NORMAN, Okla. – The Oklahoma Football team returned to the practice fields for the first time since Saturday's scrimmage on a beautiful, sunny day Monday afternoon in Norman.
The Sooners worked out for two hours and 15 minutes in full pads, and were watched on the sidelines by former Sooners Quentin Griffin, Tommie Harris and David Vickers.
Below is a position-by-position look at the highlights from Monday's practice.
Jason White hasn't been mentioned much this spring due to his limited reps, but the Tuttle, Okla. native looked like the Heisman Trophy winner he is on Monday in the one-on-one and skelly passing drills.
White threw and connected on just about every pass in the book today. White hit KeJuan Jones out of the backfield, and then found Brandon Jones on a crossing route and a perfect out route for a big gain. White also hit Tashard Choice and D.J. Wolfe on swing routes for big gains, and even found walk-on David Robinson on a crossing route.
Paul Thompson threw one interception on an out route to Antonio Perkins, but aside from that play he was impressive. Thompson continues perform well on play-action fakes and rolling out. Thompson also threw great on the run today, whether he was running to his left or right.
OU offensive coordinator Chuck Long also threw the pigskin around for a couple drills, while Grady, White and Thompson rotated from one field to the other for different drills.
Oklahoma's running backs are all so impressive it's beginning to become hard to pick out one standout.
KeJuan Jones ran with the first team and showed his increased quickness on several plays. Donta Hickson continued to run hard as well, and Tashard Choice made two nice diving catches out of the backfield. Courtney Tennial and D.J. Wolfe also looked good running the ball. Both Tennial and Wolfe have good size and don't mind contact.
The Oklahoma running backs also went through a mini-Oklahoma drill where they had to block linebackers straight up. J.D. Runnels was impressive in this drill, pancaking Demarrio Pleasant. Tennial and Jacob Gutierrez also showed they can block. Gutierrez held his own and managed to get the job done against Lewis Baker and Wayne Chambers in this drill. Jones had one great block on Zach Latimer and Donta Hickson handled Gayron Allen on one play.
WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END
OU's wide receivers are having great springs, and today they found out that their unit will be ranked No. 1 in the nation in the Sporting News College Football preview coming out this summer.
OU Head Coach Bob Stoops talked about the honor after today's practice.
"That's good," said Stoops. "We feel really good about our receiver class. We're really proud about what they're trying to accomplish. We have a number of guys back, and it helps with to have a Mark Clayton. But we think Brandon Jones and Will Peoples are outstanding as well.
"And the fact we have five seniors bodes well for us. Those recruits out there who know that our receiver corp is doing well will understand they have some opportunities here."
Stoops also commented on the fact that having the top receivers in the country means the passing game is working as well.
"Obviously, we have thrown the football pretty well around here," Stoops said. "We have a Heisman Trophy winner and Mark Clayton is an All-American. People are recognizing our receivers, but it wasn't too long ago we had a 2,000 yard rusher. I think we're pretty balanced."
Tight end James Moses had another great day catching the ball over the middle, but struggled in many of the blocking drills. In fact, several of OU's tight ends had trouble today blocking OU's linebackers in one-on-one drills, but blocked much better they were forced to take on a linebacker while coming in motion rather than straight on.
It was a so-so day for the offensive line, as they seemed to hold their own in some drills and get beat up in the others.
The right side of the o-line (Davin Joseph and Jammal Brown) had the most success, while the left side (Kelvin Chaisson and Wes Sims) struggled with Dan Cody, who had a monster practice.
Chris Chester still worked with the first team at center in the absence of Vince Carter and Chris Bush. Chester improved from his previous performances, but still struggled with a few bad snaps.
Lawrence Dampeer was not at practice today for personal reasons, but Carl Pendleton returned after helping lead the Oklahoma cheer squad to a fifth-place finish at the national meet last weekend. Dampeer is only expected to miss one practice.
As for the defensive ends, it was a great day for Dan Cody. Cody would've recorded at least three sacks in a full-contact situation, and even dropped back into coverage on one play and stopped Brandon Jones for only a four-yard gain after catching a crossing route. "Not bad coverage for a big boy," said Bobby Jack Wright after the play."
Larry Birdine was also hard to block and got great pressure off the edge today. Laenar Nixon also had a sack. Nixon continues to show great quickness, but still needs to gain strength and more experience at the position.
Several of Oklahoma's linebackers got a chance to go head-to-head with OU's tight ends and fullbacks in a mini-Oklahoma drill today, and they dominated for the most part.
Clint Ingram continued his impressive spring pretty much beating anyone who lined up against him, including J.D. Runnels. Ingram also continued to hold on to his starting strongside linebacker spot.
"I'm enjoying the adjustment," said Ingram on switching from middle linebacker to the strongside spot. "I like playing strongside. My natural abilities are coming through and I'm enjoying how things are going.
Rufus Alexander and Lance Mitchell were also impressive in the drill. Mitchell also had to enjoy exploiting the weakness of OU's tight ends, when he pushed both Joe John Finley and Willie Roberts back for several yards on his rush. Demarrio Pleasant was one LB who struggled in the drill, as he had trouble with Runnels and Dan Townsend.
It was another good day in the secondary for Eric Bassey, who continues to have a great spring.
"I totally feel at home at cornerback," said Bassey. "I have my weight up over 200 pounds. I'm about 202, so I think I'm considered a big corner now. I think the fact I played safety early in my career helped me. I'm still running a 4.3, but I want to get that down to a 4.2."
Bassey also talked about having to face OU's stout receivers every day in practice.
"Not only am I facing our receivers, I'm facing the best quarterback in the country. I think Paul Thompson could start for anybody else in the country. We have Tommy Grady and the No. 1 quarterback coming in, so we've got some quarterbacks that can throw it. We have some great battles against some great receivers. All those guys are really good."
Bassey has also been in a one-on-one personal battle this spring with Brandon Jones. Jones has been doing most of the talking and walking, but Bassey said it was a different story today.
"I'll give him that," said Bassey, on Jones' comments last week that he couldn't hold him. "But I think I got him today. Did you ask him today?"
Stoops agreed with Bassey that today belonged to the secondary.
"Our DBs have done a good job today," said Stoops. "It was hard to get something going against them. Our wide receivers competed hard, but they didn't make the big plays like I wanted them to today."
Other standouts today included Antonio Perkins, who picked off Paul Thompson. Brodney Pool also looked good at safety and Darien Williams was active after a bad day on Friday.
Both punters kicked again today and each were inconsistent at times. Cody Freeby seemed to get better hangtime and had one boomer, but needs to do that on every punt. Blake Ferguson didn't have any boomers, but was more consistent in hangtime and distance than Freeby.
Oklahoma's front line on the punt return team consisted of (left to right) Lewis Baker, Donte Nicholson, Russell Dennison, Jason Carter, Darien Williams and Tony Cade. Chijioke Onyenegecha, Jowahn Poteat Will Peoples and Darien Williams worked rotated on the two outside positions blocking the gunners. Antonio Perkins was the returner.
The Sooners will take Tuesday off before returning to the practice fields again on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
Spring Football Practice Report (4/5)
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