Bill Bedenbaugh was close to landing Wanya Morris out of high school.
The 5-star offensive tackle prospect liked Bedenbaugh and liked Oklahoma coming out in 2019. But he chose Tennessee — partially because Knoxville is less than a four-hour drive through the Smoky Mountains from his hometown of Grayson, GA, near Atlanta.
“Most guys stay close to home,” Bedenbaugh said on a video press conference this week. “I really think Wanya wanted to come here out of high school. I really, truly believe that — and he’s said that, and his mom has. But it was close to home. He chose a place that was close to home.”
Two years later, Morris is rebooting his college career in Norman, under Bedenbaugh’s watchful eye. He was a two-year starter at Tennessee, but two years of losing and two years of instability at the top helped Morris realize that Oklahoma was the place for him.
Morris is widely projected to start at left tackle in his first season with the Sooners — that’s what he did for two years at Tennessee, earning a spot on the Freshman All-SEC Team and the 247 Sports True Freshman All-America Team in 2019, and earning preseason All-SEC accolades in 2020. But he’ll have to work for it. Erik Swenson isn’t a two-year starter there by accident.
This spring will be big for the 6-foot-5, 313-pound Morris to pick things up at OU. He’s learning his teammates, his offense, his new home — and his new coach. And Bedenbaugh has been impressed so far.
“The one thing I really like is he asks a lot of questions,” Bedenbaugh said. “As good as he’s played in the past, started I think 19 games, started as a true freshman at the place he came from, has had some success, but he’s not resting on what he’s done. Everything — how he works, how he approaches it, asks questions, comes up here and meets with me on his own. I’ve been impressed with him so far.”
His teammates have been impressed so far, too.
“Coming in from Tennessee, he’s definitely got the size and the talent,” said right guard Tyrese Robinson. “We just try to get him straight with the plays and everything. But he’s doing a great job of doing that.”
In the new age of the transfer portal, Bedenbaugh can count this one as a recruiting victory.
“I think it’s huge,” Bedenbaugh said. “I recruited him out of high school. He’s a guy I got to see work out a bunch, practice, work out in the weight room. I trust his coaches. He comes from a great program in Georgia. Watched all of his game from Tennessee. Obviously he’s a really good player.
“But I think it’s going to be huge for us.”