InsideMizzou.com looks at Big 12 DL recruits

InsideMizzou.com's Erik Johnson breaks down the Big 3 of the Big 12 recruiting classes, including Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. Johnson evaluates film on each signee before giving his expert analyst on how the three classes compare at each position. You can find this only at one site, don't miss out. If you're not currently a member, take advantage of our 7 Day free pass.

Missouri – The Tigers brought in a very solid group of defensive linemen in the 2009. Headlining the group is one of the top athletes in the entire nation, Sheldon Richardson.

Richardson is a 6-foot-4, 270 pound, five-star athlete from Gateway High School in St. Louis, MO. Listed as a defensive tackle by Scout.com, Richardson played everywhere from defensive tackle to kick returner in high school.

Most likely to be used at defensive end at Missouri, Richardson has the size the of a defensive tackle with the feet and speed of a defensive end. In addition to his speed, Richardson uses his hands very well and will undoubtedly make a push to forgo his redshirt when he makes it to Columbia.

Joining Richardson among Tiger defensive line recruits is Brayden Burnett of Southlake Carrol High School in Texas. Burnett is a high-energy player who never quist until the whistle sounds. At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, Burnett has the size to come in and compete right away.

Burnett plays the run very well and showed off his pass-rushing skills by tallying 27 sacks in his last two years of high school football. He chose the Tigers over offers from Wisconsin, Arizona State, California, Colorado and Kansas among others.

Coming in slightly under-the-radar for the Tigers is defensive end/defensive tackle Ty Phillips of East St. Louis High School. Phillips' stock skyrocketed towards the end of the season as he helped lead East St. Louis to the state championship and garnered the top honors from Scout.com for his performance leading up to and in the Offense-Defense All-America game.

Phillips has the size to play inside or outside once he arrives in Columbia and early indications are that he will give defensive tackle a shot.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked recruits in the Tigers' 2009 class is defensive tackle Marvin Foster of North Crowley High School in Texas. After sustaining a knee injury during his junior year, Foster rebounded and excelled as a senior. At 6-foot-2, 267 pounds, Foster will need to put on some weight to play inside in the Big XII but he plays with great power and leverage.

If there is an area where Foster could improve, it is his first step as he is not always the quickest off the ball.

Rounding out Missouri's defensive line class is Michael Sam. Sam is a 6-foot-3, 225 pound defensive end from Hitchcock, TX. A very solid athlete, Sam looks destined to be a playmaker when he is in the open field. Where he struggles is at the point of initial contact.

He doesn't explode off the line, but once he is in open space, he closes well and has no problem bringing the quarterback to the turf.

Nebraska – Topping the defensive line class for the Huskers is 6-foot-4, 250 pound Jason Ankrah of Gaithersburg, MD. Much in the same mold of Burnett, Ankrah plays with great relentlessness.

His strength is evident as he has no problem holding blockers at bay while he reads running plays. Ankrah chose Nebraska over the likes of Maryland, Michigan, Penn State and Virginia Tech among others.

In the middle of their line, Nebraska added a pair of tackles with room to grow (they both currently come in around 250-260 pounds) in Cole Pensick (Lincoln, NE) and Thaddeus Randle (Galena Park, TX).

Pensick is not an explosive player and will need to add a good amount of strength and weight and to become a consistent force in the middle of the Nebraska defense.

Randle moves well laterally while showing the ability to shed blocks with his hands. Like Pensick, Randle does not possess a great first step, but Randle looks to have the build to carry the weight to play defensive tackle at the Division I level.

Kansas – After a very eventful recruitment, four-star defensive end Kevin Young (Olathe, KS) will be playing for the home-state Jayhawks. Young is a bit undersized at 6-foot-3, 226 pounds, but runs well for a defensive end and has the ability to disrupt many passing plays with his wingspan.

From the Junior College ranks, the Jayhawks added Quentin Woods out of Baketsfield, CA. Originally from Flint, MI, Woods committed to the home-state Wolverines out of high school.

After a trip to California, Woods gave his commitment to the Jayhawks. At 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, Woods in another lean body for the Kansas defensive line who will need to add weight to play the run successfully in the Big XII.

Coming it at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, Randall Dent of Grand Prarie, TX received plenty of interest during his recruitment while playing defensive end and defensive tackle.

In the end, Dent chose Kansas over offers from Arizona, Nebraska, Oregon and Oklahoma State. Dent shows a good first step and explosiveness and will need to work on the fundamentals of playing inside to contribute for the Jayhawks.

Looking to play inside with Dent is junior college-transfer Travis Stephens of Binn College. When Stephens makes the moves to defensive tackle, he will likely be one of the faster players at the position in the Big XII.

It will be interesting to see if he can maintain that speed after putting on the requisite weight. Stephens would also be well-suited if he played lower as he played with little leverage last season.

Playing some outside linebacker and some defensive end, Jacoby Thomas of Texarkana, TX shows good speed coming off the edge. Despite being undersized for the defensive end position (6-foot-3, 225), Thomas holds his ground surprisingly well against the run.

An area Thomas will need to improve on is consistency as he is sometimes soft at the point of attack.

Rounding out the defensive line class for the Jayhawks is Tyrone Sellers (McCook, NE). Sellers is yet another lanky defensive end prospect for the Jayhawks. Seller chose Kansas over offers from Iowa, Kansas State and Wyoming.

Like so many other undersized ends, Sellers will need to become more physical at the point of the attack if he is going to succeed in the Big XII.


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