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Derrick Jackson is one of three starters back on the defensive line in 2012.
Derrick Jackson is one of three starters back on the defensive line in 2012.
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Aug. 25, 2012

Tulsa, Oklahoma - Tulsa came into fall camp knowing three of the four starters on the defensive front -- senior tackles Derrick Jackson and Daeshon Bufford and senior end Cory Dorris.

On the inside Jackson and Bufford have the two spots nailed down with red-shirt freshman Derrick Luetjen and junior Jack Jewell adding solid depth. Bufford had 33 tackles last year, while Jackson was credited with 25 stops and had 5.5 tackles for lost yardage.

Tackles Coach Calvin Thibodeaux likes the depth on the defensive front and figures that he can rotate four players with Dorris also getting reps at the tackle position. "I feel good about the depth. Opportunities will present themselves throughout the season and guys are going to have to step up," said Thibodeaux.

"I think some guys took advantage of the opportunity. Derrick Luetjen is a young guy that I feel comfortable with. He's very smart and can play either position. He's the third wheel, the guy I feel comfortable with throwing in right away. Jack Jewell is a guy that has fought his way through camp. He's the fourth guy right now, and also we can do some things with moving Cory Dorris inside. Those are the five guys we'll go to war with," said Thibodeaux.

Thibodeaux expects his two inside players, Jackson and Bufford, to have outstanding senior seasons.

"Derrick and Daeshon has taken advantage of the moment," said Thibodeaux. "They realize that this is the last year they have a chance to do this. They've been pretty vocal. In the past they've led more through their actions than through talking. They've busted their butts through camp and have done a great job for us."



On the outside, Dorris is the mainstay at the defensive end position having 155 tackles and 17.5 stops for lost yardage in 38 career games with 37 starts. Opposite Dorris, a battle has been going on for that other defensive end spot since spring practice.

"I think it's important that there has been a battle going on through camp. We have a lot of competition and it makes these guys better. It's good competition because they're all skilled. Right now I have complete faith that I can throw any of those guys in the game and they'll do well," said Defensive Ends Coach Adam Blankenship.

Senior Jared St. John, a former walk-on, and true sophomore Brentom Todd have been the main two guys battling for that spot during fall camp. St. John had 12 tackles in 13 games last year, while Todd corralled 16 stops and 4.5 tackles for lost yardage as a true freshman.

Red-shirt freshman Derrick Alexander has also been in the mix at defensive end and will see a lot of playing time in the rotation.

"Right now, St. John is in the lead position on the other side opposite Cory (Dorris). But, honestly right now I can throw anyone in there and I'm confident they'll do well. They can all play the left and right side," said Blankenship. "Derrick is Mr. Reliable. He is a high intensity, high effort guy. He makes plays, and he'll have an opportunity to make plays at Iowa State."

Blankenship also gushed over his two true freshmen - Damian Gibson and Cory Rahmings, but coaches would like to red-shirt both of those youngsters this year.

"Damian has the physical presence you look for a D-I defensive end. He's physical and very explosive. Rahmings is the speed guy of the unit. He is very, very fast off the edge. He has a lot of learning to go as far as the system goes, but he is fast of the edge," added Blankenship

Defensive Coordinator Brent Guys has been pleased with the guys up front for the Hurricane.

"I'm really pleased with how Derrick Jackson and Daeshon (Bufford) have performed inside. They're much better pass rushers than they were a year ago and better run stoppers," said Guy. "We have a lot of depth at end with (Cory) Dorris, (Jared) St. John, (Brentom) Todd, and Derrick Alexander. We have guys that understand what we need to do at end, especially playing the read game. They have really improved as camp has gone one."

Head Coach Bill Blankenship added, "St. John has solidified himself as the starter, but on a daily basis we've been very happy with Brentom Todd, and Derrick Alexander brings a lot of passion and speed to the game when he comes in. I think you'll see all four of those guys contribute a lot.

"Cory Dorris is very solid on the other end and should be an every down player as long as he can stay healthy," added Blankenship.