news, Coach Bedenbaugh called Tristan yesterday. The initial conversation was brief because it during school (lunch time) but Coach Bedenbaugh scheduled a time for the two to speak later. I didn’t get a chance to catch up with Tristan last night (I was hanging with my nieces!) but I’ll get an update for y’all soon. I don’t know what is going to come of this or the degree of Oklahoma’s interest but we were happy to hear that he’s on Coach Bedenbaugh’s radar :).
Courtney Garnett – I confirmed with Courtney that everything is good to go for his visit this weekend. We will be watching that one closely. Courtney will be accompanied by his teammate and OU commit, Joseph Paul.
Deondre Clark – Ms. Dorshell, Deondre’s, mother tweeted out earlier this week that they will be taking an official visit this coming weekend to Oklahoma. That was great news for OU. It’s been widely reported that while Deondre likes LSU, his mother would like him to stay closer to home. Last night Ms. Dorshell did tweet out some praise of LSU DL coach, coach Brick Haley. Not sure how to read that but it’s obviously not a good thing for OU. I’ve talked to people “in-the-know” about the Clark situation and everyone sort of feels like there is a good chance he will end up at OU but at the same time no one is willing to really commit one way or another because of Deondre’s fascination with LSU and his longstanding relationship with coach Haley and the LSU staff. I know JY is a huge fan of Deondre’s game so he’s definitely hoping we can land the talented DE/OLB.
Dominique Robertson – Dominique is a JUCO OT and a new Oklahoma target. He let me know that Oklahoma stopped by to visit him yesterday morning. JY did a write-up about Dominique that we’ll have up for you later today or this weekend.
Jordan Thomas – We got word earlier this week that DB Jordan Thomas would be visiting this weekend. Jordan has been committed to Northwestern for quite some time. I haven’t spoken to Jordan but the word from inside the program is that while OU doesn’t think this is an impossible flip, they aren’t necessarily super optimistic either. So I’m in wait and see mode on this one. Don’t have enough information to really make an educated guess one way or another.
A number of y’all have asked for a list of visitors this weekend. I’m not sure my list is exhaustive but what I’ve got so far is:
Steven Parker, Deondre Clark, Curtis Bolton, Jonathan Alvarez, Joseph Paul, Courtney Garnett, Jeffery Mead, Jordan Thomas and Carson Meier. If anyone sees anyone I’ve missed or left off please note it in the comments section below and I’ll add it to this post. Thanks!
UPDATE (5:06 pm): As Steve mentioned in the comments below, it does appear that 2015 TE Hale Hentges out of Missouri is also visiting Oklahoma this weekend.
UPDATE: (6:07 pm): Have confirmed with Alex Dalton that he did make the trip to Norman this weekend.
UPDATE (Saturday 11:35 am): Talked to my source that told me earlier in the week Oklahoma wasn’t confident about flipping Jordan Thomas. He said the most recent sense he got from OU after talking to them was that they were feeling more confident as the trip got closer. Still nothing solid but just wanted to let y’all know what I was told.