D.J. Ward has a chance to make his way into the rotation at defensive end immediately. (Photo courtesy: collegefootballscoop.com)
Yesterday we gave you a look at the redshirt freshmen most likely to play some role for the Sooners this year. Now we'll look at the true freshmen who are poised to get some run right off the bat.
You'll notice that Oklahoma could use some big help on the defensive side of the ball, of course.
1. Ahmad Thomas: This one was easy. Thomas almost won one of the two starting safety spots in spring. He didn’t have a great spring game, but leading up to the TV event, everyone was raving about him.
Thomas is the big, fast, explosive safety that Mike Stoops wants for this defense.
2. D.J. Ward: The NCAA did its best to screw up Ward's chances of making an impact this fall with a criminally late clearinghouse ruling. Despite that issue, Ward could easily jump into the two-deep discussion at defensive end. Jerry Montgomery has even talked about Ward possibility growing into a big DE like Frank Alexander and playing at around 275-280 pounds.
3. Hatari Byrd: The early buzz on Byrd’s arrival in Norman is very positive. Will Mike feel comfortable playing two freshman safeties at the same time? If not, then Byrd may be competing against fellow freshman Thomas for potential playing time.
4. Matt Dimon: Dimon was maybe the most underrated recruit on defense in this class. He had great film and led his team to a state title. The best comparison that I've heard on Dimon was David Pollack, Georgia's All-American defensive end.
Dimon is weighing in around 250 pounds, and he’s ready to hit the field if the other DEs don’t provide enough big plays.
5. Charles Walker: It’s rare that a true freshman defensive tackle makes an impact at OU – Tommie Harris and Dusty Dvoracek being the last duo to pull off the feat. Even Demarcus Granger and Gerald McCoy redshirted.
But, if healthy, Walker could break into the two-deep at DT. He’s got great size at 6-3, 285, with unreal speed and burst.
6. Stanvon Taylor: OU'a secondary could use another cornerback with all the spread offense attacks. OU probably will use some formations with six defensive backs at times in third-and-long situations. The only question will be whether Taylor is physical enough to play this year.
7. L.J. Moore: Just like Taylor, Moore could provide added depth to an OU secondary that will play a combination of five and six DBs the majority of the time. Moore could be a versatile big CB or safety for OU. Mike may need both Moore and Taylor for depth purposes while playing upwards of six to eight no-huddle offenses that use three and four wide receivers on every down.
8. Keith Ford: According to Twitter traffic, Ford reported to OU in awesome shape at 215 pounds and running a sub-4.5 40. Ford is almost the forgotten superstar of the 2013 class. It will take some injuries for him to see the field at running back, but no position is more prone to injury.
9. Dannon Cavil: Cavil enrolled early, and despite missing the spring game, he allegedly had a very good spring. Cavil (6-5, 210) brings a different size and ability to the Sooner WR corps. If there are any kind of injuries at WR, Cavil has a great chance to be one of the top five receivers on the team this year.
10. Jordan Smallwood: Notice that the first seven names are defensive players, while the last three are offensive. Smallwood, like Cavil, would probably be a lock to play any other year, but he faces long odds with OU’s talented returning WRs. Smallwood has come into camp in great shape and from various reports is impressing the QBs.
Harbinger of Doom
This is split between two guys: Christian Daimler and Cody Thomas. If Daimler gets any kind of real minutes at tackle this year, then OU’s OL is in big trouble. If Thomas is forced to burn his redshirt, then OU has suffered three big-time QB injuries.