OU football coach Brent Venables talked with Caleb Williams, knows 'portal is a very real thing' for Sooners

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  • Brent Venables
    Brent Venables
    American football player and coach
  • Caleb Williams
    US American football quarterback, born 2002
  • Lincoln Riley
    Lincoln Riley
    American football player and coach

NORMAN — Brent Venables barely had time to breathe on Sunday.

He finalized a deal to become Oklahoma's next head football coach. He arrived on a private plane in Norman at around 10 p.m. to see more than 1,000 Sooner fans waiting near the tarmac. He then had a triple cheeseburger and onion rings at Whataburger sometime past midnight.

But during the jam-packed day, Venables found time for an important conversation. The former Clemson defensive coordinator spoke with OU quarterback Caleb Williams and his father to gauge the freshman's status with the program.

Despite attending Venables' introductory ceremony on Monday, Williams has not verbally expressed his desire to stay at OU since Lincoln Riley's departure to USC. Meanwhile, six other Sooner players have entered the transfer portal.

OU quarterback Caleb Williams listens during the introduction of new head football coach Brent Venables on Monday at the Everest Training Center in Norman.
OU quarterback Caleb Williams listens during the introduction of new head football coach Brent Venables on Monday at the Everest Training Center in Norman.

Losing Williams would be the biggest hit of them all. He emerged as the face of the program by recording 1,670 passing yards and 24 total touchdowns in 10 games this season, heading into the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl against Oregon.

Venables didn't disclose the details of his conversation with the Williams family, but he stressed the importance of retaining not only the star quarterback but the rest of OU's current players.

"Whether it's Caleb or anybody else, there's nobody more important to recruit than your players every day," Venables said.

"The portal is a very real thing with all of your players. Don't get so caught up in the (future) recruiting that you lose sight of what's most important, which is what's in your locker room."

Carlson: How new OU football coach Brent Venables was the feel-good pick-me-up Sooners fans needed

Tramel: Brent Venables' daughter helps him lay his fears aside about becoming a head coach

Cornerbacks coach Roy Manning resigns

OU cornerbacks coach Roy Manning resigned on Sunday, according to multiple reports.

Manning's departure comes five days after he found himself in the middle of a recruiting fiasco. In an interview with Greg Biggins of 247 Sports, five-star defensive back Domani Jackson claimed Manning assisted Riley in his recruiting pitch to USC.

Manning was still on OU's payroll at the time.

"I’ve heard from Coach (Alex) Grinch, too, and also Roy Manning, who was the DB coach at OU," Jackson said in the interview. "I’ve been texting back and forth with Coach Manning and looking forward to meeting those guys in person.”

Manning spent three seasons with the Sooners. He is the first of the OU assistant coaches to have resigned, but more staff changes could be imminent following the hiring of Venables.

Despite serving as Clemson's defensive coordinator for the past 10 seasons, Venables confirmed on Monday that he intends on hiring a defensive coordinator at OU.

"We're working through that right now," Venables said of the staffing process. "There are some terrific options right here at home, and we're looking at everything. But we want to do it sooner rather than later, so we're working aggressively on both fronts."

The Tulsa World reported on Sunday that OU recruiting director Annie Hanson and her husband, TU offensive line coach Zach Hanson, are expected to be hired by USC.

More: What you need to know about OU football's coaching change from Lincoln Riley to Brent Venables

More: How has Lincoln Riley's departure to USC impacted OU's recruiting?

Nik Bonitto opts out of bowl game to focus on NFL Draft

Nik Bonitto announced his decision to opt-out of OU's Alamo Bowl game against Oregon and declare for the 2022 NFL Draft on Monday.

Bonitto is a redshirt junior linebacker who recorded team-highs of 15 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries and nine quarterback hurries this season. He finishes his four-year OU career with 93 tackles and 18.5 sacks.

"The last four years in Norman have been some of the best times of my life," Bonitto said in a tweet. "I have made unforgettable memories and made some long-time friends. I would like to thank God, my family, my coaches, teammates and most importantly you, Sooner Nation.

"Although my time is done, I will always have that OU DNA."

Bonitto is the first OU player to opt-out of the bowl game.

Justin Martinez can be reached at jmartinez@oklahoman.com or @JTheSportsDude on Twitter. Make sure to subscribe to The Oklahoman to stay up to date with all local sports.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OU football: Brent Venables talks about Caleb Williams, Sooners QB

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