OU battles: Top redshirt freshman

Running back, wide receiver or offensive tackle: Which will it be?

Preseason camp nears for the Oklahoma Sooners, who are looking to rebound from what can only be described as a disappointment.

There’s new blood to lead the Sooners. On offense, Lincoln Riley begins his first season with Oklahoma and his first as a major conference coordinator. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops plans to work from the box this season and has two new assistants helping to mold the defense.

What happens on the field will be more important than what happens on the sideline, though. Oklahoma still has a few battles yet to be decided. Over the next week, Sooners Illustrated will examine those battles.

Redshirt freshman battle - Joe Mixon vs. Mark Andrews vs. Kenyon Frison

Who will have the greatest impact?

Case for Joe – Mixon will definitely be a big part of the offense – out of the backfield and from hand-offs. He’s a dynamic weapon, plain and simple.

The bigger question is in his consistency. He’ll be playing in his first collegiate season. And in just how much he’ll get used. Mixon is still an unproven commodity. The Sooners’ first game against Akron will go a long way in showing just how often Mixon will see the ball.

My guess is that it will be a lot.

Everything leads to the belief that Mixon could be the total package out of the backfield for the Sooners. What holds him back immediately is that there’s a bigger total package ahead of him on the depth chart.

Case for Mark – Of the three, Andrews has the easiest route to make the biggest impact. He’s likely slotted as the No. 3 option in the passing game behind Sterling Shepard and Dede Westbrook. Although, it’s not a tough case to make that Westbrook and Andrews are 2A and 2B after watching Andrews in the spring game.

He came to Oklahoma as a receiver before putting his hand in the dirt while also working as one of the top players on the scout team in a redshirt season. Now, he’s flexed back out and is the biggest mismatch that the Sooners can deploy.

Case for Kenyon – Obviously, Frison’s impact won’t show up too much on the stat sheet. And there’s also the argument that because the other two players in this debate are position players that Frison can’t be more important.

But a stout season from the big freshman could lead to a four-year staple at right tackle. Now, Daryl Williams was pretty important.

Frison has the tools to do it, but appears to be resting at the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind Derek Farniok. He could still wrestle the starting job away by the end of preseason camp, but it’ll take more work than expected, especially because of the program’s familiarity with Farniok – a fifth-year senior.

Verdict – It wouldn’t be completely out of the realm of possibility to see Andrews catch 50 pass for 800 yards and half a dozen touchdowns – those numbers are worse that East Carolina’s No. 3 receiver last season. Mixon could see double-digit touchdown numbers and more than 900 all-purpose yards. Frison could win the starting tackle job by mid-season – or give Oklahoma’s coaching staff a bit of comfort moving forward at the position beyond this year.

The big question is which do you want?

In an offensive scheme that occasionally struggles in the red zone, Andrews could be a savior – capable of beating even double teams in the reduced space around the end zone because of his size. Oklahoma will need all three, but it’s Andrews who is the most important.

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