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October 27, 2009

FREE STORY: Bedlam Hits East Texas

MARSHALL, Texas - Bedlam is an event that shuts down the state of Oklahoma every time the Sooners and Cowboys hook up, none causes more of a state wide rift than their annual fall gridiron clashes. While this year's battle may be more than a month away that doesn't mean there aren't small skirmishes being fought everywhere.

Last weekend the rivalry extended beyond state lines and found it's way into East Texas.

While the stadium may not have been filled with Sooner and Cowboy fans it could easily have been mistaken with Marshall high's red sideline staring straight across at the orange-clad army from Texarkana's Texas High.

The two stars leading the two warring nations were the key elements in this skirmish, Sooner commitment Aaron Franklin of Marshall and Texas high quarterback Nathan Sorenson who will soon be taking snaps in Stillwater.

While such match-ups rarely live up to the billing with some anomaly or another rarely leading the players into any on-field confrontation.

Such was not the case for Franklin and Sorenson who thanks to Franklin's frequent blitzes and Sorenson's running ability were often meeting up in space with both players getting the better of each other at various points throughout the 36-30 Marshall win.

Sorenson ran well on the day and at every turn it seemed he found his way into Franklin's path, or just beyond it.

Perhaps most interestingly though was watching Franklin, who passes the eyeball test t around 6-foot-2, and 205-pounds work in pass coverage situations against Sorenson's tight ends and slot wide receivers. Franklin showed no trouble working against them and compared to almost any linebacker you'll find looked extremely comfortable running against receivers in the open field.

That said, Sorenson was able to find a few gaps against Franklin and the Marshall defense throwing for just over 150-yards and a pair of scores, including one with Franklin in tight coverage.

However the two Bedlam combatants weren't the only division one talent on the field with a pair of offensive linemen showing some real talent.

For Marshall, 2010 offensive guard Tre Glover appears bigger than his 6-foot-2, 280-pound frame and showed of some really nice footwork at his right tackle position.

Meanwhile it's hard to imagine a more polished sophomore offensive lineman than Texas high's John Michael McGee who starts at left tackle for the Tigers and seems ready to become a special 2012 prospect. He stands at about 6-foot-3, and 300-pounds currently so it will be interesting to see if he grows into a tackle prospect or if he'll end up a very athletic guard.

PROSPECTS:

Aaron Franklin: The skilled outside linebacker moved well in space and really surprised with his work in pass coverage, he looked as natural as any linebacker I can remember watching. The big question for me is how comfortable he is mixing it up in traffic. Franklin sometimes seemed to avoid blocks rather than trying to make sure he kept his gap responsibility and it led to Texas high being able to bounce outside from time to time.

One can't help but wonder if these are just some lingering issues from last season's knee injuries and can be remedied as he gains more confidence that the same isn't going to happen again. As that confidence comes and he continues to learn the position I think he'll show great improvement.

Tre Glover: The big offensive lineman has some really nice athletic ability and honestly it's up in the air why he hasn't already received some more serious recruiting attention. He is strong at the point of attack and does a great job getting to the second level of defenders in Marshall's scheme that sees a lot of zone-read down-blocking.

He isn't the biggest lineman around but is plenty big enough to play for any number of schools.

John Michael McGee: It's tough to evaluate a kid so young at this point in time but it's clear he has the physical make-up and the natural athletic ability to be a player worth remembering moving forward.

Nathan Sorenson: Sorenson showed a lot more athleticism than had been expected, some are convinced he isn't the athlete that his fellow Cowboy commitment Johnny Deaton is but Sorenson is extremely reminiscent of current signal caller Zac Robinson.

Much like Robinson he emerges from high school with several things to work on.

His release is chief among them it's a bit long, to the point of often being brought well behind his ear. Mechanically there isn't a lot to change just shortening up the release as Sorenson will have to learn to get the ball loaded as he drops back and have it in a position where he is simply going forward with the ball when he makes up his mind.

All in all though Sorenson is a very promising quarterback prospect and a very good fit for Oklahoma State's offensive system.


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