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Saturday, February 2, 2013
Adding Austin sign of things to come?

By Brandon Chatmon

Oklahoma is looking to make some changes in its defense heading into the 2013 season after the Sooners defense was exposed in the final few games of the 2012 season. It's safe to say changes are coming for OU's defensive system. Yet, the Sooners landed a cornerback commitment Saturday that could be a sign of OU's defensive approach this fall.

The Sooners' offer to Dakota Austin (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) was a signal that OU is still searching for cornerbacks whose forte is man-to-man coverage. And Austin’s immediate commitment will boost the Sooners' recruiting class.

Austin becomes the fourth defensive back in the class and the second projected cornerback, joining Stanvon Taylor (Tulsa, Okla./East Central). Undersized at 5-foot-10 and 149 pounds, Austin makes up for his lack of size with terrific feet, quickness, competitiveness and man-to-man coverage abilities.

The Sooners' decision to pursue Austin is a sign that man-to-man coverage will continue to be a key part of OU’s defense. With Aaron Colvin and Demontre Hurst, the Sooners often left their cornerbacks on an island this past season, counting on them to hold up in man-to-man coverage, freeing safeties to be the main playmakers.

Austin has similar coverage abilities and could develop into a quality coverage cornerback once he arrives on campus and enters the Sooners' strength and conditioning program. He’s not a physical zone coverage cornerback in the mold of former New England cornerback Ty Law, nor should coaches expect him to be a major difference-maker in OU’s run defense.

So while major system changes could be in store for the Sooners' defense, it appears OU will continue to ask its cornerbacks to hold up in man-to-man coverage, thus freeing the remaining defenders to make plays in the running or passing game.