Recruiting: Oklahoma's Top 15

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, " is a popular phrase that originated in Greece in 3rd BC. But is first credited with being used in print in its current form in 1878 by author Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (née Hamilton), in her book Molly Bawn. I use it quite often myself in reference to recruiting.

The whole process of college football recruiting is a beauty contest of size, speed, academics, maturity, and football ability. Football coaches at different schools are evaluating prospects in all of those areas in an effort to find the best players they can convince to attend their school and become a part of their program.

Geography is also a major part of the recruiting equation and the beauty of a prospect. A player close by in the state of Oklahoma can often look a little better than one far away simply because they are closer to the OSU campus and may have more interest in being a Cowboy. In Oklahoma, because of the tradition and success of rival Oklahoma, a nearby player can often look less attractive if they have a predestined favoritism toward the Sooners.

That is why Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy has preached a three-pronged strategy for Cowboy football recruiting geographically since he became head coach. Gundy has said that his program will always recruit in-state players that have an interest in Oklahoma State. He has often said he sees his program signing 5 to 10 in-state players each recruiting class.

Here is a list of the number of Oklahomans the Cowboys have had in their recruiting classes under Gundy.
2005 - 4
2006 - 3
2007 - 3
2008 - 5
2009 - 6

The Cowboys are just now getting to where they hit that average that Gundy projected. The reason is the success of the program and being able to better compete for the upper echelon prospects in Oklahoma.

The OSU staff is not going to sacrifice quality for geography. If they can't get the caliber of player they need in Oklahoma then they will go to the other two prongs in their recruiting which are Texas and the multiple states that they combine for a third recruiting territory, primarily theses days Georgia.

Oklahoma, being a smaller state by population, has fewer players of Division I caliber than some others. Texas is huge and Oklahoma State has found many top Texans such as wide receiver Dez Bryant, running back Kendall Hunter, offensive tackle Russell Okung, defensive end Ugo Chinasa, and cornerback Perrish Cox receptive to playing for the Cowboys.

That said, Gundy would love to get to the point where his program could sweep the list we have presented here. The Cowboys already have one member of the list committed to playing at Boone Pickens Stadium and there will be others.

You see there are all kinds of factors involved in coming up with this list. I used personal evaluation, the evaluation of high school coaches, statistics, and the number and pretige of the schools interested in each player.

We have tried to cut through any bias to present to you the best of the class of 2010 in football recruiting in Oklahoma. However, we can't avoid coming back to the old phrase, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

1. DEMARCO COBBS, ATH./WR, 6-2, 200, 4.55, TULSA CENTRAL
He has to rank as the unquestioned top prospect in Oklahoma for 2010. When he narrowed his list of schools to 10 in early May he had 32 Division I scholarship offers. By far that is the largest number accumulated by a prospect in Oklahoma this year and most years.

He plays quarterback at Central but is projected by many college coaches to be a wide receiver at the next level. He has explosive traits you look for in a playmaker. He has clocked a 4.5 in the forty and a 10.5 in the 100 meters. He has a bench press max of 275 pounds and can squat over 500 pounds.

As a junior he rushed for 1,307 yards and 23 touchdowns and passed for 1,108 yards and 4 touchdowns along with catching passes for 236 yards and another score.

How good is he? It is hard to say in that he is being projected at another position, but athletically he is extremely gifted and provided he works hard he has a great chance to fulfill his potential.

Cobbs narrowed his list to Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, OU, Tennessee, and USC. He has said he will go to camps this summer at Alabama, Florida, OU, and USC before narrowing his list to five.

According to both Cobbs and his head coach at Tulsa Central, Corey Russell, he has a good relationship with Oklahoma State co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer. While the Cowboys did not make Cobbs' top 10, they could work their way back in with getting him on campus at some point in the summer and getting him to attend the opening game with Georgia on Sept. 5.

2. CALVIN BARNETT, DT, 6-3, 285, 5.2, TULSA WASHINGTON
The list has a decided Tulsa area flavor to it but that is not surprising as Tulsa Washington won the Class 5A state championship on the strength of the number of top junior players including play-making defensive tackle Calvin Barnett.

Barnett had four sacks last season and more than 20 tackles for loss on the season. He is a controlling influence up front with his strength and quickness. He's also better than he showed last season as he competed most of the season with a nagging shoulder injury that was corrected by surgery after the season. Another interesting aspect to it is that because of his friendship with Washington teammate and talented athlete Eric Bennett, this could be a double dip situation for a lucky school.

Barnett has a myriad of scholarship offers including the likes of Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa State, and Tennessee. That makes the Cowboys, Arkansas, and Tennessee contenders for the pair of Barnett and Bennett.

"Yes, Eric and I have talked about going to school together," said Barnett. "We've been together since the fourth grade. We started playing on the same basketball team together. We were together in the fifth grade. Later I went over the Broken Arrow but then I came back. We're close and we have talked about going to the same school."

Being a defensive tackle and the best prospect at that position in the state that places a very high value on Barnett as a football player. Defensive tackles are hard to come by and when they can bench press 330 pounds and squat 550 pounds then they are highly sought after.

3. JOHNNY DEATON, QB, 6-3, 188, 4.6, SAND SPRINGS CHARLES PAGE
Deaton is the kind of quarterback that a lot of schools are looking for these days. He can make plays with both his legs and his arm which when he is lined up in a shot gun spread formation make him a "wildcat" at quarterback and also a "point guard" with the pass. He has all the skills that you are looking for, potential to get better, and a solid confidence that comes from helping to rebuild a downtrodden high school program facing tough competition.

Deaton really burst on the scene as a sophomore at Sand Springs during the 2007 season as he earned honorable mention All-Metro honors from the Tulsa World after connecting on 151 of 281 passes for 1,843 yards and 14 touchdowns. The drawback was his 17 interceptions.

However, Deaton and the Sandites got better last season, and he was recognized as the first team All-Metro quarterback and second team All-State from the Tulsa World and honorable mention All-State from The Oklahoman.

His numbers were incredible with 232 carries for 1,665 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns. He hit on 129 of 260 passes for 1,818 yards and 11 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Deaton and his teammates had Sand Springs in the playoffs for the first time since 1997.

"It feels good and I think we are going to just get better and better from this point on," said Deaton of being a major part of the resurgence of Sand Springs football. "I think it will continue after I'm gone.

"I know that Michael Bowie (the senior All-State offensive lineman that signed with OSU in the 2009 class) was a big part of it, but I think he believes we will continue to get better even with him gone. That is the big deal to leave the program up. It took a lot of commitment from a lot of people but I believe it will stay up."

Deaton committed to Oklahoma State the weekend after signing day for the 2009 class. He had his eye on the Cowboys throughout the 2008 season.

"Yes, I think it is the best fit for me," said the 6-2, 195-pound Deaton. "I really like the offense. It is the same offense that we run at Sand Springs. That will speed up my transition and give me a chance to earn playing time quickly. Then is is also close to home which is great because of my family and friends."

4. TRE'VANTE PORTER, DB, 6-0, 176, 4.5, MIDWEST CITY CARL ALBERT
Lightning has struck twice in two years at Carl Albert in the secondary as the Titans had the best defensive back in Oklahoma in the 2009 class in Daytawion Lowe, who signed with the Cowboys. This season Tre'Vante Porter is the best defensive back prospect in Oklahoma. Porter was a major reason that the Titans played for the Class 5A state championship last season and he displayed an athletic and physical style in the secondary learning the ropes from Lowe, who plays very similar.

Oklahoma State is one of four schools that have offered the 6-0, 175-pound talent that had 94 tackles and four interceptions last season for the Class 5A state runner-up Titans. He also earned honorable mention All-State and second team All-City. At the time we wrote this Nebraska, Kansas State, and Kansas had also offered Porter. The University of Florida was evaluating and sent a coach to Carl Albert in May. He was also part of a contender for state honors in track running on the 4X100 meter relay team for the Titans that had posted a best time of 42.8 seconds.

A good student, Porter is another of those players coming out of head coach Gary Rose's program that colleges love to add to their program.

5. TRENT SPURGEON, OL. 6-7, 276, 5.1, OWASSO, Okla.
It is a close race for the honor of top offensive lineman in Oklahoma in the 2010 class. We have seen both the contenders play and the honor goes by the slightest of margins to Spurgeon over Bronson Irwin. The deciding factor is size and quickness. Spurgeon, at 6-7 and with a little better quickness, is more of a natural to play the coveted tackle position in today's offenses. In fact, he looks like a strong left tackle candidate. He will have to add weight, but that 6-7 frame and longer arms are a huge bonus. He is a very strong blocker with a good work ethic.

Oklahoma State was in on the Owasso product early because the Cowboys were recruiting and eventually signed his teammate offensive guard/center Brandon Webb. As a result the Cowboys are in Spurgeon's top four of which he hopes to make a decision between those schools by the end of the summer. He is also considering Arizona, SMU, and Texas Tech after being offered by close to a dozen schools.

"I really like Coach Wickline," said Spurgeon recently. "I think he can take me anywhere I want to go in football. He can develop me into a pretty good football player and I like that about him. I kind of been knowing Coach Wickline for 2 years because he was recruiting my friend Brandon Webb. He jokes around and is real personable. He's not just a coach, he's a friend. The new facilities are fabulous and two of my friends are going there so I feel real comfortable with the program."

All of that sounds good, but the Red Raiders are aggressive in pursuit of linemen like Spurgeon and his sister attends SMU.

6. BRONSON IRWIN, OL, 6-5, 310, 5.4, MUSTANG, OKLA.
Irwin is a tremendous talent and we were very impressed watching him dominate in a playoff upset win last November over Broken Arrow. He is strong and could play at any position on the offensive line, but is likely to wind up at the guard position.

He seems equally adept at run blocking and pass blocking, maybe a little better with the pass working in that spread offense at Mustang.

A self professed lifelong OU fan, Irwin made several unofficial recruiting trips and checked out other schools such as Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State. In the end it was Oklahoma that he wanted to commit to.

"It just felt right," Irwin said. "Ever since I got that OU offer I have been thinking about it. It is a program surrounded with great players. They are a winning program and it is a program that is hard to beat."

There is potential for Irwin to improve before he gets to Oklahoma. He is working this summer on getting stronger and also working on his foot quickness. Right now Irwin is a very good offensive lineman.

7. ERIC BENNETT, ATH./DB, 5-11, 171, 4.4, TULSA WASHINGTON
Where you would rank Eric Bennett might be determined in part with where you think he will play in college. A running quarterback in high school, Bennett could win up as a running back, wide receiver, or cornerback in college. He has shown the potential to be successful at all three positions.

Bennett played primarily quarterback with big numbers in earning All-State status. He ran for 1,068 yards on 160 carries with 18 touchdowns. He also completed 66-of-126 passes for 1,004 yards and 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. Bennett is being recruited to play defense by a lot of teams, including Oklahoma State recruiting him at cornerback. On defense he had 11 tackles and an interception in limited reps.

"Recruiting is going pretty good," started Bennett. "Miami, Florida and Alabama are two schools that have contacted me that really impress me. Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Tennessee have offered me. I've been to three junior days at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Arkansas."

Bennett, as you can imagine, is fast with a 4.45 clocking in the forty. He runs track and this past spring was one of the best in the state at the 100 meters and, with his teammates, the 4X100 meter relay. He has a max of 246 pounds in the bench press and said he estimates his squat max at 400 pounds.

Asked what is important as he continues looking at schools, he made it very simple. "It's academics and the coaching staff," said Bennett, who is undecided on what he wants to major in. "I just know that the academics need to be good and support me. The coaching staff needs to be cool and I want to be close with those guys."

8. TRAYVON HENRY, LB, 6-1, 223, 4.55, OKLAHOMA CITY MILLWOOD
Henry is the top rated linebacker in Oklahoma in the 2010 class. He has worked hard in the off season and at last report had put on seven solid pounds of muscle in the weight room, which had to be very hard to do while running track for the Falcons at the same time. Last season Henry finished with 160 total tackles, many of those unassisted, and five sacks. He equally as good at rushing the passer from his linebacker position, dropping into coverage, and playing downhill for the run. The combination of size and speed is pretty overwhelming for opponents.

It has also given him loads of attention with offers from Arkansas, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Tulsa. Schools from as far away as UCLA and Florida are paying attention to Henry. Give lots of credit to the Millwood coaching staff for getting the word out on Henry and many of their other college prospect candidates.

Henry recently committed to OU.

9. DELANS GRIFFIN, RB, 5-11, 182, 4.5, CLINTON
A couple of things strike us here, first, Clinton has long seemed to be a real stronghold for Oklahoma. The powerful Red Tornadoes high school program has sent many players to OU, but few to Stillwater. Griffin, who oddly enough earned All State status last season as a punter is an OSU fan.

"I have been an Oklahoma State fan my whole life," he added. "There are a couple of us here in Clinton, and I am one of them. You could say Barry Sanders is part of it, but I like Adrian Peterson (the former OU running back) too. I just have always been an Oklahoma State fan."

Griffin did punt well for Clinton, but he did even better running for the Red Torandoes as he rushed for 1,962 yards and 33 touchdowns as a junior. He also caught three touchdown passes and returned four kicks for scores this past season. He also plays basketball and runs track.

Oklahoma State is recruiting him but has yet to offer. The Cowboys currently have a plethora of running backs. A key might be if Griffin is willing to play wide receiver or in the secondary. Oh, and the Cowboys are looking to sign a punter. Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, Texas Tech, and Tulsa have offered.

10. DENTON SIMEK, OL, 6-6, 285, 5.2, PRAGUE
Simek may be a guy that wasn't on too many radar screens, but he has jumped onto them this spring. In one week during May Arizona, Texas Tech, and Missouri all had coaches find their way to Prague to check him out. He has really good size, is very strong, and just turned 17-years-old. Besides those three schools previously mentioned, who have all offered, Kansas, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Oklahoma State are among the nine offers he has.

Simek said he is heading to some camps this summer with his team and then he plans on going to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma camps too. He qualified for state in the shot put this spring and that further shows how explosive he is. This is a young linemen that could top out at 6-7 or larger and will be around 315-320 pounds and look trim.

These guys were close.

DARRYL FIELDS, RB, 6-2, 190, 4.45, MADILL
He could have made the top 10, rushed for 1,267 yards and 15 TDs last season and has offers from OSU, Tulsa, Kansas, SMU, and more.

AARON COLVIN, CB, 5-11, 185, 4.48, OWASSO
Excellent athlete that has shown up well in all camps and has proven it on the field at Owasso. OSU and OU have offered along with others.

CHRIS LITTLEHEAD, DT, 6-4, 305, 5.0, TAHLEQUAH SEQUOYAH
Late discovery that has impressed as a lineman on both sides of the ball. His offers include OSU, Mississippi, Louisville, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Tulsa, and more.

MICHAEL THOMPSON, WR/DB, 6-0, 180, 4.5, BARTLESVILLE
He caught 45 passes for 871 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Here's a sleeper.

JULIAN WILSON, DB, 6-3, 180, 4.48, MOORE SOUTHMOORE
Recently stood out at an OKC combine, he may be one of the fastest players in the state in 2010 and can play WR and DB. He just committed to OU.

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