Sooners' top 10 hidden gems: No. 6

May, 2, 2014
May 2
11:00
AM ET
The spring evaluation period is upon us.

Oklahoma has made a living out of evaluating and developing 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. We're currently counting down the top 10 hidden gems of the past five years at OU. Today we look at No. 6.

[+] EnlargeCharles Tapper
AP Photo/Brody SchmidtOklahoma spotted a diamond in the rough with Charles Tapper in the 2012 recruiting class.
No. 6 Charles Tapper, defensive end, Class of 2012

Recruiting rank: 78 (out of 100) ESPN.com scout rating, No. 74 defensive end, No. 75 in East region, No. 13 in Maryland

What we said: “Tapper has the tools and skill-set to develop into a solid defensive prospect at the next level. Will need time to refine his technique and could see a move to OLB, particularly in a 3-4 scheme, where he can utilize his quick feet and athletic ability.” — ESPN.com recruiting analyst

Other reported offers: West Virginia, Penn State, Rutgers, San Diego State

Career production: Tapper has made a significant impact during just two seasons, starting 12 of 18 career games and earning All-Big 12 honors as a sophomore. … As a freshman in 2012, he played in five games, recording two tackles. … In 2013 as a sophomore, Tapper made a major jump from unknown to all-conference. He made 51 tackles, including nine tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He started 12 of 13 games during his second season in crimson and cream.

Why Tapper is No. 6: Then-OU defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright recognized Tapper’s potential to excel in college football before Tapper did. A superb high school basketball player, Tapper was surprised by OU’s interest when he received the offer during his junior season. The Baltimore native wasn’t a dominant football player who had college coaches drooling. Yet, with two years of eligibility remaining, Tapper is already one of the Big 12’s top defenders and has the potential to rank among the nation’s best before he leaves the program.

Tapper didn’t step on campus with the accolades that followed other Class of 2012 signees such as receiver Sterling Shepard or running back Alex Ross, but Tapper’s impact on the Sooners has been huge. The most interesting aspect of the Sooners’ evaluation of Tapper was their ability to not only recognize his raw talent, but also recognize his hunger to learn and natural instincts. Those traits have combined to turn a prospect who has only been playing organized football for four years into special player with an NFL future.

The rest of the list:

No. 7: LB Eric Striker
No. 8: LB Dominique Alexander
No. 9: CB Demontre Hurst
No. 10: G Tyler Evans

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