Oklahoma Sooners: Jamarkus McFarland

Grading the class: 2009

February, 3, 2014
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Oklahoma is poised to add several recruits on Wednesday with an eye on creating the foundation of a future championship team. Yet recruiting is an inexact science. Some projected stars rise to meet high expectations while others struggle to make a difference in the Big 12. Thus it’s the perfect time to look back at OU’s last five recruiting classes. On Monday we begin with a review of the Class of 2009, including recruits who exceeded expectations, recruits who were solid signees, and those who were busts.

When OU signed this group in February 2009, it looked like a quality class that could feature some future stars. Yet the best and most productive players signed were afterthoughts on signing day. The class was ranked No. 11 nationally by ESPN.com.

Transcendent figures

Center Gabe Ikard: A high school tight end who developed into an All-Big 12 interior lineman, Ikard is the perfect example of terrific evaluation by OU. He didn’t have the traits to become an elite tight end, but ESPN.com’s No. 19 ranked tight end had intelligence, a physical nature and toughness that made him perfect for a move inside. He earned 50 career starts after a redshirt season in 2009 and earned All-Big 12 first-team honors in each of his final three seasons.

[+] EnlargeLane Johnson
Rick Yeatts/Getty ImagesLane Johnson was unranked coming out of Groveton, Texas, but became the No. 4 pick in the NFL draft in 2013.
Tackle Lane Johnson: The unknown Johnson went from afterthought to NFL top-five draft pick. He played several positions in junior college, then lined up at tight end, defensive end and tackle at OU before being selected No. 4 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2013 NFL draft. He was solid and versatile during his two years as a starting tackle for the Sooners.

Cornerback Demontre Hurst: A three-year starter, Hurst was consistent and durable during his time as a cornerback for the Sooners. The No. 58-ranked cornerback in the nation, Hurst finished his career with 178 tackles and 33 pass breakups after stepping on campus with minimal fanfare.

Bull's-eye

Safety Javon Harris: The No. 32-ranked safety in the nation, Harris was a two-year starter and contributor on special teams throughout his career. He finished with 162 career tackles and nine interceptions in 44 career games (21 starts).

Defensive end Ronnell Lewis: Lewis, No. 83 in the ESPN 150, would have exceed expectations if he had remained in school for all four seasons. He was on the path to have a dominant senior season but chose to leave early. Nonetheless he was a force on special teams as soon as he stepped on campus then developed into a quality defensive end as a junior. He had 118 tackles, including 20.5 tackles for loss, and started at least one game during each of his three seasons, finishing with 14 starts in 34 games.

Guard Tyler Evans: The No. 25 offensive guard in the nation, Evans started in 29 games in three seasons as a Sooner before knee injuries derailed his career. If every offensive lineman the Sooners recruited turned out like Evans, they’d be pretty happy.

Defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland: As the No. 54 player in the ESPN 150, McFarland shouldered a lofty ranking and expectations to match Gerald McCoy and Tommie Harris when he arrived on campus. He fell short of that duo, but he was a valuable asset during his final three seasons with the Sooners. He started 22 games and had at least 20 tackles for three consecutive seasons.

Safety Gabe Lynn: Another guy who had high expectations as the No. 80 player in the rankings and another guy who started games in each of his final three seasons. Lynn never became a star, but he was a key piece in an OU defense that ranked among the Big 12's best during his final two seasons. He had 116 tackles and four interceptions in 44 career games (25 starts).

Completely missed the mark

Linebacker Gus Jones: The No. 8 inside linebacker never stepped on the field at OU. He transferred after one semester in Norman.

Overall grade: B

Not an outstanding recruiting class, but far from a bad class. Some of the projected stars turned out to be just starters, but hidden gems such as Ikard, Johnson and Hurst elevated this grade above average. A class that won a lot of games, but the lack of skill-position stars meant it wasn’t strong enough to be the foundation of a national championship run.

Simon, Anderson no longer on OU team

February, 17, 2013
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UPDATE: An OU spokesperson confirms junior defensive tackle Damon Williams is no longer on the team, as well.

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma will be transitioning to three new assistant coaches this spring. The Sooners will also have to make do with just four scholarship cornerbacks and possibly as few as three scholarship defensive tackles during the spring, as well.

An OU spokesperson confirmed Sunday night that cornerback Gary Simon and defensive tackle Marquis Anderson are no longer with the squad.

That leaves the Sooners with only returning starter Aaron Colvin, Cortez Johnson and Zack Sanchez and Kass Everett at cornerback; and just Jordan Phillips, Jordan Wade and Torrea Peterson at defensive tackle.

OU was hoping to add junior-college tackle Quincy Russell in January. Russell, however, still has academic work to complete before he can enroll. Of OU’s three returning defensive tackles, only Phillips saw even spot duty last season.

The Sooners signed three high school defensive tackles earlier this month, as well. But one of those, Kerrick Huggins, has yet to qualify and doubled-signed with Trinity Valley Community College in case he doesn’t make it Norman.

Coach Bob Stoops showed he hasn’t been happy lately with OU’s production or recruiting at defensive tackle, and fired his longtime defensive tackles coach, Jackie Shipp, last week. Last season, the Sooners ranked 94th in run defense and 108th in tackles for loss.

OU also lost its top three defensive tackles -- Casey Walker, Jamarkus McFarland and Stacy McGee -- to graduation.

The Sooners face transition in the secondary, as well. Three of five starters are gone, and Simon was expected to challenge Johnson for the starting job at corner opposite Colvin.

Oklahoma Sooners Class of 2009 review 

January, 24, 2013
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Oklahoma’s 2009 recruiting class had some hidden gems, including cornerback Demontre Hurst and center Gabe Ikard, but it had some disappointments as well, such as safety Kevin Brent and linebacker Gus Jones.

Ultimately the class should be considered sub-par. About half of the 24 signees became contributors, with Hurst, Ikard, defensive end Ronnell Lewis and tackle Lane Johnson highlighting the list as the only all-conference performers. OU’s class featured six ESPN 150 members but only Lewis learned All-Big 12 honors.

Colleague Travis Haney took a look at the 10 teams who will lose the most talent in the country from 2012 to 2013.

There's only one Big 12 team on his list, and it's the 2012 preseason favorite: Oklahoma, which is sitting at No. 3 on a list you probably don't want to see your team on.

Landry Jones is the biggest name gone, but Haney says this might be Bob Stoops' biggest rebuild project ever in more than a decade in Norman.

The team's three most talented players -- Jones, receiver Kenny Stills and safety Tony Jefferson -- are the biggest losses, but don't overlook guys like tackle Lane Johnson and defensive linemen David King and Jamarkus McFarland. Defensive backs Demontre Hurst and Javon Harris won't be easy to replace, either.

Oklahoma was fortunate to keep cornerback Aaron Colvin and do-everything offensive Swiss army knife Trey Millard, who I'd expect to get a whole lot more touches next season. He was criminally underused in the Sooners' offense this past season. Just ask Texas if Millard should get more touches.

Oklahoma's offensive renaissance should be interesting. There won't be major changes, but Stoops is always going to build around what his personnel does best, and next season, likely with Blake Bell at the helm, you can expect the quarterback running game to be featured. It's still likely going to be a pass-first offense, but with Millard and Bell, next season's team might be a little more physical between the tackles.

I'd agree with Haney in that the top of the Big 12 looks really weak for 2013, which may provide opportunity for the Sooners to make a Big 12 title run, despite all the losses.
Oklahoma saw the Landry Jones Era end in unspectacular fashion on Friday night, with a 41-13 loss to ex-Big 12 rival Texas A&M. Jones is done, and the defense showed it needed some work under Mike Stoops for 2013, but that job just got a little bit tougher.

Colleague Joe Schad cited a source who told him safety Tony Jefferson and receiver Kenny Stills would be leaving early to enter the NFL draft.

Jones is obviously the Sooners' biggest loss, but Jefferson's one of the defense's most talented members, and cornerback Aaron Colvin still has a draft decision to make. The transition to Jones' successor (Blake Bell, Drew Allen or scout team standout Trevor Knight?) gets a little rougher without an experienced receiver like Stills to smooth it over, too.

Oklahoma, though, will have a very tall order to try and restore a defense that struggled down the stretch after giving up 49 points to West Virginia and 48 to Oklahoma State, which was playing Clint Chelf, who began the season as the team's No. 3 quarterback.

Defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland, Stacy McGee and Casey Walker are all gone, as is star defensive end David King. Safety Javon Harris, the Sooners' biggest standout in the Cotton Bowl loss, ended his career on Friday, as did cornerback Demontre Hurst.

Point is, if Oklahoma's going to fix its defense, it will have to do so without experience. That's difficult in any league, but especially so in the Big 12, where the only thing faster than the receivers is the rate at which offenses evolve and become more difficult to stop.

Expect the Sooners' spring depth chart to look a little crazy and be very fluid throughout spring practice, but without Jefferson and Stills, both sides of the ball will be moving on to 2013 without their most talented pieces.

Freshman update: DT Jordan Wade 

December, 27, 2012
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As other players at his position have been focused on securing another 10-win season for Oklahoma, defensive tackle Jordan Wade has been focused on making an impact in 2013.

Opportunities abound for Wade, with three of four rotation players at defensive tackle leaving the program after the AT&T Cotton Bowl. The redshirting freshman spent the fall trying to improve his technique and skills at defensive tackle.


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OU position grades: Defensive tackles 

December, 24, 2012
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In the weeks leading up to the Cotton Bowl, SoonerNation will take a look back at how the Sooners performed position-by-position and give each group a grade based on that performance. Today, we examine the defensive tackle position.

GradeHighlights: The defensive tackle trio of Casey Walker, Jamarkus McFarland and Stacy McGee was dominant through October wins over Texas Tech, Texas and Kansas. Walker capped off the streak with a 45-yard fumble return in the rout of the Jayhawks. Over that stretch, Tech managed 89 yards on 32 carries; Texas, 74 yards on 23 carries; and Kansas, 185 yards, but on 58 carries.

Lowlights: Before the October stretch, the tackles struggled in the 24-19 loss to Kansas State, which prompted Barry Switzer among others to call out the position publicly. Late in the season, the OU defensive tackles were pretty average, too. Notre Dame, West Virginia and Oklahoma State did wanted they wanted to on the ground, and OU couldn’t get pressure on opposing quarterbacks without bringing the house.

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Sooners get depth boost with DT Russell 

December, 19, 2012
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It appears to be the perfect fit.

Quincy Russell
Courtesy of Trinity Valley Community CollegeQuincy Russell could play immediately for the Sooners in 2013.
Three-star defensive tackle Quincy Russell (Athens, Texas/Trinity Valley) decided to sign with Oklahoma on Wednesday, picking the Sooners over Nebraska. The defensive tackle prospect had offers from OU, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor and others.

With Russell’s choice, the Sooners get a much-needed defensive tackle recruit and Russell gets the opportunity to make an immediate impact in a program that competes for championships every year. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.

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Huggins a sign of things to come for OU? 

December, 14, 2012
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Finally.

Oklahoma fans breathed a sigh of relief on Friday when the Sooners secured the commitment of Dallas Skyline defensive tackle Kerrick Huggins. The three-star prospect decommitted from Texas A&M before choosing the Sooners over the Aggies, Texas Tech, Colorado State, SMU and others.


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Five Sooners to watch in bowl practices 

December, 5, 2012
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Bowl practices can be a critical time for any football program. It’s an opportunity for young players to show how they’ve improved during the season and set themselves up in integral roles on the offense or defense heading into the spring while the veterans recover from a physical schedule.

Here’s a look at five young players at Oklahoma who could use bowl practices as a springboard to a bigger role for the Sooners in 2013.

[+] EnlargeTrey Metoyer
Richard Rowe/US PresswireTrey Metoyer began the season as a starter for the Sooners and finished with 17 catches for 148 yards.
Receiver Trey Metoyer

It’s important Metoyer understands he is still a big part of OU’s offensive plans in the future and that starts with these bowl practices. With Justin Brown leaving and Kenny Stills potentially declaring for the NFL draft, the Sooners will need Metoyer to emerge as a quality target as a sophomore.

With the Sooners looking at playing without Jalen Saunders after his recent arrest, Metoyer could be asked to play a bigger role in the offense during the Cotton Bowl. Metoyer began the season as a starter but his youth and inexperience showed at times during his freshman season.

Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips

Phillips’ development is one of the most critical concerns for the Sooners heading into 2013 with their top three defensive tackles -- seniors Jamarkus McFarland, Stacy McGee and Casey Walker -- leaving the program after the Cotton Bowl.

The redshirt freshman has great size (6-foot-6, 316 pounds) and has seen more playing time as the season has progressed, recording 12 tackles. He’s had his moments when he’s played well but he’s far from a finished product. And the Sooners will desperately need him to play like one in 2013.

Cornerback Gary Simon

Senior Demontre Hurst has played as well as anyone on OU’s defense in 2012 and will be a big loss when he moves on after the Cotton Bowl. And junior Aaron Colvin could decide to test NFL waters. Therefore, Simon’s progress is important for OU’s defense.

The true freshman has seen limited playing time in blowout wins this season, so the bowl practices could be a opportunity for him to see some time with the No. 1 defense against the No. 1 offense. Simon impressed in the preseason and has the physical traits to be an impact player, he just needs the experience.

Defensive end Geneo Grissom


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Film review: OU 24, TCU 17 

December, 2, 2012
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Oklahoma won its eighth Big 12 championship Saturday with a 24-17 win over TCU at Amon Carter Stadium. The Sooners are co-champions with Kansas State after finishing 7-1 in the Big 12. Running back Damien Williams showed his big-play ability with two touchdowns, but it was the Sooners defense that won the game for OU. Here's a look at five key plays in the victory.

[+] EnlargeTony Jefferson, Julian Wilson
Rick Yeatts/Getty ImagesTCU's pass to tie the game was almost completed but Julian Wilson and Tony Jefferson were in good position.
Damien Williams’ 11-yard touchdown reception

The Sooners' first touchdown showed just how difficult it can be to stop OU’s offense, because it has so many options.

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Video: Sooners DT Jamarkus McFarland

October, 30, 2012
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Oklahoma senior Jamarkus McFarland talks to Jake Trotter about the team's plans to rebound after its home loss to Notre Dame.

The Oklahoma 10: Week 8 

October, 22, 2012
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Each week, SoonerNation will rank Oklahoma’s top 10 performers of the season up to this point. After a 52-7 win over Kansas, several Sooners continue to play their best ball of the season:

1. CB Aaron Colvin (Last week: No. 1): Colvin was distressed in the locker room for allowing Kansas to complete a short first down on a crossing rout. We’ll give him a pass. Colvin continues to be dominant.

2. FB Trey Millard (2): Millard dropped a wide-open touchdown pass, but atoned for it with a 25-yard TD catch at the end of the third quarter that put OU up 52-0. It’s no coincidence that the OU offense starting rolling once Millard started getting the ball more.

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The Oklahoma 10: Week 7 

October, 15, 2012
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Each week, SoonerNation will rank Oklahoma’s top 10 performers of the season up to this point. The Sooners had plenty of impressive performers in a 63-21 win over Texas.

1. CB Aaron Colvin (Last week: No. 1): Colvin picked off a pass for the second week in a row, and blanketed Texas’ receivers all game.

2. FB Trey Millard (2): Millard showed what he’s capable of with the ball in his hands. He came up with the longest OU reception in Red River Rivalry history, a 73-yard catch in which he hurdled a Texas defender to set up OU’s fourth touchdown. Millard finished with a career-high 119 receiving yards and a touchdown on five catches. He also rushed for 45 yards.

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Roundtable: Three thoughts on Texas-OU 

October, 15, 2012
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After Oklahoma's game every week this season, the SoonerNation staff will look at the most impressive thing from the game, the biggest concern from the game and an interesting storyline moving forward.

On Oklahoma's 63-21 blowout win over Texas:

What impressed me most: The OU defense, specifically the Sooners front. We knew the secondary was capable of shutting people down. But the OU defensive line was dominant, too, completing shutting down the Texas running game. This is looking like OU's best defense since 2009, which featured All-American Gerald McCoy. This team might not have any All-Americans up front. But they still are proving to be a tough matchup.

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