First let me start by saying that I am sorry that part three of this series was so long in coming. However, the future is bright in both the offensive and defensive line.
The Sooners still don't have the numbers they like in the offensive line, but this year has proven that they have some quality. Coach Mangino is optimistic that OU can be very good in the offensive line again next year.
"I like the future of our offensive line a great deal," said Mangino. "It's going to be hard to replace two outstanding players in Frank Romero and Howard Duncan, but we have some real nice talent that is coming back behind them. Start with Vince (Carter) in the middle and he should anchor that position for us the next few years. Wes Sims will be back and before he got hurt he was playing pretty well. He was looking great outside before the injury, but we know he can play inside as well. Then at right tackle Jerod Fields and Jammal Brown have done a nice job while Wes has been hurt. They are getting better every game and they continue to improve.
"We have a nice group of redshirted players that we believe are going to be good players. So, I like the future of the offensive line."
Next year you know that Carter, Mike Skinner and Wes Sims are going to start somewhere. It's a certainty that Carter will be at center and Skinner at right guard. Sims was also showing great promise at right tackle before spraining his knee. If Sims stays at right tackle then at least one of Oklahoma's trouble positions for next year could be solved.
However, with the emergence of Fields and Brown, Sims could move back inside at left guard. Sims did struggle there early in the season, but the position wouldn't be foreign to him and with additional reps in the spring he could get comfortable. Make no mistake, Sims will play somewhere and where he fits in best will determine where the other guys play.
Brown was working at left tackle, before switching over to right tackle and sharing time with Fields. The thinking is that Brown will move back to the left side in the spring and start as the number one left tackle. Senior-to-be Chike Ozumba has been moved to left tackle and will challenge Brown for playing time.
Redshirt freshman Kevin Chiasson is a promising talent that has a good future in front of him. He is a natural offensive lineman that allows him to be a competitor next year for playing time, and he has good size and feet to play offensive tackle. Chiasson could also play right tackle and give Fields a run for his money.
Brett Rayl is another talented redshirt freshman that seems to be a perfect fit at offensive tackle. Rayl is still working at both tackle positions in practice, and he has the perfect body type to play tackle. He is still learning the trade on offense after coming over from defense.
Former h-back Chris Bush is also a perfect inside guy for Coach Mangino. Bush loves to block and has the perfect temperament to play offensive guard. He could also learn the center position, but Bush is too talented to be a backup for the next few years and will make a solid bid to start at left guard.
"We have more talent in our young offensive linemen than we have had at any time since we have been involved with the program," said Mangino. "I am not certain where Chris, Bret and Kevin will play, but I have a pretty good idea. You have to understand I am not certain where Jerod, Jammal or Wes are going to play in the future. Since we will have so limited experience coming back next year we will have to mix-and-match and see how we can get our five best players on the field. You figure that Vince and Mike will be the anchors on the o-line and then we will go from there."
Cliff Takawana has not progressed as far as the coaches would like. He is working at left guard in an effort to learn that position as well as he can. However, the OU coaches have not given up on him and he is still blessed with outstanding talent.
Brad Davis will also be back for his senior year. You feel good about a guy like Davis, who has hung through some tough times and his dedication, patience and hard work earned him some playing time this year at center and guard. He is not the greatest talent on the squad, but he has played well enough in games to earn the confidence of Coach Mangino. He will backup Carter next year and also backup at guard.
Jarrod Barclay is another veteran offensive lineman that will play a role as a backup.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE AND END
Oklahoma is already playing two outstanding freshmen defensive tackles in Tommy Harris and Dusty Dvoracek. Harris is already considered one of the top defensive tackles in the country and he will make several All-American teams as a true freshman. Dvoracek is overshadowed somewhat by Harris, but make no mistake he is going to be a great one as well. He is so talented that Juan Prishker can't get any snaps despite now being healthy.
Jacob Hager of Perry, Oklahoma is the defensive tackle redshirting and the Sooners have high hopes for him as well.
"Jacob is a good young talent that has a ways to go, but his future is bright with us," said defensive tackle coach Jackie Shipp. "He needs to get bigger and stronger which he will, but that has to be important to him during the offseason. Jacob is a good athlete, who plays with solid leverage and competes hard. If continues to compete hard then Jacob will be a factor for us in the near future."
At defensive end the only young athlete is already playing. Jonathan Jackson is the third defensive end off the bench and the Sooners love his possibilities.
"I wish I would have played Jackson more this year, but we are starting to get him more playing time here toward the end of the season," said defensive end coach Bobby Jack Wright. "He needs to get bigger in the offseason, but he has tremendous talent and is only going to be better in the future."
Redshirt Freshmen Update: Part III
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