SEC: David Oku

SEC lunch links

June, 28, 2012
A look at what's shaking in the SEC:

On the move in the SEC

June, 9, 2011
Coaches refer to it as attrition, while another name for it might be roster management.

Every team in the SEC has lost at least one player since the end of last season for a variety of reasons. Some have been kicked off the team for getting into trouble. Others were unhappy with playing time and opted to transfer elsewhere. Academics and injuries have also played a role.

Here's a team-by-team list of some of those players who've left prematurely since the end of last season or were injured and won't be on the field in 2011:

  • TE Ryan Calendar
  • PK Eddie Camara
  • OG Cam Feldt
  • LB Austin Moss
  • C Seth Oxner
  • WR Lance Ray
  • RB Mike Blakely
  • WR Chris Dunkley
  • CB Janoris Jenkins
  • WR Javares McRoy
  • LB Marcus Dowtin
  • RB Washaun Ealey
  • WR Logan Gray
  • DE Jeremy Longo
  • S Nick Williams
  • LB Michael Hunt
  • S Dennis Thames
  • WR Jesse Grandy
  • LB Clarence Jackson
  • DE Delvin Jones
  • QB Nathan Stanley
  • DT Montori Hughes
  • CB Ted Meline
  • RB David Oku
  • C Cody Pope
  • OL Kevin Revis

David Oku to transfer from Tennessee

January, 14, 2011
Tennessee tailback David Oku plans to transfer, the school announced Friday.

It's not a big surprise that Oku is leaving. He'd fallen down the depth chart last season, and his role on the team was limited. He was a highly rated prospect when he signed with the Vols during Lane Kiffin's only signing class at Tennessee in 2009.

Oku plans to transfer following the spring semester, but will not participate in any more foootball activities with the Vols.

"David has handled this situation in a professional way, and we mutually agreed that this departure is best for him and for our program,” Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said.

Vols' Richardson braced for a rude reception

September, 17, 2009

Posted by's Chris Low

Joe Murphy/Getty Images
Tennessee freshman receiver Nu’Keese Richardson will be in for a rude reception on Saturday.

Tennessee freshman receiver Nu’Keese Richardson was at the center of all the controversy last February that has made Saturday’s grudge match at the Swamp one of those must-see games of the 2009 college football season.

He knows what kind of reception is coming.

“It’s not going to be a nice one, I know that,” said Richardson, who was committed to Florida for nine months before changing his mind and signing with the Vols. “That’s why you play the game. I don’t worry about the outsiders. I just try to do my job to the best of my ability.”

Richardson, a Pahokee, Fla., product, is part of a promising freshman class for the Vols. Their debut against Western Kentucky had everybody talking.

But last week in the 19-15 loss to UCLA, the Vols’ freshmen all but disappeared from the radar. Running back Bryce Brown had 34 yards on 11 carries, and that’s about it.

Now it’s onto their first road game and not just any venue, either. The Swamp has been known to rattle the knees of the most battle-tested juniors and seniors.

Throwing a bunch of freshmen out there can really get dicey.

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, though, said he won’t be hesitant to play his young guys, including putting Richardson back deep to return punts.

Fellow freshman David Oku has also been returning kickoffs for the Vols.

“You’ve got to have confidence in them, and they have to feel your confidence,” Kiffin said. “If you start pulling all your younger guys because you’re going into a hostile environment, I don’t know that that really shows you believe in your team.

“Are they going to be perfect? No, we’re going to try and make it perfect. But they need to play. We’re in our first year as a program, going into our third game. If you have a philosophy that you’re going to play your younger players that you know are eventually going to be great players, there’s going to be some pains in that.”

Kiffin can live with those pains and insists he won’t be scared to play his talent, no matter how young and inexperienced they are or what the storylines may be that particular week.

“You can’t just go back to the old-school theory and sit them on the bench and say they’re not ready because they’re too young and play all your older guys,” Kiffin said. “That’s not how we operate.”

It’s just that kind of thinking that sold Richardson on Kiffin and the Vols and pried him away from the defending national champion Gators, thus triggering a few comments from Kiffin at a certain recruiting breakfast back in February that are still ringing in the Gators' ears.

“His confidence level is beyond what you’d expect,” Richardson said of his head coach. “That’s one of the main things that I love about him.”

Vols win Bryce Brown sweepstakes

March, 16, 2009

Posted by's Chris Low

These post-signing day decisions are turning up roses for Tennessee's football team.

Running back Bryce Brown of Wichita, Kan., announced Monday that he was signing with Tennessee during a press conference at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

The 6-foot, 215-pound Brown was rated by Scouts Inc. as the No. 2 running back prospect in the country and the eighth-best prospect overall in the ESPNU 150 rankings.

Brown joins running back David Oku as a pair of highly rated players signing late with the Vols, which only strengthens what was already a Top-15 class by first-year coach Lane Kiffin. Oku, who recently moved from Midwest City, Okla., to Lincoln, Neb., was rated by Scouts Inc. as the No. 13 running back prospect in the country.

If Brown turns out to be half as good a player as his recruitment has been bizarre, then the Vols are in for a treat.

Brown had been committed to Miami since last year, but opened up his recruitment and elected not to do anything on national signing day. He took additional visits, including trips to LSU and Tennessee, and was evasive about what his plans were.

He has an adviser, Brian Butler, who runs the show. And it's definitely been a show.

Butler is a former rapper and cell phone call center manager who advises, trains and handles all media requests for a group of players, including Brown.

The New York Times reported last month that the NCAA was investigating Butler, including his relationship with Brown. At one point, Butler was charging money for people to get updates on Brown's recruitment via a Web site, The Web site is still up and running, but Butler is no longer charging for the updates.

Butler also discussed the possibility of sending Brown straight to the CFL during the recruiting process, but that talk died down. Miami pulled out of the running and reportedly rescinded its scholarship offer, but an assortment of schools -- LSU, Kansas State, Oregon and Tennessee -- all continued to actively pursue Brown.

And on Monday, Brown ended this recruiting circus (aren't they all?) by saying he would sign with the Vols.

He's obviously a terrific player and is the kind of talent that could be a difference-maker immediately this fall when he gets on campus.

But with the NCAA poking around on his adviser, you can't help but wonder if he's worth the risk.

We'll find out soon enough.

Oku ends the suspense, signs with Vols

March, 6, 2009

Posted by's Chris Low

The last few prospects for the 2009 class are putting their signatures to scholarship papers and making their college choices ... finally.

Tennessee got good news Thursday night when running back David Oku signed with the Vols. He's rated by Scouts Inc. as the No. 13 running back prospect in the country.

The Oku saga has been a strange one to say the least. He committed to Tennessee back when Phillip Fulmer was still the coach, but re-opened his recruitment after Fulmer was fired.

Syracuse entered the picture, and so did Auburn, Ole Miss and even Nebraska. The 5-foot-9, 178-pound Oku recently moved from Midwest City, Okla., to Lincoln, Neb. He told some media outlets he made the move to be closer to his girlfriend and told other media outlets that he made the move to get away from family problems and concentrate on his academics.

The fact that he came full circle and signed with Tennessee was surprising to many because he hadn't even been mentioning the Vols prominently lately.

Tennessee also remains in the hunt for tight end Orson Charles of Tampa, Fla., and running back Bryce Brown of Wichita, Kan. Charles will announce his decision Friday between Georgia, Southern California and Tennessee.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Brown will choose later this month. LSU and Oregon are also on his list. He's rated by Scouts Inc. as the No. 2 running back prospect nationally and was previously committed to Miami, although Miami has reportedly pulled its scholarship offer.

Oku's recruiting saga beyond bizarre

February, 24, 2009

Posted by's Chris Low

If you ever wondered just how zany recruiting can get, I give you David Oku.

Oku is rated by Scouts Inc. as the No. 13 running back prospect in the country. He was committed to Tennessee before Phillip Fulmer was fired, but backed off that pledge and has still yet to sign with anybody. The Vols remain on his list along with Auburn, Ole Miss and Syracuse.

Nebraska really didn't appear to be in the picture until now.

It seems that Oku, who had been living in Midwest City, Okla., up and moved to Lincoln, Neb., because he wanted to be closer to his girlfriend, who he met on his official visit to Nebraska in October.

The Lincoln Journal Star confirmed that he has enrolled in East High School in Lincoln, although Oku insists that doesn't mean he's necessarily going to sign with the Cornhuskers.

Anyway, the next time you drive yourself crazy trying to process why some of these kids go to this school or that school, remember Oku.

Don't sleep on Auburn's class

February, 4, 2009

Posted by's Chris Low

One of the biggest signing day surprises thus far in the SEC has to be receiver DeAngelo Benton of Hargrave (Va.) Millitary Academy signing with Auburn.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Benton is one of the top prep school players in the country and had signed with LSU on two different occasions. He's originally from Bastrop, La., and most people thought he would re-sign with LSU again.

But he sent his scholarship papers to Auburn on Wednesday morning, which started the ball rolling for the Tigers. They quickly picked up another receiver in Emory Blake, the son of former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake, and are pretty much done at this point.

First-year Auburn coach Gene Chizik surrounded himself with proven recruiters such as Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper, and the Tigers filled a bunch of needs and did so with some players nobody saw them having a chance with a month ago.

In addition to Benton, running back Dontae Aycock of Tampa, Fla., sort of came out of nowhere. He's rated by Scouts Inc. as the 28th best athlete nationally and primarily played quarterback in high school. The Tigers were also able to go out and get the multidimensional quarterback they felt would best fit in Gus Malzahn's spread offense -- Tyrik Rollison of Sulphur Springs, Texas.

There could be a late addition to the class, too. Running back David Oku, who had been committed to Tennessee for some time, now says he will wait and sign on Thursday and will choose between Auburn, Syracuse and Tennessee. Oku, who's from Midwest City, Okla., is rated by Scouts Inc. as the 13th best running back prospect in the country.