Sooners' top-10 hidden gems: No. 5

May, 5, 2014
May 5
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, which includes 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 like Aaron Colvin and Dominique Alexander. This week we’ll count the top five, starting with ...

No. 5 Lane Johnson, offensive tackle, Class of 2009

Recruiting rank: Unranked tight end out of Kilgore (Texas) junior college

What we said: N/A

Other reported offers: N/A

Career production: Johnson started 25 of 26 games in his final two seasons. ... In 2009, he redshirted. ... In 2010, his first season was spent at tight end and defensive end as the Sooners searched for the right position for the freakishly athletic Johnson before he switched to offensive tackle in the spring of 2011. ... In the fall of 2011, Johnson started 12 of 13 games at right tackle as he finally found a home and became productive in crimson and cream. ... In 2012, Johnson shifted to left tackle and started 13 games and earned second team All-Big 12 honors before being selected No. 4 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2013 NFL draft.

Why Johnson is No. 5: As far as simply unearthing a hidden gem from out of nowhere, Johnson should sit atop this list. But his actual production and impact on the program fall short in comparison to the remainder of the top five. Johnson was terrific during two of the four years he was in Norman, Okla., after arriving as a former junior college quarterback who OU considered worth taking a flyer on because the Sooners liked his upside. Overall, the risk was worth it, as he ended up being a key contributor during his final two seasons.

Realistically, the Sooners' development of Johnson was just as important as their ability to evaluate him. Once he got on campus, he put on weight, and they were willing to move him around until he found a home. Now that he settled into the tackle position and excelled, Johnson is likely to have a better NFL career than collegiate career and make more money than he ever dreamed because the Sooners were open-minded during their evaluation of him. They remained patient when he joined the campus and eventually found the right position for his future.

The rest of the list:

No. 6: DE Charles Tapper
No. 7: LB Eric Striker
No. 8: LB Dominique Alexander
No. 9: CB Demontre Hurst
No. 10: G Tyler Evans

Brandon Chatmon | email

Oklahoma/Big 12 reporter

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