Oku OKs UT's Offer

While it was hardly a surprise, Sunday's commitment by five-star running back David Oku to Tennessee is a significant development for an offense deplete of playmakers and home run hitters.

Rated the nation's No. 6 running back prospect by Scout.com the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Oku, of Midwest City, Okla., is the Vols first five-star commitment since the Class of 2007, and he becomes the 19th prospect pledged to UT.

Regarded as a strong lean to Tennessee for months, Oku's announcement coincided with his father's return from military service in Iraq, and is a boost coming on the heels of the Vols commanding victory over Mississippi State.

David Oku almost pulled the trigger on a commitment to UT on his official visit for the Florida game last month but held off and would later take visits to Louisville and Nebraska. His other finalist was Michigan.

"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 after that visit. "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."

After further review Oku decided UT was the place to launch his collegiate career, but there were hints all along the Vols were his preference. After a victory last Friday over 5A power Guthrie he was observed wearing a Tennessee skull cap and during an interview with a local Fox station he said:

"Rocky Top, baby, Rocky Top. They've got a good staff that I really do love. I've been supported by so many people here from my school, it's just been good all around."

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 4.49 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 standing still.

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 He entered his senior season with 3,897 yards and 45 touchdowns, and has surpassed the 5,000-yard mark through seven games this fall. In 2005 he rushed for 807 yards and six touchdowns in 113 carries. He followed that up with 1,462 yards and 19 TDs in 179 carries.

In many respects Oku is similar in style to Jarvis Giles, a running back from Tampa, Fla., who is also committed to Tennessee. He'll probably come in as a multipurpose back who can also be an effective receiver out of the backfield. He'll need to add some weight and strength to become a feature back, but he's a tough runner and has been durable to this point in his career. Considered a fast twitch muscle type who's quickness is an even greater asset than his impressive speed, he squares up well and explodes out of his cuts. Oku bench presses 270 pounds, squats over 500 pounds and has a 32-inch vertical leap.

Oku, who has a reported 2.5 GPA, was scheduled to retake the ACT sometime in October. He was also recruited by Florida State, Illinois, Auburn and Oklahoma State among others.

Oku is the highest ranked running back the Vols have signed since Gerald Riggs. He follows in the footsteps of other Oklahoma offensive stars like Marcus Nash, Robert Meachem and Gerald Jones.

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