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December 22, 2011
It's been a weird and wild recruiting ride for Kasseim Everett, so perhaps it's only fitting that the final act of his collegiate recruitment would go awry.
The life of the 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior college three-star cornerback has had numerous twists and turns since he graduated from high school in the Philadelphia area in 2009. There was a year at the University of Delaware followed by a semester at Woodland Hills (Calif.) Pierce Community College.
So when Everett sat in the Pierce gymnasium last Wednesday and announced he had selected Texas Tech, most felt the trials and tribulations had ended. It turned out, they were just on their final curve.
A few hours later, Everett faxed his letter of intent ... to Oklahoma.
What happened? Even now, Everett says he can't quite explain it. But he does admit that when it came time to fax in his letter of intent to Lubbock he couldn't bring himself to do so.
Switching schools at the last minute - even after a formal announcement - is not unusual.
Last year, Cyrus Kouandjio, the No. 4 overall recruit, announced he was heading to Auburn, then switched to Alabama for a number of reasons.
For Everett, getting ready to attend his fourth school in less than four years, stability was a key. And when he heard a rumor that Texas Tech defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow had been fired - and then couldn't get a hold of Glasgow - he felt Oklahoma would be the better choice.
"It was that last-minute deal with the Tech defensive coordinator, I couldn't get a hold of him and his phone was, I guess, disconnected," Everett said. "That was the guy that my dad was introduced to two different times and he made two visits to see my dad and it - a guy that he formed a relationship with."
While many are talking about the change of heart from the Red Raiders to the Sooners, according to Everett, the actual change of heart was from Oklahoma to Texas Tech.
"I had it set to Oklahoma, I had my hat, my sweatshirt, and then I was supposed to have an easy night of rest but I didn't sleep well," he said. "In the back of my mind - it was me wondering if it was the right decision."
And when he was forced to make one, he feels he made the wrong one.
"Honestly, I just wasn't ready for the 12 o'clock announcement and felt rushed," he said. "I went in with the decision I had in my head, I wasn't ready at that time, and I went through my research, but that whole defensive coordinator thing (Glasgow) had just come up so I didn't have time to really look at that.
"I should have handled it another way, but I had to really think and I had a chance between the press conference and faxing my papers, I had to be at a program that is stable first."
After the press conference, it's clear that Everett's mind started to shift back toward his initial thought of being a Sooner. Not surprisingly, the Sooner staff had been in contact, trying to find out what had changed - as they had expected him to be headed to Norman.
It seems what may have sealed the deal for Oklahoma was a fairly rudimentary question in recruiting.
"After my press conference I talked to them," Everett said. "They asked why I made that decision. All along I was planning on going to Oklahoma - I don't know. I couldn't really tell [them] what made me do the end decision; I just really couldn't give them a reason and that's what snapped me back.
"I just couldn't give them an answer and it helped me come back to my senses."
After the conversation with Willie Martinez and Bob Stoops, Everett says that he took some time to go over all that was happening in his decision and then called the second-year Sooner assistant back.
"I gave it a good half an hour to an hour, where I brought the stability thing back into play and ultimately that made that the reason I didn't stick with my decision," he said.
"After it was over I called [Martinez] back and yeah, he was excited. It was a big relief, I actually felt very happy and relieved when it was all done. I just felt like it was shaky how it happened, but I don't think it would be any better if it happened any other way. With all that it took to get to this point, I'm just glad for this opportunity."
Listening to Everett talk, it's abundantly clear that the Sooners did all they could during his official visit on Nov. 25 and in the lead-up to his decision. So what was it that initially gave him such confidence about being a Sooner?
"That I'd be starting at a big-time program," he said. "With my work ethic, I don't feel any doubt that I can be that boundary corner. When that opportunity was presented, I had it in my mind that this was why I went to junior college. I did not want to go anywhere close to where I was at, which was 1-AA. Having a big time opportunity at a big-time program."
Though the day may not have gone how he dreamed it up, don't expect any type of apologies from Everett for how things played out.
"Actually, after I decided on Oklahoma, I didn't really even talk to anyone, I just made sure that I got the letter sent out before I even communicated with anyone," he said. "You were one of the few people that I actually had in my phone and after I sent it out I went to hang out with my friends.
"I didn't even talk to many people yet, everyone knows what it is, it is what it is and I had to go where I felt most confident."
During the conversation, one of the key elements of Everett's enjoyment of his trip to Norman got in touch when he got word from Sooner starting safety Tony Jefferson.
"It's funny you were asking about him, right as you were saying that, I got a text from Tony, he was just saying, 'You won't regret it man'," Everett said.
Everett says he'll now prepare to go home to Philadelphia and see his family on Christmas day before headed to Oklahoma. And as a January enrollee, he'll be beginning to get things ready for the next leg of his journey through college football.
"I just feel so great, and honestly, I'm ready to make all the sudden changes, I feel great in my decision - it was a little shaky in how it happened," he said. "I'm ready to go with whatever changes that are coming up."
While Oklahoma will mark his third college in less than two years, Everett says his repeated changes of scenery were his own doing and have since been remedied.
"I left high school and went to Delaware and I played my freshman season," he said. "I redshirted my second year, mainly because I didn't take football as serious as I do right now. I let them redshirt me and things just weren't working out and I left there. I decided not to come back and play my next season and ultimately I got in touch with Gerald (Bowman) and he was doing his thing out here in California. He said they have some opportunities out here, so I decided to give it a shot.
"When I came out here, all I brought was workout clothes because that's all I needed to be doing.
"I just sat down and had to look myself in the mirror and was saying I had to put football first and try and make a career out of this and decided to put football first. Well, you know God is first, but I really wanted to make this a career and I wanted a big opportunity, a bigger stage, and I gave myself that opportunity to go to a JUCO and teamed up with Gerald.
"I'm glad that I took advantage of my chance. You know, recruiting in Philadelphia isn't what it is out here in California. I just want to make sure I take full advantage of it."
After an eventful day, the Sooner staff let Everett get back to having some fun with his friends. It has not been determined when he will be arriving on campus to start the Spring semester that begins on Jan. 17.
But after a long and less-traveled path to one of college football's biggest stages, it's safe to say that the Sooners coaches would do well to make sure Everett's travel plans when heading to Norman are air tight.