Signing class pleases TU's Blankenship
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Thursday, February 03, 2011
2/03/11 at 6:24 AM
Bill Blankenship completed his inaugural Tulsa recruiting class with 23 new scholarship players introduced on Wednesday.
The team received 21 letters of intent during National Signing Day. The 2011 recruiting class will have 23 scholarship players, which includes two players who are already on campus.
Blankenship made it to the Case Athletic Complex with his entire staff. The first-year head coach caught a ride from athletic director Bubba Cunningham's four-wheel drive vehicle on Tuesday and stayed all night in his office to ensure he would be on campus to receive letters.
"This was a really special recruiting class because it's the first one, as a staff, that we've put together," Blankenship said on Wednesday. "I'm excited about this class. The character and the size are things that jump out initially. We have some serious playmakers and guys that will fit right in with our type of players."
The class includes a dozen Oklahomans and eight from Tulsa County.
"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."
Running back Gus Johnson, rated one of the nation's top 50 running backs by Rivals.com, had committed with TU, but signed with Stephen F. Austin, an FCS school. It is unknown if academics or proximity to his Gilmer, Texas, home played a role in his final decision.
The star of the class may be wide receiver Keyarris Garrett. The 6-4 recruit from Daingerfield (Texas) High School had Tulsa and Pittsburgh (now led by ex-Tulsa coach Todd Graham) as his finalists.
"He is a playmaker. He has size and is a matchup guy," Blankenship said. "We don't have someone that plays like him with his size. He will have an opportunity to play immediately."
The defensive gem, Blankenship said, may be Kwame Sexton. The Holland Hall graduate turned down a basketball scholarship from Oral Roberts to play football.
He's projected to be a defensive back for the Hurricane.
"He may be that really special guy that comes in and may be a little like Marco Nelson," Blankenship said.
TU signed five defensive linemen, including Booker T. Washington's Derrick Alexander. The defensive end is the Tulsa World player of the year
"We may be as excited about him as anyone in our recruiting class," said Blankenship, who got Alexander to flip from Louisiana-Monroe on Sunday.
TU had nice late pickups in defensive backs Michael Mudoh and Darrell Williams, and defensive end Derrick Luetjen.
"I know you usually say we need this many of this spot, but we were after the best available players," Blankenship said.
Defensive tackles Nick Hall and Gary Lee and defensive end Brentom Todd will provide size and depth, Blankenship said.
Original Print Headline: Blankenship pleased with signees
Eric Bailey 581-8391
Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said Holland Hall's Kwame Sexton could be the defensive gem of the Golden Hurricane's recruiting class. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World file