The University of Oklahoma golf team received a verbal commitment from the No. 1 junior golfer in the nation Wednesday night. However, the golfer is the No. 1 junior in the nation for the high school class of 2016 and will be in seventh grade this fall.
Brad Dalke, 12, of McKinney, Texas, gave Oklahoma the nod after being offered a scholarship by Sooners coach Ryan Hybl, according to Dalke's mother. The terms of the scholarship are still pending and therefore cannot be discussed, Kay Dalke said.
It's rare but not unheard of for youngsters to receive offers and make college commitments before they've even entered high school. In February, 13-year-old quarterback David Sills gave his verbal commitment to play football at USC.
"I know there will be criticism for the commitment, and we're fine with that," said Kay Dalke, a high school golf coach. "But we're Sooners through and through. We love Coach Hybl and everything he's done for us."
Last weekend at Pinehurst in North Carolina, Brad won the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship by four strokes.
"Brad's 12 in about a 16-year-old's body," said Joey Wuertemberger, Brad's private coach. "He's legit. He can overpower courses with just his length. At Pinehurst, he was hitting his driver 30 and 40 yards past the other 12-year-olds. Brad was hitting 8, 9 [irons] and pitching wedges into holes when other kids weren't hitting the greens or had to use fairway woods."
The OU roots run deep in the Dalke family. Brad's mother played on the Sooners' first women's golf team. His father, Bill, was on the Sooners' 1974 and '75 national championship football teams.
Brad's grandfather played multiple sports at OU and made it to the 1947 basketball national finals after sinking the game-winning shot against the University of Texas in the semifinals.
"We've had people tell us when they heard this may be going on that he is going to be able to play golf anywhere in the nation, but that's not what he wants to do," said Bill Dalke.
Brad said Oklahoma is the only college he's ever wanted to attend.
"I've never even thought about Oklahoma State even though they're the best in the country," he said. "It's always been OU."
Brad says that with his college choice out of the way, he can focus on becoming a better golfer.
"A lot of the kids I'm playing against have to prove themselves to coaches that they can play, and to already know where I'm going feels pretty good," Brad said. "I can practice a lot more and not really have to go to those big tournaments and prove myself."
Until he makes his trek up to Norman, Brad will attend Spring Creek Academy, a private school in Plano, Texas, that caters to gifted and talented students. It's the same school Olympic champion gymnasts Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin attended.
He'll have classes in the morning and spend the afternoons working on his golf game.
"That sounds a whole lot of fun to me, not having a whole lot of school and a lot more golfing," Brad said.