Przybylo: Five defensive questions

OU is loaded at defense for 2014, but there are still some unanswered questions heading into camp.

Practice has arrived. Months of hype for Oklahoma are about to put to the side to see what the 2014 Sooners can do on the field.

Although it’s expected to be an exciting season in Norman, there are questions abound heading into the season. Up now – the defense.

Where will Julian Wilson play?

He practices at all three spots in the secondary, but really this is just a question of whether or not he’ll be at cornerback or nickelback. Wilson made it clear last week he really wants to be the second starting cornerback for this season, and the door is open for him to do just that. Although Stanvon Taylor, Dakota Austin and Cortez Johnson will have something to say about that, none of them have separated themselves from the pack. That has left the door opened for Wilson, now fully recovered from shoulder surgery, to move from nickelback to corner.

Will the expectations be too much?

OU has had a strong history of having its best seasons when not much is expected of it. That won’t be the case this season. With nine starters returning on defense, everybody is expecting the Sooners defense to be as dominant as it was against Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. So the issue is whether or not the players can handle that type of scrutiny for the next 4-5 months and still deliver their best outings. Fans weren’t banking on national championships last two seasons, but there’s a real thought this is the year the chase for eight ends. Defense will have to be every bit as good as it’s being billed as for that to happen.

Will Frank Shannon return?

OU coach Bob Stoops was quick to point out there was nothing new with Frank Shannon regarding his eligibility for this season. Can the Sooners still be in the national championship hunt if Shannon doesn’t return to the team? He was in the media guide presented last week but his status hasn’t changed for almost nearly four months regarding the Title IX investigation. The sooner the answer, the better for all parties involved. Shannon emerged as one of the team’s most consistent players last season.

Will Phillips make full recovery?

Bob and Mike Stoops are both saying the right things. They’re talking about how great Jordan Phillips is looking and feeling right now. But we won’t know anything until he puts on the pads for in-game action. Phillips was having a strong first half to the season before back surgery ended his 2013 campaign. It wasn’t a total waste as Phillips was granted the medical hardship year and didn’t lose a year of eligibility. What he showed in those first four games had fans very excited. If he can stay at that level or improve upon that, no doubt he’s going to be a force in the middle.

Who’s the best player?

More of a fun debate than a legit one. Because it won’t matter who the player is if the group all works together, but there are a lot of choices. Between Phillips, Zack Sanchez, Geneo Grissom, Eric Striker and Charles Tapper, the options are plentiful. Even more crazy is that a real argument could be made for any of the quintet as to how they’re the best player on defense for OU. All that talent feels like it should be scary for opponents to deal with. We’ll find out soon enough.

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