2015 LB Amonte Caban – What OU Needs

Image via Opelika-Auburn News (Photo by Albert Cesare)

Derrick Brooks, Derrick Johnson, and Lavonte David are names that come to mind when I see Amonte Caban (Smiths, AL). I know, I know, this comparison is absolutely ridiculous! We’re talking about a Hall of Famer, a Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and a 1st team All-Pro selection. I am fully aware of these lofty accolades, but I don’t care. I am willing to be audacious, because I really like this kid!

Inside linebacker recruiting is critical right now. Frankly, it’s always critical in the 3-4 scheme. Oklahoma needs fast, physical, instinctive guys, and they need to build some real depth at that position. With Jordan Evans being ill, the uncertainty surrounding Frank Shannon’s situation, and the lack of time Aaron Franklin has seen on the field, there don’t seem to be a whole lot of options at the ILB position. And even if all three were available, we’re still talking about a converted safety playing ILB in a 3-4 (Franklin), two true sophomores (Alexander & Evans), and a distinct lack of a fourth legitimate player to complete a two-deep.

When breaking down any linebacker, I have to know if he is a ‘3-down’ backer. Does he have the HIPS to play in coverage, or does he have the first step, hands, and HIPS to charge the pocket. Caban appears to have all three. But he’s also just a play-maker and I can’t express that enough. In fact, at first glance OU fans might see Rufus Alexander. While Alexander was a Louisiana guy and Caban is an Alabama guy, the two of them just look like they’re cut from the same cloth. Caban punishes everything. He has a zone and it’s everywhere. There is a play on his film where he’s manned up and displays one of the most fluid ‘speed turns’ (when a player knows he is going to the flats and, for a split second, turns his back to allow himself to recover from an arrow route) I’ve seen.

Caban’s largest flaw drives any coach insane. His first movement is always straight up. He doesn’t even get into his first step before he stands up. And in doing so, he essentially handicaps himself. Once a player is in his stance, he must always play at the same level where he begins, with a slow crescendo of the HIPS prior to the tackle. Caban is one of the most explosive athletes when he’s closing and tackling, but he rarely begins in proper position. Even his pre-snap stance has a ton of wasted motion; hands on his knees, which makes for an awkward knee bend, butt out instead of more down, etc. But all that said, he still makes the play! Once he gets to college and gets additional instruction all these things will be easily correctable.

I’m going to be honest. I see a future All-American type player in Caban. To me, he is a potential Butkus Award type of a guy with the right coaching. He plays with moxie that coaches seek and the athleticism that makes them salivate. As a former LB and current coach, I love linebacker play and Caban is a guy that gets me excited. He is a player I will follow wherever he goes. A novice observer might see too much Jeff Luc (2009 All-American who signed with Florida State, but transferred to Cincinnati), but Caban has better hips and sideline-to-sideline speed.

Caban may be a tad sawed off. He may be a little raw. But I simply don’t care. He is a player and fits what OU wants. And, frankly, at this point is what really OU needs.


  • Brian

    So the million dollar question is…Can OU reel him in? Because I’m drinking the Kool-Aid too!

    • Zack

      I think there’s a possibility. His crystal ball switched to South Carolina and miss state still has a slight chance according to the crystal ball. I think ou can make an impression on him and maybe get him to Norman. I don’t know the depth at msu or sc but a lot of people question our depth so maybe an appeal of early playing time actually exists here.

      • SoonerKevin

        He runs down hill like Curtis Lofton. Derrick Johnson was good, but I like Lofton better. maybe my Crimson shades need cleaning.

  • Sooner Ray

    Thanks Ace, nice review. Hope we can generate some interest from this kid.

  • Zack

    Boom. Ace I couldn’t agree more. This kids attitude is what a lot of teams need but ou needs to take a kid like this out of Alabama before they get in on him and let him play with a chip on his shoulder.

  • kt-raida

    Good to hear from you Ace great article!

  • Jason Vos

    OU needs at least 3 proper ILB’s in this class and 2 OLB’s

    • ratman

      How about Jefferson??

      • Jason Vos

        pipe dream imo, would be nice if we get him. But dont hold your breath. I think chances are at 5% or less.

    • Zack

      You think they need to take 5 linebackers along with 4-5 dlinemen and 6 oline? That’s 15-16 guys for 3 groups. I think they only need to take 7 combined linebackers and dlinemen. Ou is known for their skill position guys they need to keep acquiring depth there. I will say I’m in the minority that thinks were think in the front 7.

      • Defend Colfax

        I’ve read this over twice and it’s still not making sense. I’m assuming you meant “thin” and not “think” but still do you really think we need more RBs and WRs or is that sarcasm?

        • Zack

          Yes thin I fixed that thanks. And no not sarcasm, I think we need to take 2 wr at least and possibly a 2nd rb depending on how the mixon situation shakes out. I also include DBs as skill positions. I’m just really saying I can only see taking 7 LB/DL and maybe 8 if it’s the right guys (whitfield being one of the linebackers) since we really play more of a 3-3-5 I don’t think we need to overload at linebacker like we are running a true 3-4.

          • Defend Colfax

            True, I agree it seems we do run more of a 3-3-5 than a 34. But i still have terrible memories of us getting pushed around by a terrible Texas team. Which makes me think we need as much beef as we can get.

          • Stephen

            I agree, it is important to keep gathering RB/WR/DB for depth, the LB proves that depth should always be a priority. On the other hand, I think this class will be weighted heavily on the O-line and defensive positions, and rightly so.

      • rphdenton

        ……we have skill position players out the yazoo right now……….not so for lbs/o/d line

    • B.R.

      OU in top 5 for both KLS and Malik Jefferson

      • Stephen

        Exciting, but I don’t feel like we’ll grab either of these guys unless we have a very big year.

      • Super K

        If there was a magic lamp for OU…Malik Jefferson should be one of their wishes. I call him “The Ghost”

        • Mike Reed

          Didn’t Malik Jefferson recently say he’ll decide his school in mid December because he plans on enrolling early?

      • Jackson1006

        Who is kls? And where did you see this? I remember 2008 when our mlb reynolds went down in the texas game. That sure changed the defense that year. Really hard to understand why it has been so difficult to get LBS lately (even factoring in that we play spread teams)

        • B.R.

          Keisean Lucier-South. Most of the things that I post I have seen on twitter.

          • Zack

            Twitter is a great source of info. Especially if you follow all these recruits.

    • I think they need to take 3, max 4 LB’s.The only reason I say 4 is because who know how may of them eventually get moved to a different position.

      • Zack

        I see 4 if one is whitfield which I think should be recruited as a safety.

    • paganpink

      Throw Whitfield in there anyway, LOL.

  • Anyone know how many LB’s Alabama is taking? They have two committed and Crystal Ball says Josh McMillon is going to as well… You would have to think a Bama offer would be the biggest hurdle.

    • Stephen

      Bama can’t take many more, I think they have more 4* recruits than we have total recruits. I hope this causes a traffic jam for their recruiting and really benefits OU.

      • I hope so too. Below is a listing of who would probably be top competition for Caban along with committed LB’s.
        Auburn – 5
        S. Carolina – 3
        Miss. St. – 2

        • Zack

          Thanks for sharing this so I don’t have to research. Also with msu only having 2, they are close to 30 commits so they’re running out of space.

      • Fear The Magic

        You forget, Saban usually over signs so if they like the kid they wont hesitate to go after him even if theyre over their Scholly limit.

  • Roger Nixon

    Wow. Derrick Johnson was one of the few Longhorns that made me envious. I would love for OU to land a player of that caliber.

  • L’carpetron Dookmarriot

    I watched the video and now my ribs hurt…

    “Oh, you’re going to run a drag route into Caban’s zone? Uh, ok…” (snickers with devilish delight)

  • Big Higg

    Watched three plays. Sold.

    • leatherneck1061

      Agreed. This kid is a stud.

    • Ed Cotter

      BEAST MODE!! And definitely BRINGS THE WOOD! Wow!

  • Cory Reedy

    “Jordan Evans being ill” What the heck did I miss??

    • Zack

      Flu. Was rumored he had mono but he’s back practicing.

      • Jordan Esco

        We’re actually still working this. Not saying this isn’t the case, but I wouldn’t take it as fact quite yet.

  • Kevin Fielder

    A-C-E…the MAN!

    • Super K

      Ace did a nice write-up on recent OU commit Kenneth Mann that we haven’t posted yet. He does a great job breaking down defensive talent. He did a lot of film review for UTSA so coupled with that and his coaching and playing experience, he’s developed a good eye…especially in the front 7

  • jmac45

    Doesn’t allow himself to get locked-up by OL and his reaction time is good without over running the play. Kid plays on the edges of blockers really well.

  • JB

    Any word on OU’s recruiting status with him?

    • Super K

      He wants to take an official to OU. But we’ll more on him later 🙂

      • Zack

        Do you guys have a good vibe about where this kid has ou? Also what about McNeal from mesquite? He is supposedly high on ou because he wants to play offense but I’m curious how many teams are recruiting him for defense.

  • Ryan

    In a few months when either Auburn or Bama offer talk of this guy will have been thought of as a waste of time. It would be impossible to sign him if one or the other offers. Dwayne Orso would not be at OU today if that would have happened with him. Guaranteed. Just being honest.

    • Stephen

      True, OU doesn’t have the same allure as big SEC teams do at this moment in time. I mean look at the SEC Network…I really don’t like the SEC but I have to say that it is pretty awesome.

      • Fear The Magic

        Maybe after we beat Tennessee 72 – 2 he might look our way

        • Sooner 4Ever

          Screw that… why are you conceding 2 points? LOL
          Shut out, baby!

        • paganpink

          That’s a crazy score! Ridiculous! How is Tennessee going to get a safety on the Sooners? 72-0

          • Fear The Magic

            sorry….what was I thinking

      • stan

        True and with them in partners with espin its only going to get worse.

    • One thing you have to factor in is how many each of those schools will take. I would think Auburn is full with 5 committed. Bama may be a different story.

      • Zack

        And it may rub him the wrong way to not have been an early offer from the instate schools.

  • EasTex

    Good to see your post, Ace.
    i agree completely that Caban is a player that can be mentioned with some of the greats when his playing days are done.
    I do disagree with your statement on Franklin being a converted safety. He has always been a LB, in high school and at OU. In high school he was a OLB and a pass rushing demon. He was actually seeing the field some his sophomore year, but since Coach Mike has been DC he has been moved down the depth chart and relegated to special teams, no clue as to why that has happened. The roster shows he is now up to 6’1″ 226. We are from the same home town and I chatted with the team trainer and he said Franklin worked so hard rehabbing his knee after injuring it his Sr. year, that he actually got his 40 time down to 4.39 at one point, he was at 215lbs at the time.

    • stan

      Think he placed second or maybe won the 200 meters at state championships.

      • EasTex

        Not sure, if he did it wasn’t his Sr. year. Hurt his knee in the state playoffs.

  • Cory Reedy

    Caban = BEAST. MODE. Wow. I want that kid!

  • Thomas Lenard

    Plays like a man possessed, and sells out his body to make the tackle.

  • Josh

    Ok so maybe no open post today…slackers
    16 Days Till Football Time in Oklahoma!! #16 today out of Muskogee was a member of the 1st ever National Champion Oklahoma Sooners in 1950, 1952 All American, played QB and Safety for Coach Wilkinson, and went on to be both Head Coach and AD at the University of Colorado… Eddie Crowder

    • Stats

      I’m guilty of waiting for the OP today knowing that we’ll also get a countdown and some OU history! Thanks again Josh!!

      • Josh

        My pleasure Stats, deciding who I am going to use is by far the most exciting part of my day lol!

    • SamSooner

      Josh, I really appreciate you taking the time to post these everyday.

      • Josh

        Love doing it! Like all Sooner fans, I am extremely proud of the history of OU Football!

    • EasTex

      Thanks, Josh.
      Glad to see the correct Crowder on the correct day.

    • Sooner Ray

      While I’m busy selling and moving hay, It’s so nice that someone has a little time to keep us updated on the countdown. It’s appreciated.

  • Krys Allen

    Looks to me like Caban can read lips… most of his highlight clips it seems like he knows what the offensive play call was. Seriously though, kid ends up in the right spot and usually at full speed.

  • TheBoots

    Nathan Fox from Clear Lake is Amonte Caban, only bigger, stronger and faster


    • Zack

      Great highlight film of this kid definitely ends up in the right place at the right time. I do like Caban more but I do like this kid as well.

  • Jared William Reininger

    One thing I noticed, he has the dog in him, he was a force out there. And you want big mean guys. With some coaching I agree he could be an All American pretty easily.

  • Baron Boomer

    Thanks Ace!

  • Steve Cooke

    It Lives!!! Great job Ace!

  • ohiosoonerdevildog

    So is this kind of a male or break year for Kish as far as recruiting? I know he has gotten a few recruits, but he has also missed on a ton. Just wondering if he is maybe under the gun a little this year.

  • Bill Duncan

    Straight forward every time, but has an eye for the run. Definitely a kid that would go a long way with our coaching staff.

  • Doobie74OU

    Hey TFB its great to have a “ACE” in the hole! Especially if they can write articles like this!

  • JJsooner1

    Very nice job Ace. Caban is a football player.