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November 5, 2012

Weekend Rewind: Sooners Face Ups and Downs

Last spring there were massive questions about what Oklahoma would do at wide receiver after a rash of different personnel losses. Most notably was the departure of Ryan Broyles the graduation of Dejuan Miller along with the off-season suspensions of Trey Franks, Jaz Reynolds, and a trio of freshman - Kameel Jackson, Sheldon McClain, and Justin McCay who all left the team at various points from the start of 2011.

As 2011 progressed many had expected that the Sooners would get a massive shot in the arm thanks to the signing of the class of 2012's No. 1 recruit, Dorial Green-Beckham seeming to favor the Sooners. As time wore on 'DGB' seemed to lose his interest in Oklahoma and the Sooners were left wondering what they might do to find an elite perimeter receiver.

As that reality came to light an answer in the form of a 6-foot-3, 215-pound 4.4-second 40-yard dash miracle seemed to appear. This near-perfect form a receiver came to Oklahoma's attention from Sierra Community College

That answer to Oklahoma's need came was embodied by four-star receiver Courtney Gardner.

At the time Gardner was committed to Arkansas but Oklahoma receivers coach Jay Norvell didn't let that bother him and worked and worked on getting Gardner into town for his visit. Finally Gardner took his trip to Oklahoma on the class's final visit weekend and then made his move across Oklahoma's Eastern border official on National Signing Day.

And on 'NSD' it was clear Norvell could do little to contain his excitement about the type of talent that Gardner possessed.

Of course after the change took place word sprang from Fayetteville that his grades were an issue for the Arkansas coaching staff and many expected that it was simply a matter of sour grapes in regard to Gardner making the switch. Even when Gardner wasn't able to make it in the summer there was still an overwhelming feeling that his arrival was inevitable.

Even over the past few months Gardner had repeatedly told SoonerScoop.com that he would be arriving in Norman any day - even at one point saying he was planning to move to Oklahoma in late October to ingratiate himself with his, then, future teammates. However, that didn't happen and yesterday he admitted that he wouldn't be making it to Oklahoma at any point in time when he tweeted out news about his future.

"SORRY TO INTERRUPT EVERYONE'S BEAUTIFUL SUNDAY BUT I WILL NOT BE ATTENDING THE UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA !!"

Followed by:

"Y'all MAYBE MAD BUT IM DECIDING TO ENTER THOS YEARS NFL DRAFT SORRY!!"

After yesterday's news the Scoop staff spoke with a few people and from everything that was said there was only one constant - Gardner's grades just never came together. After moving all over the country and, seeming, to do all that he could to get eligible it seems that his final few college credits were just too much of a hurdle to clear. So finally, the race for Gardner to make it into major college football has finally come to a conclusion.

The bit of good news is the confidence that surrounds a group of receivers that will be loaded with talent and mounting experience in the 2013 season .

Better News Coming?

That being said, it wasn't all bad news over the weekend as the Sooners found out of moves in the right direction for a pair their top defensive line targets - Justin Manning and Dimarya Mixon, both from the Dallas metroplex, were a bit closer to favorable Oklahoma decision.

In the case of Manning, the younger brother of former Sooner Demarcus Granger, it was a planned trip to LSU for their Tigers huge SEC tilt with Alabama being canceled. Again a recruit took to the 'Twittersphere' to let the world know his thoughts on the situation.

"Shoutout to LSU making my decision easy on me," Manning said referencing the Tigers apparently cancelling his trip to Baton Rouge and by doing so shortening his list from a top four to probably a final three of Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and TCU.

Manning told SoonerScoop.com last week that he was already more than ready to have his decision made and knowing he has repeatedly seen each of his final three that decision may be more imminent than ever before.

For Mixon he announced on Sunday that he was decommitting from Arizona State but has decided against doing interviews until after his Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite season is over with. That being said Mixon has been at three Oklahoma games so far this season seeing the Sooners wins over Texas and Florida A&M and again for the Sooners defeat against Notre Dame. In fact it's easily been the program he has seen the most of through this season and it has many people thinking the Sooners could be on the verge of landing the uniquely talented 6-foot-3, 265-pound prospect who could play inside or outside in the Sooners four-man front.

NOTES:

*Now that Dominique Alexander has taken his trip to Arkansas following a similar unofficial visit to Norman two weekends ago it seems that a decision could be on the horizon regarding his Razorbacks commitment and any potential change in it's status. Many feel Oklahoma has taken the lead for the Tulsa Booker T. Washington three-star athlete, regardless of how things play out don't be surprised to see it resolved this week.



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