PRACTICE REPORT: OU freshmen hold first workout

Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops comments on the developments of Monday's first freshmen workout

Before the start of two-a-days one of the biggest holes the Sooners were looking to fill was that of place kicking spot left by the graduation of Tim Duncan.

That hole got bigger on Monday when it was discovered that the favorite to replace Duncan — Malta, Montana kicker Josh Roberts — was a no-show for the first practice and will not attend the University of Oklahoma.

"This is news for us in that Josh Roberts is not with us, he did not report," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops after practice.

"He is not on this football team. We're not sure what happened. We have not been able to make contact with him. We have talked with his high school coach. From what we can tell he's heading to New York. He's going to live there and he's not going to play football."

According to recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Bobby Jack Wright, who recruited Roberts, the Sooners received a letter today from the Montana star stating that he was not coming to Norman.

What is even more confusing is the reasoning in the letter. According to Wright, Roberts wrote that he injured his leg and a sports orthopedic doctor told him he could not kick for eight weeks. Roberts said in the letter that because of the injury, he did not feel comfortable coming to Norman and using a scholarship despite the fact he was injured.

However, both Wright and Stoops talked to Roberts' high school coach and he could not confirm the injury rumor. Apparently, Roberts had just kicked in the Montana All-Star High School game last weekend.

"This is a total surprise to us," said Wright. "We just talked to Josh last week and everything was fine."

Luckily for the Sooners there is a backup plan at kicker, and it's not a bad one at that.

All eyes will now be focused on junior college kicker Steven Sarubbi (#43) to step in and fill the void left by Duncan and now Roberts.

"Thank goodness we have Steve Sarubbi," said Stoops. "As you know Roberts and Sarubbi were going to compete for the job anyway. We'll be okay. Sarubbi is a good kicker. He looks great."

Sarubbi — a first team junior college All-American last season at Allan Hancock Community College in Santa Maria, Calif. — was recruited to Oklahoma as a walk-on by Chuck Long with the guarantee that if he won the starting job he would receive a scholarship.

That deal looks pretty good now for Sarubbi, a Houston, Texas native who converted 17-of-19 field goal attempts and 38-of-41 extra point attempts last season at Allan Hancock.

Sarubbi, whose career long was 49-yards in junior college, was very accurate in the morning session working on field goals of 35-yards from each of the hash marks.

Sarubbi will now have to hold off Forney, Texas walk-on Pete Cuva (#80). Cuva looked to have the stronger leg of the two kickers today, but accuracy seemed to be a problem this morning as he pulled most of his kicks wide left.

Another special teams position that will get a lot of attention during two-a-days is deep snapper.

Bob Stoops said after practice that Jacob Rice (#90) — a true freshmen from Norman North High School — is being expected to be that guy when the Sooners take the field later this month in Tulsa. Just how important is Rice? He is so important to the Sooners' kicking game that he got a good 15 minute personal session with the Oklahoma head coach while the kickers worked off the tee.

Other then the news of Roberts at the freshmens' first workout, it seemed to be business as usual for the Oklahoma coaches and players.

With only freshmen allowed to practice until Thursday, there was a lot of coaching and teaching going on this morning.

One of the most impressive groups of the incoming freshmen are the defensive backs.

Louisiana prospect Rufus Alexander (#42) spent his first collegiate practice with the defensive backs rather then the linebackers working at free safety.

Jenks standout Jason Carter (#4) and Carrollton, Texas prospect Michael Hawkins (#37) worked solely at the corners while Alexander, Aaron Miller (#3), and Brodney Pool (#23) worked primarily at the safeties.

Overall, Stoops was impressed with the group, who worked out in shorts and shoulder pads from 8:45-10:45 at intramural practice fields.

"Very athletic group," commented Stoops. "They run very well, but we already knew that."

Stoops on the Injured List
Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops is the first coach to be on the injured list this fall. Stoops, who had his right hand bandaged, hurt a finger on lifting weights last weekend. He said after practice that everything is fine and he should be out of the bandages in about five days.

Numbers Game
If you head out to practice this afternoon or later this week and have the official roster from beware. There were several noticeable number changes this morning then from what was listed on the official site.

From what we could gather, the freshmen numbers are as follows as of this morning. (Note that the numbers have already changed once and will probably change again.)

Quarterbacks: Noah Allen #16; Paul Thompson #14.

Running Backs: J.D. Runells #38.

Wide Receivers: Travis Wilson #4; DaBryan Blanton #5; and JeJuan Rankins #17.

Tight End: Leanar Nixon #82.

Offensive Line: Jeff Lebby #63; Steve Taylor #76; Abner Estrada #65; and Chris Messner #79.

Defensive Line: Davin Jospeh #77; Larry Birdine #98 ; and Calvin Thibodeaux #58.

Linebackers: Wayne Chambers #15; Zach Lattimer #46.

Defensive Backs: Jason Carter #4; Aaron Miller #3; Michael Hawkins #37; Brodney Pool #23; and Rufus Alexander #42.

The Sooner freshmen will go through their second workout today beginning at 4:30 pm.

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