March 5, 2013

Sooners Get Back to (Spring) Football

With spring football starting in just five days and numerous changes in the off-season due to NFL departures, players simply leaving the team, and even three major coaching changes SoonerScoop.com thought it was time to go down Oklahoma's roster as the Sooners get prepared to start life without Landry Jones, Tony Jefferson, Kenny Stills, and several others.

But the Sooners do return plenty of talent, take a look at what the Sooners staff will be looking at starting this Saturday.

Quarterback

Projected Returners: Blake Bell (6-6, 254 - Junior), Kendal Thompson (6-1, 184 - Sophomore), Trevor Knight (6-1, 197 - Redshirt Freshmen)

Projected newcomer: Cody Thomas

Position Breakdown: In what will be one of the more closely watched position battles nationally Oklahoma opens spring ball with what should be considered a legitimate competition under center. Junior Blake Bell leads the group of signal callers after two years of service out of the 'Belldozer' finding the endzone 24 times. During the Sooners spring camp Bell will be needed to expound on his 19 career passes while being pushed by Sooner legacy Kendal Thompson as well as the talk of bowl practices in scout team player of the year Trevor Knight.

All three quarterbacks figure to get a shot with the first team during spring football. But it wouldn't be surprising to see Bell or Knight win the job outright by the Sooners April 13 annual Red-White spring game.

Running Back

Projected Returners: Daniel Brooks (5-8, 173 - Redshirt Freshmen), Brennan Clay (5-11, 201 - Senior), Roy Finch (5-7, 175 - Senior), Alex Ross (6-1, 204 - Redshirt Freshmen), David Smith (5-10, 193 - Redshirt Freshmen), Damien Williams (6-0, 208 - Senior)

Projected newcomers: Keith Ford

Position Breakdown: Just as loaded as the Sooners wide receiver corps. Cale Gundy running back stable will be loaded with talent in 2013. Damien Williams (160 car. 905 yards 11 TD) will return alongside fellow seniors Brennan Clay (83 car. 511 yards 6 TD) and Roy Finch- yes the curious case of Roy Finch continues. While redshirt freshmen Alex Ross, David Smith, and Daniel Brooks will all be candidates that push the senior class of 'backs. Ross- a Jenks, Okla. native- appears to be the early odds on favorite to gain the most carries out of the group of freshmen while it's also hard not to think that before fall camp breaks true freshmen Keith Ford will have a say in the matter.

No matter who wins the battle for carries out of the Sooner backfield it should be noted that all candidates are more than capable of running north-south. Something of which Sooner fans hope to see more of in 2013 with the addition of offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh.

Fullback

Projected Returners: Trey Millard (6-2, 256 - Senior), Marshall Musil (6-2, 241 - Senior), Aaron Ripkowski (6-1, 260 - Junior)

Projected newcomers: N/A

Position Breakdown: It wasn't even an hour after the Sooners Cotton Bowl disaster that senior Trey Millard (29 car. 170 yards, 29 rec. 331 yards 4 TD) had announced he would return to Oklahoma for his senior season. Often the subject of message board fodder in how the Sooner coaching staff has used Millard during his first three years on campus the Columbia, Mo. product appears to be heading into a senior season in which he become a focal point of the Sooner offense.

Aaron Ripkowski heads into his junior season on scholarship for the first time in a Sooner uniform while Marshall Musil may be one of the most forgotten returning players after missing 2012 because of a torn ACL suffered the first week of preseason camp in August. However, still rehabbing it is believed Musil's contribution during the spring should be limited.

As for fullback as a whole it would appear Oklahoma's sights are currently set on making the position a priority in next year's class of 2014.

Wide Receivers

Projected Returners: LaColtan Bester (6-3, 205 - Senior), Trey Metoyer (6-1, 190 - Sophomore), Durron Neal (5-11, 201 - Sophomore), Jaz Reynolds (6-2, 198 - Senior), Jalen Saunders (5-9, 160 - Senior), Sterling Shepard (5-10, 188 - Sophomore), Derrick Woods (6-1, 185 - Redshirt Freshmen)

Projected newcomers: Austin Bennett, Dannon Cavil (Early Enrollee 6-5, 205 Freshmen), Jordan Smallwood, KJ Young

Position Breakdown: Oklahoma's wide receiver position certainly won't be short of talent in 2013. The departure of Justin Brown and Kenny Stills swings open the door for the Sooners talented wide receiver class of 2012, which was ranked No. 1 by Rivals.com, to take the reigns as the leaders of the offense. Senior Jalen Saunders and sophomore Sterling Shepard return as the corps. most experienced pass catchers while heralded high school prospect and sophomore Trey Metoyer will be looked upon to improve on a freshmen season that turned in 17 receptions a total that was below lofty preseason expectations.

Redshirt freshmen Derrick Woods shared scout team player of the year honors in 2012 and was the recipient of high praise from position coach Jay Norvell. 2013 signees Dannon Cavil (an early enrollee) and KJ Young could be players that find themselves in the rotation as Shepard and Neal did a season ago.

Jaz Reynolds is expected to have the opportunity to contribute after missing his second season due to off field actions that lead to his suspension but how much of an impact will be the question as Reynolds has been no stranger to the Stoops doghouse during his tenure in Norman.

Tight End

Projected Returners: Sam Grant (6-7, 234 - Redshirt Freshmen), Brannon Green (6-2, 250 - Senior), Taylor McNamara (6-5, 238 - Redshirt Freshmen)

Projected newcomers: N/A

Position Breakdown: Wonder how many receptions an Oklahoma tight end made in 2012? Doesn't take long to find the answer: three. Taylor McNamara returns to the fold after missing a majority of the 2012 season while Brannon Green (3 rec. 45 yards) returns as the most experienced tight end of the group.

As an early enrollee at this time a season ago McNamara was impressive during the Sooners spring game but was never able to expound on his production after suffering a season ending shoulder surgery.

For the long term it would appear the Sooner coaching staff holds a good amount of faith in McNamara and classmates Sam Grant and Connor Knight. All three will head into 2013 as redshirt freshmen looking to continue their evolution into the Sooner offense while Green heads into his senior season.

Undoubtedly the tight end position will be one to keep an eye following the departure of tackles/tight ends coach Bruce Kittle.

Offensive Tackle

Projected Returners: Derek Farniok (6-9, 319 - Sophomore), Nathan Hughes (6-6, 248 - Sophomore), Daryl Williams (6-6, 299 - Junior), Tyrus Thompson (6-5, 303- Junior)

Projected newcomers: Christian Daimler, Josiah St. John

Position Breakdown: The Sooners offensive tackle position welcomes back a bevy of front line talent that saw action in 2012 but is short on depth, much less experience beyond the starting two. Those two are Juniors Tyrus Thompson and Daryl Williams who will return after logging starts at tackle while sophomore Derek Farniok saw limited action at times as an extra blocker in the 'Belldozer' formation.

2013 signees Josiah St. John and three-star tackle Christian Daimler will join the Sooner program in the summer.

Sophomore Nathan Hughes was the recipient of praise from R.J. Washington during bowl prep but will need to gain more weight to play tackle after flipping over from defensive end to fill depth on the offensive line a season ago.

Offensive Guard

Projected Returners: Tyler Evans (6-5, 315 - Senior), Bronson Irwin (6-5, 307 - Senior), Nila Kasitati (6-4, 309 - Sophomore), Kyle Marrs (6-5, 320 - Redshirt Freshmen), Adam Shead (6-4, 307 - Junior)

Projected newcomers: Dionte Savage

Position Breakdown: Offensive guard should be one of the Sooners deepest positions on the team as it heads into 2013 with the return of 2012 starters Bronson Irwin and Adam Shead. Fifth year senior Tyler Evans (ACL) and sophomore Nila Kasitati (ACL) also return to action in 2013 after missing the entirety of 2012 due to injury.

Between the four-man rotation of Irwin, Evans, Shead, and Kasitati Oklahoma will also return former Rivals.com three-star Kyle Marrs who redshirted in 2012 as well as 2013 signee Dionte Savage.

A good amount of talent for first year offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh who takes over for James Patton after seven years in Norman.

Center

Projected Returners: Ty Darlington (6-3, 266 - Sophomore), Gabe Ikard (6-3, 288 - Senior), Austin Woods (6-4, 293 - Senior)

Projected newcomers: N/A

Position Breakdown: Rounding out the Oklahoma offensive line is a solid foundation at center. Gabe Ikard returns as that leader of what will be a very experienced offensive line while Ty Darlington heads into his second season in Norman after playing center a number times in 2012 while injuries- at times- crippled the Sooners interior offensive line forcing Ikard to bump over to guard.

Austin Woods returns for his senior season after battling cancer a season ago and his contribution will be made again in 2013 serving as the field goal snapper for Michael Hunnicutt.

The duo of Ikard and Darlington are as smart as they are talented on the field offering Bedenbaugh the ability to rotate any two of them amongst any of the three interior spots on the offensive line.

Defensive Tackle

Projected Returners: Torrea Peterson (6-3, 277 - Junior), Jordan Phillips (6-6, 318 - Sophomore), Jordan Wade (6-4, 290 - Redshirt Freshmen)

Projected newcomers: Kerrick Huggins, Charles Walker, Matt Romar, Quincy Russell

Position Breakdown: When Oklahoma opens spring football they will be without five players that were listed on the Sooners 2012 roster.

Graduated seniors Stacey McGee, Jamarkus McFarland, and Casey Walker have played their last downs at Oklahoma while sophomore Marquis Anderson and junior Damon Williams have moved on from the program, as first reported by SoonerScoop.com's Carey Murdock.

Attrition at one of college football's most important position leaves Oklahoma with only three defensive tackles when spring football starts March 6: Jordan Phillips (12 tackles) Torrea Peterson and Jordan Wade.

The status of junior college signee Quincy Russell has been left in limbo since the dismissal of long-time Stoops assistant Jackie Shipp while questions continue to rise around the eligibility of Dallas (Texas) Skyline product Kerrick Huggins.

2013 signees Charles Walker and Matt Romar will join the Sooner in the summer after graduating from high school but it would be unrealistic to think they will be true players for playing time come next fall.

Defensive End

Projected Returners: Rashod Favors (6-1, 250 - Junior), Geneo Grissom (6-4, 247 - Junior), Chuka Ndulue (6-3, 256 - Junior), Chaz Nelson (6-2, 239 - Junior), Mike Onuoha (6-5, 235 - Sophomore), Charles Tapper (6-4, 265 - Sophomore)

Projected newcomers: Matt Dimon, Obo Okoronkwo, D.J. Ward (Early Enrollee 6-3, 245 - Freshmen)

Position Breakdown: Undoubtedly the two names you will look at when it comes to returning players with major upside are those of sophomore defensive ends Mike Onuoha and Charles Tapper. Both talents head into their second season with high expectations of becoming the big time players that defensive end coach Bobby Jack Wright recruited them to be. Geneo Grissom's experiment at tight end appears to be officially over as he logged a considerable amount of time at defensive end in the latter part of the 2012 season.

Junior Chuka Ndulue slides into a role filled the past two season by David King as a player that could possibly slide down to defensive tackle if needed.

2013 signees Matt Dimon and Obo Okoronkwo will head to Norman by June. Dimon, a Katy (Texas) standout, played in one of the most dominant programs in the Lonestar State and smart money would be put on the Rivals 3-star talent to be the most prepared defensive end out of the class of 2013 to make an immediate impact but it would also not come as a surprise if both redshirted during their freshmen seasons.

NOTE: Word has surfaced that Onuoha has moved to an outside linebacker role, which would seem to indicate Oklahoma is moving to a 3-4 and if so Onuoha won't be the last defensive end to move this spring and summer.

Linebacker

Projected Returners: Aaron Franklin (6-1, 212 - Junior), P.L. Lindley (6-2, 240 - Sophomore), Corey Nelson (6-1, 219 - Senior), Frank Shannon (6-1, 230 - Sophomore), Eric Striker (6-0, 198 - Sophomore)

Projected newcomers: Dominique Alexander, Jordan Evans

Position Breakdown:With Tom Wort's departure undoubtedly centered around his displeasure with the system Mike Stoops implemented in his first year. There remains quite a bit of questions still lingering as the defensive coordinator heads into his second spring back in Norman.

Senior Corey Nelson (45 tackles, 2.5 TFL, sack) and redshirt freshmen Frank Shannon (38 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks) are projected to be key players at linebacker while it's interesting to note sophomore PL Lindley is now listed as a linebacker after experimenting at defensive end a season ago.

In a radio interview following the days after a Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M it was Stoops who hinted he felt the linebacker position would be the deepest position on the defensive side of the ball.

Aaron Franklin (23 tackles, 1 TFL, sack) heads in to his junior season while sophomore Eric Striker (6 tackles) looks to add his talents to the linebacking corps following a rookie season in which he played on a majority of the Sooners special teams.

2013 signees Dominique Alexander and Jordan Evans have both been told by the Sooner coaching staff that they are expected to see action upon their arrival in the summer and it is widely believed that they will play an integral role in the defenses focus of adding players that can 'play in space'.

Cornerback

Projected Returners: Aaron Colvin (6-0, 181 - Senior), Kasseim Everett (5-10, 180 - Senior), Cortez Johnson (6-2, 191 - Sophomore), Zack Sanchez (5-11, 170 - Redshirt Freshmen)

Projected newcomers: Stanvon Taylor, L.J/ Moore

Position Breakdown: The cornerback position stands hand in hand with the quarterback competition when it comes to intriguing positions heading into spring. Aaron Colvin's return was perhaps the biggest news of the young off-season while Cortez Johnson role in a defense that he played for under Mike Stoops at Arizona is enough to grab ones attention.

Zack Sanchez heads into his first spring in Norman after redshirting in 2012 while Gary Simon's status with the Oklahoma program has ended before it even truly got started.

2013 signee Stanvon Taylor is a player that has continued to impress the SoonerScoop staff since his performance at the Rivals.com inaugural 5-Star Challenge. Even though Taylor showed out on the offensive side of the ball in Atlanta he is still expected to learn under the tutelage of Stoops on the defensive side of the ball come next fall.

The addition of Rivals250 cornerback L.J. Moore to the Sooners 2013 recruiting class put Stoops over the top when came to him being named the Big 12's Recruiter of the Year.

Safeties

Projected Returners: Trey Franks (5-10, 184 - Junior), Quentin Hayes (6-0, 181 - Junior), Gabe Lynn (6-0, 199 - Senior), Julian Wilson (6-2, 191 - Junior)

Projected newcomers: Hatari Byrd, Ahmad Thomas (Early Enrollee 6-1, 199 - Freshmen),

Position Breakdown: If you were forced to find a position of concern for the Sooners heading into 2013 safety might come second after looking at the Sooners situation at defensive tackle. Javon Harris and Tony Jefferson leave behind them a pair of positions that have become even more important under the defensive scheme implemented in 2012.

Seniors Gabe Lynn (34 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 3 PBU) and Julian Wilson (31 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 PBU) are two options while juniors Trey Franks and Quentin Hayes slowly work themselves back into the good graces of the Sooner coaching staff. Both players served suspensions during the 2012 season.

Defensive backs coach Mike Stoops was complimentary of Hayes at times during the latter part of the Sooners season while early enrollee Ahmad Thomas will become accustomed to Stoops ways while going through spring football.

Rivals250 and 2013 commit Hatari Byrd was impressive enough physically at the Rivals 5-Star Challenge in Atlanta to make one think he will be a player for playing time come his arrival to Norman.

Special Teams

Projected Returners: Michael Hunnicutt (6-0, 173 - Junior), Jack Steed (6-4, 200 - Redshirt Freshmen)

Projected newcomers: Jed Barnett (Early Enrollee 6-2, 215 - Junior),

Postion Breakdown: Michael Hunnicutt (15-for-19, 45 long) returns for a junior season in which he will surely be atop the Lou Groza watchlist. As a sophomore Hunnicutt shifted worry and concern from the Sooners kicking game to an after thought consistently nailing kicks from 40-yards and in.

Perhaps the most notable addition to the Sooner special teams will be JUCO punter and early enrollee Jed Barnett who looks to fill the shoes left by two-year captain Tress Way. Barnett will face off with redshirt freshmen Jack Steed and sophomore Dylan Seibert during the spring for the rights to the punting duties.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!