STILLWATER — Strong defense will be the key to any hopes of competing for a conference championship for Oklahoma State.
In Bill Young's first year as defensive coordinator in Stillwater, the Cowboys defense made great progress as the driving force behind a 9-4 record and Cotton Bowl berth in 2009. Under Young, a recruiting emphasis on athletic and versatile athletes on the defensive side of the ball has emerged.
Last week's insider looked at OSU's offensive needs, this week will bring a position-by-position look at OSU's needs on the defensive side of the ball.
Committed: Ashaad Mabry, San Antonio (Texas) MacArthur
Potential targets: Mickey Johnson, Covington (La.) St. Paul's; Jesse Williams, Arizona Western C.C.
On campus: The biggest position of need on the entire roster. Incoming freshmen Diamonte Wheeler and Chris Littlehead will get the opportunity to play immediately.
Analysis: Mabry is a solid addition. While Williams has great size at 6-4, 330 pounds and has a final five of OSU, Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Oregon State. If Williams picks the Pokes, he has a great chance to come in a play immediately.
Committed: Ryan Robinson, Mill Creek (Ga.) Jones County J.C.; Jimmy Bean, Denton (Texas) Guyer.
Potential targets: Dylan Wynn, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle
On campus: The Pokes will be looking for an infusion of youth at the position after leaning on upperclassmen this season. Elite pass rushers can be the difference between a good and great defense, which explains why they are so hard to find. Bringing in potential pass rushers should be the goal of every class, regardless of the current roster.
Analysis: Bean has been overshadowed by his high school teammate — OSU quarterback commit J.W. Walsh — but don't overlook his value. He has the athletic ability and potential to develop into a pass rushing threat.
Committed: Nico Ornelas, Richland (Texas) North Richland Hills; Demarcus Sherod, Decatur (Ga.) Columbia
Potential targets: None.
On campus: The Cowboys loaded up at the position with five linebacker signees in 2009. And they already have freshmen Joe Mitchell and LeRon Furr who are likely to see action this year.
Analysis: Sherod and Ornelas are both athletic, versatile defenders. Don't be surprised if the Cowboys are content with signing just those two linebackers in the class.