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Spring football eases pain




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Recruiting: Offensive Line
OU Searching For Big-Time Guys Up Front

Oklahoma’s offensive line will be undergoing a major overhaul during the next few seasons. Davin Joseph, Chris Bush, Chris Chester, Kelvin Chaisson and Chris Messner are all key players contributing on the field this season, and all will be departed by the completion of the 2006 campaign.

Offensive line coach Kevin Wilson is already hitting the recruiting trail hard in anticipation of signing a larger group of offensive lineman than usual.

“We’re looking for players across the board. We need help inside and outside. We’re looking at taking numbers anywhere from six to seven to eight,” he said.

And Wilson isn’t just looking for backups. He’s searching for players capable of contributing right away.

“Potentially, with the depth and the need, we’re looking to be fortunate enough to land a couple of the upper-level recruits that are mature and highly sought after,” said Wilson. “We’re looking for guys that can make an impact right away.
“We’re also looking at junior college players that have a couple of years and have the potential to play in their first year. Our need and opportunity is attractive enough that we can realistically see some of these guys playing that soon.”

The biggest bonus for the nation’s top high school offensive lineman is the room available on the Oklahoma roster. It may come as a shock, but the Sooners could be the youngest they’ve been on the offensive line since Bob Stoops took over the program in 1999.

OU is combing the nation and Wilson isn’t trying to zero in on any one position in particular. Tackles, guards and combination players are all needed. And if players are capable of playing more than one position on the offensive line, they are only more valuable to OU.

The Sooners have already secured a verbal commitment from offensive tackle Cory Brandon of Corsicana, Texas. Brandon checks in at 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds ,and after an unofficial visit to Norman over the summer, he made his decision to jump aboard the Sooner Schooner.

But the Sooners haven’t stopped there. They’ve recently hit the junior college ranks, as well. With so much youth in Norman, Wilson would love to have some experienced junior college talent to fill in the gaps.

Oklahoma turned to the Jayhawk Conference in Kansas recently to dish out a couple of offers to highly touted junior college players. Brandon Walker, a 6-3, 315-pound offensive guard from Coffeyville Community College was one of those players. Walker is originally from Detroit, Mich., and is also strongly considering Michigan State, along with Oklahoma.

“I’m interested in Oklahoma because they’re a big-time program,” said Walker. “Even though they’re having a down season, I know what they’re capable of doing.”

Walker sees the potential of choosing Oklahoma. He’s admitted that playing time will be a key factor in his college choice.

“It’s not about going home (to Michigan State) it’s about playing time and finding the best situation for me. Oklahoma is having problems up front and they’re losing a couple of starters this year and they’re not going to have many guys back in the spring,” he said.

Walker nearly signed with Toledo out of high school, but after failing to qualify, junior college has become a positive situation. It appears Walker will end up signing with a much better school the second time around, as Arizona, Arkansas and Oklahoma State are just a few of the other schools trying to chase down Walker.

The Sooners have also been impressed with Sherron Moore, a 6-5, 300-pound offensive guard from Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kan.

Other junior college players receiving major interest from Oklahoma are Clarence Bailey, a 6-7, 330-pound offensive tackle from Lacawana Junior College in Scranton, Penn., and Anthony Boudreaux, a 6-8, offensive tackle from Dodge City Community College in Kansas.

Moore was an Air Force brat who would up in Wichita, Kan. He didn’t take up football until his junior year at Wichita Northeast High School. He also played defensive end until arriving at Butler County. But since making the switch to offensive tackle in junior college, Moore has blossomed into one of the top players at that level.

Bailey is a lineman who was recently discovered by Wilson in a sleepy Pennsylvania junior college. Junior college players are tougher finds for college coaches, but now that the Sooners have found Bailey, they’ve started recruiting him much harder.

Boudreaux committed to Nick Saban and LSU out of high school. The Sooners recently made a call to Dodge City to find out if Boudreaux would be interested in looking around since Saban bolted to the NFL. Boudreaux is currently expressing an interest in Oklahoma and Wilson would love to sway the talented tackle to Norman.

In the high school ranks, the Sooners are looking at even more high-profile candidates.
With Brandon already in the fold, the Sooners will turn to Curtis Bailey out of Dallas Carter High School in Texas. Bailey, a 6-5, 340-pound offensive tackle/guard, is the type of player who could be an instant impact player at the college level. Bailey currently lists Oklahoma, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Miami as his top four schools. Bailey has not publicly named a favorite, but the Sooners appear to be in as good a position as anyone at this time.

Bailey confirmed the loss to Texas had not dampened his enthusiasm for the Sooners.
“It hasn’t affected me at all,” he said. “I understand what they’re trying to do. They’re still one of my top teams.”

Other players of note receiving offers from Oklahoma are Micah Kia, a 6-5, 290-pound offensive tackle from Miliani, Hi.; Ian Symonette, a 6-9, 320-pound tackle from St. Pius X High School in Houston; Antonio Logan-El, a 6-4, 307-pound offensive guard from Forestville, Md., Chase Beeler, a 6-4, 275-pound offensive guard from Jenks, Okla.; Deron Rose, a 6-5, 310-pound offensive guard from Jefferson High School in Tampa, Fla.; Jovan Hayes, a 6-2, 320-pound offensive guard from Dorsey High School in Los Angeles; Matt Allen, a 6-3, 285-pound offensive guard from Collins High School in Klein, Texas; and Lee Tilley, a 6-5, 317-pound offensive tackle from Franklin Heights High School in Columbus, Ohio.

Kia is an intriguing prospect as the man from the island is looking to take a trip across the mainland in order to visit ten of his favorite schools. Oklahoma is squarely in the mix.
Defensive ends coach Chris Wilson became familiar with Kia last summer when he went to work a football camp in Hawaii and ended up getting an up-close look at the talented tackle.

Ian Symonette is also an interesting prospect because he missed his entire junior season with a broken leg. But after hitting the field for his senior season, colleges have been jumping at the chance to sign one of Texas’ best lineman.

“There were a lot of questions recruiters asked and they wanted to see how I performed,” said Symonette of the late arriving attention. “I answered a lot of those questions this year.”
Oklahoma has made Symonette’s top four teams. Also on the list are Miami, LSU and Texas A&M.

When asked why the Sooners were among his top four teams, Symonette replied, “Coach Stoops, it’s a good situation and they have some great educational opportunities.”

Beeler is the top offensive lineman in the state of Oklahoma for 2005. The Sooners were able to coach Beeler this summer during the high school camp season. The Sooners finally came through with an official offer three weeks ago and Beeler will now decide between OU, OSU, Stanford, Northwestern and others.

The Sooners are still working several prospects already committed to other schools. One of those recruits is Allen. He committed to LSU earlier this summer but the Sooners continue to recruit the talented guard. And according to Allen, the interest in the Sooners is still there.
But he’s not ready to jump off the Tiger bandwagon just yet.

“I’m committed, I’m going to LSU but they called and I’m just listening to what Oklahoma has to say. I am solid to LSU. But you never know what could happen,” said Allen.

As for his interest in Oklahoma and why they continue to pull at his curiosity?

“It’s just their situation with their offensive line,” said Allen. “It’s another school and it was between LSU and Oklahoma. Oklahoma was right behind LSU the entire time.”

Whether or not Allen will seriously consider downgrading his status as a solid commitment to LSU is still up for debate. But it’s clear Oklahoma is letting him know he’s more than welcome if he decides to make the change.