November 17, 2011

Sooners Getting In Early at Red Lion

Though much of Oklahoma's much talked about recruiting adventures along the Atlantic coast over the last week was at schools familiar to recruiting fans across the country the Sooners also got involved with possibly the Northeast's next top talent producing program.

Though the Sooner offer didn't roll out while on a campus, the Sooners clearly have taken notice of Bear (Del.) Red Lion Christian Academy and the talent currently starring for the rapidly developing program. Though the school's name first got out with USC offering then seventh grade quarterback David Sills, it's potential five-star defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow that has caught Oklahoma's eye.

Bigelow says that aside from some standard mail the offer was his first real official recruiting discourse with the Sooner coaching staff.

"That was the first thing I'd heard, I'd had questionnaires, newsletters, but that was the first real contact with them," Bigelow said. "They had let my coach know about the offer. Actually, I was in study hall around the corner, and the coach had told me to come have a talk with them. It was (defensive line) coach Jackie Shipp."

There has been a lot of confusion, particularly those less familiar with the program, about just what Red Lion is with some seeing it as something of a military academy type of on-campus living scenario. Not so, according to Bigelow.

"We're just a Christian private school, you don't stay on campus. We've been here for a while; our coaches decided being the best in Delaware wasn't good enough. Some of our guys will go out to camp at shine, and that's kind of built up our name," he explained.

Several other Red Lion class of 2013 prospects have already picked up scholarship offers but Bigelow's offer list already includes names like Auburn, Oregon, Penn State, and Clemson among many others. Most assume Bigelow will be the most highly recruited prospect the program has produced to date, but interestingly the school's two previous division one prospects have both been along the defensive line.

In 2011 Angelo Blackson signed with the Auburn Tigers and current senior defensive end Eli Ankou is committed to UCLA.

Bigelow says he paid attention to Blackson's recruitment and learned from it.

"It's been great, I saw Angelo do it before, he told me one thing was to be humble, he stayed humble, stayed focus and I'm going to try and do the same thing. I don't want to keep doing that," he said. "He also said, (recruiting) is not as easy as it looks on television."

Ankou committed to the Bruins in July while Blackson waited until December to make up his mind about the Tigers. It seems that Bigelow may follow Blackson's example. What is more unclear is just where he could be playing when he hits the college game as the 6-foot-3, 280-pound defensive lineman could play inside or outside.

"I want to take my time, sit back and see how everything unfolds, there is another whole season and another season for me. I want to be careful about making that decision. It's my independence, I want to be around the coaching staff and make sure it's not going to be the wrong choice," he said.

"I can do it either way to tell you the truth. Inside I keep my speed and I can outspeed a lot of guards, but with the tackles they might be a little quicker so I can go at them with strength. I haven't met a real tackle that has both of those abilities."

One place where he might find such competition is on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Army All-American combine, Bigelow says he hasn't yet decided if he'll be able to make it though. One event he does have intention of getting to is this year's Iron Bowl.

"I've got to talk to my mom about the Army thing, but I want to make it if I can," Bigelow said. "I want to make the Auburn-Alabama game, I want to try my best to make it to that one. As far as spring visits, I have to see what's there with spring break, I never know what kind of stuff will go on with school, but there is always something."

But don't take that to mean the Tigers, Crimson Tide or anyone else has an early leg up.

"That's how I feel about everybody, I have no top five, no favorites, I'm interested in everyone. I don't have a problem with going far."

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