SPRING PRACTICE: Young players impress Stoops

A complete report on Tuesday's workout with quotes from OU Head Coach Bob Stoops and Brodney Pool

NORMAN, Okla. — The Oklahoma football team returned to the practice field for their second workout of the spring on Tuesday for a two and a half hour workout in helmets, shorts and shoulder pads.

Spring is usually the time for the young players to make their move, and Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops said several of them are doing just that so far.

"This was a well-paced practice today," said Stoops. "We got all the snaps in we planned on and probably a few more, so the young guys get more work and lots of playing time, which is exactly what we want and why we practice at such a high tempo."

"It was a great day for the young guys," Stoops continued."Things are going just absolutely great because the guys have great enthusiasm and they understand what they're doing. But it's the young guys that are making this spring really fun."

One player who has impressed Stoops is sophomore safety Brodney Pool. Pool had a great day today in coverage and batted down three passes today while blitzing.

"The coaches tell us on pass rush if we can't tackle the quarterback to jump up and knock the ball down," said Pool after practice. "So that's what I tried to do and had some luck to day."

"Brodney Pool is going to be a great football player," said Stoops. "You're beginning to see his great ability because he's understanding the defense better. His jumping ability, ability to block passes and to cover is something not every player has."

Pool's role last year and in high school was as more of a safety who dropped back into coverage. But this year, Pool is auditioning for a starting spot at safety or in the extra defensive back slot that Roy Williams played so well.

"I know I have a great opportunity," said Pool. "There's a spot open for me. I've just got to go get it."

Stoops also pointed out junior cornerback Mark Bradley and redshirt freshman Larry Birdine as players who have stood out out on defense along with Pool.

"Mark Bradley is a special football player," said Stoops. "He's a natural. He's got all the intangibles you look for in a great cover corner."

"Larry Birdine is just a very athletic defensive end with outstanding size and speed. Aaron Miller and Jason Carter have also showed signs of being good players."

Miller, who is practicing again for the first time since injuring his ankle in the fall, looked good at free safety and even intercepted Brent Rawls on an out-route.

Bradley, also had one interception, and is currently running on the second team behind corners Derrick Strait and Antonio Perkins. Birdine is running with the second unit of defensive ends along with Calvin Thibodeaux.

On offense, Stoops pointed out receivers JeJuan Rankins and Travis Wilson as players who have impressed.

"JeJuan Rankins has the making of a great football player," said Stoops. "He's got outstanding ability and is exciting to watch and can really make things happen."

Wilson had one of the best plays on Tuesday when he out-jumped Jowahn Poteat for a 40-yard streak route. The ball was up for grabs and Wilson simply kept his concentration, made the catch and would have scored after the catch in a game or scrimmage.

"Travis Wilson is another player. He's just a big-time talent. The catch he made on the streak route was incredible."

Two other young players on offense that have caught Stoops' eye are sophomores Davin Joseph and Kelvin Chaisson.

"Our young guards are just really good," said Stoops. "They're very athletic. They're going to make us better on offense."

One area that usually gets little play during the spring is the special teams. Bob Stoops has taken over the duties as OU's special teams' coach, and it's good to see him finally earning his salary.

Stoops was asked after practice about the special teams.

"That's a good question James, because you're asking the special teams coordinator," Stoops chuckled. "It's hard to tell because we're just trying to teach them to line up. We're trying to find Perkins a partner on kick-offs. There's about 10 guys we could put back there."

So far, it looks as if Rankins, Mark Clayton and Brandon Jones will get the first shot to join Perkins and replace Antwone Savage. Jones was late to practice after suiting up with the baseball team for their game today.

Another player who looked outstanding today was Derrick Strait. Strait had two interceptions and jumped on two passes that he nearly picked off.

And despite the wealth of interceptions during the seven-on-seven drills, Stoops is still optimistic about the passing game.

"The passing game is coming along fine," said Stoops. "They're hitting some nice throws. However, our defense is pretty good and they jump up and make some plays."

Jason White had mixed results throwing the ball and got frustrated at times. Noah Allen had a good practice once they got into team blitz drills. Allen hit Rankins and Clayton for 15-yard curl routes. Allen also did a good job of throwing the ball away when nothing was there. Rawls threw a good ball all day, but just didn't connect much.

One player to watch in future practices is walk-on receiver Greg Hopkins from Edmond North. Hopkins has turned some heads this spring.

And last but not least from the smack talk category comes Kejuan Jones vs. Jason Carter. Jones and Carter, both former teammates at Jenks High School, went head-to-head on a wheel route and it was Jones who outran Carter to the endzone. Carter, who will soon take over as the ‘King of Smack' once Brandon Everage graduates told Jones, ‘You know you still only run a 4.6.' To which Jones replied, ‘You still couldn't catch my a$$.'

Oklahoma resumes spring practice Wednesday at 4:15 p.m.

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