With National Signing Day now past, the next big date on the calender for the Oklahoma Sooners is the opening of spring practices in March.
Injuries and off-season attrition have left OU a bit thinner than usual across the roster. Early enrollees such as Taylor McNamara and Kasseim Everett should have the opportunity to stake an early claim on a spot in the two-deep this fall.
Another major story to watch is the return of Mike Stoops, the recently fired head coach of the Arizona Wildcats and for OU defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2003. Mike's return, of course, led to the departure of longtime OU assistant Brent Venables. While the Sooner Nation has embraced the move by and large, people are expecting big things. Defensively, look for Mike to tinker with the personnel and schemes as he tries to make OU's D his own once again.
Let's not wait to speculate. Here's my stab at the spring depth chart:
LT: Daryl Williams, Tyrus Thompson
LG: Bronson Irwin, Nila Kasitati
C: Gabe Ikard, Austin Woods
RG: Tyler Evans, Dylan Dismuke
RT: Lane Johnson, Derek Farniok
TE: Brannon Green, Taylor McNamara
WR: Kenny Stills, Joe Powell
WR: Kameel Jackson, Trey Metoyer
WR: Trey Franks, Trey Metoyer
QB: Landry Jones, Drew Allen or Blake Bell
RB: Roy Finch, Brennan Clay
FB: Trey Millard, Marshall Musil
DE: David King, Geneo Grissom
DT: Casey Walker, Marquis Anderson
DT: Jamarkus McFarland, Stacy McGee
DE: R.J. Washington, Chuka Ndulue
SLB: Tony Jefferson, Joseph Ibiloye
MLB: Tom Wort, Jaydan Bird
WLB: Corey Nelson, Aaron Franklin
CB: Demontre Hurst, Lamar Harris
S: Javon Harris, Quentin Hayes
S: Aaron Colvin, Gabe Lynn
CB: Kasseim Everett, Bennett Okotcha
*Keep in mind that Ben Habern, Adam Shead, Dom Whaley and Jaz Reynolds won't be participating. If those four come back completely healthy, they will have spots in the starting lineup.
*Man, the Sooners are thin at wide receiver. I put Joe Powell in the mix with the wideouts simply for depth purposes.
*For now, I'm sticking with the alignment run by Brent Venables in which the strongside linebacker plays something akin to a safety/linebacker hybrid. For now, Tony Jefferson will hold that spot down.
Mike Stoops generally plays more of a traditional nickel package as his base D. That would mean using Jefferson more as a safety and cheating him up on running downs.
*I expect to see plenty of experimentation with the back seven. I really don't have much confidence in how I've pegged those positions at this point, although I think I'm somewhere in the ballpark.
I'm taking a flyer on Kass Everett now at one corner spot. If the staff opts to move Aaron Colvin back to cornerback, Gabe Lynn could slide in as a safety.
*One name not in the two-deep to keep an eye on is linebacker Kellen Jones. He played in spots at middle linebacker last season.