Claremore Daily Progress

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February 7, 2013

Ex-Zebra DL Patterson signs with NSU

TAHLEQUAH — Aaron Patterson's signed letter of intent was hot off the fax machine at 7:16 on Wednesday morning.

Seven hours later, Northeastern State had received 29 letters of intent to finalize its haul on National Signing Day.

"I think it's a very good class," NSU head coach Kenny Evans said. "We'll know how good of a class it was in two years."

Making up the majority of NSU's signing class was 16 players from inside the state lines. Among them was Tahlequah's Mason McMillan, Sequoyah's Tanner Sheets and Keys' Blake Maxey and JJ Ozturk.

The four Cherokee County players signify what the RiverHawks went hard after during the recruiting process: linemen and running backs. NSU was able to sign nine offensive linemen and more than a handful of running backs.

"We feel like we addressed some longterm needs," Evans said.

Noticeably absent from the RiverHawks' signing class was the lack of defensive backs. NSU opted to go without any cornerbacks or safeties in 2013.

"We were very selective this year," Evans said. "We turned down a lot of recruits because they didn't fit a particular need. We also have a lot of guys returning."

The RiverHawks certainly do at defensive back. Heading up that group in 2013 will be cornerback Vernon Jones, safety Victor Johnson and Marquin Watts, who sat out during the recent 2012 campaign.

As for guys who were signed that could make an immediate impact, Evans said defensive lineman Reuben Washington (6-foot-1, 285 pounds) and wide receivers, Austin Roberts (5-11, 194) and Raquan Dobbs (6-2, 180), could fit that mold.

"Washington can come in and do some things real quick," Evans said of the Houston native. "Both receivers, they've got great speed. Both have legitimate track time. There's no doubt on the football field that they can stretch the coverage real quick, and that's something we did not have last year."

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