Former Longhorn and current Houston Texan defensive tackle [tag]Frank Okam[/tag] talks about losing weight, showing a commitment to football, and what he could do on the field in 2009:

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Posted January 3rd, 2009 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

The NFL is now littered with former Texas players from the [tag]Mack Brown[/tag] era. It seems like every game involves a Longhorn in the starting lineup. The biggest impacts appear to be on both lines and in the secondary while linebacker is without a doubt the weakest position. Injuries affected a few of the players 2008 season, but the program should be proud of what these guys are accomplishing.

[tag]Justin Blalock[/tag] – The Atlanta Falcon’s made the playoffs behind a great running game and solid quarterback play. The unsung unit on the team was the offensive line. Blalock has cemented himself as a starter on an upcoming team by starting all 16 games after playing in 14 last season. At Texas, Blalock played tackle, but in the NFL he has been able to slide back to his natural position of tackle. Blalock was even able to score a touchdown on a fumble recovery.

[tag]Tarell Brown[/tag] – The forgotten member of the 2005 secondary has become a solid nickel corner in the NFL for the 49ers. Brown played in 15 games and started in one. He recorded 30 tackles and two interceptions.

[tag]Cedric Benson[/tag] – The beginning of the season didn’t appear good for Benson. After being cut by the Bears it appeared no one would request his services. The Cincinnati Bengals fell apart and came calling four games into the season. Benson started 10 games, gained over 700 yards, and scored two touchdowns on the ground. He also added 20 receptions. “EL Ced” finished with two huge games; making the chance he is offered a longer deal by the Bengals a real possibility.

[tag]Tim Crowder[/tag] – Crowder struggled with injuries and the depth chart all season. He played in six games, starting zero, and recording one tackle on the whole year.

[tag]Jamaal Charles[/tag] – Charles had a rookie season that has to be seen as a success. Charles sits behind Larry Johnson on the depth chart, but made plays when given the opportunity. The speedster averaged 5.3 yards per carry and added 27 receptions. His only touchdown of the season came on a reception. If Johnson isn’t retained by the Chiefs, Charles may get a look as an every down back.

[tag]Leonard Davis[/tag] – The offensive line for the Cowboys underachieved this season. Davis will go to another Pro Bowl but o-line selections are based on reputation more times than not. It was not all Davis’ fault but he did not perform at the level he did the previous year.

[tag]Phil Dawson[/tag] – Dawson was once again a lone bright spot for the Cleveland Browns franchise. He went 30/36 with a long of 56. He was perfect on extra point, but the 18 attempts magnify the struggles of the Browns offense.

[tag]Derrick Dockery[/tag] – Dockery is one of the higher paid linemen in the league, but is never as dominant as his salary would warrant.

[tag]Jermichael Finley[/tag] – Finley had a hard time getting started this season. He ended up playing in 14 games while starting one of them. The rookie finished with 6 receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown on the season.

[tag]Cedric Griffin[/tag] – Griffin has turned into a solid starting cornerback for the Vikings. He gets a lot of action playing opposite of Pro-Bowler Antoine Winfield but holds his own pretty well. Griffin plays with excellent enthusiasm and competitiveness which makes him an eager corner in run support. He played in all 16 games for the second straight season and recorded 91 tackles and a pick.

[tag]Mike Griffin[/tag] – Michael Griffin had the type of year that have made many hail him as the best defensive back to come out of the 2005 group. Griffin is a Pro-Bowl alternate after recording seven interceptions and a sack on the year. He is quickly becoming one of the best safeties in the league. His play has allowed the Titan defense to become one of the best in the league. Griffin also returns kicks for the #1 seeded Titans.

[tag]Ahmard Hall[/tag] – The former Marine has established himself as one of the last true fullbacks in the game. The Tennessee running game is one of the best in the league behind the duo of Chris Johnson and Lendale White. The two split carries with mirrored success, and the one constant is the presence of Hall. He has also become a weapon in the flat out of the backfield, recording two touchdown receptions this year.

[tag]Casey Hampton[/tag] – Hampton had a tough season as he struggled to get on the field with health and conditioning problems. When Hampton can play he remains the best 3-4 nose tackle in the game. He recorded one sack in 13 games that he was rarely able to make it all the way through.

[tag]Michael Huff[/tag] – The Thorpe award winner hasn’t lived up to his draft status so far in his career, but it is still early. Huff lost his starting job and didn’t record a sack, interception, or forced fumble on the year.

[tag]Quentin Jammer[/tag] – Jammer had another great year in San Diego. He is one of the most physical corners in the league and continually gets matched up with the opposing team’s biggest and best receiver. Jammer recorded 88 tackles, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles for the playoff bound Chargers. It has been amazing to watch the turnaround of Jammer’s play after struggling for the first few years in the NFL. The pressure of being a high pick has subsided and Jammer’s play has risen.

[tag]Derrick Johnson[/tag] – DJ has moved inside and performed well for the Chiefs. The knock on the former Texas star coming out was his unwillingness to take on blocks, and after a few years as a pro the criticism still exist. When playing in space he excels, but at the point of attack he has remained a liability. Johnson has been up and down, but has shown flashes of potential. He ended the year with 85 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one interception, and four forced fumbles. If/when the light turns on for DJ the sky is the limit.

[tag]Frank Okam[/tag] – Okam may have earned himself a roster spot for next year with his play down the stretch. He lacks the motor and intensity most coaches want out of an interior defensive lineman, but he has the tools to become a solid player in the league if he ever turns it on.

[tag]Cory Redding[/tag] – I feel bad for Cory Redding. I feel bad for any player, coach, trainer, and journalist (except Rob Parker) in Detroit. Redding was the heart and soul of their defense (if that is possible), and if he ever gets out of Detroit he may have a chance to make some noise. Until then, he’ll be rich in Detroit. He got three sacks on the year.

[tag]Brian Robison[/tag] – Robison plays behind Jerod Allen so his snaps are limited. When he is on the field he shows up and makes plays. He managed 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 15 games.

[tag]Shaun Rogers[/tag] – Shaun Rogers is the most disruptive interior lineman in football today. The guy is just huge and unstoppable when his motor is turned on. He took over games at points this season in spite of double and triple teams. Rogers will be in the Pro-Bowl again after turning in 76 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He has Hall of Fame type talent when it is all clicking for Rogers.

[tag]Aaron Ross[/tag] – He may not be the best athlete in his marriage, but the Thorpe award winner has become a better than average cornerback in a tough place to play. Ross started in every game he played, 15, and grabbed 3 interceptions, including one that he returned for a touchdown. Ross has the ability to be a shutdown corner as his technique and confidence continue to grow.

[tag]Bo Scaife[/tag] – Scaife has emerged as a very productive tight end even in the face of losing his quarterback and his team bringing in a big name free agent in Alge Crumpler. There were a few games where Kerry Collins completely forgot about Scaife, but he finished with 58 receptions and two touchdowns. Scaife has also become better as a blocker which allows him to stay on the field in all situations.

[tag]Lyle Sendlein[/tag] – People tend to forget about Sendlein when discussing the better offensive lineman Mack Brown has put into the NFL. Sendein has started every game of the season for a playoff team. Not too bad.

[tag]Chris Simms[/tag] – Simms is the number three quarterback on Tennessee’s roster.

[tag]Kasey Studdard[/tag] – Studdard remains a reserve lineman for the Houston Texans. He hasn’t been able to crack the starting lineup.

[tag]Limas Sweed[/tag] – Sweed is listed as the 4th receiver on the Steeler roster. One would think Sweed will contribute more after a full off season.

[tag]David Thomas[/tag] – The Patriots use a lot of tight ends in their offense, so none of them have numbers that are going to blow you away. Despite that Thomas has been able to get on the field a lot so far in his career. He pulled in nine receptions for 93 yards, but was never able to reach the end zone.

[tag]Nathan Vasher[/tag] – Injuries rendered the 2008 season a wasted one for Vasher. He played in eight games, recording one interception, before being placed on injured reserve.

[tag]Ricky Williams[/tag] – The former Heisman trophy winner and league pariah has made his comeback has a productive back in the Miami system. He was one of the many bright spots on a team full of them this year. Williams is able to make plays without being relied on to carry the full load because of the presence of Ronnie Brown. Ricky scored four touchdowns on 659 yards rushing. He may have made his biggest impact as a receiver out of the backfield where he averaged over seven yards a catch on 29 receptions.

[tag]Roy Williams[/tag] – The losing ways of the Lions followed Williams from Detroit to Dallas. Roy was never able to make an impact for the Cowboys for reasons that still remain unclear. He has proven to have the ability which leaves work ethic and injury as the two other reasons for his lack of production. Williams has unfortunately been criticized for both a lack of work ethic and inability to stay healthy in his career. He will need to have a huge year next year to justify the trade and contract Jerry Jones awarded him.

[tag]Selvin Young[/tag] – Young was another Longhorn that struggled with injury. Denver is notorious for alternating backs, and with the addition of injuries Young was never able to stay on the field. When he was healthy he produced so it will be interesting to see what the new coach in Denver decides to do with Selvin.

[tag]Vince Young[/tag] – 2008 was not a good year for VY. The greatest player in Longhorn history lost his job after one game and a knee injury, and never was even given the chance to win it back. It now appears Jeff Fisher made the right choice as Tennessee earned the #1 seed in the AFC. While they did it with defense and running the ball, Collins has done a good job in a Trent Dilfer type role. This season may end up being the best thing that has ever happened to Vince as a professional if he uses the experience in the right way.

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Posted November 11th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Ricky Williams rushed for a season-high 105 yards

Ricky Williams rushed for a season-high 105 yards

The former Longhorns were led by [tag]Ricky Williams[/tag] and [tag]Bo Scaife[/tag] this week. The group in Tennessee keep on winning while the guys in Kansas City, Detroit, and Oakland are already looking forward to the offseason.

[tag]Tarell Brown[/tag] – Brown played a good game at cornerback against one of the best receiving core in the NFL on Monday night against the Cardinals. Brown played on nickel situations, which there were plenty of. He finished with tackles on the night.

[tag]Jamaal Charles[/tag] – Last week the rookie running back posted his first career 100 yard game and this week Charles got rewarded with the start. Unlike last week Charles was never able to get anything going after being injured on his first carry. He was able to come back into the game, but remained largely ineffective. Charles has suffered through ankle injuries before, so hope it is an isolated incident. He gained only eight yards on three carries in the game.

[tag]Phil Dawson[/tag] – Dawson had another good game going three for three with a long of 52. He was also perfect on his extra points. The veteran is now 17 of 19 on the year.

[tag]Cedric Griffin[/tag] – Cedric has become a consistent player in this league. He plays with an attitude and is becoming a better tackler. Griffin has a great player opposite him to learn from in Antoine Winfield. Griffin finished with three tackles against the Packers.

[tag]Michael Griffin[/tag] – The Titans keep winning and Griffin keeps playing well. He ended up with five tackles on the night, but was all over the field on defense and in special teams in the win over the Bears. Tennessee remains the only undefeated team left in the NFL and they’re doing it with solid defense.

[tag]Ahmard Hall[/tag] – The fullback and ex-Marine didn’t have his best ball game even though his team won. Hall fumbled a carry on the goal line that would have put the Titans on the board first. The Tennessee run game was not up to their standards but they still came away with the victory.

[tag]Michael Huff[/tag] – Huff didn’t get many chances in the game against Carolina because both passing offenses were inept. The former Thorpe award winner only registered one tackle on the game that saw Steve Smith only catch one pass and Jake Delhomme only completed seven total.

[tag]Quentin Jammer[/tag] – Jammer’s Chargers squeaked by the Chiefs on Sunday to save their season. Jammer has come into his own on the season. Teams are avoiding his side when they can, but the physical corner still recorded three pass defenses and four tackles. Jammer is playing the best out of all the corners from Texas in the NFL.

[tag]Frank Okam[/tag] – The big rookie got some playing time in the blowout loss to the Ravens. He didn’t disappoint, recording three tackles in the game. Okam had only made one tackle on the season prior to this game. If Okam stays in shape he should become a player in the NFL.

[tag]Cory Redding[/tag] – The Lions are awful. That may not do it justice. Redding has been a bright spot on the team when he has been healthy. On Sunday the defensive tackle was credited with three tackles. Did I mention the Lions are awful?

[tag]Brian Robison[/tag] – Robison got some playing time and rewarded the team with a sack. He is in a tough spot backing up Jared Allen, but Robison has shown flashes and should start to produce once his opportunities increase.

[tag]Shaun Rogers[/tag] – I’ve never seen more people assigned to one nose tackle in my life. There were times when Denver triple teamed Rogers with a running back coming in to chip him on his way out of the backfield. Rogers still recorded two tackles on the game, but his main contribution was freeing up other defenders. The Browns gave another game away on Thursday night.

[tag]Aaron Ross[/tag] – Ross gave up a touchdown in the win against the Eagles but played pretty good after it. His future wife, Sonya Richards, gave the Texas football team a pep talk before the game against Baylor this past weekend too. Ross finished with two tackles and one pass breakup.

[tag]Bo Scaife[/tag] – Scaife had a huge game for the Titans with 10 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. When Tennessee picked up Alge Crumpler many thought Scaife’s roll would be reduced, but it has been the opposite. Even with Vince Young on the bench, the Titans have looked for Scaife on third down and near the goal line. That is the biggest sign of what the Titan staff thinks of the former Texas tight end.

[tag]Nathan Vasher[/tag] – It is clear watching Vasher on Sunday that he is not 100 percent yet. He gave up an easy touchdown on a simple slant patter early in the loss against the Titans. When he is healthy Vasher is one of the more dangerous corners in the league, but when he is hobbled he is no better than average.

[tag]Ricky Williams[/tag] – Ricky recorded his first 100 yard game since his return to the NFL. He gained half of it on one touchdown run of 51 yards. He finished with 105 yards on 12 carries. The Heisman voter carried the ball one less time this week than his last two weeks combined.

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Posted September 23rd, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Football

Former Texas defensive tackle [tag]Frank Okam[/tag] got his first action of the season this Sunday against the Titans. He only logged one tackle but he played well and held up pretty well in the middle of the Texans’ defensive line. Houston sports radio personality Lance Zierlein had the following to say on Okam:

I was relatively happy with the play of NT Frank Okam. He held up at the point of attack better than Travis Johnson has this season and I expect him to start getting more snaps as the season progresses.

As we’ve always said with Frank it’s all about motor and effort. Hopefully a taste of success will motivate him and he can continue to get more and more playing time. After an 0-2 start, the Texans could certainly use him.

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Posted April 27th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Draft, Football

Texas defensive tackle [tag]Frank Okam[/tag] won’t have a long flight to join his new NFL team. Frank was drafted with the 16th pick of the 5th round (151st overall) by his home state Houston Texans. The Texans have a good stable of young defensive lineman so Frank will have to work hard and earn his place in the rotation. He’s got as much upside as any defensive tackle in this draft, getting him this low could end up being a steal for the Texans.

Congratulations Frank, show up and work your tail off and show them what you’re capable of.

Update: From the official Texans’ site, an interview with defensive coordinator Richard Smith about Frank and also available his conference call with Houston media.

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Posted April 25th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Draft, Football

Frank OkamPosition: Defensive Tackle
Height: 6-5
Weight: 347 pounds
Hometown: Dallas, TX

Strengths: Smart football player with incredible natural strength and athleticism. Good against the run because his size and strength make him tough for opposing lineman to budge. As much upside as just about any defensive lineman in this year’s draft.

Weaknesses: Underachieved at Texas. Not a high motor guy and takes too many plays off. Is too heavy at 350 pounds, would be a much more effective player 15 pounds lighter. Recurring knee injuries possibly related to carrying too much weight.

Projection: 4th or 5th round

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Posted April 24th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Draft, Football

Most NFL mock drafts only include a round or maybe two, but just like last year ESPN’s Todd McShay has released his seven-round mock draft for your perusal (if you’re an ESPN Insider.) Getting one round is tough enough, but McShay actually did a decent job last year and even nailed Justin Blalock to Atlanta and Brian Robison to Minnesota last year.

Below is where McShay believes the Longhorns in the draft will go followed by my my thoughts on the picks:

Round 1

24. Tennessee Titans – [tag]Limas Sweed[/tag]
This is best possible scenario for Texas fans. Titans need wide receiver help desperately and Sweed may be the best one in the draft. Getting him at #24 would be great for the Titans VY.

Round 2

43. Carolina Panthers – [tag]Jamaal Charles[/tag]
Charles is the first running back taken in the second round. He’d actually have a chance to start for Carolina to, only has to beat out DeAngelo Williams.

Round 3

115. Philadelphia Eagles – [tag]Marcus Griffin[/tag]
Nice spot for Marcus, interesting to see him going so high. I’ll be surprised if Griffin goes before Finley and Hills, simply because I believe those two have much higher ceilings. Great to see a former walk-on work his way into a mid-round NFL Draft pick.

127. Indianapolis Colts – [tag]Jermichael Finley[/tag]
Jermichael might be a little disappointed by how far he falls but he’d be ecstatic to be picked up by the Colts. Pretty much the perfect situation for him. They use their tight end a lot, Peyton Manning to throw him the ball, they split the tight end out wide frequently, and most importantly the Colts throw work out of the shotgun a ton and Finley wouldn’t be asked to be down on the line run blocking much.

129. New England Patriots – [tag]Tony Hills[/tag]
Another good situation. Hills would be given time with New England to develop and wouldn’t be asked to start right away. At the same time, there’s no young, highly regarded tackles on their roster so he’s got a chance to compete by year two.

Round 5

154. Washington Redskins – [tag]Frank Okam[/tag]
Much lower slot than people expected out of Okam a few years ago but McShay may actually have him higher than the current opinion. I’m not sure what I think, I have a feeling he might go as early the fourth round if a team makes a pick based on potential but then I wouldn’t be shocked to see him go undrafted either.

Round 7

215. Baltimore Ravens – [tag]Derek Lokey[/tag]
Imagine if Lokey had Okam’s build, the kid would be a first round pick. But he’s 6-foot-1 and a light 290 pounds which is considered very undersized for an NFL defensive tackle. I’d love to see Derek go to a team and be utilized as a goal line fullback and deep snapper as well as a defensive tackle who can give 15 – 20 snaps a game.

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Posted March 20th, 2008 by Brian
Filed under: Draft, Football

Brandon Foster runs the 40 at Texas pro dayPro day, or pro timing day, is an NFL Draft prospect’s chance to show scouts what he’s got in a comfortable environment. They’re on their own campus, in their own gym, working out with their teammates and coaches. It also is a chance for the guys who weren’t invited to the NFL Combine to show their stuff. At Texas’ pro day Wednesday, sixteen players were weighed, measured, timed, and did position drills for 75 NFL personnel people.

Most of this information is cribbed from NFL.com, Orangebloods, and the Austin-American Statesman blog post on UT’s pro day. The numbers are inconsistent because they always are, everybody gets their times from a different source. Here’s how some of the Horns performed:

  • Cornerback [tag]Brandon Foster[/tag] – 5-7 5/8, 185, 10-8 broadjump. Ran a blazing 4.28 time in the 40-yard dash. He also showed athleticism with a 38-inch vertical jump. His performance might offset the fact that Foster was measured at 5-7.
  • Running back [tag]Jamaal Charles[/tag] – 5-11, 199 pounds. Elected not to run, allowing his 4.38 time that he posted at the combine to stand. Ran position workouts and looked good catching the football.
  • Receiver [tag]Limas Sweed[/tag] – 6-4 1/8, 210, 37 vertical. Ran a 4.40, shaving nearly a tenth of a second off of the time he ran at the NFL combine last month. 4.33 short shuttle, 7.14 cone drill. Ran position drills and looked good catching the ball.
  • Tight end [tag]Jermichael Finley[/tag] – 6-4 3/4, 240 pounds. Ran a 4.62, dropping his time from the combine by .24. His time is now the second fastest run by a tight end in workouts leading up to next month’s draft.
  • Backup safety [tag]Drew Kelson[/tag] – 6-0 1/2, 216, 10-9 broad jump. Posted a 41.5-inch vertical jump and ran a 4.45. We’re checking to see if any other player in the country has jumped higher in draft workouts.
  • Defensive tackle [tag]Derek Lokey[/tag] – 6-1 3/8, 293, 33.5 vert. Did 38 reps on the 225-pound bench press. He also worked out at fullback and deep snapper. 9-foot, 4-inch long jump, 4.37 short shuttle, 7.57 cone drill, 38 reps in the bench press, and ran position drills.
  • Linebacker [tag]Scott Derry[/tag] – 6-2 1/2, 221
  • Tackle [tag]Tony Hills[/tag] – 6-5, 307 lbs. 24 reps in the bench press, but could not run or do other drills due to an injury.
  • Defensive tackle [tag]Frank Okam[/tag] – 6-4 7/8, 27.5 vertical. Dropped 12 pounds since his weigh-in at the combine. He is weighing 335 right now.
  • Safety [tag]Marcus Griffin[/tag] – 5-10, 196, 37.5 vert. Ran a 4.5 40.
  • Wide receiver [tag]Billy Pittman[/tag] – 5-11, 195. Ran a 4.56.
  • Also participated: safety [tag]Erick Jackson[/tag], wide receiver [tag]Nate Jones[/tag], linebacker [tag]Robert Killebrew[/tag], defensive tackle [tag]Thomas Marshall[/tag], punter [tag]Justin Moore[/tag], and former Longhorn safety [tag]Lee Jackson[/tag].
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Biggest question for the Texas offense is who will replace Charles. Vondrell McGee, Fozzy Whittaker and Chris Ogbonnaya are main options.

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What happened to the 5-star prospects? CFN re-ranks the top prospects from the 2004 recruiting class including Frank Okam and Drew Kelson.

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