December 18, 2009

'What Really Started Me Looking at Oklahoma...Bobby Jack Wright'

Through the years few coaches on Bob Stoops' staff have meant more to Oklahoma's recruiting effort than long-time assistant, and current defensive backs coach Bobby Jack Wright. Unlike many of his success stories, his most recent commitment doesn't call Texas home and wasn't unearthed due to Wright's expansive contacts in the Lone Star State.

But when talking to Eastlake (Calif.) Chula Vista four-star safety Tony Jeffeson about his commitment to Oklahoma tonight he made it very clear that Wright's straight-forward handling of the recruiting process was a huge part of his decision to pledge his future to the Sooners.

In fact his relationship with Wright made it difficult for Jefferson to keep his decision to himself.

"Actually I've probably known for about two weeks. I called the coaches actually and told them through e-mail back then," Jefferson explained. "That was a big part, Bobby Jack Wright was real straight up with me. He said he expected me to do work and get that starting spot. It's going to take a lot of work to do the things he thinks I can but I'm ready to do those things."

Jefferson comes to his decision to be a Sooner after two previous commitments and months of indecision about just where he stood with the recruiting process.

In September of his junior year Jefferson made a commitment to Stanford before opening things back up to all suitors which was the time and place Wright and the Sooners got involved with the nation's No. 49 overall prospect and No. 4 safety.

Just a few weeks later Jefferson again made a commitment, this time to UCLA. At the time he was certain he would be a Bruin and felt his recruitment was over but the persistence of Wright and, again, his honest assessment of the situation helped the Sooners turn the corner.

"What really started me looking at Oklahoma; it was when coach Bobby Jack Wright emailed me. I was still committed to UCLA, I wasn't even taking trips and he still hit me up and he never gave up or anything," he recalls. "He sent me an e-mail saying 'Tony we need you, take a trip out here to OU', for some reason that just touched me. And I decided I need to take a trip out there and see what it was all about."

It seemed upon returning from his visit to Norman that the Sooners really had made great strides with him and might have even pulled ahead of the Bruins, in spite of his choice to remain a commitment to Rick Neuheisel's bunch.

In fact, he again thought of making a commitment.

"They are up there, they are something I'm really, really, really considering and I'm serious about them. I'm really serious about Oklahoma," Jefferson said on Nov. 2 following his official visit. "There were moments when I was thinking 'should I?' But I can't make another emotional commitment, I stayed strong but I was really thinking about it."

After an official visit to Michigan a few weeks later Jefferson went a bit quiet and seemed to be contemplating a decision before picking up an offer from his lifelong favorite, USC.

In years past Oklahoma has failed to win many battles with the Trojans for Southern California kids and it seemed that again Pete Carroll's crew might hand steal victory from the jaws of the Sooners.

When Jefferson went to the battle for Los Angeles between the Trojans and Bruins on Thanksgiving weekend for his official visit and left as a UCLA de-commitment it seemed that Oklahoma would yet again be the bridesmaid for an elite national recruit. However, Jefferson says now, after the fact, that too much was made of his time with the Men of Troy.

"I wanted to get back in it with USC a little bit to see where things were but I felt the same as I did before," he admitted.

Rumors began to swirl soon after that a decision was eminent and with the Trojans having the final in-home visit last Monday the idea that USC was the leader seemed to be gaining steam. According to Jefferson the visit was essentially a tip of the cap to a coaching staff he'd had a long relationship with, particularly his recruiter John Morton.

"That visit was mainly for my parents, they wanted to talk to them I guess," he said. "It was John Morton, Pete Carroll. It was nice but it was yeah, it was whatever."

With the decision to become a Sooner in his rearview mirror all that was left was for Jefferson to make his decision known to the public. The 6-foot, 196-pound safety said the commitment during the Silver Pigskin award was kept to minimal theatrics due to 'in California they don't sell much Oklahoma gear'.

However one piece of Oklahoma gear he has already set his mind on is his Oklahoma jersey that he'll be donning this spring as an early enrollment.

"I'm going to be No. 8. I was going to get No. 1 but it looks like (Dominique) Franks is coming back and me and Q(Quinton Carter) we wanted to be No. 1 and 2 but Franks got No. 1," he said. "If Q switches doesn't switch his Number to 2 then maybe I'll do that. But I'll probably end up with No. 8."

As mentioned, Jefferson is all but headed to Norman with the completion of his high school career and only the U.S. Army All-American Bowl left in between him and his Jan. 15 reporting date to Norman.

"I just can't wait, my Facebook is blowing up, I'm ready to see some parties, go and have some fun, I just can't describe how anxious I am to get there and walk on campus and be a Sooner."

SoonerScoop.com will have the second half of this article tomorrow.

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