July 15, 2013

Sooners Play Host to Players from National Powerhouse

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Back on Sunday, July 7, the Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge was held in Desoto, Texas and had over 200 of the nation's top prospects in attendance. Hoover, Alabama was well represented sending five of their young stars to the camp with four of them being 2015 prospects; led by linebacker, Darrell Williams, defensive end, Christian Bell, running back, Braderick Shaw and wide receiver, Justin Johnson.

Being in the Dallas area and within reasonable driving distance of two Big 12 programs allowed the four Buccaneers to take unofficial visits to TCU Monday morning and then they headed up to Norman later the same day. Those two visits were actually already set up before they arrived at the camp.

Out of the four it's been Bell, the 6-foot-3 and 212-pound pass rusher that has been receiving the most attention from the Sooners and says he has been speaking with the staff off and on.

"I would say pretty strong actually," Bell replied about the interest he has been receiving from Oklahoma. "I talk with coach regularly. We've been talking for three to four weeks now. He just tells me that their weakest positions are linebacker and defensive end and they are looking for people to come in and play early."

Bell, who holds offers from South Carolina, Mississippi State and Akron so far and his teammates were given a tour by graduate assistant Courtney Viney as well as with head coach, Bob Stoops. The reality that the Sooners head man was involved with the visit was something that Bell appreciated.

"I thought it was awesome," he began about Stoops being their guide. "He's a great guy. He's got it all set up, good."

While on the tour it wasn't the indoor facility, new dorms or weight room that caught Bell's attention the most but something more on the academic side of things instead.

With such a long way to go in his recruitment Bell doesn't want to start making any kind of decisions on if Oklahoma is a school he will be considering moving forward but says he likes the way the Sooner defense is run.

The self-admitted Auburn fan was a top defensive line performer at the Underclassmen camp before his visit and talked about how he thought he performed.

"I think I did pretty well but you can always do better than you did," Bell explained. "The camp was a good experience being around guys I've never played with and seeing how I compared."

The 6-foot-1 and 191-pound Williams had the best performance out of the four teammates on Sunday and took home the Defensive Skill MVP award. This was actually his second trip to Norman after having visited last summer as well. Just getting the chance to see a program like Oklahoma, again, is something that he seemed to appreciate.

"It was pretty good getting to go on an unofficial visit to a school like Oklahoma, it was pretty nice," Williams stated.

Williams, who holds offers from Florida State, Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi and Tennessee appreciated the way he was treated while in Norman.

"I would say how the coaching staff treated us," Williams started. "How they showed us around was probably the best part."

The Alabama fan talked about what it is about the Sooners that has him interested.

"I just like the way they play the game especially as a defensive player they play fast and physical which is how our coaches try to base our defense. Just have fun on defense and fly around which is how it looks like Oklahoma plays," he replied.

At the camp on Sunday that saw him put on a great performance that led to his hardware, Williams says he was just trying to compete as hard as he could. It's obvious he did just that and more.

"It was pretty fun, a lot of good talent out there. Just being recognized like that, I just tried to compete to the best of my ability," Williams explained.

Shaw, the 5-foot-11 and 190-pound running back said that he has been getting a little bit of interest from the Sooners so far and on the trip he got to meet his position coach at Oklahoma, Cale Gundy. It sounds like the two may be talking again in the upcoming months.

"He talked to me and said that he would be keeping up with me. He said he will hit me up a little later when September 1 rolls around," Shaw said.

It was the facilities that Shaw, who holds a Mississippi State offer says that stood out to him about Oklahoma.

"I like their facilities, the football field, I like their new dorms their building. That looked pretty sweet," he answered.

Growing up Shaw says he was a fan of the LSU Tigers. He said that he enjoyed the camp and felt he performed well last Sunday.

As of now, Johnson is the lone prospect out of the four without an offer but even so the 6-foot-4 and 200-pound receiver says that he is receiving interest from Auburn, Colorado State, Georgia, LSU, Miss. State, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Growing up he says he was not a fan of any certain team but states that his family pulls for the Crimson Tide.

He also states that Oklahoma was a team he watched and this visit to Norman gave him the chance to get away from home for the first time.

"I really liked the campus.," Johnson said about Oklahoma. "Actually, I've always watched OU football. I just like the way they play and how they throw the ball more. It was a great experience for me to go way out because I have never been this far out before. It was a great experience for me."

Johnson, like his teammates also took note of Stoops devoting some time to show the four teammates around and he took note of that.

"He's a great guy. You really don't get toured around the campus by the head coach. That was pretty tight," he responded.

Being a big target for a quarterback, it's no shock that Johnson is a fan of Oklahoma's offense and the way they throw the ball around.

"The way they pass the ball, that's what I like the most. It's such a big school," Johnson said.

Johnson said he felt he did a lot better at the Underclassmen Camp than he did at the regional one that he attended. He also states that Oklahoma is a program that he will be considering moving forward.

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