Analysis: TU's 2009 recruiting class
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
2/04/09 at 5:57 PM
TU football beat writer Eric Bailey analyzes the Hurricane's 2009 recruiting class:
Tulsa didn’t have to reach far to find many in their recruiting class of 25 players. More than half (14) of the class have ties to the state of Oklahoma, including seven from the metro area (Union’s Brian DeShane and Anthony Foster, Jenks’ Brian Mincher, Booker T. Washington’s Justin Skillens, McLain’s Shawn Jackson, Lincoln Christian’s Cody Wilson and Bixby’s Greg Brown). All but Mincher, Jackson and Brown were members of state championship teams last fall.
While Todd Graham has always said “if all things are equal, we’re going to take the Oklahoma players,” the staff also dug deep into Louisiana this year to grab quality talent.
None may be bigger than running back Alex Singleton, who chose the Hurricane over hard-charging LSU. Singleton, from LaPlace (La.) East St. John High School, is rated one of the nation’s top fullbacks, but Hurricane coaches have promised him that he’ll play running back. He was the only running back recruited in this class.
Another Louisianan that could make an immediate impact is Ricky Johnson. The wide receiver from Lafayette Carencro High School decommitted from Arkansas and chose TU over Mississippi State. Others from the state joining Tulsa are Jordan James (Lafayette St. Thomas More), Dexter McCoil (Lutcher) and Antonio Parker (Destrehan, the same high school as Tulsa’s freshman All-American Damaris Johnson).
Interestingly, Tulsa only picked up three players from Texas, which is considered one of the most fertile recruiting areas in the nation.
It did grab one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks in Shavodrick Beaver from Wichita Falls. Beaver, who is already on campus, will compete for instant playing time. Wide receiver Freeman Kelley and safety Tony Peoples are the only other Texans joining the Hurricane.
TU did raid the junior college ranks, also. It picked up safety LaQuentin Black (Davis High School/Mason City North Iowa CC), offensive lineman Eric Sproal (Santa Ana CC) and safety Arthur Render (San Marcos Calif. Pender CC).
Rivals.com was impressed with Tulsa’s class, placing it 56th nationally and second in C-USA. Scout.com has TU at 75th overall and sixth in the league.
Tulsa inked one quarterback, one running back, a bevy of wide receivers and loaded up depth at offensive line. Beaver will compete for the vacant starting quarterback job, but junior Jacob Bower and sophomore G.J. Kinne has plenty of experience that will benefit both as all look to replace David Johnson. Singleton has been a player that coaches have eyed for months and considered a coup by this staff. The number of wide receivers recruited (six) isn’t alarming considering Tulsa’s style of offense. The depth at offensive line is needed, considering two players were lost to graduation.
The needs: Tulsa wants to carry 12 wide receivers and signed six to replenish its needs: Anthony Foster, Jordan James, Ricky Johnson, Freeman Kelley, Brett Davis, and Justin Skillens. All will get immediate looks to contribute. The team added a third quarterback in Beaver, another running back in Singleton and four offensive linemen in Stetson Burnett, Brian DeShane, Trent Dupy and Eric Sproal.
Headliner: Beaver decommitted from Michigan to join Tulsa and is already on campus digesting the playbook. He is the only four-star recruit of the Hurricane’s signing class. Another skill player to watch is Singleton. Many wanted the talented running back to stay in-state, but he chose to leave Louisiana’s borders and head to TU. He likely will see time as a true freshman.
Sleeper: Dupy was a man of his word, turning down phone calls from BCS schools like Oklahoma to remain loyal to Tulsa. He starred on the defensive line at Enid, but will play center at Tulsa. He could see the playing field quicker than most fans think. Jordan James, a wide receiver from Louisiana, is a big 6-3 receiver that has a 35-inch vertical. He’ll be a large target for quarterbacks.
Immediate impact: Ricky Johnson had plenty of SEC schools chasing him, but the 6-2 wide receiver selected the Hurricane. A quarterback in high school, he de-committed from Arkansas and reportedly has a 4.38 40-yard dash. He could be a candidate to replace Brennan Marion. Also watch for junior college transfer Eric Sproal, who will be a sophomore this season. He could see instant time on the line.
Improvement is still needed on defense, and Tulsa targeted secondary help and defensive lineman in this year’s class. TU signed nine players on the defensive side of the ball, but with only one linebacker (Cody Wilson).
Four defensive backs were signed, with an emphasis placed on cornerback where a replacement for three-year starter Roy Roberts is needed. One player to watch could be Antonio Parker, who was a lockdown cornerback at Destrehan (La.) High School.
The safety spot will get plenty of candidates, with none better perhaps than junior college transfer Arthur Render. The 6-0, 185-pounder said he had offers from plenty of BCS schools before deciding on Tulsa. Dexter McCoil and LaQuentin Black also will get looks in the secondary.
The defensive line lost Terrel Nemons and Moton Hopkins and is looking to replace that pair. Gabe McGee (6-0, 310) and Jack Jewell (6-6, 240) are two solid candidates to take over that job.
The needs: Tulsa gave up 32 touchdown passes and only had nine interceptions, a glaring statistic for the defense. The coaches went out and looked for difference makers in the secondary and signed safties to fill that spot. Perhaps the biggest boost could come from Render, who was one of the final commitments of TU’s class. McCoil, Black and Tony Peoples, who was recruited as an “athlete” will also get plenty of looks in the secondary. Up front, Jewell and McGee will use their size to plug things up on the defensive line.
Headliner: Render, a Miami, Fla., native, originally signed with Oklahoma State before ended up at Pasadena (Calif.) CC and Palomar (Calif.) CC. In his sophomore season, he had 46 tackles (33 solo) two interceptions and a sack. His range is what has impressed Tulsa’s coaches. He’ll have two years of eligibility.
Sleeper: Jewell (6-6, 240) has the length to be a quality defensive end in Tulsa’s 3-3-5 system. The key is if he can add some muscle to his frame without losing speed and explosiveness. As he gets experience and college coaching, he could make an impact in years to come.
Immediate impact: Peoples (5-10, 178) had looks from Kansas and Texas A&M. He was the offensive leader of a team (The Colony, Texas) that struggled this past season, but coaches plan to put him on defense this season. Peoples could be an attacking defender similar to James Lockett, who led Tulsa in sacks last season.
To read more about TU football from beat writers Eric Bailey and Mike Brown, go to the TU page on Tulsa World's Sports Extra.
Greg Brown of Bixby