Recruiting rewind: All-Big 12 Defense

December, 13, 2011
12/13/11
7:48
PM CT
The season has come and gone, and brought with it an All-Big 12 team. But where do these guys come from? How easy is it for a no-name recruit to earn all-conference first-team honors?

We took a look at the offense earlier today.

Now, let's examine the All-Big 12 defense and see who surprises us.

You'll need ESPN Insider Insider to see each player's recruiting page from back in the day, but I excerpted a bit of what the scouts had to say about each player coming out of high school.

DE: Frank Alexander, Oklahoma
  • Was the nation's No. 41 defensive end and graded out at 77 by ESPN. Was also recruited by Auburn and Tulane. Scouts take: Alexander is a high school tight end / defensive end. He has good hands and good speed, but projects best as a defensive end in college. He has the frame to bulk up and play either position and has good size in general for a high school prospect. Right now his strength is rushing the passer.
DT: Dominique Hamilton, Missouri
  • Was the nation's No. 22 defensive tackle in 2007 and was recruited by Arizona State, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Graded out at a 78. Scouts take: Hamilton is a big, physical presence on the interior of the defensive line. He has good size for a high school prospect and the potential to develop into a physical beast at the college level. You would really classify him at this stage as a bit raw. He plays with a bullying style and not much technique. He is capable of coming off the ball and knocking blockers back.
DE: Alex Okafor, Texas
  • Okafor was No. 149 on the 2009 ESPNU 150, and was the nation's No. 12 defensive end. Was also recruited by Oklahoma, Nebraska and LSU. Scouts take: Okafor is a tall wiry defender with a high motor. He needs to get into a college weight program and add some bulk, but for a tall lean kid he displays the ability to play with good leverage. He has a solid get-off and can come out of his stance, keep his knees bent, and on contact generate power from his lower body.


DE: Jamie Blatnick, Oklahoma State
  • Was the nation's No. 105 defensive end and graded out at 71. He was also recruited by Texas Tech, TCU and Duke. Scouts take: Blatnick is an effort guy on the football field. He will probably fit best as a six or seven technique in college or add bulk and play defensive tackle. He has a good get-off and charges up-field hard. He does an adequate job of using his hands, but needs to be more consistent coming off the ball and shooting them to create separation.
LB: Sean Porter, Texas A&M
  • Porter was the nation's No. 70 outside linebacker and was originally committed to Houston. He was also recruited by Oklahoma State and Kansas. He graded out at 76. Scouts take: Porter is a good-looking athlete with great upside when projecting for the next level. He is tall, high-cut and layered with good muscle tone. Lean frame with plenty of room to add great bulk while maintaining speed and quickness. Very active and athletic 'backer who can run and is light on his feet. Mirrors ball carriers well, changes direction and transitions smoothly.
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
  • Knott was the nation's No. 114 linebacker, and graded out at 74 by ESPN. He was also recruited by Army, Iowa and Northern Illinois. Scouts take: Knott is a great football player who will make any roster better at the next level. This is a kid who is not going to blow you away at a combine with blazing speed and agility, but he gets it done on both sides of the ball and is a tough, instinctive, productive football player. Is tall, well-built and should continue to pack on good bulk.
LB: Emmanuel Acho, Texas
  • Acho was the nation's No. 9 linebacker and No. 100 on the ESPNU 150 in 2008. He was also recruited by Nebraska, LSU and Michigan. He graded out at an 81. Scouts take: Acho is a very productive outside linebacker who flashes all the tools to be successful. Possesses the size, speed and athletic ability to disrupt an offense on any given play. Displays very good feet that are extremely light for a linebacker with his stature. This allows him to play better in space and in coverage, which is why he will probably remain on the outside in college.
NB: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
  • Jefferson was the nation's No. 4 athlete and No. 21 on the 2010 ESPNU 150. He was a four-star recruit and graded out at an 84. He was also recruited by Arizona, UCLA, USC and Florida. Scouts take: There may not be a more fast-twitched athlete in this class -- period. Jefferson has rare burst and acceleration between the white lines and has the ability to be playmaker on both sides of the ball in college. He lacks ideal height at linebacker but is very compact, tightly-built and his striking explosiveness allows him to play much bigger. Pursues to the football like he was shot out of a cannon.
CB: Nigel Malone, Kansas State
  • Malone was a juco recruit and not rated by ESPN.
CB: Carrington Byndom, Texas
  • Byndom was the nation's No. 10 cornerback and No. 122 on the 2010 ESPNU 150. He was a four-star recruit that graded out at an 81. He was also recruited by LSU, Oklahoma, Missouri and Oklahoma State. Scouts take: Byndom is a very instinctive defensive back with excellent deep coverage skills and range. While we could see programs recruiting him as strictly a corner, he has all the physical and mental tools that project high as a free safety. Has a taller, rangier frame and its that great length that allows him to be so effective breaking up passes as a deep centerfielder.
S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
  • Vaccaro was the nation's No. 42 safety and graded out at a 78. He was also recruited by USC, Florida, LSU and Oklahoma. Scouts take: Vaccaro flies around and makes plays as a safety. He looks the part, tall and stout in stature, he plays like he looks. Really flies around the secondary and attacks the line of scrimmage with ferocity. Instinctive player that reads the run then breaks to the ball with velocity and aggressiveness. Has made many big hits on the blitz and on inside-out contain. Needs to come under a little bit more control; sometimes overruns ball carrier or misses tackle.
S: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State
  • Martin was the nation's No. 15 safety and graded out at a 79. He was also recruited by Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas and Kansas State. Scouts take: Martin possesses excellent size, range and toughness at his safety position. He will break off the hash over sideline routes and the next play step down and make a physical hit near the line of scrimmage. He is very versatile and well rounded in all facets. His greatest attribute might be his savvy diagnosing skills. He expertly reads the quarterback and underneath routes.

Gotta say, most of these scouting reports were pretty spot-on for the defense, but there weren't very many small-time recruits that crashed onto the defensive list.

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