- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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The spring evaluation period is upon us.
Oklahoma has made a living out of evaluating and developing talent well, helping the Sooners go 51-15 during their past five seasons, including four straight seasons with double-digit wins. During Bob Stoops' tenure the Sooners have been able to consistently compete for championships thanks in part to their ability to land hidden gems such as Aaron Colvin and Dominique Alexander. Over the next two weeks we’ll count down the Top 10 hidden gems of the past five years at OU. Today we look at No. 7.
No. 7 Eric Striker, linebacker, Class of 2012
Recruiting rank: 76 (out of 100) ESPN.com scout rating, No. 62 safety, No. 474 in the Southeast region, No. 162 in Florida
What we said: “Has very good size for that [Hybrid]-type position and a matching motor, range and closing speed that makes you believe he could be really productive if he landed in the right attacking defense. This guy has a quick-step and is a disruptive presence off the edge who can really run, close and hit. If he lands in the right scheme, this explosive defender could be a steal.” -- ESPN.com recruiting analyst
Other reported offers: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, West Virginia, and others
Career production: Striker has only been on campus for two seasons but he’s started half of his career games (13 starts in 26 games) ... In 2012, Striker immediately earned a role on the Sooners’ special teams, playing in 13 games and recording six tackles as a true freshman ... In 2013, Striker had his breakout season, starting all 13 games and finishing with 50 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Those numbers earned Striker second-team All-Big 12 honors, and he capped off his sophomore season with three sacks and seven tackles against Alabama.
Why Striker is No. 7: Striker didn’t make a significant impact as a true freshman but helped transform OU’s defense into a more aggressive and athletic unit as a sophomore. He’s an exceptional pass rusher and has a great ability to impact games by forcing offenses to account for his speed off the edge. In short, he has the ability to make his teammates’ job much easier by forcing opponents to double team him.
Striker, who starred at Seffner (Fla.) Armwood, is a prime example of the type of overlooked jewels that can be unearthed in SEC country with good evaluation. Like an undersized power forward in basketball, Strike was a player who didn’t really fit the ideal mold of any position yet had talent that was readily apparent. OU didn’t care about his "tweener" status, as it and simply recruited him then figured out the best way to use his talents once he arrived in Norman, Okla. He’s paid the Sooners back for their faith in him and still has two years of eligibility remaining, making him one of OU’s best evaluations in recent memory.
The rest of the list:
7dBrandon Chatmon and Jake Trotter