Oklahoma's even-more-muted-than-usual spring game is over. While it’s hard to draw too many conclusions, some general thoughts from spring football before we get into this year's "Freshmen of Influence."
*Mark Andrews, Jeff Mead and Dallis Todd have added some serious size and skill to the receiving corps. The talent level shown by those players is a welcome sight for a group that struggled in 2014.
Andrews looks like the best weapon at tight end since Jermaine Gresham. Mead and Todd look like tall, playmaking WRs not seen since Malcolm Kelly.
*Dede Westbrook looks like a legitimate game changer. He could very well lead OU in receptions.
John Humphrey used his early enrollment productively and looks to be in the mix at slot receiver.
*All the positives at WR were a great sign because the Sooners' running game could be the best ever under Bob Stoops. Joe Mixon allegedly looked awesome this spring both running and catching the ball. and In limited action before getting hurt, Rodney Anderson was making a lot of noise. All Daniel Brooks did was post nearly 200 total yards in the Red-White Game.
*Tay Evans and Curtis Bolton are giving some hope that OU will have real competition at the linebacker position this fall. Jordan Evans and the injured Dominique Alexander needed to be pushed, and it looks like both freshman LBs are ready to do that. Inside linebacker was the thinnest position on the team last fall.
Factor in the projected return of Frank Shannon, and the Sooners have some actual competition, talent and depth.
*The redshirt and juco offensive linemen appear ready to take over. The young tackles Orlando Brown and Kenyon Frison are physical freaks. The hype over another Phil Loadholt/Trent Williams tackle pair is there – it’s not a pipe dream. Juco guard Jamal Danley locked down one spot. While Nila Kasitati was hurt, Jonathan Alvarez and Alex Dalton did a good job in his place.
Now, onto the Freshmen of Influence for 2015.
DBs, DBs, DBs
OU’s starting cornerbacks look fine. Steven Parker appears to be getting kudos for his safety play. But don’t let that or the four interceptions in the spring game distract from the reality that OU desperately needs an infusion of talent and depth in the secondary, especially at safety. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks were hinting at this problem all spring.
Frankly, I think all five freshman defensive backs could play.
P.J. Mbanasor may force the first move. If he can handle the CB position opposite Zack Sanchez, then that allows OU to move Jordan Thomas back to one of the safety spots. From there, look for Kahlil Haughton or Will Sunderland to fill in the other safety spot. I fully expect Prentice McKinney and Antoine Stephens to be backups at DB.
Gallimore could play a big role this fall at both nose guard and as one of the two defensive tackles when the Sooners go to a four-man line. Matt Romar is holding down NG right now, but Gallimore’s mix of size, speed and power could elevate him into the starting lineup.
Dahu Green and A.D. Miller better show up in great shape this summer. Playing time at receiver appears to be wide open for them, with Lincoln Riley talking about a rotation of eight wideouts for depth and speed of play reasons.
DeBerry is basically one injury away from being in the two-deep at outside linebacker. Stay in shape, Ricky.
Seibert might have some competition at placekicker from Nick Hodgson, but the path to being the punter is wide open.
Yeah... No one coming at QB in August. What you saw in spring ball is what OU will have this fall.