Juco signees making impact for OU

OU brought in three juco mid-year enrollees and all three are already turning heads.

Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez wasn’t about to say otherwise. He was beat one-on-one in practice Monday by wide receiver Dede Westbrook.

It was a sort of a sly smile across the face of Sanchez as he described it. The type of expression that says Westbrook got him, and Westbrook is about to get the rest of the defensive backs in the Big 12 in the 2015 season.

OU has six mid-year enrollees, including three from the junior college ranks. OU’s only had one practice in pads, but it’s obvious the mid-year additions are going to be factors going forward.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be. OU doesn’t recruit juco players it doesn’t believe won’t be able to come in and compete and contribute in a major way. This trio sure seems like they’ll become familiar names in Norman in the fall.

“On a deep fade we both went up,” Sanchez said. “I fell down, and he took it from me. Dede got it today (Monday), and I told him it’s the only one he’s going to get on me.

“He moves really well. He’s fast off the ball, for one, and he has really strong hands. He has really, really strong hands. I don’t think I’ve seen him drop a ball yet. He goes up and competes for the ball, and I think that’s his best asset.”

Westbrook was a key part to OU’s 2015 recruiting class. Recruited by former coach Jay Norvell, Westbrook signed before Norvell was relieved. But as it turned out, Dennis Simmons also recruited Westbrook when Simmons coached at Washington State.

Joining Westbrook offensively are wide receiver John Humphrey, running back Rodney Anderson and offensive linemen Jamal Danley and Bobby Evans. Like Westbrook, Danley is another juco transfer who arrived in January.

“There are a lot of guys fighting for the jobs,” center Ty Darlington said. “Guys that are capable, talented players. If nothing else, they’re hungry to play. They’re going to play hard, and they’re going to play physical.”

The only other juco transfer is cornerback Will Johnson, but he’s in a much different scenario than Danley and Westbrook. The offensive players both only have two years of eligibility and cannot redshirt. Johnson, the very definition of an under the radar recruit, has three years of eligibility left.

OU has a lot of talent in the secondary, but the safety position and nickelback position sure seems like it’s there for the taking. Johnson could be that guy, and it wouldn’t shock his teammates.

“I think he’s picked it up really fast,” Sanchez said. “We’re two practices in – he’s corner, dime, nickel and Coach Mike (Stoops) trusts him to learn all three positions. He’s made plays, and he’s still learning, but he’s made a lot of plays. I’m really excited to be on the field with him.”

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