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Wednesday, February 5, 2014
DT Poona Ford sticks with Strong

By Damon Sayles and Craig Haubert

ESPN 300 defensive tackle Poona Ford (Hilton Head Island, S.C./Hilton Head) was a fan of Charlie Strong and his staff at Louisville -- so much so that he decided to follow them to the Big 12.

Ford signed with Texas and gave the Longhorns their eighth ESPN 300 player in the 2014 class. The 6-foot, 285-pound defensive tackle chose Texas over Missouri and Purdue.

Ranked No. 266, Ford visited Texas the weekend of Jan. 17. The Longhorns will get the No. 22 defensive tackle in the country and a player who can see valuable playing time early.

Dari Nowkha, Poona Ford
ESPN 300 defensive tackle Poona Ford picked Texas on Wednesday.
What he brings: Ford is a short yet strong and compact defensive tackle who shows flashes of being an explosive disrupter. He uses his leverage and strength to his advantage as a run-stopper when it comes to holding his ground and taking on a double-team. He is a bit raw, but he is an effective pass-rusher who gets a strong push upfield to collapse the pocket. He needs to improve his hand technique versus both the run and pass, but we like the physical and disruptive presence he brings to the interior.

Who he reminds us of: Demonte McAllister, Florida State. The Seminoles defender is 6-2 (both are lacking in ideal height), but Ford does possess an above-average reach for his size. Ford can use his compact, thick build to win the leverage battle and anchor one-on-one, as a fire hydrant-like McAllister can do. The two can disrupt as pass-rushers with a good first step and active hands, and both can be effective bull-rushers. Neither is physically imposing, but both can still be productive in the trenches.

Potential freshman impact: Ford is an explosive defensive lineman who might not be ready to step in and contribute in a full-time role because of the technique needed. But we believe he has enough physical strength and disruptiveness to work his way into a two-deep and contribute early.

How he fits: When Texas lost three defensive tackles after the departure of former defensive line coach Bo Davis, some believed the defensive line class was in jeopardy. With Ford and three-star Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Victory Christian) now headed to Austin, the concern is at a minimum. Ford brings a level of athleticism and a mean streak to the position, two characteristics Strong definitely wants out of his defensive players.