Inside the Class of '04: Brian Orakpo

The ninth in a series of interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '04: Signee Brian Orakpo.

Brian Orakpo
Defensive End
Houston Lamar HS
NR: 24 SR: 20 Rating: ***

An Inside Texas conversation with Lamar head coach Tom Nolen on Brian Orakpo:

IT: What are Brian's strengths as a football player?

Nolen: The big thing about Brian and the reason that he was so heavily recruited is that he has right at defensive back speed. I believe he had the fastest time in the forty of any lineman at the Nike Camp (4.56) which is what really got everybody's attention. Plus, little known fact is that he didn't turn 17 until this school year so he has the opportunity, being a year younger than the other kids, to physically grow a lot more where he may not be so undersized, so to speak.

IT: What did the Texas coaches like about Brian?

He can really run and he's a good athlete. Everybody's looking at him as having a tremendous upside because of his age and his body type and his natural speed, because generally those guys don't lose their speed as they grow and get bigger.

IT: Talk about his senior season.

Nolen: At times he was very dominant. He missed really the middle of the season; from the middle of the fifth game until the playoffs he didn't play because he had a bad groin pull. Early on he was extremely good and against Kempner and North Shore he played really well. But he missed so many games and so much conditioning.

IT: Which team was the most heartbroken when Brian picked Texas?

Nolen: It happened so fast. Actually, U of H knew about him first but once he ran that time at the Nike combine -- TCU and A&M. Coach Patterson was even at our Spring Game, and all of sudden, boom, he's (committed) before all of the rest of 'em had a chance to get in here. Plus, the fact that (Andrew) Kelson announced early really kept the traffic down, there weren't as many coaches around as there normally would have been...

IT: Is Brian capable of early playing time?

Nolen: I can't speak for coach Brown and the Texas staff, I haven't really asked them what they're thinking, whether they'll redshirt him or not, certainly because of his age, it's hard to see into the future. I tell Brian all the time he doesn't have any idea how good he is.

IT: Is Brian as good a prospect as John Williams (Lamar DE that signed with Oklahoma in '03)?

Nolen: He didn't do as good as he did his junior year because he didn't play as many games. Yeah, I think he's as good... I think Brian is going to fill out a little more.

IT: What are the areas of his game that Brian needs to improve upon to be successful at the next level?

Nolen: Always their strength, mainly. I really think he's going to grow and he's really fast.

IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies Brian's ability as a football player?

Nolen: He made a couple of plays in the Kempner game when they tried to run their option. You put the film on they look pretty simple but he really, really shut them down. Kinda showed that he was coming back (from injury)... Sometime film doesn't really do justice to what really took place.

Note from Will: I shot both Orakpo and Kelson at the same time. Interestingly, defensive end Orakpo is not that much bigger than safety Kelson... Also, when I took the guys to do the picture (above) in front of the Lamar entrance, I told them a little bit about art deco architecture. I think both of them were thinking, 'What the heck is this dude talking about?' Oh well, I like art deco stuff!

*Photos by Will Gallagher/Inside Texas*

NEXT UP: Ryan Palmer

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