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Mike Stoops on OU's defensive back class

2/4/2012

Secondary help was a priority for Oklahoma as national signing day approached. The Sooners secondary was torched by pass-heavy offenses from Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas Tech.

De-commitments from De'Vante Harris (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) and Kevin Peterson (Wagoner, Okla./Wagoner) didn’t help the cause, but OU finished strong with the signing of Gary Simon (St. Petersburg/Gibbs) and Zack Sanchez (Keller, Texas/Central) in addition to having junior college cornerback Kass Everett already on campus.

Even though it came together late, new defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Mike Stoops likes the group.

“I think you have to have lockdown corners,” Stoops said. “There’s a premium on those players and we feel like we were able to land a couple of those guys.”

Everett is a player who could step in immediately, replacing All-Big 12 performer Jamell Fleming, opposite returning starter Demontre Hurst.

“He’s a confident player,” Stoops said. “He’s a very intelligent player. He understands the concepts very well from talking with him, as well. I’m impressed with his knowledge.”

Simon and Sanchez are cornerbacks with good size, who Stoops said could end up playing some safety as well because of the transformation of the position from run-supporting safeties to coverage safeties.

“Those [run supporting safeties] are hard to play with any more just because the field is so spread out,” Stoops said. “You almost need corners that can play some safety.”

Simon could be one of the most overlooked gems in this year’s class with his size -- 6-foot-1, 180 pounds -- coverage ability and willingness to hit.

“Gary Simon’s one of the premier cover guys I’ve seen,” Stoops said. “He has a unique blend of size, speed and athletic ability that you don’t see in a big guy. So he gives us a lot of flexibility.”

Sanchez is fairly raw as a cornerback but he intrigued the Sooners coaching staff with his overall ability.

“When you look at his athletic ability and what he’s able to do as a receiver, as a DB, just his toughness as a player is something that really gravitated to me,” Stoops said. “I just thought we hit it off, and I can just tell he’s a very ornery player and likes to compete at a very high level.”