Football camp begins; freshmen report for summer

Sooner eying five at camp, freshmen report for summer conditioning and much, much more...

As expected the Sooners have about 500 campers working out over the next three days, but only five are real prospects for the Sooners.

It was a bit of a surprise to the Sooner coaches that Robert Meachum of Tulsa Washington, OK decided to go through camp. Regarded as the top wide receivers in the country by many and certainly the top on the Sooners recruiting board, Meachum was expected to go through the Sooners one day prospect camp and not the three-day work camp. However, Meachum called over the weekend told the Sooners coaches he wanted to get the work in and showed up today ready to go.

The other top prospects in the Sooner camp are OL Brian Zimpel of Broken Arrow, OL Carl Pendleton of Sapulpa, LB Dane Zaslaw of Edmond Memorial and LB Lorenzo Williams of Midwest City.

What was even more impressive was that the Sooners talented Freshman class rolled in today and will be ready to go to work with Strength and Conditioning Coach Jerry Schmidt and his staff tomorrow. Not all of the freshman will be on hand, but at least 70 percent of them are already on campus.

Definitely passing the eyeball test was wide receiver Travis Wilson, CB Michael Hawkins and LB Rufus Alexander. All three look great on the hoof and all three will look good getting off the bus.

I had a hard time figuring out who Wilson really was. He is so big and thick that I thought he was a tight end, but he is bigger than Lanear Nixon and I didn't think he was one of the varsity tight ends.

I had to ask Coach Cale Gundy who it was and he said he could understand how I would make that mistake. Brent Venables and Darryl Wyatt then joined in the conversation and all started talking about how fast Wilson was. They didn't mean how fast he was for a man his size, but how much pure speed that he has. All three agreed that Wilson is faster than the Sooners other big receivers Brandon Jones and Will Peoples, and that he might be the fastest receiver on campus. Every coach on that staff can't seem to wait to get Wilson in pads to see what he can do.

The Sooner coaches also feel that Michael Hawkins can play this year as a backup cornerback and special teams player. I get the feeling the defensive coaches are hoping that Hawkins will play this year and are expecting him to play. Antonio Perkins will be the third corner with Hawkins the fourth. When Perkins plays safety, which he might, then Hawkins might be the third corner.

The coaches also have Rufus Alexander in their plans as well. Alexander is expected to come in and be the backup for Teddy Lehman at the weakside linebacker post. The Sooners will also look at playing Alexander in Roy Williams spot inside the box. They are not moving him to strong safety, but when the Sooners go to extra DBs, they might put Alexander in Williams'' short-yardage position in the box. They will have to see if he can cover in space, because even in the box there will be times he would have to cover a tight end, slot receiver or running back.

More good news regarding the incoming freshman class...Jenks defensive back Jason Carter has qualified, leaving Fresno Edison defensive back Aaron Miller as the only member of the freshman class who hasn't qualified. He still needs a point-and-a-half to qualify with two more tests to go. If Miller doesn't qualify they would like him to sit out the first semester and continue to take the test until he passes it. Miller is considering going to junior college, which the Sooners really don't want to see him do.

OU does not have a partial qualifier this year, because the Sooners learned that the grades they received on Justin Williams were not correct, so he actually was redshirt last year when he wasn't eligible to play. It wasn't really OU's fault, but the NCAA has ruled and they will not be allowed to use a partial qualifier this year.

Also, contrary to other media reports, the OU coaches are not down on redshirt freshman linebacker Clint Ingram. They felt Ingram had a solid spring and that he has a good future ahead of him. Sure, he still has a ways to go, but they still like his upside.

Finally, Lindy's is the first college football magazine to hit the stands and they ranked the Sooners as the preseason number one. They also ranked the Sooners defensive line and defensive secondary as the best in the country.

Tommie Harris was rated a first team All-American and the top defensive tackle in the country. I can't remember exactly, but I believe Derrick Strait and Jimmy Wilkerson were ranked second team All-American, with Strait rated the number two cornerback in the country and Wilkerson the number five defensive end. What is ironic is that Andre Woolfolk was rated the 19th best cornerback in the country, yet Bob Stoops has stated that Woolfolk will be a top contender for the Jim Thorpe award this year.

Lindy's is always a much better preseason mag than Athlon and this year will be no exception. However, I couldn't believe they didn't have Lehman ranked as one of the top 20 outside or inside linebackers in the country. You can't tell me there are 20 better linebackers in the country either inside or outside than Lehman.

By the way, we were all looking off the mag purchased by OU co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. It's great to listen to coaches as they critique a preseason magazine. They have their opinions as well and they don't always agree with the mag. It is good stuff!

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