Jackson, Barnett Sign, Ready For Spring Ball

STILLWATER – Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy announced Wednesday that junior college All-American defensive tackle Calvin Barnett and All-American tight end Blake Jackson have signed national letters of intent to play for the Cowboys. Both will enroll at semester break and will participate in OSU's spring practice. So you can count the pair as the first two members of the 2012 recruiting class.

As his mother said would happen on Sunday, Calvin Barnett was the first signee on Thursday. Of course, the time difference helped there as well. The 6-3, 285-pounder got his paperwork in and became the first official member of the class.

It's funny in that Barnett was a longtime commitment to Oklahoma State coming out of Tulsa Washington two years ago before a late switch to Arkansas. He spent two years at Navarro (Texas) College, where he had a productive junior college career.

While at Navarro, he was part of a junior college national champion as a freshman and earned first-team All-SWJCFC and second-team All-America honors this season with 35 tackles, 20 unassisted, two sacks, five tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and a conference leading three fumbles recovered.

"It's funny how things worked out and how they are meant to be," said Barnett. "This morning was very important because I am very excited about being an Oklahoma State Cowboy. I believe that is where I am supposed to be.

"My time in junior college helped me and I'm more mature. I don't always look for others when a decision has to be made or I have a problem. I've learned to count on myself." One other aspect about Barnett that has changed since his high school days is his weight. In high school he was 320 pounds or more. In junior college he has slimmed up and is playing at around 285 pounds.

"I heard all those things about being able to play as a freshman if I came in shape," said Barnett. "So I worked hard and got in better shape and there is no doubt it helped me being quicker and being able to get off blocks. In my pass rushing moves I was beter because I was able to move so much better. It was something that really helped me."

Blake Jackson is a tremendous player as well and considered by the majority of junior college experts to be the top tight end prospect in the nation. Oklahoma State out-recruited Oklahoma, Arkansas and Georgia to get Jackson.

The Gilbert, Ariz., native earned all-conference and All-America honors at Scottsdale (Ariz.) C.C. by leading his team with 62 catches, 934 yards and 16 touchdowns this past season. Jackson visited Oklahoma State the weekend of the Bedlam game.

"Obviously, it was a great time and the atmosphere was something that I would love to take part in," he said.

The Cowboys are preparing for the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona and the team will headquarter in Scottsdale, so you'd think he might make a practice or two.

"Definitely, definitely, if I can I will be out there," said Jackson. "Whatever the regulations allow me to do."

Besides Barnett and Jackson, Richland High School product Jeremiah Tshimanga is also expected to enroll for the spring semester. The talented linebacker will sign on the regular signing day (Feb. 1) and Oklahoma State coaches, including head coach Mike Gundy, cannot comment on his status.

Gundy was more than happy to comment on Barnett and Jackson.

"We're excited to have Calvin and Blake join our program," Gundy said. "We have been after Calvin for years now and he brings some run-stopping and pass-rushing ability to our defensive line. We're excited about Blake's ability to present a mismatch for opposing defenses."

(Oklahoma State Athletic Media Relations contributed to this story.)

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