For as long as things remain interesting with Oklahoma and its camp, going to try to make this a weekly staple for next month at Sooners Illustrated about what we’re hearing at every position group.
Week 1: Welcome to OU
All the talk is about Austin Kendall, obviously. As a true freshman, he has to be prepared and ready to go if anything were to happen to Baker Mayfield.
Kendall is making strides in that area:
“The whole first part of practice, I’m switching out with Baker. Me and him are switching out with the first offense. I’m getting those reps. If I have to go in, I’ll be ready and being able to lead the offense. At the end of practice, I’m leading the second team. It goes pretty smoothly. There are days that are bad, but for the most part it’s pretty good.” – Austin Kendall
You know what you’re getting from Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon so the story is more about the development of Rodney Anderson and arrival of Abdul Adams.
Adams seems to already be making a good impression, and even though it’s clear neither one of these two guys will be the main option, they’ll be ready when their time is called:
“Behind Joe and Samaje, this is the time for me to learn and pick up all I can from them. When my time does come, to get a couple of plays in, make the most of it and apply what I’ve learned. It’s a great situation.” – Rodney Anderson
We’ve all heard the story so far about how nobody replaces Sterling Shepard but that hopefully there is better depth and more people to trust going forward.
There are quite a few names that have turned heads so far. Freshman Mykel Jones seems like the next big thing at slot receiver, being compared to the explosiveness of Shepard.
Sophomores A.D. Miller and Dahu Green are getting rave reviews, but we’ll have to see it on the field first.
And then “old dudes” like Jordan Smallwood and Jeffery Mead are still hanging around. The group seems to be progressing well, but it’s so hard when you don’t know what that means.
Does it mean they’re better than what they were? Or that they’re on par (or better) compared to what was on campus last year?
If OU goes with four, hard to see it being anything other than Dede Westbrook, Jarvis Baxter, Mark Andrews and Geno Lewis. Lewis seems to have made that leap and bringing the oh so necessary experience to the table.
“Having a foot injury and the ACL injury at the same time made it hard. Overcoming it by the grace of god has helped me. I got through it mentally. I’ve been working.
I had some drops in a couple spring games, but I overcame it. I watched some film and got together and got some juggs (the ball machine) and worked hard and got it done.” – Jordan Smallwood
Jonathan Alvarez has center locked up and Cody Ford seems to be the odds on favorite to be the guy at left guard.
So who’s right? OK, we’ll see. Between Ben Powers and Ashton Julious, Powers has the edge. But if Alex Dalton were to get healthy from his hand injury, another wrinkle.
But really the big thing would be Bobby Evans stepping up at right tackle so you could slide Dru Samia in to the right guard position.
Orlando Brown has left tackle locked down and Samia is your right tackle unless Evans can show Bill Bedenbaugh he can be the guy going forward. And concussions, sadly, will be the end of the line for Jamal Danley. The plan is for Danley to stay at OU and on scholarship with the realization he cannot play.
“If you're asking about the difference between last camp and this camp, last year I was more wanting to know everything right away. I need more information. I need to know how to do all this stuff. This year it's more like I need to shore up the issues that I constantly have. Last year was knowing assignments, this year would be knowing technique if you would want to simplify it.” – Dru Samia
Not too much here. Hoping next week to speak to Jay Boulware about kick/punt return developments. Seems like the running backs (Mixon, Anderson) will be guys for kickoffs and Westbrook and Baxter seem to have edge as punt returners unless Mykel Jones shows he can be trusted.
It will be about managing Austin Seibert to make sure he’s good and healthy and rested for all three phases of the game (field goals, punting, kickoffs).
This is by far the group hearing absolutely zero about. Matt Romar is appearing to be the leader. Charles Walker is on his way to being full recovered from wrist surgery. Matt Dimon and D.J. Ward are still standing from the 2013 class and right now, would say they’re the two starters.
Jordan Wade, Marquise Overton give depth at defensive tackle, while Neville Gallimore will be one to watch as he develops more as a player and not just an athletic freak.
Ya gotta feel for these guys going into third straight season with different defensive line coach. Just not easy.
Freshman Amani Bledsoe won’t start, but he’s off to a really nice first week.
Did you know OU is replacing three of the four starters from last year? Yea, we get it, but now we move on to who is on campus.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo has made a huge jump, maybe even the leap that will be necessary for this group to succeed.
From there, you’re seeing the Evanseseseses, Jordan and Tay, locking down the middle and searching for that last spot.
The easy answer is Will Johnson, who has put on 15 pounds since end of last season. But the real answer will come from Mark Jackson, Caleb Kelly and Ricky DeBerry.
Kelly has been every bit as good as advertised so far with Jackson not too far behind him. You add in Jon-Michael Terry and Kapri Doucet, and OU absolutely hit a home run in this department.
Doucet, when it’s all said and done, might be the steal of the class based on potential and where he was ranked, offered, etc.
Kerry Cooks is getting his mission accomplished here. Throw out the term starter and focus on the depth at both spots.
Who will start opposite Jordan Thomas? Feels like Dakota Austin has it wrapped up because he just won’t go away no matter how much you expect him to sort of fade off into the distance.
And obviously Steven Parker and Ahmad Thomas have safety spots locked up.
So the key is for guys like Michiah Quick, PJ Mbanasor, Will Sunderland, Kahlil Haughton to stick with the program and not get discouraged. Quick has made as smooth a transition as possible so far at cornerback.
Parrish Cobb and Jordan Parker have been sidelined so it’s actually Parnell Motley who has made the biggest splash among the freshmen. And Chanse Sylvie seems to be doing a-OK behind Johnson.
“Set the tempo with a lot of things you guys don’t see off the field. One of the things we’ve talked about off the field is owning and embracing your role. Own and embrace your role, this is a team sport. Doesn’t matter if you have veterans like Ahmad (Thomas) or Steven Parker. Whatever your role is, show me that you’re capable of being detailed and sustaining it when you’re in there. If that’s 20 plays, then you own those 20 plays and each snap you get. Embrace the team concept. It has been pretty easy.” – Kerry Cooks