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March 4, 2013

Starks: ''I'm Really Close with Coach Gundy'

It wasn't that long ago that when an elite prospect emerged from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman it was almost a foregone conclusion that should Oklahoma become involved, that's exactly where said prospect would end up. However, it's now been four recruiting classes that have not seen a Gorman Gael join the ranks in Norman with the last player being Justin Chaisson in 2009.

Though Chaisson never made it to the field, he was, at the time, a major coup for the Sooners.

It seems that Cale Gundy has high hopes of making Gorman's current Rivals100 star Nathan Starks the return of days gone by and according to the 5-foot-11, 200-pound star running back is doing all that he can to make sure that happens.

After announcing a top three of USC, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame recently Starks mentioned his plans to visit the Trojans and Irish this spring which left many concerned about where Oklahoma stood.

"Right now, it's USC, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame, they stand out, I really know about them, they have a good history and I feel like I'd fit in," Starks said.

"I definitely want to get out to Oklahoma but I would have to pay for all my trips, my coach just happened to be going out to Notre Dame and he is going out there. He is going out there to visit (former Gorman offensive tackle) Ronnie (Stanley) and them. With USC, I know Xavier Grimble too so that's easier. But it's not like I have something set."

While many took the trips to Oklahoma's, apparent, rivals in Starks' recruitment as a real problem for Oklahoma, the nation's current No. 26 ranked prospect says nothing could be further from the truth.

"There isn't really any way I can get out there before my official visits," he said. "Me and coach Gundy, he is the coach I talk to the most, he is definitely the coach that I'm closest to in all of the recruitment. I can tell he really cares. Not just about football but how I am as a person. I know if I went there I would be welcomed really quickly and I'm already close with the coaching staff."

"I talk to coach (Bob) Stoops as well, he is a cool guy too. He messages me on Twitter just like coach Gundy does. I haven't really talked to him on the phone, but yeah, I want to meet him and get that relationship going."

Regardless of how he feels about any of his schools at the moment, Starks says he is in no hurry to make a decision but has been looking around and admiring some of his fellow elite nationally-ranked running backs.

"When I get my opportunity, I want to look around and take it all in and see where my home is going to be for the next couple of years," he said. "The class of 2014, we're an awesome class, I've looked around, Joe Mixon, Leonard Fournette, we've got some really crazy athletes in our class, it's crazy to see all of the opportunities we're getting.

"I feel like that's not me to commit early, I want to make the right decision - hopefully the NFL one day. I want to make sure I make the right choice. I'm thinking I'm going to wait it out until National Signing Day, once I take those visits, it'll probably click in [where I'll go]. It's just a matter of what I see."

So what is it that Starks, who plans to major in broadcasting, is looking for in his future destination?

"It's definitely going to be how the area is, how I'm going to fit in with the program, how I'm going to contribute to the team," he said. "Like I said, I'm really close with coach Gundy, and that's big, that's going to be my coach when I go there and everything.

"If the NFL was a possibility for me, I'd like to go back to school when I finish in the league and if anybody would be able to give me the opportunity when I come back would be key.

It has been well known that Starks' mother would play a key role in his recruitment but her input has an even bigger relationship than most realized.

"Really, it's just where I fit in, it doesn't really matter to me how far away from home I go, I'm going to keep working, keep grinding and try to be where I'm going to be. Wherever I travel I'm pretty sure my mom will come with me," he said of his mother's probable relocation.

"She said where I go, she might want to move - but I don't know for sure if that's going to happen or not."

Though much has been made of his newly announced top three Starks isn't shutting out other programs and is still very open to the recruiting process. In fact there are a few schools, in particular, he still has a great deal of interest in.

"Oregon has always been there, they always probably will be - it's always a great opportunity. I would say Alabama, they talked to me one time and that was just a really exciting call because you know with them winning BCS championships and producing the backs that they do. Texas also, I've heard a lot of great things about Austin and they've been one of the top schools for a while - I grew up hearing about Texas a lot," Starks said.

Though it may pain Oklahoma fans to hear of Starks' interest in Texas, he lives little doubt how crucial the Sooners will be in his decision process going forward.

"I always love Oklahoma, I don't think they'll ever leave my top, they are always going to be one of the schools I'm choosing from - I don't think they'll ever leave that spot. There are possibilities, but I don't think Oklahoma ever will - they definitely will be there as I'm deciding."



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