Dallas Colleges: Dallis Todd

Most indispensable player: Oklahoma

May, 23, 2014
May 23
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This week, we’ve been examining the most indispensable player for every team in the Big 12. In other words, who is the player each team could least afford to lose to injury?

We’re knocking on wood before we turn in these posts; so no need to worry about a jinx.

We continue with the Oklahoma Sooners.

Most indispensable player: Receiver Sterling Shepard

[+] EnlargeSterling Shepard and Jackson Jeffcoat
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsSterling Shepard's production will be vital to Oklahoma's success in the passing game in 2014.
2013 stats: Caught 51 passes for 603 yards and seven touchdowns.

Why Oklahoma can’t afford to lose him: A strong case could be made for sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight here. He was spectacular in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and has the skill set to be a star in college football. But it’s difficult to slap the “indispensable” label on a player who has only started and finished three games in his college career.

Last season, Oklahoma’s most indispensable player was do-everything receiver Jalen Saunders. This season, the Sooners’ most indispensable player figures to be another do-everything pass-catcher.

Shepard has been a key part of the Oklahoma offense from the moment he stepped on campus. Through two seasons in Norman, Shepard already has 96 receptions for 1,224 yards and 10 touchdowns.

With Saunders now a member of the New York Jets, Shepard will take over as the Sooners’ go-to playmaker at receiver. But unlike Saunders, who had Shepard and Lacoltan Bester alongside him, Shepard won’t have an experienced receiver flanking him. That makes Shepard all-the-more indispensable.

After Shepard, Durron Neal is Oklahoma’s second-leading receiver from last season, and he finished with only 13 receptions. Neal also missed spring practice with knee and ankle injuries.

Elsewhere, the Sooners are loaded with inexperience at receiver. Jordan Smallwood, Dannon Cavil and K.J. Young redshirted last season. Austin Bennett and Derrick Woods have been used sparingly. Mark Andrews, Jeff Mead, Michiah Quick and Dallis Todd are incoming true freshmen.

In fact, outside Shepard, the only two returning Sooners who had touchdown catches last year are fullback Aaron Ripkowski and place-kicker Michael Hunnicutt.

That’s why Shepard is so valuable.

He gives the Sooners an unequivocal tone-setter and leader for its extremely young group of receivers. And he gives Knight that one dependable target every budding quarterback requires.

Strong and weak: Oklahoma Sooners

May, 19, 2014
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Since last week we’ve been examining at the strongest and weakest position groups for each Big 12 team going into the fall.

We continue with the Oklahoma Sooners:

Strongest position: Defensive line

Pretty obvious choice here for Oklahoma, considering how this unit played in its greatest test yet against Alabama.

Eric Striker gives the Sooners an All-Big 12 defensive end who still has two years left to get even better. He's a playmaker, and senior Geneo Grissom proved against the Tide, with his two sacks and two fumble recoveries, that he can be, too.

We got to see Jordan Phillips in only four games last fall before he was shut down for the season, but the defensive tackle was one of OU's most promising defenders when he was on the field. The trio of Phillips, Chuka Ndulue and Jordan Wade is potent. Keep them healthy, and they can develop into a fearsome group.

What makes this group really stand out, and what probably gets overlooked, is the depth you don't see. While these starters form one of the conference's best defensive lines, the guys behind them will continue to develop in the background.

Some will be called upon when injuries hit, but having young linemen such as Matt Dimon, D.J. Ward, Dwayne Orso Jr. and Courtney Garnett waiting in the wings will mean an exciting future for this line.

Weakest position: Wide receivers

You can't lose a great talent like Jalen Saunders and key seniors Lacoltan Bester and Jaz Reynolds and not be a little concerned with this group.

The Sooners are essentially working with four experienced receivers going into 2014, led by Sterling Shepard. He can't do it all by himself. Among Durron Neal, Derrick Woods and Austin Bennett, quarterback Trevor Knight is going to need to find a couple guys he can trust. There are some redshirt freshmen waiting for their turn, too.

The good news is help is on the way, and it might be elite help. The Sooners signed three skyscrapers in Mark Andrews (6-foot-6), Jeffery Mead (6-6) and Dallis Todd (6-5) and then inked a four-star speedster in Michiah Quick on signing day. Three of those incoming freshmen are ESPN 300 recruits with big expectations.

If a couple are ready when they show up in Norman, this group will instantly get a lot better.

Big 12 lunchtime links

January, 20, 2014
Jan 20
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Is LeBron going to try to acquire all rights to this video and have it deleted, too?

Several needs remain for OU's 2014 class

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
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Recruiting season is about to kick into high gear. As soon as Bedlam is over on Dec. 7, Oklahoma will hit the recruiting trails hard looking to secure the future.

[+] EnlargeDominique Alexander
William Purnell/Icon SMIOU didn't offer Dominique Alexander a scholarship until last October. Now he's a starting linebacker.
OU has been superb at finding late hidden gems in recent seasons, with cornerback Zack Sanchez, a redshirt freshman from the Class of 2012, and linebacker Dominique Alexander, a true freshman from the Class of 2013, already making an impact on the program after getting relatively late offers from the Sooners.

Here are some priority spots for the Sooners to address in their 2014 class during the final two months of this recruiting cycle. Keep in mind, this list has everything to do with the young players on campus at each position, not necessarily the guys who are playing at that position each Saturday in 2013.

Offensive tackle: Derek Farniok and Christian Daimler are the lone underclassmen at offensive tackle. OU badly needs depth at the position and should be aiming to land at least two offensive tackle prospects in this class. If redshirt freshman tight end Sam Grant ends up at tackle, that would help the cause and lessen the urgency, but its a high priority position in this year's class. Worse yet, there doesn't seem to be a lot of hope at the position with top prospects mentioning OU on their lists. Finding a hidden gem in December could be the top priority for offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh.

Defensive tackle: This position looks a lot better right now than it did a year ago with the early play of Jordan Phillips, a sophomore, and the emergence of Jordan Wade, a redshirt freshman. Nevertheless, there is no such thing as too many quality defensive tackles. The Sooners have one commit in Irving (Texas) Ranchview's Brandon Glenn, but that's not enough. OU needs to secure at least one more defensive tackle prospect to join Glenn and redshirting freshmen Matthew Romar and Charles Walker as the future at the position.

Linebacker: OU rallied to bring in two quality linebackers late in last year’s recruiting cycle with Alexander and Jordan Evans. Each committed to OU late in the process and became impact freshmen this fall. The Sooners need to supplement that duo with a least one more playmaker to join Allen (Texas) linebacker Tay Evans and Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta linebacker Curtis Bolton on their commit list. Several linebackers could be in play and keep in mind the Sooners did secure Alexander and Evans late in the process.

Running back: You can never have too many running backs. And OU loses three quality ball carriers in Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and the recently dismissed Damien Williams. Redshirt freshman Alex Ross has a good size/speed ratio, true freshman Keith Ford has terrific upside, and commitment Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) is a member of the ESPN 300. But the Sooners need to add another quality runner into the mix. Oakley (Calif.) Freedom running back Joe Mixon, No. 72 in the ESPN300, would be an outstanding addition to this class.

Receiver: Even though the Sooners seem to have some solid youngsters already on campus, they don't have a proven game-breaking receiver outside of Sterling Shepard returning in 2014. But, and this is critical, they can't just use a scholarship to bring in another guy. With Tulsa (Okla.) Union receiver Jeffery Mead and La Mirada (Calif.) receiver Dallis Todd already committed, receivers coach Jay Norvell should think elite receiver or bust. Norvell should join Mike Stoops in doing whatever it takes to land Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif/Central East), then fight for him to end up on the offensive side of the ball.

OU-Texas: 2014 recruiting tale of the tape 

October, 10, 2013
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When the Red River Rivalry is played, records are thrown out the window. When the game’s over, some love looking into the future to play “what if” with the next batch of talented college players.

While both teams have some room to land uncommitted recruits, both are pretty happy with where they are currently. Texas has 24 commits, and Oklahoma has 14, and when comparing ESPN 300 athletes, Texas only has a 7-5 lead.

Which team has the Red River Rivalry recruiting edge this year? Here’s a breakdown of eight positions and which team holds the edge for now.

Quarterback

Perhaps the most competitive comparison between the schools is at quarterback. ESPN 300s Justice Hansen (Edmond, Okla./Santa Fe) and Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) are the nation’s No. 4 and No. 5 dual-threat quarterbacks. Hansen is the Sooners’ top-ranked commit and has proven himself a first-class leader of the class. Heard already has one state championship ring, and he’s hoping for a repeat performance in December before arriving at the Forty Acres.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Dallis Todd
Erik McKinney/ESPNOklahoma will get 6-foot-5 playmaker Daliis Todd in its 2014 class.
Running back

There are high expectations for both ESPN 300 Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) and Donald "Duke" Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower). Perine is a physical specimen with the combination of power and finesse at 6-foot and 213 pounds. Catalon, at 5-10 and 193 pounds, has the agility and overall balance to make him a potential every-down back. Texas also has three-star Kevin Shorter (Newton, Texas/Newton), a player who plays with a chip on his shoulder, looking to show that he should be mentioned with the elite talent.

Advantage: Texas

Wide receiver

Neither Texas nor Oklahoma will be complaining about their receiver crop. The Longhorns have an ESPN 300 player in Armanti Foreman (Texas City, Texas/Texas City), a rising star in Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln) and a player in Garrett Gray (Marble Falls, Texas/Marble Falls) who caught 13 passes for 293 yards and five touchdowns in a game last year. Oklahoma has size and athleticism in 6-5, 210-pound ESPN 300 receiver Dallis Todd (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) and a 6-7, 180-pound end zone threat in Jeffery Mead (Tulsa, Okla/Union)

Advantage: Texas

Tight end

Oklahoma has done well with recruiting tight ends and was able to land ESPN 300 players Carson Meier (Tulsa, Okla./Union) and Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain). Meier is the No. 5 Y-tight end in the country, while Andrews is the No. 8 H-tight end. Texas also has a good one in junior college pledge John Thomas (Bossier City, La./Trinity Valley Community College). At 6-6 and 255 pounds, Thomas can be used as both a reliable blocker and receiver.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Offensive line

It’s hard to believe that between the two schools, only three offensive linemen are committed.

Sooners commit Alex Dalton (Troy, Ohio/Troy) is considered one of the nation’s top centers, and guard Jonathan Alvarez (Mesquite, Texas/Horn), with his work ethic alone, will surprise a lot of people in a couple of years. Texas, like Oklahoma, has a four-star center committed in Terrell Cuney (Jasper, Texas/Jasper). Cuney is a player who might see immediate playing time as a freshman.

Advantage: Texas

Defensive line

2014 Big 12 recruiting scorecard: April

April, 23, 2013
4/23/13
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Recruiting is a year-round game, and it's time to take our monthly look at how this year's recruiting classes are progressing. Getting off to a quick start can get things rolling for any class. Here's how I'd rank the classes thus far. Click on each team to see the full class, though you'll need ESPN Insider to see it.

1. Texas

Total commits: 14
ESPN 150 commits: 2
Class notes: The Longhorns added seven commits since our last update and debuted at No. 1 in our ESPN 2014 class rankings released last week. Jermaine Roberts, the nation's No. 14 cornerback, and Houston native Otaro Alaka (No. 9 OLB) headline a very busy month for the Longhorns. Texas also got a commit from the nation's No. 2 center, Terrell Cuney, though it lost Demetrius Knox, the nation's No. 14 offensive guard, on Monday. Texas is the only Big 12 team with multiple commits in the ESPN 150.

2. Texas Tech

Total commits: 9
ESPN 150 commits: 0
Class notes: The Red Raiders made a big move since our last update, adding five commits and jumping ahead of Oklahoma for the No. 2 spot in our conference recruiting rankings. Four of Texas Tech's five commits made their pledge over the weekend while the spring game took place, including quarterback Patrick Mahomes and skill position talents DeMarcus Felton (RB) and Cameron Batson (WR). Kliff Kingsbury is doing some serious work on the recruiting trail. Tech doesn't have a huge commit that will turn heads, but this is a strong start for a class that already looks pretty deep.

3. Oklahoma

Total commits: 4
ESPN 150 commits: 1
Class notes: The Sooners grabbed a huge pickup on the weekend of their spring game with quarterback Justice Hansen from nearby Edmond, Okla. The nation's No. 3 dual-threat quarterback gave Oklahoma its lone ESPN 150 commit, and two days later, the nation's No. 30 receiver, Dallis Todd, followed suit with a commit.

4. TCU Horned Frogs

Total commits: 5
ESPN 150 commits: 0
Class notes: TCU is bringing two quarterbacks to Fort Worth in this class, including its latest commit. Fort Worth native Foster Sawyer (future All-Name Teamer, folks) joins Grayson Muehlstein to give the Frogs a pair of pro-style passers who combine to have four last names.

5. Oklahoma State

Total commits: 3
ESPN 150 commits: 0
Class notes: Oklahoma State added a pair of commits who rank in the top 15 nationally at their position to jump ahead of Baylor in these rankings. The nation's No. 15 running back, Devon Thomas, and No. 14 OLB Gyasi Akem both pledged to be future Cowboys.

6. Kansas State

Total commits: 5
ESPN 150 commits: 0
Class notes: Outside linebacker Elijah Lee (No. 41 at the position) is the biggest pickup for the Wildcats since our last update, but four of K-State's five commits are in the top 50 nationally at their respective positions. Defensive end C.J. Reese also committed to K-State since our last update.

7. Baylor Bears

Total commits: 4
ESPN 150 commits: 1
Class notes: The Bears have the Big 12's top overall commit in ATH Davion Hall, the nation's No. 73 overall prospect, but don't have another player ranked nationally at his respective position. Offensive guard Devonte Jones joined the Bears' class over the weekend. One player, a recruiting class does not make, which is why the Bears have been passed up by three teams since our last update.

8. West Virginia

Total commits: 2
ESPN 150 commits: 0
Class notes: West Virginia launched itself ahead of Iowa State on this update with a big pickup over the weekend. The nation's No. 12 dual-threat passer, Baltimore's William Crest, pledged to Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers. He went to the same high school as Tavon Austin.

9. Iowa State

Total commits: 1
ESPN 150 commits: 0
Class notes: Iowa State doesn't have a commitment since December, but the nation's No. 33 receiver, Allen Lazard, is a nice pickup from inside state lines. Opinions on Lazard differ widely between recruiting services. I've already heard from a number of ISU fans about Lazard's modest ranking. Don't shoot the messenger, folks.

10. Kansas

Total commits: 1
ESPN 150 commits: 0
Class notes: Kansas hasn't added anyone since our last update, but still has a pledge from running back Traevohn Wrench, a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder from Gardner, Kan.

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