The Sooners were late to join the party for four-star offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes), but OU has now made its imprint.
Following Benenoch’s decommitment from Michigan State in the summer, OU and Texas both made strong runs for his pledge and both schools are still in the running.
The OU coaches got familiar with Benenoch at a satellite camp in the Houston area in June and officially made an offer. Benenoch had never seen the OU campus until last weekend when he was one of several top recruits on official visits.
“It was a great visit. I had a lot of fun,” Benenoch said. “Everything is so close together on campus. I really liked that.”
Benenoch, recruited as an offensive guard by some schools, is one of OU’s top offensive tackle targets on its board at 6-foot-6 and 321 pounds. He used to play guard but said he has been at tackle the last two seasons. The hardest part was figuring out the technique required at tackle, and ever since, everything has been going great for Benenoch.
He said he was able to get quality one-on-one time with OU coach Bob Stoops and spent a lot of time with OU offensive tackles coach Bruce Kittle.
“They talked about their great tradition at offensive tackle,” Benenoch said. “They were saying how like their last five tackles have been drafted in the NFL in the early rounds. It’s definitely something to think about.”
What Benenoch also learned on his visit was the coaches aren’t simply telling him what he wants to hear. His host was offensive guard Adam Shead, who preached the same things to Benenoch that Kittle has stressed to him.
“Adam had real high praise for the coaching staff. He said it’s true that you’re going to get your opportunity,” Benenoch said. “What you do with it, though, is totally up to you.”
Benenoch was originally hoping to make his decision by the end of the month. That won’t happen and his target date is now sometime in December.
An offer from UCLA threw everything off course. Benenoch said he is very interested in the Bruins, but he won’t get a chance to visit the campus until after his senior season. And said he won’t commit anywhere until he gets a chance to check out the West Coast.
He hasn’t forgotten about the Longhorns, either. He said he is going to take an official visit to Texas on Oct. 5, the weekend of Texas’ showdown with West Virginia.
It seems like a given he would be at the Red River Rivalry between the Sooners and Longhorns, but he will not be able to attend because Katy Seven Lakes plays Houston Strake Jesuit on the same night.
OU’s loss to Kansas State didn’t affect his overall view of the Sooners. Benenoch even brought up some history in making his point.
“It happens. You can have an early loss and get right back into it,” Benenoch said. “I think it was 2008 where OU lost to Texas but then it put up 60 points or something like that against Texas Tech and was right back in the championship race.
“Every year they’re looking at championships, and you don’t question Bob Stoops -- not with the success he has had.”
Benenoch is on the money when referring to the 2008 season. OU lost to Texas 45-35 but got right back in the mix with a resounding 65-21 win against Texas Tech, who was ranked No. 2 at the time. The Sooners ended up in the BCS championship game, losing to Florida.
“Historically speaking, this is the place to be,” Benenoch said. “They pay great attention to detail and know how to win consistently.”