|Clayton commits to Oklahoma|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
August 2, 2004 - Keenan Clayton knows the recruiting process won't stop until he signs his name to a scholarship offer in February, but he made a statement last week with a verbal commitment to play football for the University of Oklahoma.
"I went up there and watched the spring practice game, and they made me feel at home," said Clayton, who will be a senior at Sulphur Springs High School this year. "They didn't beat around the bush. They put it up front, they said they wanted me to come there and play football."
He has already received a couple of telephone calls from players from other universities telling him not to make OU his final decision, and he still plans on taking his three allotted visits after his senior season at SSHS, but he feels secure in making Oklahoma his choice.
And why not? The Sooners are a perennial national championship contender and play regularly on national television against Big 12 conference rivals such as Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Colorado.
"I don't like to lose, and Oklahoma doesn't do a whole lot of losing," Clayton said. "I like the idea of playing for a national championship, getting the opportunity to win a national championship."
He telephoned OU assistant coach Darrell Wyatt, who recruits East Texas, to inform him of his decision last week. Clayton, who the Sooners had ranked as the 15th-best prospect in Texas, is the sixth "four star" player OU has secured a commitment from. Verbal commitments are non-binding. Players can't sign a binding letter of intent until February.
Clayton narrowed his choice from a broader list that included Texas Tech, Arizona, LSU and Arkansas. He visited the University of Texas, but was turned off by their nonchalant attitude toward recruiting him.
"Coach Wyatt was fired up when I told him. Oklahoma made me feel like I belong there," Clayton said.
The same day that Clayton committed, OU's Wyatt also got a confirmation from Longview wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, the No. 5-ranked prospect in the state.
"We got to talking about the other guy (Kelly) that had just committed to them, and I told coach Wyatt that he needed to go ahead and put me on that list too," Clayton, who is 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, said. "He was happy. You could really tell that he was pretty excited."
Clayton was recruited to play safety for the Sooners and should be a natural fit in Oklahoma's aggressive scheme that features safeties that fly up to the ball in run support. What makes Clayton even more valuable is that he has a great frame and could easily bulk up to play outside linebacker if things don't work out at safety.
At Sulphur Springs, he will play running back/wide receiver, free safety and kick returner. Some colleges were recruiting him at running back.
"I just want to be on the field," Clayton said. "It doesn't matter where I'm playing."