NORMAN — Jordan Evans and Dominique Alexander expect to contribute immediately as Oklahoma freshmen next fall.
Evans (6-feet-3, 205 pounds), who switched from cornerback to linebacker before his junior season at Norman North, committed to OU in late November. Alexander, a 6-2, 195-pound “athlete” from Tulsa Washington, will likely begin his college career at linebacker.
“(Coaches) don't expect to redshirt us,” Evans said. “They want us to come in as freshman and compete on special teams, and even come in and contribute a lot on the defensive side.
“Coach (Tim) Kish has told me — and he also told Dominique — that he's looking forward to getting us out there and getting us going quickly.”
Eleven of Oklahoma's 19 commitments for its 2013 recruiting class are defensive players, signaling a strong emphasis on improving a unit that struggled to stop just about anyone down the stretch in 2012, and lost several key players and one huge commitment over the past week.
Free safety Tony Jefferson and linebacker Tom Wort each decided to forgo their senior seasons and enter the 2013 NFL Draft, and starters Demontre Hurst, Javon Harris, Casey Walker, Jamarkus McFarland, R.J. Washington and David King were all seniors.
Days after Oklahoma's 41-13 Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M, longtime 2013 linebacker commitment Jordan Mastrogiovanni flipped to the Aggies.
“Sometimes that's OK,” OU coach Bob Stoops said last week, when asked about having a defense with lots of new faces.
Oklahoma's defensive line was frequently pushed around and unable to get a strong pass rush in 2012; OU coaches have earned commitments from six defensive linemen, including three tackles in the past month.
Safeties Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas could have opportunities to start as true freshmen; Byrd is a four-star prospect from Fresno, Calif., and Thomas, a three-star safety from Miami, plans to enroll early and participate in spring practices.
Evans' speed and athleticism makes him a seemingly good fit for the type of defense Oklahoma tried to run late in the 2012 season, when linebackers were frequently pulled off the field in favor of defensive backs because of spread-out passing attacks.
“I can help stop the run, and also help in pass coverage,” Evans said. “They'll find a perfect spot for me, and then my job is to go make plays.”
Direction of the class
Here are five players who signal the direction of Oklahoma's 2013 recruiting class
Jordan Evans, LB, Norman North: Evans, a converted cornerback, is far from the Sooners' highest-rated recruit but fits in well with the defensive philosophy Mike Stoops has brought to OU with his return, which relies on linebackers more to force ball carriers to other defenders rather than make plays themselves.
Hatari Byrd, S, Fresno, Calif. (Central East): With Gabe Lynn's struggles this season and Javon Harris and Tony Jefferson gone, Byrd figures to be the freshman most likely to have an immediate impact in 2013.
Austin Bennett, WR, Manvel, Texas: Wide receiver is one position where the Sooners have not struggled in recruiting. They're still looking to add one or two more in addition to Bennett and Jenks' Jordan Smallwood. Jay Norvell has been perhaps OU's top recruiter the last few years.
Quincy Russell, DT, San Antonio (Trinity Valley CC): Some Sooners fans who follow recruiting were in a panic when OU entered December without a commitment at defensive tackle but the Sooners have added three DTs in the past month, none bigger than Russell, who signed in December. Russell signed with Texas out of high school and could step right in to start next season.
Matt Dimon, DE, Katy, Texas: The Sooners have some promise at the position among players already on campus, but with R.J. Washington and David King gone, OU needed to bring in talent. They did that quickly, picking up a commitment, in March, from Dimon, who went on to have a huge senior year, then adding then-Lawton defensive end D.J. Ward in April.