Defensive Tackles in Review

<p>Over the past two seasons, football fans have come to recognize the importance of this position. So much so that it's actually become a rather glamorous one, with sacks being as important a stat to some people as touchdowns. With each recruiting season, great defensive tackles appear to be more difficult to find. Let's take a look at the elite few in Texas for this coming season.</p>

When talking about tackles, the first that comes to mind is Richardson Lake Highland's Franklin Okam. Listed at six-foot-five and 312-lbs (he told us 295), Okam is the total package. Totally dominates the line of scrimmage, penetrates the pocket and has great lateral pursuit. Recorded 114 tackles (49 solo, 65 assists) with five sacks in 2002. Would be just as dominate a player on offense, but don't tell him that if you're wanting his signature. Will definitely play defense on the next level. With the entire college football world wanting Okam, don't be surprised to see Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Oklahoma being in the finals for this franchise player.

How can a young man toiling on a team that posted a 1-9 record in 2002 gain this much attention? When you're Silsbee defensive tackle William Morrisey, talent might have something to do with it. Like Okam, Morrisey, six-foot-one and 275-lbs, is extremely quick in the pit and plays off blocks well. Despite winning only one game last season, Morrisey was named all-state and district MVP. We have him listed as a "soft commitment to Texas A&M, but don't rule out LSU and Oklahoma State.

Some might label Denton Ryan's Derek Lokey as an "over achiever". After seeing him play in person, all I can tell you is I want as many Derek Lokeys' on my team as I can get. All the six-foot-two, 250-lb defensive tackle does is make play after play, recording 148 tackles with 17 sacks last season on a team that is loaded with speed and athleticism. While some may say he's too small to play inside in D-I, Lokey is tenacious with a capital "T". A great early pickup by Texas.

Another player who will be fighting Okam for the top inside defender in the DFW Metroplex is Dallas Carter's Ryan Johnson. Johnson, an all-district selection in 2002, did well at the College Station Nike camp in May, posting a 4.88 forty, 4.91 shuttle, 29.3-inch vertical leap and benched the 185-lb bar six times. While some see him as a defensive end, Johnson is most likely to stay on the inside in Division I. He was also measured at six-foot-four and 240-lbs at Nike.

Another versatile defender who has gained much attention over the past year is Bellville Jones' Brandon Mack. At six-foot-three and 280-lbs, Mack can play on the nose or at the ‘2' technique. An all-district selection in 2002, Mack has a low center of gravity, making it very difficult for offensive linemen to get underneath for leverage. Has an extremely quick first step and virtually impossible to double team.

Even though we have him projected as an offensive guard or tackle, Wharton's Kellen Heard is still being mentioned on the defensive side of the ball by some schools. And after recording over 100 tackles with 15 sacks in 2002, the six-foot-six, 335-lb Heard will certainly get a shot at defensive tackle in D-I if he wants one. Possessing great feet, this guy is also an impressive basketball player. It's still early, but it appears this Texas prospect will be playing his college ball out of state. With offers from all the major programs, Kellen can pretty much name his school.

We'll be taking at look at the defensive ends next time.

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