TULSA FOOTBALL PRE-SPRING DEFENSIVE OUTLOOK
March 2, 2012
TULSA, Okla. -
"When we opened up the fall one of the biggest concerns was the depth of the interior defensive line. I was very excited that we were able to play Daeshon and Derrick all season. They not only survived but they both got to a point that they were really, really good," said Blankenship. "We were also able to get significant minutes from Joe King and Jack Jewell behind them. In addition, we were fortunate to be able to sit out Gary Luetjen, Gary Lee and Nick Hall."
Bufford and Jackson started all 13 games inside for the Hurricane defense and combined to produce 58 tackles and eight stops for -27 yards. King moved over from the offensive line in two-a-day drills to help shore up the depth on the defensive front, while Jewell was effective as well. The two reserves combined for 20 tackles.
The four returning lettermen give the Hurricane great size in the middle of the line as well, coming in at an average of 6'4" and 296 pounds.
The newcomers Blankenship talked about each sat out last year, Luetjen and Lee as red-shirts and Hall as a gray-shirt.
"We're essentially as strong in the middle as we were last season," concluded Blankenship.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE DEPTH CHART 56 Daeshon Bufford (6-3, 292, Sr-3L) 98 Jack Jewell (6-5, 287, Jr-1L) 99 Derrick Luetjen (6-3, 279, Fr-RS) 96 Nick Hall (6-3, 259, Fr-GS)
DEFENSIVE TACKLE DEPTH CHART 92 Derrick Jackson (6-2, 294, Sr-3L) 59 Joe King (6-6, 309, Sr-1L) 51 Gary Lee (6-5, 283, Fr-RS)
One defensive end slot seems nailed down as senior Cory Dorris looks to start for the fourth consecutive season. He has started all but one game in his career, and that one contest came due to an injury in the 2012 season.
Dorris collected 55 tackles and 6.5 stops for -21 yards, while blocking three kicks last season. Key reserves in 2011, sophomore Brentom Todd and senior Jared St. John, will battle for the other starting spot in spring drills.
Todd totaled 16 tackles, 4.5 stops for -17 yards and one forced fumble as a true freshman in 2011, while St. John, a former walk-on, compiled 12 tackles and two stops for -10 yards.
Another player who will get an opportunity to grab that other starting defensive end spot will be red-shirt freshman Derrick Alexander. Before sitting out the 2011 season for the Hurricane, Alexander turned in a stellar prep career at Tulsa's Booker T. Washington High School. He was named the Tulsa's World's Player of the Year for the state of Oklahoma in 2010 after totaling 151 tackles and 14 sacks.
Tulsa will also get two athletic defensive end prospects from the high school ranks -- Damian Gibson from Tulsa's East Central High School and Broken Bow's Cory Rahmings -- joining the roster in the fall.
DEFENSIVE END 97 Brentom Todd (6-3, 239, So-1L) 50 Jared St. John (6-2, 250, Sr-1L) 57 Trevor Toliver (6-4, 260, Fr-RS)
"There's no doubt we have to find a middle linebacker to replace Curnelius Arnick," said Blankenship. Arnick was Tulsa's leading tackler in 2011 and ranked among the nation's top-5 the entire season as he ended the year with 159 stops.
Junior Donnell Hawkins, who has seen considerable playing time the last two years, and red-shirt freshman Trent Martin will be the top two candidates in the spring to take over for Arnick. Sophomore Chris Hummingbird, who saw limited playing time on special teams last year, will also be in the mix at middle linebacker.
Hawkins has 31 tackles in his two seasons, while Martin was an all-state linebacker at mighty Jenks (Okla.) High School in 2010 before coming to Tulsa last year as a true freshman.
At `Cane linebacker, starter Alan Dock graduates, but senior DeAundre Brown has started 18 games in his career for the Hurricane and has tallied 183 tackles in 32 career games. Brown compiled 25 tackles in nine games a year ago after sitting out the 2010 campaign. Brown began the 2011 fall camp as a starter, but an injury sidelined him for most of the preseason.
Brown will miss the first two weeks of spring due to rehabilitation from an injury.
DeWitt Jennings has seen valuable playing time in his two seasons with the Hurricane and will compete at the `Cane position. He has 56 career tackles and has started four games. Sophomore Mitchell Osborne, who sat out the 2011 campaign after playing as a true freshman in 2010, will also get an opportunity at the `Cane position, but will be limited to non-contact work in the spring.
Sophomore Zik Asiegbu, who played last year mostly on special teams, will miss the spring season.
The starting spot at the WILL linebacker position is in the capable hands of two-year starter Shawn Jackson. The junior has 23 career starts and has tallied 189 tackles in his two seasons. If Jackson continues his productivity he could very well become the school's all-time record-holder for tackles before his career is completed.
Walk-ons Colbert Nelson and Daniel Gibney add depth, while one player to keep an eye on in the spring will be James Roberson. The sophomore makes the move from safety to linebacker this spring and if he can adapt to the position change and remain healthy, Roberson could likely see considerable playing time at linebacker.
CANE DEPTH CHART 2 DeAundre Brown (5-11, 217, Sr-3L) 27 DeWitt Jennings (5-10, 211, Jr-2L) 33 Mitchell Osborne (6-2, 210, So-1L) 52 Josh Cunningham (6-2, 205, Fr-WO) 24 Zik Asiegbu (6-0, 199, So-1L) - MEDICAL
Safety . . .
Nelson will miss the spring season recuperating from an injury, which gives a number of players an opportunity to get repetitions and gain experience.
Leading the pack is red-shirt freshman Michael Mudoh, who red-shirted last season after turning in a 96-tackle performance as a senior at George Bush High School in the Houston area. Walk-ons Marcus Pate, who saw limited time on special teams last year, Bradley White and Zachary Lathrop will get reps this spring.
McCoil holds down the BANDIT slot for the Hurricane. With 13 career interceptions, McCoil enters his senior season tied with Jeff Jordan (1962-64) and Nate Harris (1980-84) for the school record for career interceptions. McCoil has 225 career tackles and was third on the team in 2011 with 84 stops, while adding a team-best six interceptions and seven pass break-ups.
Sophomore Luke Snider, who may also get a look at the free safety position, backs up McCoil at the BANDIT slot. Snider saw most of his playing time on special teams last year.
"It's almost a blessing that we'll be missing a couple guys medically for spring practice, because it will force us to build some depth at safety. I'm anxious to see some of the young guys, Michael Mudoh and Luke Snider are two guys we look to develop this spring at safety," said Blankenship.
BANDIT DEPTH CHART 26 Dexter McCoil (6-4, 222, Sr-3L) 30 Luke Snider (5-10, 178, So-1L) 46 Will Noel (5-11, 170, Fr-RS)
Cornerback . . .
"John has to shake off the rust and get back into competitive football having to sit out the year last year, but we know what he is capable of on the football field," said Blankenship.
Rose had 35 tackles and a team-best nine pass break-ups a year ago, while Flanders had 45 stops, five pass break-ups and two interception in his last season of competition in 2010. Flanders is probably most remembered for his interception in the end zone to secure the 28-27 victory at Notre Dame in the 2010 season.
Not only do these two players return to corner, but Blankenship is pleased with the depth at the cornerback position.
"Justin Skillens is a veteran that will actually come in and fight for a starting spot. J.D Ratliff and our young guys Dwight Dobbins and Darrell Williams will come in and fight as well to give us the depth we need," said Blankenship.
Skillens and Dobbins have starting experience, while Ratliff saw valuable playing time last year after transferring from Southwest Mississippi Community College. Skillens had 20 tackles last year, while Ratliff added 15 stops and four pass break-ups and Dobbins tallied 12 tackles, three pass break-ups and returned an interception for a 36-yard touchdown.
CORNERBACK DEPTH CHART 7 Lowell Rose (6-1, 192, Sr-2L) 9 Dwight Dobbins (5-9, 173, So-1L) 10 Justin Skillens (5-9, 175, Sr-3L) 29 Jonathan Chavira (5-8, 179, Jr-SQ)
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