The Norman Transcript

February 6, 2014

Bell moves to tight end

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Edmond Santa Fe quarterback Justice Hansen will enter spring practice as the No. 3 quarterback and will get plenty of work.

OU coach Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel both confirmed senior Blake Bell will move to tight end.

“We’re excited that even though Blake can graduate and go somewhere else, wants to stay here and finish out and wants to try tight end. I think it’s a great fit,” Stoops said.

Stoops has also given Cody Thomas, who redshirted this past season and will enter the spring as the No. 2 quarterback, permission to play baseball in the spring.

How Thomas is able to handle the rigors of spring practice, which begins March 8, and baseball is something the football staff, the baseball staff and Thomas are trying to work out.

“He’s going to work out. He’s going to push himself to be the starting quarterback here. If he’s not the starter, he’ll be ready to play,” Heupel said. “He’s different because of the baseball skill set that he has. He’s over there working and taking his cuts. I think, given the opportunity, he’ll play extremely well.”

Mayfield is with the program: Former Texas Tech starting quarterback Baker Mayfield is officially a walk-on quarterback at OU. Stoops said he met with Mayfield for the first time Tuesday and he will go through spring practice.

“He said he always wanted to be here. So we’ll give him that opportunity,” Stoops said.

Mayfield threw for 2,315 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight starts for the Red Raiders last season as a walk-on freshman. He elected to leave Texas Tech in December.

Texas Tech blocked his transfer to OU. Mayfield is free to attend school, but he must sit out the 2014 season and cannot redshirt. He’ll be a junior when he becomes eligible in 2015.

Changing with the times: Two years ago, OU’s coaching staff did only a minuscule amount of contact with recruits through social media. That has been the biggest change over the last two years.

Recruiting coordinator/running backs coach Cale Gundy said the change was one of the reasons for OU’s success in recruiting this year.

“We’ve adapted even more so to the Twitter and to the Facebook and to the social media,” he said. “Coach Stoops made some changes with some guys. What the new guys have done for us is they’ve done a tremendous job. But we’ve all kind of jumped in and went full speed with social media. You just have to do it to be able to communicate. It’s unfortunate, but you can get a hold of any elementary, junior high and high school kid at 9, 10, 11 o’clock during school days just by Tweeting them or Facebooking them.”

A.D. effect: Gundy said one of OU’s best selling points is former running back Adrian Peterson. The All-American at OU and all-pro with the Minnesota Vikings the last six years, makes recruiting running backs much easier. It was a huge draw for five-star running back Joe Mixon.

“The best running back in the game today is Adrian Peterson. Everyone knows that, everyone talks about that. That helps me tremendously in recruiting,” Gundy said.

“He was smart to look at a place like Oklahoma and what we’ve done and the guys we’ve put out. We’ve got two guys starting in the NFL and one guy is the best. Not all 17-year-olds look at that, but obviously Joe did,” Gundy added. “But having an Adrian Peterson is priceless.”

Closing time: Of the 26 recruits OU landed Wednesday, nine committed after the Sooners’ Jan. 2 victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

It was a strange year in that the Sooners have typically had all but a few stragglers committed by the end of the regular season. Stoops didn’t deny the Sugar Bowl win had a big impact in the final month of recruiting.

“We were on a lot of great players. We had some great commitments already. Definitley in the month after that, that momentum had a strong positive impact on us finishing out and getting these guys in the last few weeks,” he said. “It isn’t just the game, the assistant coaches did an excellent job. Hopefully I had a little bit to do with it, how we were all working with them, and finished in a really strong way.”

Clark picks LSU?: The Sooners’ last remaining target is Oklahoma City Douglass defensive end Deondre Clark. But most signs point toward Clark having signed with LSU on Wednesday. The biggest indication — and the only one that really matters — was the letter of intent LSU confirmed it received from Clark.

Oklahoma City Public Schools announced Wednesday that Clark will sign today at Douglass and Clark’s mother, Dorshell, and Douglass coach Willis Alexander both said Clark hasn’t signed anywhere yet.

Nonetheless, if LSU already has his letter of intent, OU is out of the picture.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

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