Oku Due at Showdown

Running and winning have been synonymous in the intensely contested Tennessee-Florida series, just as there is a strong correlation between recruiting and winning in SEC football, a world where the weapons race rages throughout the year from the din of packed stadiums to the den of prospects' homes.

The confluence of these conditions will be perfectly captured Saturday in Knoxville when the Vols play Florida and host a sizable collection of top prospects. No one from this elite group is more significant to UT's future hopes than five-star running back David Oku of Oklahoma City, Okla.

One of the greatest big-play threats in the Class of 2009, Oku is the type of talent that could make a difference in this series as soon as next fall. In order to do that he would have to sign with the Volunteers since he has apparently eliminated Florida.

In fact there are many in the recruiting industry that believe Tennessee is the team to beat for Oku's superlative talents. But he visited Louisville on Labor Day weekend and is slated to visit Nebraska next week. He gave a slight edge to Tennessee in a recent interview but insists he isn't committed.

"People say I was going to commit to Tennessee, but I don't know where that was coming from," he told Kevin Seely of BigRedReport.com I was thinking about making a commitment, but I decided to hold off. My dad is going to be back in October anyway, so I thought I should wait until then.

"I thought I was ready to commit, but I think now I should think things over a little more."

Undoubtedly, Oku will return from the Tennessee-Florida game with a lot to think over. He'll want assurance that UT is a team able to compete against the No. 4 Gators, particularly over the next four years. He'll want to further explore the playing time situation as well as how comfortable he feels in Knoxville and how impressed he is with the fan support the Vols command.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound tailback is a an outstanding open field runner with home run potential anytime he touches the ball. He has 4.50 speed but he's a patient runner, who allows his blocking to set up before hitting a hole at maximum velocity and going by defenders like they aren't there.

As a junior at Carl Albert High School, he rushed for 1,628 yards and 20 touchdowns in 182 carries during a 10-2 season. In his first two games as a senior, Oku has gained 200 yards and scored four touchdowns. He bench presses 270 pounds, squats over 500 and has a 32-inch vertical leap.

Oku, who has a 2.5 GPA and retakes his ACT next month, has expressed an interest in committing soon to end the distractions which grow stronger as the recruiting process gets longer. Such a decision could give the Vols an advantage given the timing of his official visit to The Hill and the October return of his father.

Should the Vols break Florida's three-game winning streak in the series with an upset Saturday, Oku might decide he doesn't need to see anymore to know where he wants to go to run the ball.


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