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: Running back Keith Ford. The second and final running back to make my list as this should be the year Ford becomes a household name.
There’s no question about Ford’s ability. No doubting his toughness, both physical and mental. The issue was putting the ball on the ground, an absolute no-no when coached by Bob Stoops and Cale Gundy.
After a couple of fumbles in limited time, an injury also set Ford back toward the latter portion of last season. He did return for the Allstate Sugar Bowl and still ran with the ferocity that has made him such a favorite among the OU faithful.
The only reason Ford isn’t higher in the list (or lower based on number) is because OU won’t feature one back. The days of something like that happening are starting to dwindle across the nation, and he’ll share the load with Alex Ross and freshmen Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine.
But make no mistake about it that Ford will be the guy when OU needs a big run, and he will deliver when his name is called.
Justin Hite: Center Ty Darlington. For me, center is an extremely valuable position, and Darlington is put in this spot for two reason: The player he is following and the importance of center on the offensive line.
He doesn’t have to be stellar, but the one thing Darlington doesn’t want Sooners’ fans thinking is, ‘What is Gabe doing right now?’
And they probably won’t. Darlington has been biding his time to replace last year’s All-Conference center, Gabe Ikard, and is ready to take the next step. He’s not on the Rimington Watch List by accident, although that list is pretty extensive. Right now, he’s listed at 286 pounds so it would hurt to reach 290 or 295, but he isn’t thin at that weight.
He’ll be able to hold his own.
If Darlington can be stable in the middle, and if he can live up to the billing that Ikard left behind, the Sooners will have a great chance to keep the team sacks total below 10.
Trevor Knight has to like that.