OU spring surprises: Defense

Figured to be an interesting spring for OU's defense, and it was with these five players stepping up.

Spring football has wrapped up for Oklahoma. A lot of the usual names stood out during the month-long practices, but new ones emerged as well.

Here is a look at the five biggest surprises of OU's spring on defense.

Cornerback Dakota Austin

Technically it's never not a race, but Austin has put himself in a different position than both Stanvon Taylor and Cortez Johnson. He's still incredibly undersized, but there's no doubt he was the most consistent of the three in vying for that second corner spot. He said the key from here is to not get cocky about it because that's when things start to go in the other direction. Austin has given himself the lead heading into the summer.

Safety Ahmad Thomas

You couldn't talk OU's defense in the spring without mentioning the versatility of Thomas. It's almost hurting him at this point because it's not clear if he's starter at any spot, but he's at least solid at about three different positions. Thomas showed in the spring game that he is one of the best pure tacklers on the defense. The concern will be fitting him in at either of the safety spots or as a linebacker/nickelback. No matter what, though, he's going to see the field a lot in 2014.

Linebacker Eric Striker

Feels like cheating to put Striker in any sort of surprise list because he already turned a lot of heads as a sophomore. But with him moving to a nickelback-like position in the spring and still dominating, it's worth repeating once again. Striker would have had a field day against OU's quarterbacks Saturday but luckily he wasn't allowed to take off their heads. His speed cannot be match nor can his instincts and how quick he gets off the ball. Simply put – an even bigger force than last year.

Linebacker Jordan Evans

Didn't expect to have this name in a list, but he played his way into it with a big-time showing in the spring game. The talk about Evans was how he had bulked up since the end of last season. That was on full display but so was hitting ability. He separated wide receiver K.J. Young from the ball in the first half of the spring game and is another player known for his great instincts. It took him a while to accept being a bigger guy, but he's grown into the role and pulling it off well.

Defensive tackle Matthew Romar

A forgotten member of the 2013 class, Romar had one heck of a spring at defensive tackle. It might not be this year, especially if Jordan Phillips makes a full recovery from back surgery, but Romar has put himself in a great spot moving forward. He's no longer just another body. He provides depth, but he also provides production. Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery has been high on Romar's progress,which should continue even more in the summer.

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