The Sooners’ secondary was the strength of the defense last year, but only one starter, Aaron Colvin, will be around for 2013. As such, secondary coaches Mike Stoops and Bobby Jack Wright have some work to do this spring figuring out who's going to be in the mix this fall.
Colvin (6-0, 181), who opted to stay for his senior year, will be one of the leaders of the defense this year. He finished third on the team in 2012 with 61 tackles, 4 interceptions and 11 passes broken up.
The defensive backfield would have been stronger if safety Tony Jefferson had hung around for his senior year, but he opted for greener pastures in hopes of getting drafted by the NFL. Mike stated in OU’s spring football press conference Thursday that Gabe Lynn (6-0, 199, Sr.) would be the starting free safety going into spring camp. Lynn hasn't exactly lit it up in his OU career, but he has made some improvement since 2011. He appeared to make some strides as the full-time nickelback last year.
Mike also said Quentin Hayes (6-0, 181, Jr.) would start at strong safety this spring. Hayes was suspended prior to last season for violating team rules, but since has been reinstated.
Last year's sixth DB, Julian Wilson (6-2, 191, Jr.), may be the starting nickelback this spring. He'll also get a look at corner during camp. “He's a guy who can play any position in the secondary,” Mike said. “It all depends on who is playing well, and we'll give everyone an opportunity. Who plays at the other corner will be our biggest challenge. We have a great group of young secondary players coming in and we will lean on them in the fall. If we can solidify the one cornerback position then we will have a group very comparable to a year ago.”
Others currently on the roster looking to make some headway in the next 15 practices include safety Kass Everett (5-10, 180, Sr.), and Cortez Johnson (6-2, 191, Jr.). Everett is a junior college transfer who played sparingly as the third team nickelback last year, but was a regular on special teams. Johnson sat out one year after transferring from Arizona, but also was suspended for possession of marijuana. His status is unclear as of now, and in what may be an ominous sign, he was not mentioned in the press conference.
Another name to listen out for this spring: Ahmad Thomas. The 6-1, 205 freshman out of Sunshine State powerhouse Miami Central High School enrolled early and clearly has Mike's eye. Thomas has the kind of size that OU will be looking for in its safeties going forward, especially if the 3-4 move gains traction. Mike could determine that Thomas' future at safety is now.