Tulsa signs 14 on offense
The effort to get Tulsa back on the winning track officially began Feb. 5 as the Golden Hurricane signed 14 offensive players out of 23 total signees in the incoming class of 2014.
TU stumbled to an uncharacteristic 3-9 season in 2013 and coaches think this incoming group can help correct the problems that spawned a losing season.
“What I’m excited about is that I do think we’ve met the needs that we identified going into this year,” said TU coach Bill Blankenship. “We went into the season with a very young defense, so we didn’t have a lot of pressing emergencies on defense, therefore, we were able to build depth with this class.”
On offense, the Hurricane signed five receivers, four linemen, three running backs and one player each at quarterback and tight end. Defensively, Tulsa added a total of five linemen, including three tackles and two ends, two linebackers and two defensive backs.
This signing class has nine Oklahomans, six players from Texas, four from Arkansas and two each from Kansas and Tennessee.
Three of the 23 signees – Juco transfer running back Tavarreon Dickerson, quarterback Jabe Burgess and receiver Nigel Carter – have already enrolled in classes and will participate in spring drills.
Burgess was ranked as the 22nd top pro-style quarterback in the nation and the fourth-best Arkansas recruit by Rivals.com.
“Offensively, we made a real clear decision to get more athletic,” Blankenship said. “We knew we’d have to replace running backs and receivers, so speed and length were the two things we were looking for in this class.”
Of the nine Oklahomans, three earned first-team all-state honors and six were named to The Oklahoman’s Super 30 list of the top recruits in the state. Offensive linemen Chandler Miller from Bixby High School, Mildren Montgomery from Oklahoma City Douglass High School and Berryhill defensive end Jeremy Smith were first-team all-state selections. Tulsa’s six remaining Oklahoma signees received honorable mention all-state accolades.
Joining Miller, Montgomery and Smith on The Oklahoman’s Super 30 list are Norman High School tight end Payton Prince, Yukon offensive lineman Tyler Bowling and Tulsa McLain receiver Nigel Carter.
“We hit homeruns with our offensive and defensive linemen. Those were the guys we targeted early and were able to stay on them and sign them,” said Blankenship. “We fought off some really good programs to hang on to the guys we’ve signed.”
The Hurricane also signed first-team all-state players from Arkansas – Burgess from Greenwood High School and Springdale Harber offensive lineman Isaac Johnson – and from Tennessee, linebacker Petera Wilson from Memphis White Hall High School. Rivals.com, ranked Wilson as Tennessee’s 15th-best prospect.
Tulsa added size and speed at the receiver position with 6-4 Justin Hobbs from Overland Park, Kan., 6-3 Nigel Carter from Tulsa’s McLain High School and 6-1 Brodrick Umblance from Arlington, Texas. Mansfield Legacy’s Terrance Ivery (5-8) and Bishop Louie (5-10) from McLain High School add great quickness and speed.
“At receiver, we were able to get length and speed with Nigel Carter at 6-3 and Justin Hobbs at 6-4 – both of those guys can go get it,” Blankenship said. “Brodrick Umblance is a do-everything medium size guy with speed,” said Blankenship. “We then went with a couple smaller guys who could be multi-purpose with Terrance Ivery and Bishop Louie. Bishop is an all-around athlete who will return kicks. Terrance led the state of Texas in kick returns his junior year and was an outstanding receiver. His coaches went to him and asked him to play quarterback his senior year. He fits our profile really well..”
Tulsa found three of its four offensive line signees from the state of Oklahoma –Bowling (Yukon), Miller (Bixby) and Montgomery (Oklahoma City) and the fourth from just across the border in Johnson from Springdale, Arkansas.
“We really felt confident that we signed the three best offensive lineman in the state of Oklahoma. All three were ranked in the Oklahoma Super 30,” said Blankenship.” “Chandler Miller, locally, is more of an inside player at center and guard, then we signed three tackles that we’re really excited about their length and size –– Tyler Bowling and Mildren Montgomery – then Isaac Johnson from Har-ber in Springdale was the Arkansas Offensive Lineman of the Year.”
The Hurricane signed three speedy running backs, all measuring 5-9, including Dickerson and incoming freshman D’Angelo Brewer of Tulsa’s Central High School and Memphis Whitehaven High School’s Ramadi Warren. Brewer and Warren each rushed for over 1,300 yards as prep seniors, while Dickerson averaged 8.5 yards per carry for Trinity Valley Community College last year.
“We knew we needed to replace JT and Trey, and even Alex Singleton. We needed to get some depth at running back. We were excited when we got an early commitment from DeAngelo Brewer from Central High School. He’s just an athlete who can play anywhere,” said Blankenship. “Tavarreon Dickerson is a JC signee. But, it was a little bit rare in that he had enough academic strengths that he still has three years to play. He brings the speed and physicality of playing on a championship-level junior college team at Trinity Valley Community College.”