The Golden Hurricane signed 23 players in Todd Graham's second recruiting class as TU's head coach Wednesday, placing a heavy emphasis on defense and in-state recruits.
After leading the nation in total offense in 2007, the Golden Hurricane concentrated on improving the other side of the ball. The result was seven letters of intent from defensive backs and four from linebackers.
"After losing three linebackers to graduation, we think we've addressed a need there by signing four exceptional linebackers in this class,'' said Graham, a former defensive coordinator. ``We lost two starters at safety, and we signed five safeties in this class that we think are outstanding players.''
Nine of Tulsa's incoming freshmen are in-state recruits. By comparison, OU and OSU each recruited only three high-school players within the state.
Among TU's in-state signings were tailback Chris Adkins and offensive lineman Cody Dorris, who played together at Class 6A state champion Jenks.
``We thought it was a great year to recruit Oklahoma,'' Graham said. ``These are guys whose skills and talents fit what we're doing. If all things are equal, we're going to take kids from Oklahoma. We take a great sense of pride in not only being from Tulsa, but from Oklahoma. We want kids to stay in this state and represent this state and city.''
Graham said he had hoped to improve TU's overall speed and athleticism while also strengthening the offensive line. Four of the Golden Hurricane's nine new offensive players are linemen.
Other signings included transfer receiver Dee Williams from Butler County (Kan.) Community College, Crockett (Texas) High School running back Willie Carter and kicker Kevin Fitzpatrick from Jensen Beach (Fla.) High School. Graham said Fitzpatrick should help eliminate Tulsa's problems with short kickoffs.
Tulsa had previously signed three junior college transfers, quarterback Jacob Bower, safety Ade Manga and linebacker Kaipo Sarkissian. All three have enrolled in school and will go through spring practice.