NORMAN, Okla. - During Oklahoma's first one-day camp there were a ton of storylines to follow from new names emerging to established prospects building on their reputations or a player committed elsewhere pulling a surprisingly taking part in Oklahoma's camp.
However, in what seems to be a building trend for Sooner camps Oklahoma played host to four of their current 11 commitments during the midweek camp and none of them were bigger than Oklahoma's potential future quarterback, and the nation's No. 88 overall player, Blake Bell of Wichita (Kan.) Bishop Carroll.
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound signal caller took part in Oklahoma's camp last summer and struggled with the unbelievable winds on the day. After some self-admitted difficulties at an Elite 11 camp in Athens, Ga. earlier this spring some began to wonder if camps situations simply weren't his forte'. While it would be hard to deny that his strength is when the lights go on Friday night it's also hard to find a flaw in his performance on Wednesday.
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Bell showed consistent mechanics and even during basic stretching drills put a nice spin on the ball and seemed to focus on making an impression upon all those who were watching.
One player who expects to watch a lot of Bell passes come his way is Cibolo (Texas) Steele three-star wide receiver Sheldon McClain who recently joined the ranks of the Sooner commitment list. The 6-foot-2, 174-pound pass-catcher was solid on Tuesday but seemed ready to take his game to a new level with the presence of Bell and a couple of elite junior quarterbacks.
Though he was unable to show off his trademark jumping ability he did a great job in simply running good routes and seemed to do well in getting comfortable with Bell early on.
They may have been on an entirely separate side of the field from the Sooner skill position commits there is no denying the connection between Bell, McClain, and offensive linemen Tyrus Thompson and Bronson Irwin.
Interestingly for the offensive linemen the connection seems to end there as Thompson continues to try and bulk up and become a more physical presence while Irwin is working on slimming himself up a bit and continue to work on overall footwork.
So far both are having real success in reaching their goals.
Thompson still has a lot to learn as an offensive lineman but his raw athletic ability is impossible to deny and makes him a very realistic left tackle of the future for offensive line coach James Patton. Thompson's feet are nearly unparalleled naturally but much like current Sooner Cory Brandon will have to work on adding needed weight before he is ready for the college game.
As for Irwin his goal to trim up a bit this off-season so far seems like a massive success. He has lost roughly 15-pounds and looks quicker on his feet for it. He still may end up as a guard at the college level but has a chance to be a right tackle in college if he continues to show off the athletic ability that he displayed on Wednesday.
One thing that hasn't changed for Irwin is that if he gets his hands on the defender, the battle is already over before it's begun.
In-State Stars Hoping to make an Impression
It seems odd that aside from Irwin the only in-state player on campus in Norman with an offer was actually 2011 prospect Josh Turner of Oklahoma City Millwood.
However there were plenty of prospects auditioning to join Turner and Irwin and several may have done enough to pick up those offers.
Leading the pack was Moore (Okla.) Southmoore defensive back Julian Wilson who has always thought of more as a game-breaking wide receiver prospect. The 6-foot-2, 172-pound speedster struggled with his footwork some at the TCU NIKE camp but showed that he has put in the work this spring to make himself a viable option in the secondary.
"Coach Bobby Jack Wright liked what I did, and Jay Norvell said I'm the fastest wide receiver he has seen in a while," Wilson said after returning home.
That said he'll return to Norman on Saturday to work out under the eye of Norvell and see if he can't further his dream of a Sooner offer.
A player that spent most of his day working with Wilson was Edmond (Okla.) North standout Xavier Smith who was making yet another stop on his tour of the Big 12 this summer. Smith had already camped at Missouri, who offered, Texas A&M, and will be at Oklahoma State this weekend.
Smith showed great feet and the ability to turn his hips and run with a receiver. In the first half of the morning session he struggled a bit adjusting to the level of quality receivers but in the second half more than one onlooker thought he was the best defensive back on a field full of top notch ones including Wilson and Turner.
He definitely caught the eye of the Sooner coaches and seems ready to emerge as a potential offer for the coaching staff with a strong senior season.
Speaking of Turner he was his typical outstanding self though he was hoping to spend more time going against some of the older receivers than spending some of his time against some of the younger receivers who were on hand.
Turner excels when he can press a receiver and let his athletic ability overwhelm most any receiver he faces and after he was allowed to eliminate "cushion" he showed what he is capable of.
Joining him as class of 2011 standouts were Millwood teammates Kevonte Richardson and Emilio Gatewood. Richardson's development as a pure passer continues to be impressive while Gatewood shows ability both as a defensive back as well as at running back.
One name that has been known about for a while but had yet to really be seen is Edmond (Okla.) Memorial wide receiver Kameron Doolittle. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound prospect showed great quickness and good hands to try and become an elite slot prospect for the class of 2011. As he continues to fill out and develop physically his stock will only continue to rise.
One of the more interesting stories of the camp has been Oklahoma's encouragement of Norman North defensive end Daniel Davis to try his hand as an h-back/fullback under the eye of Kevin Wilson. Davis is a Sooner fan hoping to pick up an Oklahoma offer at whatever position and seems perfectly fine with the idea of playing a Matt Clapp role if that is what works for the Sooner coaching staff.
One player whose role is well-defined but still carries a lot of questions is Prague, Okla. offensive tackle Denton Simek. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound blocker showed up to camp and with his No. 12 jersey more than a few people wondered if he wasn't an oversized quarterback but as the camp wore on it became clear he was another of a long line of quality blockers.
It was clear that Simek wasn't entirely comfortable playing with his hand in the dirt and at times struggled with the more physical defensive lineman but that will improve as his tall frame is one that will only continue to fill out while he matures and becomes stronger.
A Surprise Visitor
For quite some time it had been known that Oklahoma had a real interest in Denison, Texas defensive end Jaqwaylin Arps who has been committed to the Texas Tech Red Raiders since April 19.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound defensive end showed great agility and quickness when lined up against an offensive line group that was perhaps as good as any at an Oklahoma camp in the Bob Stoops era. Throughout most of practice Arps lined up against Oklahoma commitment Bronson Irwin and while it may be a preview of Big 12 South showdowns to come it's clear the Sooners have a real interest in Arps.
An offer may not come immediately but don't be shocked if a big start to Arps' senior year changes his Sooner offer status.
Little Known Texas Stars
Be it from the class of 2010 or 2011 Texas provided plenty of talented prospects at Oklahoma's camp.
Perhaps no player was more intriguing than Harvey Jackson of Missouri City (Texas) Hightower. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound defensive prospect could play any number of positions and while he bears a scary resemblance to former Sooner Travian Smith in his No. 36 practice jersey his ability to cover some of the elite receivers at the camp makes him a scary possibility as a safety.
An offer hasn't happened yet but Jackson continuing to work on his footwork in the afternoon session even after drills had ended almost certainly made an impression on defensive backs coach Bobby Jack Wright.
One receiver who made a particular challenge for Jackson and just about any other cornerback in attendance was little known Arlington, Texas star Miles Onyegbule. His name is as hard to pronounce as he was to cover and this ability definitely stood out to quarterbacks Blake Bell, Kevonte Richardson, and fellow 2011 Texan J.W. Walsh.
Onyegbule's big frame and his ability to use it to shield off defenders turned even slightly errant passes into completions.
His young 2011 battery mate Walsh also showed off a great deal of ability. His ability to drop passes into the corner of the end zone may have been his most noteworthy trait but the arm strength is certainly there to be an elite quarterback prospect in next year's class.
The final piece of the passing puzzle was Arlington Sam Houston 2011 standout Kameel Jackson who continues to look explosive in and out of cuts and has such a natural ability to get separation that there is little doubt he'll be a high-level recruit come 2011.
However when it came to the big boys it wasn't the class of 2011 that carried the weight, pardon the pun.
That responsibility fell to Corinth (Texas) Lake Dallas three-star offensive tackle Daryl Williams and four-star center Austin Woods of Rockwall (Texas) Heath.
Williams is another tall and lean offensive tackle who knows how to move his feet and is simply a question of what type of physical development he will make as he hits a college training table. The 6-foot-5, 269-pound prospect looks as much like a defensive end as he does an offensive tackle at this point but no player did a better job dealing with some of the undersized speed rushers who were on hand on Saturday.
Woods, like every center at camp, is at a distinct disadvantage because not only does he have to deal with the snap but also has no help blocking as almost every center in college football will have. That being said he did a solid job in spite of the limitations of a one-on-one blocking situation.
Finally Wylie, Texas tight end Noah Cheshier came for the one-day camp and was solid as both a receiver as well as a blocker but at this point doesn't seem like a Sooner offer is upcoming.
*An interesting in-state prospect who was on hand was Edmond North running back Qua'Don Henderson. The former Tulsa Union Redskin transferred to the Huskies last year after sitting behind Jeremy Smith and had a solid year splitting time with Joe Aska in North Oklahoma City. He may not be a Sooner target but is a guy to keep an eye on.
*Kamron Highshaw is one of Oklahoma's top linebackers for 2011 and was one of few standouts at the position through the first few days of camp.
*Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber offensive lineman Brey Cook made a real impression on Wednesday with a huge frame and the ability to move his feet. The 2011 prospects high school coach is well acquainted with Oklahoma's program and should the Sooners take a serious interest in him it's likely that interest would be returned.
*O.C. Brown worked out through both sessions and looked solid on the day but doesn't look like a guy that Oklahoma is on the verge of offering until perhaps Austin Woods makes a decision on his college future.