STILLWATER — Devante Averette could be painting a fence.
Or he could be writing a paper.
Or he could be running down a ball-carrier in the backfield.
Doesn't matter what the task is for the Oklahoma State signee.
“He's one of those types of people that just he wants to be the best at everything, from video games to working out to playing in a live game,” said Josh Lattimer, Averette's coach at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa.
The next project for one of the top junior-college linebackers in the nation will be filling an immediate void for OSU. The Cowboys lose two prominent starters at the position in Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey, plus a key reserve in Joe Mitchell.
At 6 feet tall and 230 pounds, Averette brought explosiveness and athleticism to the junior-college ranks, transitioning from purely rushing the edge in high school to also playing in the box. The results were stellar, as he compiled 92 tackles (29 for loss) and four sacks in seven games to earn first-team All-America honors from the National Junior College Athletic Association.
“His knowledge grew tremendously while he was here at Ellsworth,” Lattimer said. “He was a very raw talent coming out of high school, and he's still got a lot of room to grow.”
Averette, a three-star prospect, told Rivals shortly following his commitment in early October that Cowboy defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer envisions a similar role for him at OSU. He'll likely play weakside linebacker and at the hybrid “Leo” spot on third down.
“He loves my versatility that I can bring to the table where I don't have to come off the field for sub packages,” Averette said.
OSU first expressed interest in Averette during the summer. So did West Virginia, the school Averette originally committed to.
Averette later determined that wasn't the proper fit. And following a visit to Ellsworth by Spencer and a visit to Stillwater by Averette, the pledge flipped.
Lattimer also lauded Averette's toughness, particularly during the grind of a 2-8 season in 2013. Before Ellsworth's final game, Averette spoke to the entire team, reminding the freshmen and redshirt players of the opportunity they'd have when he and the other sophomores departed.
Linebacker is a major focus of OSU's 2014 recruiting class, as four-star prospect Gyasi Akem (Broken Arrow), three-star prospects Josh Mabin (Spring, Texas Klein Oak) and Justin Phillips (Pearland, Texas Pearland) and unranked junior-college transfer D'Nerius Antoine (Athens, Texas, Trinity Valley Community College) are also committed to the Cowboys. But Averette is the only one enrolling early and participating in spring practice.
And Lattimer expects to see his former star contributing for OSU in 2014.
“I'd be highly disappointed if he wasn't playing on the field for the Cowboys next year,” he said. “I think he'll be an impact player for them.”