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February 3, 2013TweetFollow @JLMcCuistion
Feb. 2, 2013 may become a day forever linking Oklahoma football and the Lancaster, Texas Tigers. That's because the Sooners began to replenish their defensive backfield depth by going to one of the country's elite producers of talent in the secondary.
One of the key pieces of that growth was the decision by Lancaster safety Vontre McQuinnie to commit at Oklahoma's junior day - who had said he wouldn't be committing until National Signing Day.
"It surprised me as well, I didn't go into the day thinking I was going to commit to Oklahoma. I went through the day and I was like 'oh, wow'. It gave me an even more in-depth look at Oklahoma - it's more than just the football. The athletics, the academic center, it goes hand in hand with the athletics. It felt real comfortable it was real cool. It didn't feel like a work environment, it felt like do this, handle your business, and we'll have some fun."
Early in the day Oklahoma's class of 2013 picked up a commitment from cornerback Dakota Austin and within an hour he was joined by McQuinnie. And it seems only fitting that he 6-foot-1, 207-pound prospect will continue the Lancaster legacy at Oklahoma as his interest in Oklahoma was created from a former Tiger in Norman.
"I grew up a big Oklahoma fan, you know, it kind of sparked my interest that there were people from the same town that I was from, with Demontre Hurst, he came out of Lancaster, and now he is in Florida getting ready for the draft. That gave him a little pull my way, I mean that's what's up," McQuinnie said.
"Lancaster is real tight-knit, it's not 'I'm the superstar'. It's more like 'I just left and I just came back to see everyone'. It's funny Demontre's sister was going with my big brother so I had a chance to meet him a couple of times."
So did Hurst sell the Sooners to McQuinnie?
No, not really. Last time I heard him talk about it was my freshman year in high school, I don't even think he was starting yet and was talking about how much fun it was and seeing how easy it was to basically get you through college," he said.
McQuinnie's commitment came less than a week after he picked up an offer from Mike Stoops who came by Lancaster to catch up with Austin and look at the Tigers talented junior class.
"One day the defensive coordinator came by and it was a Friday and we don't do too much working out those days. It's kind of a free day, you know 7-on-7 anyway, he saw me running around and my coach told me he was interested, he came back after that and then my coach told me he had the offer for me," he said. "And then Monday I talked with him and he told me I definitely had an offer.
"It was my first offer."
With the two Tigers committing some thought that the decision came together but McQuinnie says that not only was his commitment unplanned but that he heard about Austin's decision from another, now former, Lancaster defensive back.
"Oh yeah, I heard from another friend of mine, Nick Harvey, he told me 'you know Dakota committed?' and was like 'how is that so I'm looking at Dakota right now?'. Then after the video was over, I asked him and he said he did commit and I was saying that's what was up," he said.
Even when Austin informed the big safety of his own commitment McQuinnie didn't feel a decision was imminent for himself. However, there was one moment, in particular, that he said he knew that Oklahoma was going to be his choice.
"I really knew that I wanted to go to Oklahoma, when they showed us a video when they showed all their records and how Oklahoma compared to other schools, SEC or Big 12, in the whole NCAA. They had more 10 game winning seasons than anybody - I liked that," McQuinnie said.
"I know they haven't won (a national title) since 2000, but that's a lot of guaranteed wins, I like that - I want to win."
That desire to win is easy to understand from a player who spent last year helping lead his team to a Texas 4A division two state championship berth. For the Tigers he plays a unique role somewhere between a safety and a linebacker, depending on what Lancaster is doing defensively.
With that versatility and his size, many thought McQuinnie would be playing as an outside linebacker but he may be further evidence of the Sooners changing some things around with their defensive ideology.
"I talked to Mike Stoops, he was up front, and I asked him where they would play me and he said safety is where we want you," he said. "I don't really care where I play, as long as I'm on the field, whether I'm up or down, it's just a few feet up or down."