UT's Oku versatile, tough

UT's Oku versatile, tough

August 28th, 2009 by Wes Rucker in Sports - College

KNOXVILLE -- David Oku is listed as a freshman running back on the Tennessee football roster.

Listing all the positions he could play would have significantly increased the athletic department's ink bill.

Oku lined up all over the practice field Tuesday -- after leading wide receiver Gerald Jones suffered a high ankle sprain and before fellow freshman tailback Bryce Brown was ruled immediately eligible by the NCAA.

"He's really good," coach Lane Kiffin said. "He can play receiver. He can play running back. He can play quarterback. He's a great athlete. Really, things come very easy to him."

Coaches always told Oku he'd primarily play tailback, which is his preference, but he also likes trying other positions.

"Any time you can be involved as a freshman, that's a good thing," Oku said Aug. 9, the last date UT's first-year players were made available to the media. "I can do a lot of different things out there, and anything the coaches want to do is fine with me."

Oku, unlike Brown, is built like a typical freshman tailback at a thin 5-foot-10, 186 pounds. But the Oklahoma native has clearly emerged as one of the offense's toughest players to tackle. His vision, shiftiness and top-end speed have impressed teammates, and he's shown a veteran's toughness by bouncing back from several punishing hits during a physical preseason camp.

"I told all our freshmen when they got here that there was no junior varsity in college," senior guard Vladimir Richard said. "There's only varsity out here, and how old you are doesn't matter. If you can help, get your (tail) out there and do it. And those young guys are getting out there and doing it."

Kiffin said Oku's football IQ has been a major benefit, too. Oku watched video Tuesday of a play Kiffin designed for Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush at Southern Cal, and he perfectly executed the play on the first try that afternoon on the practice field.

"Some guys are just really natural that way," Kiffin said.

Briscoe arrested

Former UT wide receiver Josh Briscoe was arrested in Sevier County on Thursday and charged with solicitation of a minor by an authority figure.

Briscoe, 23, was accused of sending an inappropriate text message to a 15-year-old male student. The message allegedly solicited a sexual favor.

Briscoe was an assistant coach for the Pigeon Forge High School football team, and the text allegedly was sent to a player. A Sevier County Schools spokesperson said Briscoe resigned from his position.

Briscoe, who was released after posting $7,500 bond, caught 79 passes for 866 yards and eight touchdowns from 2005 to '08. He was one of the team's most publicly involved players, spending much of his time off the field with student government and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Briscoe, who came to UT from Lawndale, N.C., is scheduled to appear next month in Sevier County General Sessions Court.

Attempts to reach him Thursday weren't immediately successful, but he posted the following message on his Facebook account: "All that know prayer, please pray for me. Going through something right now. God will handle it all, just need your prayer and support."