Spring Review: Quarterbacks

White ready to get back on the field; Long says Rawls could be special and much more.

All eyes were on the quarterbacks at the start of spring practice and nothing changed toward the end. Coach Stoops surprised everyone before the first practice when he announced that Jason White was his starting quarterback. That took some of the suspense out of the spring, but in reality all it did was shift the intensity toward the backup job where senior Nate Hybl was in a battle with redshirt freshman Brent Rawls.

White worked in all non-contact drills, which was about 70 to 75 percent of the drills. He made all the throws and participated in the majority of the team work. From all accounts his efforts were a success, but even White admits that the lack of contact set him back a little bit.

"Nothing can substitute for contact or live game action in practice," said White. "Games or scrimmages are played at a faster pace than a team drill or a skell drill. You can go through a great practice every day, but you will still have to pick your game up two to three notches to keep up with the spring of live action or a game."

"I will be behind when double sessions start in the summer," White noted. "I don't think it will take me long to catch up, but still I realize that I am behind the other two quarterbacks because of the injury. Hopefully, I will get the opportunity to win my job back when double sessions start."

White's insecurities are noble, but not necessary. Coach Stoops and Offensive Coordinator and quarterback coach Chuck Long have both stated many times that White is the starter. However, you have to love a guy that doesn't take anything for granted and realizes that he must continue to work hard to maintain his position.

As spring came to a close it wasn't clear who was the Sooners' backup quarterback. Early in camp it looked as if Hybl was easily going to hold onto that job, but the final two weeks were a different story and Rawls' improvement made the race too close to call.

"We had three players on offense that stood out the most in the spring, because of their tremendous improvement," said Long. "The Jones boys, who really aren't related, KeJuan and Brandon, were very impressive. Then the third was Rawls. He improved so much that he became a player right in front of our eyes.

"There is always a difference between a talent and a player. Brent has always been a talent, but it wasn't until the second half of the spring that he became a player. Now, there is only a fraction of a inch that separates them and we won't know who is the backup until fall drills are completed."

"I haven't coached a quarterback that can throw a football like Brent," Long continued. "He is special in this area. He can throw every pass, throw with tremendous velocity and put the ball in places that most quarterbacks can't. Brent has an excellent release and he improved his awareness in the pocket. He is also a good athlete and can run in the pocket if he needs to."

"However, I have said this many times, but it will always hold true, a quarterback is only twenty percent physical and eighty percent mental. Josh Heupel was never the most talented quarterback in any game, but he was always the best quarterback, because he was the best quarterback mentally in each and every game he played. Brent really came on the second half of spring as a thinking quarterback. Something just clicked with him and he started reading things and executing like he needs to if he wants to play quarterback here."

"Nate was very solid and had an outstanding spring. We feel very confident with Nate and what he brings to our offense, but he is really going to be pushed by Brent next fall."

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