OU expecting boost in secondary

OU needed help in the secondary for the 2015 class, and the Sooners certainly addressed that need.

Numbers don’t always tell the story, but they certainly did regarding Oklahoma and its secondary during the 2014 season.

The conclusion was easy – not good. Twenty-three touchdowns allowed against just 12 interceptions. OU gave up more than 275 yards per game through the air.

The secondary was a huge question mark heading into the season, trying to replace Aaron Colvin and Gabe Lynn. But nobody had any idea it was going to be that much of a headache.

Changes had to be made and changes have been made. It starts with coaching. Out are Bobby Jack Wright and Mike Stoops. Wright to retirement and Stoops to outside linebackers.

In is Kerry Cooks, taking over after building a nice little resume at Notre Dame. Maybe a new face can do something for the familiar faces still around and to the new ones coming aboard this season.

Speaking of those faces, Bob Stoops recognized the recruiting had to change in the secondary. The talent on campus wasn’t going to cut it.

“Defensively, I thought secondary wise was an area where I thought we had been a little bit thin in our numbers over the last year or two, and we have really signed six great guys,” Stoops said. “Three corners and three safeties that I believe is probably the best secondary that I have been a part of signing.”

The best class ever? Lofty expectations, but it’s not a crazy thought. Some OU fans have already been talking like that, and it’s tough to ignore what OU was able to do with its six signees.

Leading the way are Scout 150 defenders P.J. Mbanasor and Will Sunderland. Mbanasor seems destined to be the next lockdown corner with great size and someone who loves being physical at the line.

Sunderland, the top-ranked player in the state of Oklahoma, was the unquestioned face of the class. Nobody was more active than Sunderland as a recruiter for the Sooners.

“Will is a guy with excellent size, quickness, range and athletic ability,” Stoops said. “I remember just pulling up to watch him play basketball and what an exceptional athlete he was just doing that.”

Also included in the mix is Scout 300 safety Kahlil Haughton. Sunderland and Haughton have basically been attached at the hip. They both went to junior day together. Both attended the spring game together. Both had the same official visit.

Now they’re expected to be the anchors to help the OU secondary get back to where it needs to be.

The presence of Cooks is going to mean an even more increased interest in the Dallas Metroplex area, but that already wasn’t a problem for the Sooners.

Two of OU’s last commitments are both from that area as three-star cornerback Antoine Stephens is from Dallas Kimball and three-star safety Prentice McKinney is from Dallas South Oak Cliff.

“Those guys are really good athletes to go with that size in the secondary,” Stoops said. “They’re long and have range, great athletes.”

OU already has a junior college transfer on campus in cornerback William Johnson, who emerged from almost nowhere to become a top sought after target in the final months of his recruitment.

Six names. Considered the best class and now being led by a new face in charge. The 2014 secondary will go down as one of the most beleaguered in the Stoops era. But it could have been the catalyst for the necessary change, a change that starts with Cooks next month.

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