Five To Watch At NEO

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Junior College has seen a parade of Division I coaches coming through this spring. The Norsemen completed spring practice Tuesday night with a final scrimmage and despite an hour and a half delay because of thunderstorms, they had a large group of coaches stick around from the likes of Arkansas, Minnesota, Toledo, Memphis, Northern Illinois, Texas-San Antonio, and others.

Indiana had a staff member arrive in Miami, Okla., on Wednesday to look at the tape. During the previous practices Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Missouri, North Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, and others have cruised through the NEO campus, and they have found some very phyiscal and talented defenders.

Defensive tackle George Rogers with his 6-3, 305-pound frame and his 4.98 clocking in the forty has garnered attention. But there are other defenders that have picked it up as well this spring.

The biggest difference in the Norsemen is an increase in physical play. The players go hard and there was no lack of pounding, really big hits, throughout the 70-plus play scrimmage that wrapped up the spring.

On the defensive side of the football there were five other players, along with Rogers, that really stood out.

At the linebacker position Kameron Stewart has been a good looking player since his days as a Midwest City (Okla.) Bomber. His intensity and effort have not always been what they should be, but this spring Stewart has picked it up in the classroom and on the field, according to NEO coaches. It was evident in the scrimmage as he made a number of tackles, was in the right place all the time, and showed leadership qualities you like to see in a veteran player.

Stewart was a tremendous defender at Midwest City and got his game back on track at NEO last season after transferring from Coffeyville (Kan ) junior college where he was redshirted.

Stewart is explosive and rangy. Last season he had 59 tackles with 26 of those unassisted. This season he should be even better. He is also a good hand on special teams and the cover units. At the end of off season conditioning this past spring he was maxing at 21 reps (225 pounds) on the bench press, 400 pounds on the squat, a power clean max of 330 pounds, and a vertical of 32.5 inches. His forty time was 4.73. He will be a December graduate and will have 2 years to play 2.

His play this spring shows he is ready to go to the next level and with a season to reinforce that we already know a number of coaches coming through NEO this spring are interested.

Adrian Shoecraft is a bonfide playmaker on defense and college coaches are just going to have to use some imagination as the 5-11 Shoecraft is not going to grow any taller. But he showed on Tuesday night in the scrimmage that his frame and his 230 pounds packs a punch. He is also a smart football player that the coaches use to help direct the defense.

Shoecraft burst on the scene and earned second team all-conference honors and had one of his best games of the season including a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown against then top-ranked Blinn.

He was a sure tackler in high school and was a tackling machine as a freshman at NEO with 98 total and 57 unassisted. He moves real well and is adept at dropping in coverage as well as pass rush. He is an excellent gap protection run stopper.

This spring he tested really well with 25 reps at 225 pounds on the bench, 515 pounds max on the squat, a power clean of 355 pounds and a 4.7 in the 40. He is a hard worker! At Edmond (Memorial H S ), Okla., he earned All-State honors and had 119 tackles as a senior, and 110 tackles as a junior. He will be available in December and will be a huge prize for some school as they get him for 2-for-3.

On the defensive line, there are two defensive ends that repeatedly hasseled or sacked quarterbacks Beau Marsaln and Will Crowder.

Kenny Garrett was a Division I recruit out of high school, but he went through a stage of feeling sorry about having to go to junior college. That stage is over and after playing well last fall his play has stepped up this spring. He is showing signs of being dominant He had a sack and a half as well as a couple of other tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and a sack where he forced a fumble and recovered it although the officials blew the play dead.

Garrett came out of Crooked Oak High School in Oklahoma City as a second team All-Little City selection on the defensive line and has been trying to find his nitch. It looks like he has. Last season he 38 total tackles, 21 unassisted with a tackle for loss and a sack.

He is expected to come back with a breakout season this fall as he has the size and the ability. This spring he tested well with 18 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press, 475 pounds max on the squat, 330 pounds max on the power clean, and he ran really well for a big guy with a 4.82.

Garrett drew major college interest in high school after he had five sacks his senior season at Crooked Oak He will be available in December following the season and is a 2-for-2 transfer.

Playing the book end to Garrett's role in the scrimmage was Tulsa (McLain) product Kerry Burks. Burks was also in the backfield a lot and brought a nasty dispostion with him. He was in a couple of sacks.

Burks collected 36 tackles, 17 unassited, in playing a backup role as a freshman/ There are high expectations for him this season What will make him better next season was his work in the weight room. He has slimmed down to 260 pounds and at 6-3 looks really good. He also got up to a max of 400 pounds on the squat with a 260 pounds max on the power clean. He has an impressive 29-inch vertical and 4.85 in the forty. He will graduate in May and be a two-for-three guy.

Finally another inside guy that had the coaches on hand buzzing a little during the scrimmage was Kevin Fortson. Another really good physical body on that Norse defensive line, he is a prototypical three technique at 6-5, 285 pounds.

Forston saw his season cut short last year because of injury and with just a limited time to play the numbers weren't anything to write home about. He had seven tackles with two unassisted. His offseason has gone well with a forty in 5.08 and a power clean max of 285 pounds. He has a 26-inch vertical jump as well

He began making up for it this spring and played well in the scrimmage not always making the play but doing a good job of controlling his gap and eating up blockers to help Stewart, the linebackers, and defensive ends.


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