Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Stoops Playing Head Games With R.J. Washington?

It's a time-honored tradition for Bob Stoops: the spring depth chart motivational ploy. This year, it looks like R.J. Washington is the target.

The Oklahoma coaching staff put out the latest–and largely meaningless–version of the depth chart on Tuesday. Washington, a sophomore and former five-star recruit, is missing from the two-deep heading into spring practice.

Instead, rising redshirt freshman Justin Chaisson, a touted recruit in his own right, is listed as the backup to returning starter Frank Alexander. Sophomore David King holds the second-string spot on the other side behind Jeremy Beal.

Would it be shocking if the talented Chaisson had worked his way up the ladder? Not at all. However, in the past, the OU coaching staff has used the depth chart as a way to call out offseason underperformers. This moves smacks of Stoops sending Washington a message: Get it in gear.

Other observations from the depth chart:

*Tight end Gabe Ikard is the second-string center?

Presumably, Brian Lepak will actually be backing up Ben Habern in the fall. However, with Lepak and Habern both recovering from injuries, I guess offensive line coach James Patton wants to develop some other options. After last season, who could blame him?

*The hype around Donald Stephenson must be at least somewhat legit.

Coming off a year-long suspension in 2009, it appears that Stephenson has learned whatever lesson the Sooner coaches were trying to tell him. Talk of Stephenson's massive talent started to get louder during bowl practices, and the new two-deep lists him as the starting left tackle ahead of Jarvis Jones.

*Eric Mensik is still a tight end.

Mensik did yeoman's work as emergency fill-in at tackle last year, prompting plenty of speculation he'd be there to stay. The fact that he's listed as the starting tight end suggests that:

  • the coaching staff feels pretty good about the overall state of the offensive line;
  • Trent Ratterree isn't a long-term solution; and
  • neither is James Hanna, who's apparently running with the third team.

Personally, I like our buddy ATL's suggestion that, like Washington, the coaching staff is trying to motivate Hanna. At least one can hope, as Hanna hasn't quite lived up to his potential.

*Sam Proctor is back in the saddle at strong safety.

Proctor's playing time gradually dwindled last year with the emergence of Jonathan Nelson in the defensive backfield. With Nelson moving to corner, Proctor now has a chance to earn his way back into the coaches' good graces. He's listed as starting strong safety, with intriguing sophomore Joseph Ibiloye behind him. (Ibiloye is something of a surprise himself, as some had speculated he'd transition to linebacker in the offseason.)