Monthly Archives: July 2013

Time to Split 6A in All Sports

   I need to preface this subject by saying the following.  Oklahoma is, and always will be, a football first state.  Nothing fires Oklahomans up more than a Friday night in the fall under the stadium lights.  However with the recent OSSAA ruling that has split Class 6A into two divisions, with the top 16 schools according to enrollment in Division 1 and the bottom 16 in Division 2, it’s opened a HUGE can of worms.  Most people have been very outspoken against this move but I believe that we have another problem in addition to this. 
    If we split 6A in football to create a more competitive balance throughout the 32 teams I can get behind that.  If that’s the case then you need to get behind this, the OSSAA should split class 6A into two divisions for all 22 OSSAA sanctioned sports.  I know that boy’s golf does not get the same publicity that football gets.  Right or wrong, that’s the way it is and it’s never going to change.  Having said that, did you know that Edmond North is in the middle of a dynasty in boy’s golf?  You did?  Don’t lie.  Edmond North won their 9th consecutive 6A state title in May.  No, it’s not quite the streak of 17 straight years of the gold ball in football going to either Jenks or Union.  However this is one school that has dominated this sport and has put a stranglehold on it for a decade.  Why don’t we have the outrage about that like we do in football?
    Football is king.  I mentioned that right?  By the way, this is not an eastside-Westside debate.  This is a big school-small school debate.  In the last five seasons, of the 20 teams that have reached the 6A semifinals, only two are in the bottom 16 in enrollment.  Lawton made it to the semis in 2010 while Midwest City did it in 2008.  Yes the eastside has dominated 6A but that’s not going away.  The big 4 (Broken Arrow, Jenks, Owasso and Union) are not going to split up their schools.  It won’t happen so that argument needs to go away. 
    So how do you find a competitive balance throughout the class?  You split it in half.  This is the right move and it’s needed in the other 21 sports.  It’s not just football and boys golf that the top 16 schools have dominated.  It’s all 22 OSSAA sanctioned sports.  In the last five years, 110 state champions have been crowned in class 6A.  99 of those 110 champions rank in the top 16 in enrollment.  In the last five years only 10% of the champions in 6A rank in the bottom 16 in enrollment.  Something seems wrong about that. 
    There are exceptions of course.  Bishop Kelley, who’s ADM is well under 1,000, has been dominant in certain sports like volleyball and girls soccer.  So let’s take those sports out.  Let’s just do 20 sports, 100 champions have been crowned, only 7 of those champions were in the bottom 16. SEVEN! OUT OF 100!  I’m not here to suggest that I have all the answers.  I’ll be the first to say I don’t.  This just feels like a no brainer to me. 
    I understand the theory that by splitting 6A you’re basically adding a state champion.  No one is denying that.  Say what you will but something had to be done in class 6A football.  My problem is not that they split 6A in football.  My problem is the thought that football is the only sport that has the problem.  It’s not the case and it’s not even close.  Once again, 99 of the 110 state champions in the last five seasons have been in that upper division in enrollment. 
    I understand the split.  I am for the split.  Just don’t suggest football is the only sport to have the competitive imbalance.  Personally, I think the argument that this is part of the “woosification of America” is ridiculous.  The notion that this is like giving out participation trophies to everyone is preposterous.  Just look at the numbers. 
    If you don’t like the 99 out of 110 stat, I’ll give you another one.  Broken Arrow has over 4,600 students, without a doubt the most in the state.  The school with the lowest total in ADM is Claremore with over 1,200 students.  You’re going to tell me that a difference of 3,400 students isn’t significant?  Just go down a class to 5A, the largest school is Del City with over 1,200 students and the school with the lowest is Bishop McGuinness with just under 700 students.  A difference of around 500 students give or take.  Compare that to 6A and it speaks for itself. 
    If for whatever reason you don’t care for or buy into those first two stats I got one more for you.  Move down to 5A during the same time span I gave for 6A, the last five seasons.  Of the 110 state champions crowned in 5A, only 57 rank in the top 16 in enrollment. 
    So let’s recap now.  90% of the 110 state champs in Class 6A have ranked in the top half of enrollment.  In class 5A, a little over 51% of the state champs ranked in the top 16 in enrollment.  That is as close as you can get to competitive balance.  That is without a doubt what is lacking class 6A, competitive balance.  Once again I’m talking about all sports.  This goes way beyond football which has been well documented to not have that competitive balance in 6A.  Of the 22 OSSAA sports, only 6 sports crowned a champion in the bottom 16 of enrollment. 
    The facts are there.  I don’t see a legitimate argument against this move.  If the OSSAA can split 6A in football to promote competitive balance, they need to do that for the other 21 sanctioned sports.  Whether you’re for or against the split in 6A football, you cannot deny the fact that Oklahoma has an extreme issue with the competitive balance in class 6A.  Football is king in Oklahoma, I will never argue that.  One thing I will argue is hypocrisy.  When it comes to the split in 6A, there is nothing more hypocritical then suggesting this is just a football problem.  It’s time to split Class 6A in all sports. 

Advertisements

Class of 2014…The Best in Over a Decade?

    Let me start off by saying this is an impossible question to answer…right now.  In five years, when this upcoming senior class is out of college, is when we’ll know if this class is the best Oklahoma has seen in this century.  Right now we can just look at potential.  Some of the lower rated players will get better.  Some of these high profile players will turn out to be busts.  As of right now, before this senior class suits up for their final high school season, this class has the potential to be the best class in a very long time. 
    The bar is set very high.  When you’re talking “best class” in Oklahoma you start with 2006.  Three 1st round picks in the 2010 NFL draft.  Two of the top three overall picks came from that 2006 Oklahoma class.  In fact, two of the top three overall picks came from that 2006 class.  Throw in the 21st overall pick and you have lofty expectations if you want to dethrone the 2006 class.  Could the 2014 class produce three first round picks?  Could it produce more?  I think this class has a chance.  Nobody would have guessed Sam Bradford would be the #1 pick when came out of Putnam City North high school.  You’ll see guys in this 2014 class that will explode at the college level and turn into potential first round picks.  The only “lock” to be a high draft pick in the 2006 class, and I use the term “lock”, VERY loosely, was Gerald McCoy.  If you looked at that 2006 class and had to point out a guy to be a first round pick, McCoy was your man. 
    The 2006 class has produced six players who have seen time in the NFL.  That doesn’t include Chase Beeler who has bounced around on three different practice squads.  Here’s a look at the 7 players from the 2006 class that had careers after college.  I listed these players in reference to where they were ranked in Oklahoma according to Rivals. 

Gerald McCoy-DT-OKC Southeast-Oklahoma Rivals Ranking: 1st
At OU, McCoy was a two time All American and All Big 12 selection in 2008 and 2009.
#3 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft.
Selected to the 2012 NFL Pro Bowl.
Ranked as the 92nd best player in the NFL Network’s Top 100.

Jermaine Gresham-TE-Ardmore-Oklahoma Rivals Ranking: 2nd
At OU, 1st team All American and All Big 12 selection in 2008.
#21 overall pick in 2010 NFL draft.
Selected to the 2011 and 2012 NFL Pro Bowl.
172 catches, 1,804 yards and 15 touchdowns in 3 seasons with Cincinnati.

Dominique Franks-CB-Union-Oklahoma Rivals Ranking: 4th
At OU, 2008 2nd team All Big 12.
96 tackles, 6 interceptions, 1 touchdown
#135 overall pick in the 5th round in the 2010 NFL draft.
30 tackles and 3 interceptions with Atlanta

Sam Bradford-QB-Putnam City North-Oklahoma Rivals Ranking: 6th
At OU, 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, 2008 All American and All Big 12.
8,404 passing yards, 88 touchdowns, 16 interceptions in 31 games.
During 2008 season threw for 50 touchdowns.
#1 overall pick in 2010 NFL Draft.
2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
9,378 passing yards, 45 touchdowns, 34 interceptions with St. Louis.

Chase Beeler-OL-Jenks-Oklahoma Rivals Ranking: 7th
Transferred from OU to Stanford.
At Stanford, selected to the 2010 All American team.
Has spent time on the practice squads with San Francisco, Philadelphia and St. Louis

Mossis Madu-RB-Norman-Oklahoma Rivals Ranking: 10th
At OU, 160 carries, 724 yards and 8 touchdowns in shared playing time.
Undrafted free agent pickup with Tampa Bay.
55 rushing yards in NFL career.

Dan Bailey-Kicker-Southwest Covenant-Oklahoma Rivals Ranking: Not Ranked in Top 30
At OSU, won the Lou Groza Award for Nation’s best kicker in 2010.
Undrafted free agent kicker with the Dallas Cowboys.
61-68 on FG’s in NFL career.

    Three first round draft picks, four overall draft picks, two undrafted free agents and a practice squad guy.  Not bad 2006, not bad.  I believe 2014 can be better.  As I sit here today, I can pick out two players in this 2014 class that I can predict to be first round picks and wouldn’t feel crazy about it.  I should feel crazy because the thought of a kid who has yet to play his senior season of high school football being a first rounder is preposterous.  Maybe it’s the summer heat.  Maybe it’s the fact that it is summer and I have to think outside the box to come up with stories.  It’s probably a terribly wonderful combination of the two.  Whatever the reason, I can give you two kids in this 2014 class that could end up being NFL 1st round picks. 
    Since I was born and raised in the 918, I’ll give my Westside selection first.  Alabama commit and Norman North quarterback David Cornwell.  To be simple, the kid has all the tools.  I’m looking forward to seeing Cornwell compete against the best competition in Oklahoma.  Cornwell moves to Norman from Jones.  Cornwell takes over a Norman North team that made it to the state championship game where they lost big to the Jenks Trojans.  Norman North will battle Edmond Santa Fe this season to see who will be the “best of the west”.  No school from the Westside has won the 6A gold ball since 1995.  The Alabama commit has a tall task ahead of him.
    Cornwell is a 6’5, 240 pound quarterback with a cannon attached to his right shoulder.  Cornwell is ranked 34th in the most recent ESPN national recruiting rankings.  He’s competed in Elite 11 competitions and last month he traveled to Oregon to compete in The Opening.  The Opening hosts great prospects from all over the country, Cornwell performed very well at the event.  I want to see how Cornwell does when he puts the pads on and faces the best competition Oklahoma has to offer.  He’s your typical pocket quarterback.  Not going to blow you away with speed.  He will blow you away with his ability to make all the throws.  One thing people can agree on, Cornwell has not maxed out in his ability right now.  He’ll go to Tuscaloosa where all they’ve been doing is winning national championships and breeding NFL draftees. 
    Cornwell will be enrolling at Alabama early and will participate in spring drills while other recruits are going to senior prom.  It appears that Blake Sims will be the guy when Alabama starts spring ball with the departure of 5th year senior AJ McCarron.  However when the 2014 season rolls around and Blake Sims takes over at the QB position, Sims will be a one and done starter since he’s a senior.  After Sims, nobody else on the Alabama depth chart has game experience.  Basing this solely on recruiting rankings, David Cornwell will be the highest profile quarterback on the roster after Blake Sims.  In fact, Cornwell is the highest rated QB to come to Alabama under Nick Saban since AJ McCarron. 
    David Cornwell will have an opportunity to be the backup and the heir apparent to the keys to the Alabama dynasty when he’s a true freshman in 2014.  It’s not a guarantee, he’s not going to have it handed to him, but Cornwell has the potential to be in charge of running Saban’s dynasty.  I talk about wanting to see Cornwell against tough competition like 6A in Oklahoma.  It’s been proven that there is no competition like SEC football.  If Cornwell has success at Alabama he’ll be having success on the brightest of stages.  He’s the prototype of what you want in a quarterback already and he hasn’t played his senior season yet.  Who knows what Cornwell does when he gets to Alabama.  Without a doubt, he’s put himself in a great position to possibly reach the next level.  In 2018, (or 2019 give or take) we could see David Cornwell as a 1st round pick in the NFL draft. 
    Now back to the 918.  Very happy to say that when picking the two players I found one player on the east side and one on the west side.  I’m also happy to say that I found one player on offense and one on defense.  Sometimes you need variety in your life people!  So I have a defensive player from the east side of the state in mind.  Any question who it is?  The best player on what could be the best Jenks defense we’ve seen in over a decade.  Steven Parker. Safety. Jenks.  Imagine me saying that in my commish voice because Parker could end up being a 1st round pick.  Similar to Cornwell, Parker already looks the part to be a standout at the college level.  Parker is even getting bigger! 
    Parker, a standout on the basketball floor, has never really had a full off season to dedicate to football.  Parker decided in May that he would focus on football this summer after playing a month with Athletes First.  Finally having an off-season to focus on the gridiron has shown instant benefits this summer.  Parker has bulked up while continuing to have that lightning fast speed.  Like Cornwell, Parker has participated in national events and has had success against the nation’s best.  In early June Parker went up to Chicago to compete in the Rivals 5 Star Challenge.  Parker was recognized by Rivals as one of the top performing defensive backs in the event. 
    Parker has not made his college decision known at this time.  The Jenks standout has offers from all over the country.  During an interview with the High School Roundup Parker said he was not close to deciding on a top 5.  Rumors swirled that Parker committed to OU, those rumors are false.  It’s understandable how that would be a good fit for Parker.  Norman is obviously close to his home in Jenks.  Jenks has had a little pipeline of top defensive players sent to Norman.  Parker also has friends already committed to the Sooners in Union’s Carson Meier and Jeffery Mead.  Parker could end up in Norman but he’s not decided on that as of right now. 
    Once Parker makes his college decision known, that college gets an instant impact player on the defensive side of the ball.  He’ll continue to get bigger and stronger.  If Parker keeps that speed that has terrorized quarterbacks he’ll be one of the best safeties in the country at the next level.  In five years Parker has the potential to join David Cornwell as possible first round picks in the NFL.  It’s close to impossible to predict this but if their is a prospect (in this case two) it’s David Cornwell and Steven Parker. 
    So the question remains, will the 2014 class outshine the 2006 class?  My answer is yes.  Obviously putting 6-7 guys in the league is impressive.  However the talent level from that class takes an extreme drop after those guys.  No one else really stood out at the college level.  That is the key to the 2014 class overtaking the claim as the best class in Oklahoma in this century.  Not only does this class have all the top level talent that can match the 2006 class, but the depth in this class is unreal.  It depends on which recruiting rankings you’re looking at, but the guys that generally are running in the 15-25 range this year would be top 10 recruits in Oklahoma most years. 
    This is going by the Super 30 that The Oklahoman puts out.  Broken Arrow quarterback Coleman Key comes in as the 13th best player in Oklahoma in the Super 30.  Most years the 6’5 Key would be without a doubt the top QB prospect in Oklahoma.  He’d be a borderline top 5 prospect overall.  Yet he comes in at 13 and has committed to Colorado State.  Key will have the opportunity to start right away and win some games and possibly establish himself in the Mountain West conference.  Steven Parker’s teammate is the perfect example.  Safety Dylan Harding comes in as the 15th best player in the Super 30.  Most years Harding is without a doubt a top 5 player in the state.  Harding isn’t built like Parker and doesn’t have the speed, it’s respectable but it’s not quite there.  Do not sleep on Dylan Harding.  Wherever he ends up will get a solid ball player who will find a way to make plays at the next level.  Harding is another one of those guys who could possibly end up being an all conference and borderline All American if he continues to progress the way he has.  Those are just two examples of the extreme depth that this 2014 class has.  Last year 33 kids in Oklahoma signed with division 1 schools.  I think we’ll have at least 50 and maybe double that number this year. 
    Once again, it’s the scary combination of top level talent and depth that makes this class the best in Oklahoma in this century.  Key and Harding are just the tip of the iceberg.  Many of the guys ranked in the Super 30 will end up having successful college careers.  I believe the combination of the talent that is in the top ten combined with the depth that you’ll see from the 15-35 range will lead this 2014 class to be the best in this century.  Whether this class gets 3 first round draft picks, that’s up for debate.  I do believe we could see 8-10 guys end up in the league at the end of the day.  This group is special, this won’t be the last time you see that said about the 2014 class.

Tuesdays With Broken Arrow, Jenks, Owasso & Union

    The passing league featuring Tulsa area powers Broken Arrow, Jenks, Owasso and Union wrapped up on Tuesday night.  Anytime you can get all four of these titans on the same field at the same time, you’re in for a show.  Watching all the division 1 talent that will come out of these four schools this year is worth the time.  The individual talent is fun to watch but it’s also a great time to see where these schools are at as units. 
    Here’s a disclaimer, we can’t take it too seriously considering 7 on 7 does not feature offensive or defensive lines.  How many times do we hear about how games are won in the trenches?  Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the linemen for these schools but we got a great look at the skill position players. 
    Former Oklahoma State head coach and NFL assistant coach Pat Jones took in the passing league one week and I’ll feature his thoughts later on in the blog.  I’ll separate this post in two parts.  I’ll start with the teams.  I’ll give a synopsis of each team and what I saw over the last 4 weeks.  I’ll spotlight some of the standouts and other hidden gems I found from the passing league and include thoughts from Coach Jones. 

TEAM NOTES:

Owasso Rams-
    The Rams are going to need a lot to happen for them to reach the 6A semifinals for a fourth consecutive season in November.  We know the Rams will have to replace Jaylen Lowe who has been the heart and soul of the football AND basketball team for the last three years.  Don’t overlook the fact that they have to replace Scottie Prealow, who by the end of his career held the record as all time leading rusher in school history. 
    7 on 7 is not the best place to showcase talents of the running back position.  So let’s focus on the quarterback.  Gabe Neph will be the signal caller for the Rams this year.  Decent size for a QB and has shown the ability to escape the pocket and keep his eyes down field.  No, he didn’t have anyone chasing him, but I’ll go out on a limb and say he’ll have to throw on the run at some point this year. 
    One concern I had watching Owasso offensively was the lack of speed.  They have two very good route runners and sure hand guys in TE Cameron Oliver and WR John Cole Neph.  However, they don’t have an explosive guy that can really stretch a defense.  Owasso needs Neph and Oliver to continue to excel at running good routes and catching anything close.  The Rams will have to play smart to produce on offense, not a tall task for this group. 
    I believe that Owasso could have the most underrated defense in the state.  Most will focus on what Jenks and Broken Arrow have with all the D1 talent on those units.  Do not overlook what Owasso runs out defensively.  They have speed and aggressive instincts all over the field.  6’1 Safety Josh Kinzer was a player that really stood out and looked the part. 

Union Redskins-
    The Redskins have what could be the two biggest mismatches in the state on offense.  The question is who’s going to get the ball to them?  With 6’7 Jeffery Mead and 6’6 Carson Meier, both Oklahoma commits, whoever the starting quarterback is in September is going to have two giant weapons.  Pun intended.  That question mark is a major concern going into the season, who will be Union’s signal caller? 
    This will be the first time in a long time that Union won’t have a starting quarterback named in August.  The candidates are both juniors.  Mason Farquar and Zach Fisher will continue to compete when Union starts two a days in less than a month.  Farquar was Hunter Atiya’s backup a season ago.  Farquar was inserted into the 6A semifinals last season when Atiya went out with an injury.  While watching and comparing the two QB’s over the last month, I believe that Farquar is probably the better game manager.  Fisher looks like more of a gamer.  Not afraid to try to make a play but that will burn you sometimes. 
    Whoever is named the QB will not only have two targets in Mead and Meier, he’ll also have experience in the backfield.  Justin Silmon and Terrell Buchannon return to the backfield to share time at running back.  Buchannon returns after missing spring practice when he moved to Muskogee.  He has since moved back and is cleared to participate next month.  Like I mentioned with Owasso, you don’t learn much about running backs during 7 on 7.  Although I will say that Silmon looks like he has spent the entire off season in the weight room.  If he adds that strength to the speed he showed last season, I expect big things from the running back duo of Silmon and Buchannon. 
    Mead is starting to show the ability to get off the line quicker and work past cornerbacks who try to jam him.  Meier’s full skill set is more impressive with the pads on.  Kaylor Pearson was a guy that really impressed me.  Undersized but lightning quick and not afraid of going over the middle.  Good route runner and has good ball skills.  Union will have weapons, they need somebody to get it to them.
    The defense will be extremely young and with that comes mistakes.  3 year starting linebacker Coleby Evans will have to be a vocal leader to keep his unit on the same page.  The Redskins have talent, it’s just young and raw.  They’ll need to grow up fast otherwise they’ll be looking at a 0-3 start after the murderer’s row of DeSoto (TX), Jenks and Broken Arrow to start the season. 

Broken Arrow Tigers-
    Wow, talk about talent.  Broken Arrow has a team that could end up having the most division 1 signees in the state this year.  Not just on offense, defensively the Tigers are loaded with talent and speed all over the turf.  However the question still remains.  We’ve seen good Tiger teams in the past.  We’ve seen multiple division 1 prospects for the Tigers in the past.  It’s a fair question, until it’s answered it’s absolutely a fair question.  When will Broken Arrow win the state championship?  They’ve been on the doorstep.  They’ve knocked on the door.  Now they need to kick the door in on the stranglehold that Union and Jenks have had on Class 6A football for almost two decades. 
    Let’s start with the quarterback.  Colorado State commit Coleman Key solidified with me that he’s the top quarterback in the Tulsa area.  After being in the same conversation with Norman North’s David Cornwell and Edmond Santa Fe’s Justice Hansen before last season, Key fell off after his junior season.  Key, who moved in from Owasso, was getting used to the system and did not perform up to expectations like the other two QB prospects in this state.  If the past month is any indication, Key is due for some redemption this fall.  Key has been surgical in his throws.  He has the size you look for in a QB, 6’5 225.  I wouldn’t be shocked if Key gets offered from higher level schools once his senior season starts.  He has the potential to get back into the conversation with the Alabama commit Cornwell and the Oklahoma commit Hansen.  He stands tall in the pocket, he gets thru his reads at a rapid pace and has a very quick delivery.  Key showed the ability over the last month that he can make all the throws.  I came away very impressed on the touch that he puts on the deep ball.  It wouldn’t be surprising if Key ends up signing with somebody else in February.
    Once again, no need to get into it with the running back position.  However Broken Arrow has arguably the best back in the state.  Devon Thomas, who committed to OSU in December, will finally be the full time guy after splitting time with Cameron Wrenn over the last two seasons.  Thomas will need a way to stay on the field after being suspended for the first five games of last season.  If he does that Broken Arrow fans can expect fireworks from the Cowboy commit.
    Broken Arrow has the opposite of Union when it comes to the receiver position.  They have good options except they’re extremely undersized.  Don’t feel too bad for the Tigers, they have the fastest kid in the state in Warren Leak.  That’s not just a nickname, he’s the fastest in the state after winning a track title last spring.  Another speedster that got my attention was Austin Reed.  For three weeks it seemed every time he ran a go route to the end zone he got behind the defense.  It didn’t matter if it was Union, Owasso or Jenks.  Reed was able to beat them and Key found him wide open in the end zone.  Watch out for Myles Smith, he’s not as fast as Leak and Reed but he has deceptive speed and good hands.  If you’re not careful he’ll get behind your secondary and you won’t be able to play catch up. 
    With the defense it all starts with linebacker Gyasi Akem.  The Oklahoma State commit has shown his ability to lead this team vocally.  I came away very impressed with how aggressive and fast Broken Arrow played.  A lot of that has to do with the coaching.  It’s just passing league in the summer, yet these assistants were fired up like they were playing for the gold ball.  Sometimes that can back fire, this was not one of those cases.  Broken Arrow played with that type of energy and it showed. 

Jenks Trojans-
    Last, but not least, the defending state champion Jenks Trojans.  The champs have several question marks on offense.  It won’t seem to matter because Jenks might be pitching shutouts every night.  The strength of this team is without a doubt their defense.  They have arguably the best player in the 2014 class in Steven Parker.  Parker might also see time at receiver which is a scary thought for teams in Oklahoma. 
    Like rival Union, Jenks has yet to name a starting quarterback.  Which by the way, when was the last time that Union and Jenks BOTH went into two a days without knowing who the starting QB would be?  Unlike Union, the Trojan candidates are two different type quarterbacks.  DeQuan Coronado is a dual threat quarterback while Cooper Nunley is a pocket passer.  Both QB’s don’t have ideal size and decent arm strength.  Both QB’s seem pretty even at this point although the threat of running might make Coronado the guy. 
    The Trojans lack natural wide receivers so they might turn to their two standouts on the defensive side of the ball.  Steven Parker and Dylan Harding might see time at receiver to provide depth and skill to the position.  Parker impressed me at the receiver position as a possible go to target.  Brett Tye, who is ranked in the top 5 in the Tulsa World’s All World rankings of running backs, might see time at slot receiver.  Tye made a catch over the middle in Broken Arrow and ran away from defenders for a score.  Jenks seems to just try to put the best players in to make plays.  Whatever works, you can’t knock them, they’re the champs and they always seem to find a way to compete and be there in December. 
    The defense.  Man.  No seriously, this defense could be great.  Led by Parker and Harding, the Trojans’ will be devastating to offenses all over the state.  Once again we didn’t see the linemen and the Trojans have one of the better defensive linemen in the state in junior Marquise Overton.  They play for each other and hold each other accountable when one makes a mistake and work hard to correct it.  This is a unit that could compete to be as good as the “legion of doom” was in 1997.  I make this statement half joking and half being dead serious.  It won’t really matter what Jenks does on offense because they’ll only need a touchdown or two to win.  This defense is scary.

PLAYER NOTES:

Cameron Oliver, Owasso, Tight End-
Coach Jones: “I wouldn’t put him in the same category as some of the other tight ends we’ve seen.  He’ll have a chance.  Being offered by Rutgers, I want to see if he gets anymore momentum.”
Oliver has the size and the route running ability to make some plays this fall.  What he lacks in speed he makes up for in physicality and good hands.  I agree with Coach Jones on the comment that he’s not up there with some of the other tight ends in this class.  However he’s a very solid player and will have a future at the division 1 level. 

John Cole Neph, Owasso, Wide Receiver-
Coach Jones: “Neph is a guy that doesn’t have real good speed number wise.  Bill Patterson says he’s the hardest worker they’ve ever had.  Excellent hand-eye guy.  Looks like his flexibility and body control is above average.  Should gain some steam in recruiting.”
When you think possession receiver, think John Cole Neph.  Neph has the potential to be one of those guys that coaches regret not recruiting harder once he hits the college level.  Neph doesn’t have the speed like team mate Oliver, however he seems to just make plays.  If coaches overlook Neph strictly because of the lack of speed, they’re making a mistake.  Neph is a big physical receiver that can run every route and he’ll go the extra mile to make a play for the Rams.  I’m a firm believer that many colleges will regret not recruiting Neph.

Carson Meier, Union, Tight End-
Coach Jones: “Meier is a big youngster tight end.  Does he end up being the big slugger, the end of the line blocker that you can split out?  It’s hard to tell at this time without pads on.  Very good hand-eye guy.  Going to be a big kid.  Should be a good player.”
Meier had a good performance over the last month during the Tuesday night passing league.  What’s scary is Meier is even better in pads.  One of the better parts of his game is his physicality.  Meier is a solid run blocker and will lower the shoulder after making the catch.  Very surprising speed for the big man.  Just like team mate Mead, as soon as he steps on the field, he becomes an instant mismatch.

Jeffery Mead, Union, Wide Receiver-
Coach Jones: “Not a real mature body.  Excellent hand-eye guy.  I want to see what part basketball plays in his decision when it’s all said and done.  Not a real physical guy, not real cut up.  If he plays football full time, he needs to hit the weight room.  I could see where he could get knocked around by big physical corners.”
One of my biggest concerns for Mead going forward is his ability to get off the line.  No one is ever going to question his length, being 6’7 is without a doubt a great thing.  The negative is Mead only being 185 pounds.  He’s very thin in the upper body and if he goes against a big corner that jams him at the line, Mead will struggle to make plays.  Mead made a living in the past month going up for jump balls and more times than not he easily beat his man and came down with the ball.  Unless you massively under throw or overthrow him, Mead is going to try to find a way to make the catch.

Kalor Pearson, Union, Wide Receiver-
Younger brother of former Union standout Kale Pearson, Kalor has similar if not superior speed to older brother Kale.  Pearson is undersized but will have a shot to play for a lower level division 1 program.  His speed as a receiver and a kick returner will separate him from other guys.  He’ll be the perfect fit for a slot receiver to compliment Meier and Mead.  Pearson would constantly go over the middle to make the catch, separate the defense and once he’s in the clearing he’s gone.

Coleman Key, Broken Arrow, Quarterback-
Coach Jones: “Key is a big good looking kid.  Looks like he’s got a pretty quick release.  As far as the ball getting out of his hand quickly, it looks like he’s got a good feel for the deep ball.  Nice looking youngster.”
I believe Key is going to have a monster 2013 campaign.  2012 did not go as planned and Key is starting to inch closer and closer to the other big name QB’s in this 2014 class.  Key has a great feel for the offense and it shows in the way he quickly goes thru his reads.  He gets rid of the ball very quickly and it gets to its target on a rope.  Not many of Key’s passes ever floated on him.  Key’s ability to throw the deep ball with touch and accuracy will torch secondaries in 6A this year.

Devon Thomas, Broken Arrow, Running Back-
Coach Jones: “Thomas has got some ability.  Hard to tell without pads on to see how much juice he’s got.  Appears to be a guy that’s got some talent.  Is a little shaky in a few areas.  He’s had some issues.  Looks like he needs to grow up a bit but he’s got some ability.”
Similar to Key, Thomas’ 2013 campaign will have a feel of redemption.  After missing the first five games, Thomas will be back.  Not only will he be back, he’ll be THE guy at running back.  No longer splitting time with Cameron Wrenn, I expect Thomas to impress fans even more as the fulltime running back in this Tiger offense.  He just needs to stay on the field and out of trouble.  As long as that happens, and it appears that it can, Thomas is one of the best in the state.

Gyasi Akem, Broken Arrow, Linebacker-
Coach Jones: “Looked like he knew what he’s doing.  Directed traffic and his body language I thought was superb.  He got along with and tried to talk to other players and do constructive things.  Might be a little stiff, could be a defensive end at some point.  Should be a good football player.”
I was very impressed with what I saw from the Oklahoma State commit.  He was an extension of the coaching staff on the field.  Akem was constantly communicating with team mates and trying to get everybody on the same page.  He looked to me like he has decent speed and very good instincts.  I can see where Coach Jones is coming from, if he put on some weight he could be a deadly pass rusher on the end.

Austin Reed, Broken Arrow, Wide Receiver-
SPEED!!!  It was unreal to see how many times Reed was able to burn the Union, Jenks and Owasso defenders with ease.  Coleman Key’s ability to throw the deep ball and Reed’s speed on go routes make for a deadly combination.  Reed is probably undersized to play at the division 1 level but he will without a doubt be a key part on this Tiger team.  BA will need Reed to continue what he did in June to make a run at a state title.

Dylan Harding, Jenks, Safety-
Coach Jones: “Harding is an interesting guy.  He’s not real thick in the upper body.  Moves around good and has a good grasp on the game.  Without pads and hitting it’s hard to tell that aspect of his game.  He’s a kid that should continue to get bigger.”
No, Harding isn’t at the level of team mate Steven Parker.  Do not overlook Harding, he’ll make you play.  The combination of Harding and Parker is going wreck havoc on offenses in 6A this fall.  If Harding gets bigger in the upper body but keeps his speed, he’ll be a possible all conference type player at the next level.  Harding really showed good instincts and has good ball skills. 

Steven Parker, Jenks, Safety-
Coach Jones: “Out of all the guys we saw, he’s the one that looks the part.  You don’t need anybody to point him out to you when watching the action.  Looks like he’s got a very high skill level.  He looks like he has all the ingredients to be an outstanding player.”
If I had to pick ONE player in this 2014 class to be a first round pick in the NFL, it would be Steven Parker.  Do you need anything else?  Okay I have more for you.  Parker an unbelievable combination of speed and size.  The 6’2 safety is also extremely built.  He looks like he could suit up for a D1 program this fall.  Parker also has good instincts and excellent closing speed.  The fact that he’ll also line up as a receiver will keep coaches up at night.  Not only do they need to watch out for Parker in the defensive backfield.  Now they need to find a way to stop him on offense.

Top Ten Uncommitted Players in Oklahoma

1)    Steven Parker-Safety-Jenks

No question, Parker is the top prospect in this talented class that has not committed yet.  Boy does he have options.  The 6’2 safety already holds offers from the top college programs in the country.  Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, OU, Texas and Texas A&M have offered among many others.  Needless to say, (although I’m going to anyway) Parker is going to be able to go anywhere he wants.  Instead of playing AAU basketball Parker is focusing on getting better on the gridiron this summer.   Parker has all the tools to be an impact player at the high division 1 level.  Not playing basketball has given Parker the ability to hit the weight room to work on his strength.  Parker needs to continue to get better on his open field tackling.  His speed will make up for that in high school.  His closing speed on passes is very impressive.  Parker might also get some time on the offensive side of the ball for the Trojans and he has the ball skills to make some plays for Jenks.  From talking to Parker it sounds like he will take his time with his commitment and could be a guy that waits until National Signing Day in February.  I can sum up Parker in one statement.  When talking about the greatness of the 2014 class in Oklahoma, I was asked if a player in this class that could make it all the way to the NFL.  The first player that came to my mind was Steven Parker. 

 

2) Dylan Harding-Safety-Jenks

Is anybody going to be able to pass the ball on the Jenks defense?  The two top safeties in this class both reside in the defensive backfield at Jenks.  While Harding doesn’t have the offers that teammate Parker does, Harding will have his options and he shouldn’t be overlooked.  Harding is better than Parker in some aspects, Harding in my opinion is the better tackler.  He’s working on his speed this summer and it’s starting to show.  Harding is currently holding offers from four BCS schools.  (Arizona State, Iowa State, Oregon State and Texas Tech).  Tulsa is also listing Harding as a very high priority in their recruiting.  Harding impressed at the OSU camp in early June and he’s hopeful his performance leads to a scholarship offer from the Cowboys.  Harding recently decided his first official visit will be to Arizona State.  The Jenks safety wants to announce his commitment before the start of the football season. 

 

3) John Cole Neph-Wide Receiver-Owasso

Going into this project I told myself I would not make a reference to “Sunshine” from Remember the Titans.  Not gonna happen, the Owasso receiver looks ridiculously similar to Ronny Bass from the famous movie starring Denzel Washington.  The long hair is a dead giveaway.  However Neph is a wide receiver for the Owasso Rams but he’s also a playmaker similar to “Sunshine”.  Okay, got that out of my system.  Down to business.  Neph is without a doubt the fastest rising recruit in Oklahoma today.  He currently holds three offers from division 1 schools including one from Kansas State.  Neph will not blow you away with his speed, he’s the first to admit that.  What he lacks in speed he completely makes up for in route running, hands and physicality.  Also a starter on the basketball team, he takes his physical play in the paint to the gridiron and is not afraid to hit or get hit.  I’m a firm believer that Neph will be a playmaker at the next level.  He’s the typical possession receiver and I believe he’ll make an impact.  Wherever he goes, he’ll make plays.  Other schools will look back on this class and wonder how they didn’t know about John Cole “Sunshine” Neph.

 

4) Lawrence Evitt-Running Back-Wagoner

If I’m ranking these kids based on their nicknames, Lawrence Evitt is on top.  The “Red Dirt Mamba” comes in at #4 on this list.  Two questions will hamper Lawrence Evitt from getting some offers from D1 schools.  Is he too small?  Can he get his grades and test scores up?  Evitt is only 5’7 and 165 pounds and it’s debatable Evitt will be able to be durable enough to play big time college football.  Grades are starting to concern college coaches along with the questions of his size.  You cannot deny the stats that Evitt put up last year as a junior.  Evitt exploded on the scene last year and ended his junior season just 20 yards short of 3000 in 13 games.  The “Red Dirt Mamba” reached paydirt 35 times last year.  Evitt’s biggest game came against Oologah where he ran for over 400 yards and 6 touchdowns.  Evitt is a big play guy as well.  In that game against Oologah, 4 of his 6 touchdowns went for over 50 yards including 3 that went over 70.  It is key to contain Evitt, if he gets into the open field and gets by you he’s gone.  The questions about his size and grades definitely raise a question and could drop him lower on this list.  Despite those questions I’m going with the mamba here at #4.  He’s a playmaker that requires everyone on a defense to be on the same page in containing him.  I believe he can make plays at the D1 level.

 

5) Tramal Ivy-Defensive End-Muskogee

I am absolutely shocked more schools are not on this explosive force from Muskogee.  Don’t get me wrong, Ivy has two D1 offers and most kids would be ecstatic about that.  Kansas State and Memphis have offered Ivy.  I will now openly admit something.  I have not seen Ivy on the football field in person.  I’ve watched film on him but what impressed me the most is about Ivy as a football prospect is what I’ve seen from him on the basketball court.  Ivy is extremely athletic and physical.  I would be surprised if Ivy doesn’t pick up some more offers before the summer is over.  Ivy is another one of those guys that may not be highly recruited right now but I believe can make an impact at the next level. 

 

6) Cameron Oliver-Tight End-Owasso

Oliver is starting to gain some attention on the recruiting circuit.  Oliver looks the part, he’s a big body guy who has shown the ability to make some plays.  Oliver is not that fast but just like teammate John Cole Neph, the tight end has shown the ability to run good routes and run people over.  Rutgers has offered the Owasso tight end.  This class of 2014 has some nice tight ends with Union’s Carson Meier, Norman North’s Payton Prince and Carl Albert’s Trenton Ball.  Oliver belongs with those guys on that list. 

 

7) Jeremy Smith-Defensive End-Berryhill

Similar to Dylan Harding from Jenks, Jeremy Smith finds himself a very high priority for Tulsa coaches in recruiting.  Smith is 6’4 but only 215 and would need to put on some weight to continue to play on the line at the next level.  Most seasons Smith would be a very high ranked prospect in the state.  I’ve made no secret about it, this class is special.  Most of these guys who would normally range in the top ten of the class are going to be ranging from 15-35.  Four years from now we’ll be able to look back and I believe that many of those players will be gems and we’ll really know how special this class is.  Smith is apart of that group of guys that I believe will be a gem.

 

8) Mike’Quan Deane-Defensive End-Memorial

Deane also plays tight end for the Chargers but he believes he will probably be on the defensive side of the ball when it comes to his college future.  Deane is very similar to the other defensive ends on this list.  Deane isn’t as explosive as Ivy but he’s a close second.  Just like the Muskogee DE, Deane has shown his ability to take his physical play in football to be a force down in the post for the basketball team.  Deane helped lead the basketball team to a state championship in March.  Deane believes that he’s very close to getting an offer from Tulsa.  He currently holds an offer from Northern Colorado and a few other smaller schools.

 

9) Damian Howard-Defensive Back-Broken Arrow

Broken Arrow might be the team that has the most kids in football go D1 in February.  The Tigers already have 4 D1 commits in Coleman Key, (Colorado State) Gyasi Akem and Devon Thomas, (Oklahoma State) and Keaton Baggs (Lousiana Monroe).  Damian Howard could be the next Tiger to commit to a D1 school.  Howard will be one of the top defensive backs in the Tulsa metro area.  Howard won’t be as highly recruited as some of the other defensive backs in this class but he’ll be another one of those guys that has the ability to make a name for himself at a smaller level D1 school. 

 

10 Coleby Evans-Linebacker-Union

Evans will be the heart and soul of a very young Union defense this fall.  Evans cored the winning touchdown in the 2011 state title game as a sophomore.  Last year he had 98 tackles.  Evans will be relied upon this year to really lead the defense as they have several new starters.  Evans is your typical Union defensive player.  He’s got decent speed and strength.  He’s a little undersized to play linebacker at the next level but I think if he could move to another position and get faster he could play at the D1 level.  I believe Evans will probably be a better fit for a non BCS school.  It would not surprise me if Tulsa started recruiting Evans and consider changing his position similar to former Redskin and current Golden Hurricane Luke Snider. 

Normal
0

MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) }

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;}