Time to let OU's young guns run

OU has a lot of young talent. It's time to watch them work.

Nobody is saying just discard all the senior starters for Oklahoma, but after a 1-2 start in nonconference play, perhaps let’s get a little more creative.

Head coach Bob Stoops has a long history of not playing young guys until he feels 100 percent in knowing those freshmen understand their assignments and can execute.

It’s not a terrible line of thinking, but when you’ve got some young dogs like Stoops has right now, it’s time to let them run.

And that may be the case as Stoops explained earlier this week.

“They got a lot of extra work last week and feel like they’re in a better position to help us moving forward,” Stoops said.

What Sooners Illustrated is going to do is examine some notable players from the 2015 and 2016 classes and say it’s time to take the training wheels off.

Offense

WR Mykel Jones (2016)

Defense

DE Amani Bledsoe (2016)

DE/DT Neville Gallimore (2015)

LB Ricky DeBerry (2015)

LB Caleb Kelly (2016)

CB Jordan Parker (2016)

You could add quarterback Austin Kendall and running back Abdul Adams to this list, but that’s a no-win situation for those guys. You cannot sit Baker Mayfield and Joe Mixon/Samaje Perine so they will have to wait their turn.

In the days of redshirts not meaning anything because players can be (and some will be) gone after three years of college eligibility, it’s time to let them hunt.

WR Mykel Jones

Jones has been talked about for a while, but it’s time to let him loose. He’s a dynamic playmaker, especially in the open field. His early performances have coaches and teammates using the name Sterling Shepard, and we know that’s no joke to use that name. Jones has missed on some assignments, but there’s enough he does well to unleash him on the rest of the Big 12.

DE Amani Bledsoe

Here’s the thing about the majority of the defensive ends right now for OU. Harsh reality is they were recruited to be in a 4-3 front. They’re not bigger than 6-foot-2 and not heavier than like 260. They’ve adapted the best they can, but Bledsoe is that dude. He’s a natural defensive end in a 3-4 personnel and showed a lot of athletic ability against ULM. He’s what Calvin Thibodeaux wanted at Kansas, and who he is so glad to have again now in Norman.

DE/DT Neville Gallimore

Gallimore is only starting to scratch the surface of his abilities. He’s someone who can be a beast at defensive end but might have to help out at defensive tackle with the lack of depth at that position right now for Thibodeaux.

“Like a lot of redshirt freshmen, he’s really good, positive,” Stoops said. “He continues to get better. Neville has a really bright future. He’s coming along really well, but he’s about where a guy is who’s going into his fourth game. He’s getting better. He has all the tools to be a really good player.”

LB Caleb Kelly

He’s the guy. He’s future and might as well be a part of the present for the Sooners. When you think of what OU wants from a 3-4 outside linebacker, Kelly checks all the boxes. Can cover in space, can help in run support and has a natural knack for knowing where the ball is. His time should be now.

“Yeah. He’s very athletic,” Stoops said. “We’re hopeful as we go forward he can do more of that (making an impact).”

LB Ricky DeBerry

DeBerry is caught in a rough spot. The shoulder injury last year really hindered his development and his ability to figure out where he fits in this defense. In limited time, he fared well vs. ULM and even caused a fumble. He might have to sit and wait behind Ogbonnia Okoronkwo right now, but it wouldn’t be crazy to suggest it’s time for DeBerry to get his opportunity at making something happen.

CB Jordan Parker/Parrish Cobb

You really just lump both of them together. Cobb has gotten his shot a couple of times this season, while Parker seems to be destined to be that next man up.

Parker was OU’s top-ranked defensive back for the 2016 class, but a shoulder injury has basically hampered him the last 12 months.

Now healthy, it seems as though Parker might be getting a little more action and perhaps seeing that redshirt come off.

“He’s somebody that got a lot more snaps last week and did well with them,” Stoops said. “He’s definitely a guy that we’re playing closer attention to.”

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