In what has turned out to be a busy weekend for the Oklahoma football program, the Sooners received two more new additions Saturday night. Former Arizona Wildcat defensive back Cortez Johnson and former Fresno State wide receiver Jalen Saunders both announced their intentions to transfer to Oklahoma after visiting Norman this weekend.
Oklahoma had already received verbal commitments from two of the state's top high school players (DB Stanvon Taylor & OT Dalton Rodriguez) earlier in the weekend, so the addition of two quality Division I players just adds to the excitement of a big recruiting weekend for the Sooners.
The connection for Oklahoma and Cortez Johnson is a pretty obvious one. It's safe to say that his familiarity with both Mike Stoops and Tim Kish played a role in him choosing the Sooners after deciding to transfer from Arizona following a freshman season in which he saw time in eight games. He had also expressed a desire to choose a school that was closer to his family in New Orleans, so in choosing OU he was able to accomplish that and reunite with his former coach as well.
Johnson played cornerback for Arizona, but many feel with his frame (6'2" 196 lbs) he could be a fit at safety as well. It's that versatility, and of course his connection with M.Stoops/Kish, that made him such an attractive option for the Sooners. During Bob Stoops' tenure, Oklahoma has always favored players in the secondary who could be interchangeable between the corner and safety spots.
The second transfer addition of the weekend, WR Jalen Saunders, may not have had the previous connection to the coaching staff like Johnson did but enjoyed his visit to Norman enough to commit to the Sooners.
As a sophomore this past season, Saunders was the leading receiver for Fresno State with 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns (on 50 receptions). He's a smaller guy at just 5'9" and 160 pounds, but as you can see from some film (1:40 mark is, um, very impressive) on him it doesn't seem to hamper his ability to get open. He has a really fluid running style with long smooth strides, he looks like he's just gliding across the field.
The word on Saunders is that he did not like the change in direction of the Fresno State offense and that the coaching staff was toying with the idea of possibly moving him to the inside or slot receiver. It's pretty unusual for a 5'9" guy to be an outside receiver, but Saunders excelled there last year so his desire to stay on the outside is understandable. However, we're not breaking any news when we say the step up in competition from the WAC to the Big 12 will be a considerable one. So it will be interesting to see where the Sooners choose to use him once he becomes eligible.
Both players will have to sit out the mandatory one year after transferring, so neither will be available to play until the 2013 season. If I'm not mistaken, I believe after sitting out this coming season Johnson will have three years of eligibility remaining and Saunders will have two.