Top Emerging Players: No. 6 Tyler Johnson

We continue our list of the Top 10 Emerging Players for 2011. To be eligible for this list you either have to be a returning player that has never had any regular playing duty on the team, be a newcomer, or redshirt player that has yet to break into the lineup. The criteria is also need on the team, whether as a starter or in a critical spot on the depth chart.

No. 6 - Tyler Johnson, MLB
6-1, 239. So.
Haskell, Okla.

We could have combined Tyler Johnson with Caleb Lavey but we made an executive decision that we weren't going to combine players just because they filled the same role. Johnson and Lavey do play the same position, but they may not play the same role.

The two may be combined some this season because together they give you a consumate middle linebacker. Lavey, as mentioned in his profile, is a football gym rat who watches a lot of video and has a great football IQ.

He is a good player physically, but Johnson is a step above. More mature because of his age, and also conditioned somewhat different after being a professional baseball player, it did not take Rob Glass and his staff long to get Johnson back in football shape and at 6-1 and a well defined 239 pounds he fills out a football uniform and can look imposing.

From a mental standpoint, Johnson has come a long way and knocked off most of the rust. He was thrust into playing duty last season when Lavey was out with an elbow injury and then senior Tolus Moala had a slight knee problem. Feeling his way through last season, Johnson had eight tackles, seven unassisted.

In the spring he made great strides at getting more comfortable. During the spring former Oklahoma State head coach and longtime NFL assistant Pat Jones brought former Miami, Fla. head coach Randy Shannon to practice. Shannon, who will work for ESPN this fall, has a defensive pedigree and has coached linebackers. He loved Johnson in practice, loved the way he looked and the fire he was practicing with that day.

We love Johnson too, but recognize the value of Lavey. You will likely need them both, and in the meantime push each to get better in his deficiences and give Oklahoma State a great one-two punch at middle linebacker.

The Top 10 Emerging Players
No. 10 Kye Staley
No. 9 Justin Gilbert
No. 8 Kevin Johnson
No. 7 Caleb Lavey

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