May 2, 2011

What Does Hunter Bring to the Table at DE?

KATY, Texas - Through the years Oklahoma has almost always seemed to prefer speed rushing defensive ends who look as much like power forwards as they do future run-stuffers. However with Oklahoma doing some unique things up front near the end of last year one position that could be effected more than any other is at the edge-rush positions.

With those changes in mind some have wondered what Oklahoma's ideal defensive end might look like and after getting a first hand look at Katy (Texas) Morton Ranch's monstrous Danielle Hunter it seems Oklahoma fans may already have one on campus, Frank Alexander.

At roughly 6-foot-5, and 235-pounds the similarities between the recent Sooner offer and Alexander in high school are striking.

Both are bigger and scheme-diverse as guys who could play the inside five-technique in a three-man front or line up wide and purely pursue the quarterback in a four-man front.

One advantage that Hunter does hold is Morton Ranch's ever-daunting schedule in which he faces mighty Katy high along with Cinco Ranch and other talented teams from around the greater Houston area. As such it's not overly surprising to see Hunter show off skills beyond many players in his class.

While Hunter isn't yet the most pure pass-rusher, which is due in part to a defensive scheme that is more about keeping linebackers free to make plays from sideline to sideline, he shows great ability in the run game. Most notably due to his great size and strength at the point of attack he shows great vision into the backfield and does a good job of following his eyes to the ball-carrier. It's not often you talk about a defensive lineman who 'scrapes' well down the line of scrimmage but Hunter is reminiscent of a linebacker as he works from edge to edge.

Of course the key to any linebacker moving up and down the line of scrimmage in similar fashion is the ability to get off of blocks as well as keep their feet as they move through the traffic. If there are any two things that Hunter seems to do most naturally it's keeping offensive lineman way from his body, and thus away from his feet.

The interesting aspect is that all this fits Oklahoma's use of a three-man front but while watching Hunter live against Morton Ranch's run-heavy offense there weren't a lot of chances to see him in pure pass-rush situations. But on film Hunter is a long athlete who shows off the kind of athletic ability you'd expect from a player who spends his early spring running 400-meters and high jumps for Morton Ranch.

So the ultimate question after having looked at Hunter, is he the prototype for what Oklahoma is looking for at defensive end?

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