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October 24, 2003MIAMI, Okla. - Tucked away in the Northeast corner of Oklahoma is Miami, Okla., is Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, home to one of the nation's top junior college football programs. It's also one of the hottest stops for college coaches looking to find players that can come in and contribute quickly, and this year's class definitely has some impact players, according to coach Dale Patterson.
"We're blessed again with some great talent," Patterson said. "We're 6-1 on the season. We lost that first game to Coffeyville, but we've bounced back with some solid wins. We beat Blinn 34-20 last week and that has us really set up for a great run through the final weeks of the season."
Helping him make that run is a collection of at least 10 sophomore prospects that are going to end up playing Division I football somewhere.
Three-star tight end Sean Harmon (6-3, 265, 4.85) was placed by Oklahoma State and plans on returning to Stillwater. But another placement doesn't look to be returning to the school that placed him at NEO.
Four-star defensive tackle Remi Ayodele, who is 6-foot-3 and 301 pounds, was placed by Purdue at NEO but he's opened things up.
"He's open," Patterson said. "He's been offered by Oklahoma State and Washington State. He's going to take some visits and think about his options."
But those two are just the tip of the iceberg.
One player that has really played himself into a solid Division I prospect is Abraham Wright, a 6-foot-3, 248-pound three-star strongside defensive end. Wright has scholarship offers from Washington State, Temple, Washington, UCF, Louisiana Tech and Tulsa. He's currently leaning toward Wazzou and OSU.
"He's really come out of nowhere," Patterson said.
"He's got the vitals, and he's really quick. He's also a three-for-three guy that graduates in December. He's a pass rusher, too. He kind of reminds me of Antonio Smith, who went to Oklahoma State from here. Abraham is a little green, but he's getting better and better each week."
On the offensive line, Patterson said he has two solid prospects that are worthy of big time college football - Mike Mengers, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound guard originally from Mustang, Okla., and Brian Baucoms, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound guard originally from Collinsville, Okla.
"Mike is big time," Patterson said. "He's got the height that everybody is looking for, really good grades and he graduates in December. He's got three years to play, too, so that makes him even more attractive. He just has such quick feet. Somebody is going to take him and land themselves a great player. Brian is a two-for-two guy that is one of our team leaders. He can play either guard or center."
The two offensive linemen are protecting a quarterback prospect that is quickly developing into a solid Division I prospect in his own right.
"We kind of threw Andre Daniel (6-4, 190, 4.5) into the fire early in the season," Patterson said. "I thought at first that we were bringing him along too slow, so we threw him into the fire after the first game of the season and unleashed him to do the types of things that we know he can do. We told him it was time to let him sink or swim."
He's more than excelled, Patterson said.
"He's the type of talent that everybody is looking for," Patterson said. "He can throw, run and avoid the blitz. He's a May graduate with three years to play two. I know Kansas State called him on (Tuesday) and they really like him quite a bit. Kansas is another team interested in him. Somebody is going to get a heck of a player in the dual-threat mold."
The NEO defensive backfield is also loaded with prospects, highlighted by Brandon Bruner, Brandon and Bryon Smith.
"We put Brandon on Rashad Fisher, the all everything receiver from Blinn and he covered him like a glove," Patterson said. "He might be the biggest sleeper in the bunch. I think he's going to be an excellent corner in the next level. He's got three to play three and his stock is really on the rise."
Twin brothers Byron and Brandon Smith both originally from Midwest City, Okla., have Tulsa offers already on their list and Patterson said it'll be a battle between the Golden Hurricane and Kansas State for their pledge.
"I know Tulsa really likes both Byron and Brandon and they'd be great fits there," Patterson said.
"They are kids that have a chance to make an impact right away wherever they end up at."
Byron is 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds and Brandon is 6-foot-1 and 174 pounds.
Both were highly recruited out of high school and both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would have offered them if they had achieved a qualifying test score.