Every year there always seems to be an early enrollee in the spring or arriving true freshman during fall camp that turns heads.
This spring, by all accounts that player happens to be safety Ahmad Thomas, a mid-semester addition and freshman from Miami Central HS down on South Beach.
In what will be a bit of a new-look secondary come fall, Thomas has stepped in and immediately brought it.
"Ahmad's done a really nice job, you know, coming in here and picking things up," said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.
What's impressive about him?
Well, the same sorts of things most talented defensive backs from the Sunshine State and other football rich states tote.
"Well, he's a big, strong, physical guy and he plays and has played in Miami his whole life," Stoops said. "So, coming up here and playing in Oklahoma is not any big deal to him. So again, he's got the maturity that you don't see in a lot of high school kids his age, so he has a physical presence about him and he moves around the field very instinctively.
"You know, his instincts take over and that's what you like to see. You coach people how to play things, how to see things and then they gotta be able to go out there and make plays and get in position to make plays. And it comes, you know, it's come pretty natural for him."
Players around him in the defense vouch for that, even citing an example from spring practice No. 6.
"Ahmad's a big, thick guy," nickel back Julian Wilson said the other day of what impresses him about the youngster. "He's been out there making plays. He actually had a pick today. He's good. Like I said, he handled winter workouts like a [veteran]. He didn't handle them like a freshman. I mean, coming in here, graduating early and handling those workouts, he really did a good job at it and now he's out there ready, making plays in the spring.
" I mean, man, he's like—I've never seen a freshman like him," Johnson said. "He's gonna play a big part in our defense most likely this year."
What part, well, that remains to be seen.
He's currently been working at strong safety behind likely starter Quenton Hayes, but suffice it to say he's pushing Hayes and the rest of his teammates around him.
And the staff won't likely play him closer to the line of scrimmage.
Not yet, anyways.
"You know, you can't move a guy that young," Stoops said. "You know what I mean? You gotta teach ‘em one position. He can do a lot of different things and eventually he can do a lot of different things for us. As physical as he is, it all depends. But right now we need safety help, too."
The important thing is he's transitioning into the defense very quickly and without too much difficulty, it sounds like.
That should help them once August rolls around.