Recruiting: Top Texas Targets-Defense

This is part of a story that will appear in the upcoming Go Pokes Magazine preseason football issue on the top recruiting targets in Texas for the Oklahoma State staff. This story includes the defensive breakdown and the kicker who has already committed.

This is a position where the Oklahoma State staff would love to see plenty of prospects, but defensive tackles especially don't come in large numbers. You know what we mean ... they are large, but there aren't that many of them. Emmanuel Aluko is an interesting prospect. We listed him with the offensive linemen, but with his size and quickness is thought that he will make a good defensive tackle and he has looked good in limited experience there. Strength is not an issue with a 365-pound bench and 500-pound squat.

Tyler John Tyler's Adren Dorsey is similar to Aluko in that he has been an offensive guard, but playing some on defense as a junior he had 12 tackles and 4 ½ sacks. He is a well proportioned 6-4 and 290 pounds with 5.1 speed in the 40. He also has a 315-pound bench press and a 500-pound max on the squat.

Eddie Brown is a defensive tackle prospect out of Waller that Oklahoma State and Mississippi have already offered, and there will likely be more scholarship offers coming. Justin Williams of South Grand Prairie is a smaller, quick defensive tackle that had 48 tackles and five sacks last season. He is a tank with a 420-pound max on the bench and a 515-pound squat max.

Defensive end is not as critical, but with the graduations of Marque Fountain and Nathan Peterson there will be a need for some young and promising defensive ends. Kapron Lewis-Moore is a mouthful but the 6-5, 230-pounder out of Weatherford is high on a lot of lists and for good reason with 50 tackles, six sacks, two fumbles caused, and three fumbles recovered. He has the frame to get even bigger and stronger and moves very well. A pair of Jeremys with a lot of potential would be Jeremy Gray of Sherman and Jeremy Coleman of Missouri City and Marshall High School. Gray is the bigger prospect size-wise, while the smaller Coleman had a very active 80 tackles and six sacks in earning first team all-district honors last season. Gary Green of Mesquite Horn High School is a big defensive end that could end up sliding down to defensive tackle in his college career .

The Cowboys had a banner class at this position last year, but still need to add depth as Jeremy Nethon and Donovan Woods will be departing after the 2007 season. Two favorites here that have already shown an early liking to Oklahoma State are Alonzo Whaley of Madisonville and Andrew Wolridge of Lexington. Both Whaley and Wolridge are just the type of linebackers that Oklahoma State seems to prefer, similar to 2006 freshman standouts Chris Collins and Patrick Lavine. Whaley and Wolridge have speed and are very active making them candidates to play outside or in the middle. Whaley, especially, could wind up playing that hybrid SAM position that Woods is manning this upcoming season. Whaley earned Class 3A All-State honors last season with 152 tackles, four sacks, 21 tackles for loss, and an incredible nine fumble recoveries. Wolridge had 108 tackles with 10 sacks, and four fumbles caused. Just by numbers you can see where they would make a good future tandem at linebacker.

Where do you start? This is a very good year for athletes in the secondary in Texas. At safety, Zavier Gooden of Pflugerville is a standout. As a junior he had 50 tackles and two interceptions and also gained 850 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on offense. District coaches put him first team on the all-district defense. Lamar Harris of powerhouse Gilmer committed early to Texas A&M, but the early Aggie commitments haven't been holding, and Harris has said he might look around. Oklahoma State has issued him an invitation. As a junior he intercepted three passes and returned two for touchdowns (82 and 42 yards). As a sophomore he picked off three passes and, again, two went back for TDs (52 and 30 yards).

The defensive back that may be at the head of the list for the Cowboys is Ugo "Junior" Okpara. Okpara is a 6-1, 180-pound cover corner that teams tend to throw away from. He had 61 tackles last season mainly in run support and running down receivers on the other side or middle of the field.

Johnny Thomas of Texas City is a 6-0, 173-pound athlete with 4.5 speed that is big enough to be a safety and fast enough to play the boundary corner at Oklahoma State .

Victor Johnson of Waco was mentioned as a wide receiver, but quite possibly the best athlete among all prospects in Texas, Johnson may fit better as the center piece of a college secondary. Last season he had 100 tackles, five interceptions, eight fumbles caused, and three fumbles recovered for a team that went to the title game and is the favorite to win Class 4A this season.

Joseph Ibiloye is an interesting prospect in that he is big enough to be considered for linebacker but fast enough to be projected as a safety. The South Garland Colonel all-district performer doesn't really care where he ends up as long as it is on defense. He had 85 tackles last season.

Gundy and his staff made a decision with the last recruiting class on specialists. They looked at their situation with kicker Jason Ricks, punter Matt Fodge and deep snapper Zach Allen all being juniors. The decision was made not to wait and have to use as many as three scholarships in the 2009 class, and thus have three freshmen specialists to have to break in at one time. Last season they took a deep snapper and in the 2008 class they expect to sign a kicker. The punter will wait until the 2009 class. Now they will have all three specialists positions staggered, so that they will not have to replace more than one a recruiting season.

The kicker was the first commitment in the 2008 recruiting class, and they sewed up one of the best in Texas and in the country in Quinn Sharp of Mannsfield Summit. Sharp, who also is a standout baseball talent, kicked 5-of-9 field goals last season including a 52-yard pressure kick in the playoffs. He was also 64-of-67 on extra points. Sharp also punted for a 39.4-yard average, but he will be brought in to groom to replace Jason Ricks.

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