Sooner Football Profile: Getting to Know Defensive Back Dakota Austin

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Junior defensive back Dakota Austin is one of nearly 50 players from the state of Texas listed on the Oklahoma football roster.

Not a highly decorated recruit out of Lancaster, Texas, a suburban community about 15 miles south of downtown Dallas, Austin had seen only limited game action until midway through this season. In the past two weeks, however, he has seen more game action than he did in his first two seasons combined.

The 5-10, 157-pound  cornerback was called to duty when All-Big 12 defensive back Zack Sanchez went down with an ankle sprain on the first play in the Texas Tech game two weeks ago. Austin had seen brief action in four other games prior to that this season, but nothing like he experienced filling in the entire game against Texas Tech.

It was somewhat ironic that he would get his first extended action against one of the schools that had extended a scholarship offer to him prior to his commitment to play football for Oklahoma. In addition to OU and Texas Tech, Austin also had offers from Nevada, Tulsa, UNLV and Indiana.

Sep 6, 2014; Tulsa, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners cornerback Dakota Austin (27) before the game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

A member of the Sooners 2013 recruiting class, which Rivals rated as the 15th best in the country on National Signing Day that year, Austin played in five games, mostly in mop-up duty, in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. When you find yourself several layers down on the depth chart, playing time is at a premium except for those few games in which the outcome is long decided before the game is officially over.

Even when Sanchez was injured in the Texas Tech game, Austin wouldn’t have been the first man up were it not for fact that Marcus Green, a redshirt freshman who had been behind Sanchez on the two-deep chart, also was out with an injury. The next man up was Austin, and he took full advantage of the opportunity.

Austin recorded a career-high 11 tackles against Texas Tech and intercepted a pass in the end zone late in the first half that would have brought the Red Raiders to within four points of the Sooners going into halftime. He followed that up with five tackles and two pass break last weekend at Kansas in his first collegiate start.

With Sanchez still out with a bad ankle, Austin is expected to see plenty of action again on Saturday against Iowa State.

The experience that Austin is getting in the past two weeks not only is helping his confidence and helping him develop into a better player, but it also in benefiting the Sooners in building depth in the secondary.

That depth couldn’t be coming at a better time, especially with the back-loaded nature of the conference schedule this season, with Oklahoma’s most difficult games – against three of the most explosive offenses in the country in Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State – occurring back to back over the final three weekends of the regular season.