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Oklahoma State Football

Jim Knowles' Defense Is Packed Full of Oklahoma Playmakers

September 21, 2021

STILLWATER – Something that’s been on my mind, and the minds of nearly every single Oklahoma State fans the past few weeks is just how good this Oklahoma State defense has been over the first three games of the season.

Starting linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez has been in the top-five nationally in solo and total tackles the first three weeks of the season, Brock Martin is tied for third in the conference with sacks in two, Jason Taylor II has been a ball magnet when on the field and now has a starting spot, freshman edge rusher Collin Oliver is getting significant playing time in the absence of Trace Ford, and is playing really well, and Israel Antwine and Brendon Evers have been a disruptive force inside.

What do all those guys have in common? They’re all from Oklahoma, and the list is even longer than that as Jim Knowles and Co. has done and is continuing to do a great job of recruiting local talent to Stillwater.

Alphabetical list of scholarship defensive players from Oklahoma

  • Israel Antwine - DT - Millwood
  • Collin Clay - DT - Putnam City
  • Kendal Daniels - S - Beggs
  • Brendon Evers - DT - Bixby
  • Trace Ford - Edge - Edmond Santa Fe
  • Demarco Jones - CB - Booker T. Washington
  • Aden Kelley - DT - Thomas-Fay-Custer
  • Brock Martin - DE - Oologah
  • Collin Oliver - Edge - Edmond Santa Fe
  • Jordan Reagan - CB - Bixby
  • Jeff Roberson - LB - Choctaw
  • Malcolm Rodriguez - LB - Wagoner
  • Donovan Stephens - LB - Del City
  • Jason Taylor II - S - Carl Albert

Italics = Starter

“It’s always nice,” said Martin of another Oklahoman getting a shot. “Me and Jason [Taylor II] actually get after it a lot, like talking about how good his team was and how good 4A Oklahoma was when me and Malcolm [Rodriguez] were in high school. We always have the argument that we had beaten the No. 1 5A team (Collinsville) that year like 44-14, and [Wagoner] took it to the wire with them. It’s always good fun, but it’s always nice; Oklahoma kids get looked over a lot in the recruiting world, so it’s nice. Coach Gundy does a good job recruiting those Oklahoma kids and keeping them in state, and it’s nice to see those guys succeed, especially here.”

Brock was close, it was a 43-14 home win in the opening game of the season. However, it was Malcolm who got the last laugh as Wagoner beat Oologah twice that season, 17-7 and again in the state championship game, 28-14. 

As for Taylor II, he won two state championships with Carl Albert and Rodriguez won three with Wagoner.

Just looking at the Boise State game, the Oklahomans combined for 21 total tackles, 12 of which were solo stops, four tackles for loss, two sacks, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble.

On the year, the Oklahoma State defense as a whole has combined for 209 total tackles, 127 of which have been solo stops, 22 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, five pass break ups, 19 quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks.

Looking throughout the first three games of the season, seven of the guys listed above, Israel Antwine, Brendon Evers, Demarco Jones, Aden Kelley, Brock Martin, Collin Oliver, Jeff Roberson, Malcolm Rodriguez and Jason Taylor II have combined for 72 total tackles, 35 of which have been solo stops, 5.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, eight quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, one pass break up and one blocked field goal. Even Jake Schultz, a walk-on defensive end out of Prague, OK, recorded a tackle against Missouri State.

Those are pretty solid numbers coming from Oklahomans, including the blocked field goal by Jason Taylor II against Boise State to help preserve the Pokes’ 21-20 lead late in the game.

Had Trace Ford not torn his other ACL, he’d be a major force on this defense as well, but looking at the list of Oklahomans, plus the guys that are currently in the 2022 class like Stillwater linebacker Gabe Brown, they’re set to be dynamic for years to come.

Discussion from...

Jim Knowles' Defense Is Packed Full of Oklahoma Playmakers

1,125 Views | 5 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by Zach Lancaster
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That's a lot... and I know we have some Okla kids contributing on offense too..

this may be close to the most Oklahoma kids we've had on roster is a while...

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I really love to see the Oklahoma kids rising to the top, as well as the sheer numbers that are contributing. That was one thing that bothered me for many years - that it seemed like Oklahoma kids weren't landing at O-State (or uo, either). I think this is a good evolution
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Good to build Oklahoma fan base and future recruiting ties as well. Who knows, OU's move to the SEC may make even more Oklahoma kids put OSU above OU. Likely depends on their success in SEC vs ours in New Big XII, and whether moms and dads like driving to Baylor, TCU, KU and KSU better than some more distant SEC locations. (Arkansas is somewhat in the mix for both schools in near future). Our 4 new teams all offer pretty nice flight/travel destinations too.
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Roberson from Choctaw too.
Zach Lancaster
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I knew I'd miss bad. I've just updated the article!
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