Coming out of spring drills, many of the same questions remain that existed when practices began on March 11. Golden Hurricane fans have paid heavy attention to the quarterback race, which is still open, but there are several other positions that have unresolved issues. Head Coach Todd Graham explained the areas that need the most improvement.
"I think the number one position outside of quarterback is strong safety," said Graham. "Charles Davis is at free safety, we've got Kenny Sims at bandit, so it's going to be that strong safety position that is very critical to our success."
"It is Ade' Manga and Ty Page right now, and then we'll have some incoming freshmen. You've also got Kollin Hancock, who will compete at spur and bandit."
Manga is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound transfer from Coffeyville Junior College, while Page is a 6-2, 226-pound senior that is one of the more physically impressive players on the team. Hancock, a 6-foot and 185-pounder from College of the Redwoods, will join the team in the fall.
The incoming freshmen that will likely get a look at the safety position are Brian Moore (6-0, 184), Trent Wilkins ( 5-11, 191) and Bryan Burnham (6-2, 185).
Another position that needs stability and reliability is linebacker, as Tulsa loses three experienced starters from last season.
"The development of our linebacker play, just the consistency, that is going to be key," Graham explained. "I think we've got great athletes and more depth than we've ever had, but just less experience."
Several incoming freshmen will help provide that depth and athleticism. The aforementioned Brian Moore will certainly get a look at outside linebacker, along with Alan Dock (5-10, 210), and Zack Wallace (6-1, 223) will workout in the middle.
Another newcomer, El Camino Junior College transfer Kaipo Sarkissian (6-1, 230), is already on campus and is looking to join the starting rotation. 6-foot-4 and 211-pound sophomore Tanner Antle and 6-foot-3 and 216-pound Mike Bryan are also frontrunners for starting spots.
Those three have plenty of competition as well. Sophomores Donald Gobert (6-3, 192) and Kenny Sims (6-0, 220) have some limited experience, and redshirt freshman Cornelius Arnick (6-1, 221) has been very impressive. Junior George Clinkscale (6-0, 250) and redshirt freshman Rashad Robinson (6-1, 230) are also in the mix.
While Tulsa put forth the nation's number one offense last season, some forget about the wealth of experience the Hurricane had at the linebacker and safety positions. The progress of those areas will be a big key to defensive success in 2008.
"A lot of people don't think about Steve Craver. That is a very experienced defensive back," Graham described. "Anthony Germany is going to be missed big-time. There's just no substitute for the experience that Chris Chamberlain had."
"To me, Germany, Craver, Chamberlain, Nelson Coleman and Alain Karatepeyan – those guys were very experienced and very good football players. So the development and consistency of that area is just going to take time."
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