Sooners' top-10 hidden gems: No. 8

The spring evaluation period is upon us.

Oklahoma has made a living out of evaluating and developing talent, helping the Sooners go 51-15 during their past five seasons, including four straight seasons with double-digit wins. During Bob Stoops tenure, Oklahoma has been able to consistently compete for championships thanks in part to its ability to land hidden gems like Aaron Colvin and Dominique Alexander. Over the next two weeks, we’ll count down the top-10 hidden gems of the past five years at OU. Today we look at No. 8:

No. 8 Dominique Alexander, linebacker, Class of 2013

Recruiting rank: 75 (out of 100) ESPN.com scout rating, No. 115 athlete, No. 12 in Oklahoma

What we said: “Shows good instincts and awareness, reacting quickly to what he sees in both the run and pass. At his best playing with everything in front of him, to break on the ball with good burst to arrive with ball or explode through ball carrier. If a red shirt year is not deemed necessary, Alexander could see early situational playing time on either side of the ball at the next level.” -- ESPN.com recruiting analysis

Other reported offers: Kansas State, Arkansas, Texas Tech, Nebraska and others

Career production: Alexander’s career is in its infant stages, but he’s already exceeded expectations. He was the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year last season after recording 80 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one sack in 13 games played. He was thrust into the starting lineup after Corey Nelson was lost for the season and, after some early hiccups, improved each week while becoming one of the most productive players on the entire roster during his eight starts as a true freshman.

Why Alexander is No. 8: He has a strong argument to be much higher, but let’s wait to see how he responds as a sophomore before overloading the Tulsa, Okla., native with too many accolades. Nonetheless, Alexander has produced like a five-star, top-30 recruit since he stepped on campus. When he arrived in the summer there was an immediate buzz that he could contribute despite OU returning two starters ahead of him. He handled the hype and, most importantly, he handled being thrown into the fire as a starter extremely well for a teenager who had been on campus for just a few months.

Alexander was a relatively late offer and late addition to OU’s Class of 2013, but he’s proven to be the most valuable signee thus far in a class that featured seven members of the ESPN 300. And Alexander’s inner drive and hunger to improve should give the coaching staff confidence that he will strive to become one of the Big 12’s top linebackers instead of suffering a sophomore slump this fall.

The rest of the list:

No. 9: CB Demontre Hurst

No. 10: G Tyler Evans