September 2, 2009

Countdown to kickoff: No.4 - Alex Okafor

Name: Alex Okafor

Position: Defensive end

Classification: Freshman

Prep credentials: The former Pflugerville star was a five-star prospect (6.1) who was ranked as the nation's No.2 defensive end (behind Devon Kennard) and the No.14 overall prospect in the nation by Rivals. Okafor was ranked as the No.3 overall prospect in the state by Lone Star Recruiting and ranked No.2 by Rivals.

Click here to see Okafor's high school film

2008 stats: Okafor recorded 59 tackles and 15 sacks as a senior at Pflugerville.

2008 Honors: The five star prospect was a Parade All-American, a U.S. Army Bowl All-American and second-team All-USA (USA Today).

Scouting Report: The 6-4, 240-pound Okafor might be the best young defensive end to arrive in Austin since Tony Brackens and if you're looking for a player that might emerge as a true impact player from the Class of 2009, the list begins and ends here.

Although Okafor excels at rushing the passer and defending the run, his skill as a rusher off the edge will be his primary focus as he begins his college career. Okafor possesses a very quick burst off the ball, does a very good job of using his hands and has a natural feel for creating leverage advantages against blockers trying to keep him from the quarterback. His combination of size, strength and athleticism make him a potentially elite-level pass rusher in the Big 12.

From the very first day of camp in August, Will Muschamp has been grooming Okafor as a pass-rushing specialist from the moment the season starts. Like Sergio Kindle, Muschamp has been moving Okafor up, down and all around the defensive line as a stand-up rusher and he has a chance to be a big part of what the Longhorns do with their pressure packages all season. Keep an eye on him in the season-opener against La-Monroe because he'll be on the field in the first half and when he's there, expect him to be in 100-percent attack mode. The staff doesn't want him thinking about too much at this point in his career. They want to keep him in a comfort zone and that means rushing the passer at this point in his career.

Don't let his skill as a pass rusher led you into thinking that he's a one-trick pony as a player. Okafor is a strong player at the point of attack, but he's still learning some of the nuances of the position/scheme. Expect to see him earn more snaps as the season continues and his consistency against defending the run against high-level run blockers improves. His ability to make plays up and down the line of scrimmage will eventually make him the kind of player that opposing teams will have to game plan around. He'll start this season as a situational player, but don't be shocked if he's earning starter's playing time before the end of the season.

The big hope… Okafor racks up more than a half-dozen sacks and competes for Newcomer of the Year honors in the Big 12.

The big worry… He's young and the flash in practice doesn't translate to on-field success as a true freshman.

Did you know? He's enrolled in the college of liberal arts

NFL Scouting report: "There's already a buzz about this guy. There was when I went through there this spring. He's an athletic kid and the coaches think he's going to be a great one. I can't wait to see what he's all about."

The bottom line: Okafor is one of the future cornerstones of the Texas defense. If he stays healthy, he's expected to have a major first-year impact for the Longhorns. Yes, the expectations are extremely high and they are much-deserved.

No.5 - Brandon Collins
No.6 - Russell Carter
No.7 - Fozzy Whittaker
No.8 - Justin Tucker
No.9 - Lamarr Houston
No.10 - Dan Buckner
No.11 - Eddie Jones
No.12 - Tre Newton
No.13 - Emmanuel Acho
No.14 - John Chiles
No.15 - Kheeston Randall
No.16 - David Snow
No.17 - Curtis Brown
No.18 - Malcolm Williams
No.19 - Keenan Robinson
No.20 - Vondrell McGee
No.21 - Blake Gideon
No.22 - Adam Ulatoski
No.23 - Ben Alexander
No.24 - James Kirkendoll
No.25 - Jared Norton

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