CNHI News Service
Opposing teams respect the play-making skills of Claremore sophomore defensive back Dustin Basks.
Basks, who leads the Zebras with five interceptions, anchors the secondary alongside junior free safety Hunter Garroutte and junior cornerback Caleb Webster.
The respect that Basks has drawn in his first varsity season is a testament to watching his older brothers, Dakoda and Jordan, flourish as former Zebra defensive backs.
Earlier this season, Basks credited his brothers to helping pave the way and teaching him the skills necessary to be a major factor in Claremore’s successful run through the 2012 season.
“I knew coming in that I had some pretty big shoes to fill,” Basks said on the careers of Dakoda and Jordan.
In his first five games, Basks caught the attention of northeastern Oklahoma and high school coaches with his speed, ability to jump over taller receivers and his knack for playing keep away.
All five of Basks’s interceptions came during that five-week span, including three in Claremore s 23-7 win over Tahlequah on Homecoming.
Basks also had an interceptions against Miami and East Central.
Since Oct. 5, though, opposing teams have shied away from the 5-foot-7, 140-pound cornerback.
“Dustin’s such an unbelievable athlete that has really come on huge for us in the secondary this season,” Claremore head coach Rob Gilbreath said in a previous article. “He comes from good bloodlines with both of his brothers being great athletes at Claremore.”
When Basks isn’t playing keep away on defense, he’s making plays on offense and special teams.
The three interceptions he had against Tahlequah was great to see, but his biggest play to this point in the season was the kickoff return against Coweta that provided us a spark to go on and beat the Tigers, Gilbreath said.
In the secondary, Basks has 15 passes batted down in 11 games. He also 42 total tackles, 28 solo and 14 assisted.
“The good thing about Dustin ... we’ve got him for three more years,” Gilbreath said. “The sky is the limit to how good he really can be by the time his senior year comes around.”
In Claremore’s first round playoff game - a 35-26 win over Tulsa Memorial last Friday night - Basks tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Baron Hope and also caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Matt Whatley.
On offense, Basks’s statistics aren’t too shabby. He has 18 receptions for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns. In 11 games, Basks has caught at least three passes in three wins over McAlester, Pryor and Tulsa Memorial.
“Any time the ball in his hands, Dustin has the ability to make things happen and score,” Gilbreath said.
On special teams, Basks has proven to be a secret weapon for the Zebras.
With Claremore trailing 13-0 in the second quarter at Coweta, Basks electified the crowd with a 72-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It was that play that energized the Zebra sideline and led Claremore on to a 35-25 victory over the Tigers.
Basks has six kickoff returns for 191 yards - an average of 31.83 yards - and a touchdown. He also has 10 punt returns for 119 yards - including a 45-yarder in Claremore’s 31-7 win over Pryor.
And, more impressive, Basks has three blocked field goals - one of which led to Webster’s 81-yard scoop-and-score in Claremore’s 34-6 win at Collinsville.
“The bigger the game, the better Dustin plays,” Gilbreath said.