TU gets winning results from recruiting classes with below-average grades
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Sunday, February 10, 2013
2/10/13 at 6:51 AM
This was a sports-talk radio topic last week: Could any of the 2012 University of Tulsa football starters have been a starter at Oklahoma?
When examining the Golden Hurricane roster - or the TU recruiting Class of 2013 - it doesn't matter whether any of these guys could start at OU or OSU or anywhere else.
What matters is whether they can start at TU, and whether they can sustain the program's current success level and consistently compete for conference championships.
After Tulsa signed 21 high school prospects last week, the class was given a national ranking of No. 78 by Scout.com. Since 2007, no TU class has gotten better than a No. 68 ranking from Scout.
However, from classes that were tagged with below-average grades, the Hurricane has gotten above-average results.
In 2007-12, TU was 30 games above .500. Its six-season win total of 55 is one of the 20 best in college football. In 2007-12, TU recorded the same number of victories as did Oklahoma State and Wisconsin.
Scout rates prospects on a five-star scale. Superstars get five stars. A two-star designation suggests that a guy is a project. With the right development and coaching, he might become a viable college player.
For the Dec. 31 Liberty Bowl meeting with Iowa State, 14 of Tulsa's offensive and defensive starters had been two-star prospects when they signed national letters of intent.
Defensive end Cory Dorris (TU's all-time leader in starts with 51), center Trent Dupy (50 starts), H-back Willie Carter (combined total of 110 receptions in 2011 and 2012) and safety Dexter McCoil (the Hurricane program's career leader in interceptions) - all were two-star guys as high school seniors.
Hurricane running back Trey Watts (the Liberty Bowl MVP), Lowell Rose (a starting cornerback who transferred to TU from UCLA) and defensive end Jared St. John (the 2012 Conference USA sack leader with 11 1/2) started their college football careers as walk-ons.
TU defeated Iowa State 31-17, capping a C-USA championship season with only the second 11-win total in program history.
The Hurricane thrives because head coach Bill Blankenship and his assistants identify recruits who can function academically at TU while fitting within the Hurricane football system.
While working to assemble its 2013 class, TU was the first major-college program to offer a scholarship to tight end Kolton Shindelar of Liberty, Mo. Later in the process, Kansas State, Missouri, Baylor and Arizona State discovered Shindelar - a 6-foot-6, 250-pound track star - and also extended scholarship offers. Shindelar chose TU.
If Missouri and K-State had pursued Shindelar in November - as Tulsa did - Scout and Rivals probably would have responded by spiking his rating to three stars. Instead, because he played only one season of varsity football, Shindelar was a mostly unknown commodity. He was given a two-star designation by Scout and wasn't even rated by Rivals.
For the TU coaches who recognized Shindelar's potential and established a relationship long before other schools got involved, the Shindelar signing was a huge victory.
If a prospect like safety Joe Bean had played at a Union or a Jenks or a Southlake Carroll in the Dallas area, he might have been a three-star recruit. Instead, because he played at Hooker - a Class A school in the Oklahoma Panhandle - Bean was a two-star guy. He appears to be a perfect TU recruit.
Also a sprinter for the Hooker track team, Bean is among the fastest high school football athletes in Oklahoma. He is exactly the kind of player who gets overlooked by other programs, then becomes an all-conference performer at Tulsa.
"I doubt that there are a whole lot of folks that have Hooker, Okla., on their map when they come into the state of Oklahoma," Blankenship said. "I'm thankful for that."
TU was the only major-college program to offer a scholarship to Owasso quarterback Jaylen Lowe, who in 2012 might have been the best playmaker among all Oklahoma high school seniors. Whether Lowe does it as a receiver or return specialist or, ultimately, as a quarterback, it won't be a surprise if he becomes a star at Tulsa.
After six years in the program (four as an assistant and two as the head man), Blankenship knows the TU football culture. He knows what types of prospects TU should pursue. Blankenship says he loves the Hurricane's 2013 recruiting class. TU fans should be far more inclined to buy stock in his opinion than to stress about a Scout or Rivals ranking of the class.
Original Print Headline: Recruiting rankings aside, Tulsa is producing winning results
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397