Scattershooting Big 12 offseason developments

Ian Boyd

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Jan 14, 2014
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My kingdom for a jack linebacker!

Todd Orlando had no use for jack linebackers. His 3-down scheme wasn't overly concerned with setting the edge and he viewed inside linebacker as the ideal place for the fourth pass-rusher rather than the edge defender. Orlando infamously utilized Joseph Ossai as a weak inside linebacker and even a nickel in 2019, then safety coach Craig Naivar took over in the bowl game after Orlando was fired and put him on the edge where he inflicted six tackles for loss and three sacks on Utah.

Between Orlando's emphasis on 4i defensive linemen and safeties, there wasn't much behind Joseph Ossai on the roster when Chris Ash took over on defense. The new staff was looking to rectify the situation with multiple defensive end recruits included in the 2021 class, although the most high profile of them is probable tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders, but the back-up in 2020 and de-facto first string jack when Steve Sarkisian took the head coaching job was walk-on and converted inside linebacker Jett Bush.

Fortunately for new defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski, his new scheme for the Longhorns asks less of the jack linebacker than Ash's 4-down did of Joseph Ossai and the Longhorns have moved quickly to add Ray Thornton from LSU and Ovie Oghoufo from Notre Dame. Neither were dominating at their previous stops, there's a reason they were available for Texas, but they are both good athletes suffering from having tweener skill sets in unfavorable contexts. There's a decent chance Kwiatkowski's jack position will allow one of them to unlock their athleticism and show something in 2021. Particularly with Alfred Collins involved elsewhere along the defensive line.

Tennessee exodus

"You may all go to hell and I'm going to Texas!"

Those were the reported words of legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett after losing an election in Tennessee and determining to head out for Texas due to frustration with the political events back in the United States. Much like how we'll see people today of either political persuasion threaten to move to Canada or some other such place "if THAT person wins the presidency!" Crockett threatened to bail on the situation in the United States.

And Crockett actually did it. He departed to take part in the fledgling American settlements in Texas in anticipation of a revolution. It went poorly for him though as he was killed in some fashion (scholars debate) at the Alamo.

Thus far into the tumultuous Tennessee Volunteers 2021 offseason, a fairly sizable contingent of their players are saying "you may all go to hell and I'm going to Oklahoma!"

Left tackle Wanya Morris (former 5-star), safety Key Lawrence (former 4-star), and running back Eric Gray (former 4-star) are all heading to Norman where they will be immediately eligible due to the NCAA's one-year transfer rule. It's quite the coup for the Sooners, who had only signed 16 players on NSD1 back in December and thus had plenty of room for additions via the portal. Everyone is used to Lincoln Riley snatching top level quarterbacks via transfer, his first three at Oklahoma all matched that description, but now he's filling out the other spots with some high level talent to bolster what's likely to be a National Championship push in 2021.

Morris will start immediately, Gray will have a chance to win the starting running back job with Rhamondre Stevenson moving on, and Lawrence likely waits a year and then takes over in 2022 after Patrick Fields and Dellarin Turner-Yell graduate.

Tennessee influx

Speaking of people leaving Tennessee...


Whoah.

Brent Dearmon was a hot shot RPO spread coach Les Miles hired back in 2019 when Miles took over in Lawrence. He began as an analyst Miles simply wanted to have around as an asset for the future but Dearmon was promoted from his off field role to offensive coordinator during a bye week in the season and then nearly took down the Longhorns in Austin in a 50-48 shootout.

The following year it was reported Dearmon was going to get an extended lease as offensive coordinator, implying Les Miles had exerted some control or influence during 2019. The Jayhawks had a tough year with loads of underclassmen playing and the quarterback position bereft of any talent save for clearly unready freshman Jalon Daniels.

Now he's leaving...to be the offensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee State...which will cost him $500,000 in "release payments." I've yet to see an attempt to spin this development and I'm not sure if it's possible for the Jayhawks to do so. The surface details of this story are these, Kansas' exciting young offensive coach Brent Dearmon is paying the school $500k so he can get out of his contract and go take the same role for a school in Conference USA.

Why does he want out of Kansas so badly?

You may have noticed a fairly large contingent of the team also wanted out and entered the transfer portal. Something is rotten in Denmark.
 

stilesbbq

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Oct 2, 2019
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Deamon news is really sad. Hope the KU program can turn itself around. My nephew is on scholarship there, I'll check in on him

If the young LBs take another step and PK can manufacture pressure upfront, this defense is going to be fun to watch. Exciting stuff