This past weekend, SB Nation’s Bud Elliott had plenty of questions for a pair of 2019 targets — St. Louis (MO) Trinity Catholic ILB Shammond Cooper and Wichita (KS) Northwest DE Marcus Hicks — at the Under Armour Camp in Chicago. Here’s what the two of them had to say:
Marcus Hicks likes OU and Michigan
At 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, defensive end Marcus Hicks has the motor and the speed to become a standout player at a blue-blood school, and the Sooners have made sure he knows it.
Hicks is ranked as the No. 2 player out of Kansas, and boasts 22 offers to date. He singled out a number schools and, and one was the Oklahoma Sooners.
“I think Oklahoma, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, K-State, Michigan, Texas, they’re all up there,” he told SB Nation’s Bud Elliott at this past weekend’s Under Armour Camp in Chicago. “There are some other schools that might be up there, but I haven’t visited them yet so I’m just waiting on those.”
He gave the sense that Oklahoma and Michigan are leading his recruiting, singling those two programs out as making his top 5 if he needed to make that list in May.
Oklahoma assistant Calvin Thibodeaux has been the man most in contact with the 2019 prospect out of Wichita, Kansas. The last 4-star Wichita native the Sooners landed was quarterback-turned-tight end Blake Bell, who became famous among OU fans as the Belldozer. Oklahoma’s also had plenty of success recruiting blue-chippers out of the state of Kansas, such as Geneo Grissom and Amani Bredsoe.
As a junior, Hicks tallied 63 total tackles and an eye-popping 10 sacks. Hicks, like OU defensive tackle Marquise Overton, has used his athleticism as a wrestler.
Separating from Michigan is going to be the task for Oklahoma. But the familial atmosphere and camaraderie have become calling cards for OU coach Lincoln Riley since taking over the program in June of last year. Those two traits have made an impact on Hicks.
“It’s just their family environment,” he said. “The players are really cool, the coaches, they’re really people that you can talk to, not just people that will yell at you, I can tell. And that’s kind of the same thing with Michigan.”
While Hicks said he’s keen on Michigan and Oklahoma, he’s yet to take an official visit to either. He also has plans to take an official visit to Notre Dame, though the only date he’s set for an official visit, surprisingly, is with Washington in June.
He’s set no timeline for a commitment announcement and plans to take his time. “It’s going to be a tough one to make, but probably sometime this fall, maybe even later,” Hicks said.
Shammond Cooper is high on Illinois, but Oklahoma is still very much in play
If you ask St. Louis, Missouri, native Shammond Cooper what his strengths are, he’s not going to mince words.
“I just play off of instinct, and I read the game well,” he told Elliott, “so it makes me be able to play faster, it makes me be able to go faster and make big hits.”
The four-star inside linebacker hasn’t taken any recruiting visits in over a month.
“The last one I’ve been on was Illinois,” he said. “That was for their spring game.”
And it seems Illinois is the frontrunner to win Cooper’s commitment.
“They make you feel comfortable,” Cooper said. “They’re picking up guys like Marquez (Beason). I feel that’s appealing to like, the type of guys who change the program around. It’s something different that people will talk about for a while.”
However, Illinois has work to do. Cooper has said he wants to play for a contender, and Illinois was anything but a world-beater in 2017. The Fighting Illni finished 2-10 and were winless against Big Ten competition.
“You got to be like somewhat decent when you can go there and be like,” ‘I can change this around,’” he said. “I don’t want to go, like, to a program that’s dead, they can’t get out the water. You got to see some movement.”
Cooper listed the top schools for him as Illinois, Clemson and Oklahoma, and OU assistant Tim Kish has apparently been saying all the right things to Cooper.
“He just seems like a fired-up guy,” Cooper said of Kish, “like somebody I can go in there, he’ll push you. He’ll push you to work hard. He’s somebody you can be comfortable with, you can bring your family around, it’s like family. He makes you work hard. He’s not going to let you sit back and be you know, okay.”
Even Oklahoma early enrollee Ronnie Perkins, who hails from Missouri, has recruited Cooper. For Cooper, though, the decision seems to be whether he wants to join former NFL head coach Lovie Smith and his former high school coach (Illinois TE coach and Cooper’s lead recruiter, Cory Patterson) or play for a team that competes for college football national titles.
FINAL THOUGHT: RODNEY ANDERSON FOR HEISMAN
Yes, May. But touting Rodney Anderson for the 2018 Heisman Trophy is not even close to a hot take.
With Riley breaking in a new starting quarterback in an offense that still runs more than it passes, Anderson is going to have enough opportunities to legitimately win the Heisman Trophy. All he has to do is pick up where he left off.
Anderson accounted for 1,333 yards from scrimmage in the last eight games of the 2017 season. Texas running backs Kyler Porter, Daniel Young and Chris Warren III combined for 1,373 yards from scrimmage for the entire 2017 season. If Anderson can keep that pace and have a signature game like his 201 yards on 26 carries against Georgia in the Rose Bowl, he’ll be headed to the ceremony in December regardless of who is OU’s starting quarterback.