Oklahoma sophomore cornerback Dakota Austin never understood why he was so lightly recruited out of Lancaster (Texas) High School.
Rivals considered Austin a two-star prospect, and his offer list included the likes of UNLV, Nevada, Tulsa and UTEP before the Sooners came with a late offer just before signing day 2013.
“You know, I look around and there's people — not here or anybody in particular — but you know, I'm looking around, going to camps and all that, and there are people I feel like I'm way better than, and they have like 20 big offers,” Austin said this week. “They're deciding where they want to go, and I'm struggling. I'll just never forget where I came from and let that drive me all the time.”
Austin saw some action as a true freshman at Oklahoma, proving to himself and others that he was capable of playing in major college football. Now, he’s competing with Julian Wilson, Stanvon Taylor and Cortez Johnson for a starting cornerback spot in 2014.
“Man, that was one of the best days of my life,” Austin said, remembering when OU made its scholarship offer. “I was like, 'Man, I'm finally in. Now it's time to get to work.'
“I feel like everything happened for a reason. If I was highly recruited, I probably wouldn't have had as big a chip on my shoulder as I do now.”
SHEAD SAYS HE’S FULLY HEALTHY
After offseason back surgery, senior offensive guard Adam Shead says he feels better than he’s felt in a long time.
“The first couple of days were a little rougher than the last few,” Shead said. “It was definitely an adjustment. I made the joke a little earlier that I felt like my Spidey senses were kind of gone, meaning football obviously.”
Shead has started 28 career games at left guard, including 10 starts in 2013. He missed the Sooners’ final three games last season because of the back.
Dionte Savage started in his place when OU beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
“We're deeper than we’ve ever been since I’ve been here, that's for sure,” said junior center Ty Darlington. “We have nine, 10 guys that can step on the field and play and we'd be confident in that.
“I could not tell you who's gonna start up front right now. ...It could be any combination of guys, and that's gonna make us all better.”
WALK-ON LAGRONE WANTS TO PROVE HE’S MORE THAN A COOL NAME
Thaddeus LaGrone’s friends have told him for a long time that if he makes it big in football, he’ll have a great name for announcers.
“I love my name,” LaGrone said.
Oklahoma’s sophomore safety is working on making his name more well-known to OU fans, but that process can be a little longer and tougher for walk-ons.
LaGrone was removed from his Allen (Texas) High School football team his senior season after an injury and a subsequent disagreement with one of his coaches, he said. At the time, he was committed to Baylor, but the Bears stopped recruiting him after his high school career prematurely ended.
He committed to Houston and signed there, but didn’t last long with the Cougars.
“I got hurt, and some things happened,” LaGrone said. “Also they had me playing outside linebacker and that wasn’t really what I wanted to play.”
LaGrone — whose cousin is former OU wide receiver Mark Bradley — attended Oklahoma’s 2013 spring game and liked the campus, so he decided to walk on. The safety had to sit out last season, but he will be eligible to play this year.
He made waves in the 2014 OU spring game because of a few big, memorable hits on Sooner offensive players.
“I think I've definitely proved some things, but I’ve gotta keep on pushing and see what the future holds,” LaGrone said.