Tulsa, Oklahoma - University of Tulsa first-year head football coach Bill Blankenship's initial recruiting class includes a total of 23 players, two of whom are already attending classes, it was announced today.
Winning championships is one of the primary goals of Tulsa football, and a common theme can be seen with Blankenship's first recruiting class - prep seniors who have been a part of "a lot of championships - state champions, district champions and conference champions."
"In this class you'll see players from winning programs - a lot of championships won by these guys. There are a lot of state champions, district champions and conference champions in this group. In a lot of cases, we feel like we've gotten the guys off of those championship teams that were the playmakers and leaders of those teams," said Blankenship
"Far and away, I think these young men are a great fit at The University of Tulsa. We have kids with strong athletic ability that will help us win championships, but they bring to the table very strong academic backgrounds. I love the character of this bunch," added Blankenship.
Tulsa's signing class includes 12 Oklahomans, eight players from Texas and one each from Arkansas, Kansas and Mississippi. Nine players played on state championship or runner-up teams in the 2010 season. Among the signees, 11 are on offense, 10 on defense and two have been designated as athletes. On offense, the Hurricane signed four receivers, three linemen, two running backs, one tight end and one quarterback. Defensively, Tulsa added five linemen, three defensive backs and one linebacker.
Eight newcomers were selected either first- or second-team Oklahoma all-state according to the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman -- first-team selections include Garrett Gladd (OL), Derrick Alexander (DE), Derrick Luetjen (DT), Kwame Sexton (KR) and Trent Martin (LB); and second-team honorees Garrett Stafford (OL), Nick Hall (DT) and Dwight Dobbins (DB). Alexander was also named the Tulsa World's State Player of the Year.
Tulsa's three offensive line signees measure at least 6'3", while tipping the scales at an average of 301 pounds. On the defensive front, the three Hurricane interior line signees measure 6'3" or better and average 269 pounds. Not only did the Hurricane add size to the offensive and defensive fronts, but Tulsa reeled in three receivers 6'1" or better, with two of the receivers measuring 6'4" and 6'5".
"There were a couple points of emphasis with this class. Across the board, we needed to get bigger up front. We feel like we did a good job of finding young men that were larger in the offensive and defensive lines, guys that still have the capacity to grow, but have the kind of frames that can strongly compete and are physically more prepared," said Blankenship.
"Second, we always look for playmakers. I think we have found a few of those guys to continue adding to our offense," said Blankenship. "Specifically, Keyarris Garrett is a dynamic playmaker as a 6'4" receiver and he was on a team that won three straight championships in the state of Texas. Kwame Sexton is a great playmaker. We have him penciled in on defense, but he'll be touching the ball. He was a member of arguably the finest team to ever play at Holland Hall. He was their go-to guy."
"With Keyarris and Zach Epps you have the 6'4"-6'5" receivers that cause matchup problems, then Gary Owens is lightening in a bottle. He's a player that is closer to the Damaris Johnson-type player. He can really fly and make people miss. Michael Sorrells is in the line of Charles Clay and Willie Carter. He's a big back with speed. Conner Floyd is a great all-around receiver. He has the speed to make plays and has tremendous ball skills and another guy coming off of three state championships," added Blankenship. "The offensive line gets a whole lot bigger too. We have two 6'5", 300-pound players who come in great shape. We're excited about what they bring to the table.
"In addition to the size up front defensively, we're excited about the athletic ability and speed of our guys on the outside, at linebacker and in the secondary," said Blankenship. "Derrick Alexander and Brentom Todd are two guys that we feel will be able to put pressure on the quarterback. Trent Martin has played linebacker for one of the nation's top programs at Jenks High School and will be a solid performer on the collegiate level, and we believe we have some solid cover guys in the back-end."
Alexander was a part of the 2010 state title at BT Washington High School, while Todd played on three state championship teams at Tulsa's Union High School. Martin's Jenks' team finished as the Class 6A runner-up in each of the last three seasons.
Blankenship confirmed that Tulsa's recruiting philosophy hasn't changed a whole lot since he was named the Hurricane head coach in January. Tulsa coaches followed the same philosophy in recruiting that has seen the Golden Hurricane win 65 games in the last eight years.
"Coach (Steve) Kragthorpe and Coach (Todd) Graham verbalized this same philosophy on starting in Tulsa, encompassing Oklahoma and Texas on a tank of gas. I think our signing class really speaks to that philosophy," said Blankenship. "Clearly, we believe in taking the best players out of Oklahoma. We want guys that can make a difference. We're not just looking for players that were left behind. We're looking for the best players in Oklahoma, and we feel like we've gotten a great bunch of those student-athletes in this class."
Tulsa will open the season on September 3rd at the University of Oklahoma. Season tickets for Tulsa's six-game home schedule are now on sale and can be purchased online at www.TulsaHurricane.com
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