Football season is almost here for Oklahoma. And SoonersIlustrated.com is eager to get you ready for what could be a memorable 2014 season.
During the next two weeks, Bob Przybylo and Justin Hite are going to reveal their top 11 players on offense and defense and how those players will impact what happens on the field this fall. Let the countdown and debates begin.
Bob Przybylo: Quarterback Trevor Knight. If you watch the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the No. 3 ranking seems absurd. But if you examine Knight’s overall body of work, it’s just difficult to say what to make of Knight.
Knight said all the right things this spring. He carried himself as a true leader on the field and in interviews. It’s not even really questioning his ability but his durability.
As a part-time starter, Knight had to leave two games last season. Now everybody knows it’s Knight’s team and will be gunning for him. Will he survive?
So who is the real Knight, the one who struggled in the first half at Oklahoma State? Or the one who torched Alabama to the tune of 32-of-44 passing for 348 yards and four touchdowns?
Knight will have a lot of weapons at his disposal and will be protected by what should be a solid group across the board at offensive line. Finding the right balance between the run and pass within his own game will say a lot about where the Sooners end up in January.
Justin Hite: Wide receiver Sterling Shepard. I don’t think there’s much doubt that Shepard is the Sooners’ best offensive player and weapon. He’ll be the most dangerous player on the field every time he steps on it.
There’s really no denying that. Shepard could be that good. The reason he isn’t the most important player is because he has less control over whether he gets the ball than any other skill position.
If quarterback Trevor Knight doesn’t have time or the defense blankets him, it will be extremely difficult for Shepard to find a rhythm or success in the offense. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll still make an impact even if team’s scheme against him, but there’s only so much control he has.
He’ll be the Sooners’ No. 1 receiver by a long shot – maybe double the receptions of any other player.
But that’s not enough to make the top of this list.
Shepard will be counted on for punt returns as well, but teams will find a way to keep the ball out of his hands even then.
When the ball is in his hands, he’s the most important player for Oklahoma. That’s just no always a guarantee.
He still has a chance to be one of the best receivers in Oklahoma’s recent history. This could be a special year for the hometown kid out of Oklahoma City.