January 2, 2004

Recruits weigh in on Sugar Bowl

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - With one piece of the national championship already in place after USC's victory in the Rose Bowl, Sunday's Sugar Bowl in New Orleans will determine who will win the BCS national championship. Will it be Oklahoma or will it be LSU? Recruits on hand the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio weigh in on the issue.

"LSU will pull it out," said Lake Charles (La.) Barbe offensive lineman Ryan Miller, who is an LSU commitment.

"I really think, though, that it's going to be an incredible game against two very evenly matched teams. Oklahoma has some great players and so does LSU. I think the whole game will come down to how LSU's offense does against OU's defense. We already know that OU won't score too many points on LSU's defense. That's just not going to happen."

Hold on a second, Sooner commitment Chris Patterson of Chicago Hubbard said.

"Have you seen Oklahoma's offense," he asked. "They're tight, and they'll score some points. I don't care how good those guys on LSU's defense are. But there is no way that LSU's going to score very many points on that OU defense. That's something you can take to the bank."

No matter how you break it down, the Sugar Bowl should be an amazing game and the effects of either an Oklahoma or an LSU victory could go a long way when it comes time to make a decision for recruits. Take Rivals100 linebacker Luke Sanders for example.

"I've really started to look a lot more at LSU and Oklahoma," Sanders said. "They're both on the upswing with me."

Sanders will visit Oklahoma on January 16 and LSU on January 31. He'll then visit either Arkansas or Texas A&M on January 23, but he's not sure which team will get the visit that weekend at this point.

"I'm going to get down there to New Orleans and watch the Sugar Bowl in person," Sanders said. "I want to see how LSU and OU face up against each other. How they play against each other might help me when it comes time to make a decision."

Herman Johnson is another that is going to watch the Sugar Bowl closely.

"LSU and Oklahoma - that's my top two teams," he said. "There's no way that I'm not going to miss that game. I'm going to really break down how the offensive line on each team plays and see what they do against a good defense. I can't wait to see what happens."

CASTILLE TO ALSO ANNOUNCE
Birmingham (Ala.) Briarwood Christian defensive back Simeon Castille is one of the numerous prospects that are schedule to make their commitments on Saturday. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Castille missed a few days of practice this week, but he's not going to miss an opportunity to announce in front of the nation where he's going to play his college football at.

"It's still down to Alabama and LSU," Castille said.

The last few months Castille, who is ranked the nation's 29th best safety prospect by Rivals.com, has listed Alabama and LSU as his top two choices.

"I can't go wrong with my decision or with either team," Castille said. "They compare favorably, and I see a lot of similarities in their style of play, with their coaches and how the fans support their team."

The general thought is that Castille is a lock for Alabama. So when Rivals100.com asked him if he's going to be Rollin' with the Tide in college, he didn't answer but did give us a big, big smile.

Don't forget that he is the son of former Alabama great defensive back Jeremiah Castille and his brother, Tim Castille, signed with Alabama in 2003.

OKAM NOT GOING TO RUSH THINGS
The general thought throughout most of the recruiting process was that once Franklin Okam visited the University of Texas back on December 12 that it was going to be one visit and done for him.

Okam, himself, admitted that he was leaning toward Texas, but as more time past after the visit to Austin the more sure he was that he was going to end up taking a visit to Florida on January 16 and then Oklahoma on January 23.

And now he's absolutely sure that he's going to take those visits.

"I've decided that I owe it to myself to take my visits," Okam, who has looked impressive all week in practice, said. "I already know that Texas has a really good situation for me, but the more I looked at it, the more I knew that Oklahoma and Florida have a lot of good things going for them."

Okam admitted that he was disappointed with both how the Longhorns played in the Holiday Bowl, but he also pointed out that Florida didn't impress too much either. So should we say that Okam is still leaning toward Texas?

"I don't really know," he said. "I'm still open to all the teams on my list and Texas made a very good first impression with me on my visit. But I'm going to give Oklahoma and Florida a fair shot and see if I get a great feeling from them on my visit."

IT'S A FAMILY THING
Many of the players weren't alone this week at practices as several recruits had their parents in attendance - this includes Lydon Murtha and his family and grand parents, who made the drive down from Minnesota. It also included Randy Miller, the father of East offensive lineman Drew Miller.

Miller attended most of the East practices and came away impressed with a few players.

"I'm really impressed with Willie Williams and Xavier Lee," Miller said. "They look the part and then they also have the speed to make the plays that you don't expect. They're awfully special, though."

Miller said he's going to announce his decision after he takes his visit to Florida State on January 23. However, it's widely believed that Florida leads over Miami at this point.

CLINIC OPEN TO LOCAL PLAYERS
The NFL will host a clinic Saturday from 8:30-11 a.m. at the San Antonio Convention Center. The clinic is free to the public and will include a presentation by former Denver Bronco star Terrell Davis. All participants will receive a free ticket to Saturday's game. Tickets to the game are still available. Lower level reserved, $25; general admission, $15. Tickets can be purchased at the Alamodome box office (207-3663), through Ticketmaster outlets (224-9600) or online at www.ticketmaster.com.



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