Critical is the attitude that has to be present going into spring football on the defensive front. It would be nice to have the luxury of having NFL Draft prospects Ryan McBean, Larry Brown and Victor DeGrate returning but those three players, along with ever reliable Darnell Smith, have moved on.
Let's start at defensive end where undersized Nathan Peterson has a huge heart and an intense desire that allows him to make plays as if he was 10-foot tall and can run a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. Peterson tore up Nebraska's offense in the second half in one of the biggest wins for the Cowboy last season. He plays very smart and that often leads to turnovers when he is working. Peterson is the perfect person to help coach up his backup in red-shirt freshman Shane Jarka. The 6-3, 245-pound Jarka is going to be good sized and has the same over achiever-type attitude as Peterson. Ugo Chinasa is also a promising prospect for the future, but will still be limited coming off the tendon injury from last August.
The other defensive end position features Marque Fountain, a player that doesn't get the attention he deserves. Fountain had a team-high 11.5 tackles for loss last season along with 4.5 sacks. Fountain is a relentless competitor and has the mean streak you look for in an attacking defensive end. Fountain will get competition and be pushed by talented sophomore Derek Burton. Burton is now 6-5 and 260 pounds and has quick feet. He has a chance to be a dominant defensive player in the future.
At defensive tackle the list is short, and short on experience. Not counting the plays made in junior college by Tonga Tea at Snow Community College in Utah, the Cowboys have 10 returning tackles made by their defensive tackles on the roster. Maurice Cummings, who has split time at defensive end ,had five tackles last season and has grown into a 6-4, 290-pounder. Jeray Chatham, a former offensive lineman that has shown potential, had three tackles last season, while sophomore Jonathan Lewis made two stops in 2006.
Tea will be counted upon to make his presence felt immediately and will back up Chatham at the one technique. Lewis backs up Cummings at the three technique with redshirt freshman Quencey Patrick looking to get his first taste of it this spring. There is a good chance that one of the incoming freshmen will have to help with depth and the best bet is Silsbee, Texas product Ahmad Jones.
The defensive end position should hold up if injuries can be avoided. The defensive tackle position, to be honest, will be an adventure, but sometimes adventures can be fun. New defensive coordinator Tim Beckman hopes that is the case.
2007 Oklahoma State Spring Defensive Line Depth Chart
97 Marque Fountain, 6-2, 260, Sr., Missouri City (Hightower), Texas
98 Derek Burton, 6-5, 260, So., Muskogee, Okla.
96 Jeray Chatham, 6-3, 290, Jr., Houston (Westfield), Texas
90 Tonga Tea, 6-0, 315, Jr., Anchorage, Alaska/Snow C.C., Utah
56 Maurice Cummings, 6-4, 290, Sr., Rosebud (Rosebud-Lott), Texas
99 Jonathan Lewis, 6-2, 290, So., Carrollton (Newman Smith), Texas
94 Quencey Patrick, 6-3, 280, RS Fr., Columbus (Pacelli Catholic), Ga.
13 Nathan Peterson, 6-2, 240, Sr., Tulsa (Union), Okla.
46 Shane Jarka, 6-3, 245, RS Fr., Fort Bend (Austin), Texas
(Inj.) 91 Ugo Chinasa, 6-6, 240, RS Fr., Richardson (Berkner), Texas
Spring Football Preview: Defensive Line
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