Stoops discusses kicking situation

Stoops not worried about OU's kicking situation plus the latest news and notes from Monday's afternoon freshmen practice session

As reported earlier this afternoon, the big news from today's second practice session is that Oklahoma has already added another kicker to fill the shoes of no-show Josh Roberts.

Trey DiCarlo — of Carrollton (Creekview HS) in Texas — made his Oklahoma debut this afternoon and was perhaps the Sooners most impressive kicker on this day.

DiCarlo — who was a four-year starter at Creekview and had a long field goal of 55-yards — is a left-footed kicker and will immediately compete with junior college transfer Steve Sarubbi for the starting kicker position.

"Word gets out that one of our kickers didn't show up and the phones ringing off the hook," chuckled Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops after practice. "We're going to be in good shape. Trey (DiCarlo) decided against Navy. He wanted an opportunity to walk-on and we want to give him that opportunity. He has some good credentials."

DiCarlo was set to attend Navy, but changed his mind this summer and is now a Sooner.

Stoops also commented one last time about Roberts' no-show.

"I'm not really going to get into it," said Stoops. "The important thing is that we didn't find out two days before Tulsa or Alabama. It's good that we found out about it now."

"I'm not worried about this," Stoops continued on the kicking situation. "We will have a good kicker. We have confidence in Sarubbi, and some of these other guys look good as well. They all hit the ball well. I don't think it's going to be a weakness for us."

DiCarlo hit the ball well during his first workout and it sounded good coming off of his foot. One OU coach even commented during practice that DiCarlo already looked to be in better kicking shape then Sarubbi.

Stoops says the battle for the starting kicking spots will go until someone earns the spot. The Sooners are in no hurry to rush the new kickers just yet.

"We'll give them some time to get their feet wet," said Stoops. "We just had one guy get out of his car and start kicking on tall grass. Eventually, we'll chart everything and put them under pressure situations. We'll see who handles what the best. The bottom line is you've got to have somebody who can make field goals and extra points."

Both Sarubbi and DiCarlo will also battle walk-on Pete Cuva for kick-off duties as well. Special teams coach Jonathan Hayes says he'd prefer one of the three to step up and win both jobs this fall.

"I'd rather not have a two-headed monster out there," said Hayes. "It's just best to have one guy who handles both. Especially when you have limited travel rosters in conference."

No news is good news as far as the rest of the freshmen are concerned. The jury is still out on who may or may not make an impact this fall. One position that is not expected to produce any true freshmen to see the field on Saturday's this fall is the offensive line.

Offensive line coach Kevin Wilson said after practice today that he expects to redshirt all four of his freshmen.

The two most highly touted lineman are Abner Estrada and Jeff Lebby. Estrada is working at center and is being groomed to eventually back up Vince Carter and take over when he graduates.

Wilson wants Lebby to lose weight. The freshmen packed on some extra pounds this summer in preparation for the college game, but came in too heavy at 322 pounds.

However, Wilson has been very impressed with Purcell native Steve Taylor, who appears to be in great shape. Taylor is always leading the offensive line group from drill-to-drill and sprinting through drills. There is no doubt that Taylor has caught the eye of Wilson and the offensive staff.

"I have been very impressed with this group," said Wilson. "Hey, it's not like after working with them for a day that I am in a panic, because I don't think anybody can play. I think we have some talent."

"Take Taylor for instance," Wilson continued. "I wasn't sure what I had in him, but he has come to camp in great shape, has a great work ethic and has shown me some feet and an understanding of playing the offensive line. The entire group has a pretty good work ethic and that is very important. I don't think we are going to play any of the freshman this year, but they are going to be good football players for us."

Both of OU's freshmen quarterbacks have not disappointed on their first day in Norman. Noah Allen is by far the better passer of the two, but Paul Thompson looks smoother in the quarterback run game situations.

All three of OU's receivers still have a lot of learning to do before they can contribute on the collegiate level. Travis Wilson is a hard worker who catches the ball well while JeJuan Rankins looks ultra smooth running routes.

Rankins may also be a factor in the punt return game in the future. The freshmen from North Carolina spent time with OU receivers coach Darrell Wyatt during the punt game working on catching punts.

Florida freshmen Davin Joseph is getting a lot of one-one-one time with defensive line coach Jackie Shipp. Joseph is the lone defensive tackle prospect and certainly looks the part. Joseph is by far the most intimidating of the Sooner freshmen.

Michael Hawkins and Jason Carter continue to work at the corners with Mike Stoops while Rufus Alexander, Brodney Pool and Aaron Miller rotate at the safety spots. Alexander is one player that could see some playing time this season in the defensive backfield or at linebacker.

"We're working him at strong safety - Roy Williams' nickel position," said Stoops on Alexander. "We'll see how he looks. We'll know a lot more in a few days."

Once again, Stoops took the time after practice to praise his incoming class of freshmen.

"I know we talk about this every year, but it seems like to me we get bigger and faster every year with our recruiting class," said Stoops. "This group can really run. They seem like they came in in good condition. I feel like we have some outstanding athletes in this class."

The freshmen will be back for the second day of two-a-days with an 8:45 am practice tomorrow morning at the Intramural practice fields.

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