If there is one constant in the world of college football, it's the fact that your roster will turnover on an annual basis and with it a new crop of freshman or first year players will come with it. As a result, coaches are faced with the decision whether or not to redshirt their new arrivals. That decision is not always made prior to the season starting, often times the decision to either maintain or burn the redshirt can be a result of what transpires during said season.
Less than two weeks into fall camp, there has already been strong talk from the Oklahoma coaches about several true freshman seeing the field who might not have originally been expected to play. Bob Stoops does have a pretty well known reputation for having no fear in playing true freshman. They definitely have to earn it mind you, but assuming they can prove their worth during preseason practices they'll be given a chance to play.
So with that, we're going to predict which freshman/first year players you can expect to see on the field this year and which ones you might have to wait a year to see.
WR Lacoltan Bester Chances of a Redshirt 0% - He was a very late arrival, but according to reports coming out of fall camp that has not hindered him in the slightest. He has been running with the first time and his play in practice could be one of the reasons the coaches have moved Kenny Stills inside to the slot.
RB Daniel Brooks Chances of a Redshirt 100% - Brooks is recovering from major knee surgery.
C Ty Darlington Chances of a Redshirt 10% - This number would be much higher were it not for the loss of longtime starter Ben Habern. I think the coaches would have preferred to redshirt Darlington were they given the luxury, but now I think he will play. And according to talk from around the program, he has been incredibly impressive already. I even read a comment Friday that said some believe he could even take over center if they had to move Ikard back to guard.
CB Kass Everett Chances of a Redshirt 5% - Everett was an early enrollee, took part in the spring, and by most accounts struggled with the transition from the JUCO ranks. Honestly, I've heard very little about him since the spring and with the confirmed move of Aaron Colvin to corner the playing time for Everett could be hard to find. He will very likely have a role on special teams however.
TE Sam Grant Chances of a Redshirt 35% - Grant has a massive frame at 6'7", but he has been on some of the practice videos on SoonerSports and he is really, really skinny. In a perfect world, this would be a no-brainer redshirt but that may not be an option give the issues at tight end.
TE Brannon Green Chances of a Redshirt 0% - Green is almost guaranteed the starting tight end job and hopefully can live up to his reputation of being a stout blocker.
QB Trevor Knight Chances of a Redshirt 100% - Barring catastrophic injuries, there is no chance Knight sees the field in 2012. That said, everything I've every read about this kid makes me believe he has an incredibly bright future in Norman. Sounds like a born leader and his fellow teammates are already looking to him even as a true freshman.
OG Kyle Marrs Chances of a Redshirt 75% - Even with the losses Oklahoma has suffered along the interior of the offensive line, I still see a redshirt in his future.
TE Taylor McNamara Chances of a Redshirt 0% - McNamara was another early enrollee and reports are he's performed quite well, even proved to be a better blocker than many had initially expected. If Oklahoma is to have a viable receiving threat from the tight end position this season, it's very likely going to be McNamara.
WR Trey Metoyer Chances of a Redshirt 0% - I'm not even going to insult your intelligence (or waste your time).
WR Durron Neal Chances of a Redshirt 5% - That might even be a little high, but Neal was dealing with a knee injury earlier this summer. He seems to have recovered from that and has been working with both the first and second team receiving unit in practices. One of my favorite players in this 2012 class, he could really make an impact in this offense if given the chance.
DE Chaz Nelson Chances of a Redshirt 5% - Probably should be zero, but based on talk as of late Nelson appears to have lost some of his momentum from the spring. That coupled with the love affair position coach Bobby Jack Wright appears to be having with true freshman Charles Tapper and Michael Onuoha there is just the tiniest of hesitations on my part. He's going to play in my opinion, it's just a matter of how much or how little.
DE Michael Onuoha Chances of a Redshirt 45% - Prior to this last week, I probably would have put this close to 100%. However, Onuoha has reportedly done incredibly well just a couple weeks into his college career. Both he and Tapper have impressed enough that there is apparently serious talk that both could see the field this year. They've been that good so far, but I'm hedging a little bit at 45%.
RB Alex Ross Chances of a Redshirt 40% - We've heard multiple reports of just how impressive Ross was during summer workouts and we've been given no reason to believe anything has changed now that practices have started. There is no shortage of competition at the running back spot, but Ross may just be too good to keep on the sidelines.
CB Zack Sanchez Chances of a Redshirt 95% - Sanchez is a fantastic athlete, but will benefit from a year of seasoning. Projects has a very good cover guy in the future though.
WR Sterling Shepard Chances of a Redshirt 0% - If you're drawing comparisons to the greatest wide receiver in school history after just a couple weeks, chances are you might have some talent. Obviously the Ryan Broyles talk is premature, but Shepard has a lot of the same tools and might even be a better overall athlete. He's an absolutely perfect slot receiver and, oh hey, the Sooners need one of those.
CB Gary Simon Chances of a Redshirt 15% - Another very late arrival, but the coaches are already raving about him. So much so that there has already been talk of him possibly working his way into the third cornerback spot Several smarter than myself have said he could potentially be an elite cover guy, based on some of the comments from Bob Stoops he seems to agree.
RB David Smith Chances of a Redshirt 75% - We've heard good things, but this looks like a case of the depth chart holding him back. He has talent, but so do all of the guys ahead of him. On a positive note, if you ever check out his Twitter account there probably isn't another player more excited to be a Sooner. Good things are in his future.
LB Eric Striker Chances of a Redshirt 15% - Another true freshman that the coaches are raving about already. Tim Kish and Mike Stoops reportedly love this kid and for a first year player he has an incredibly physical aspect to his game. At a minimum, he'll play on special teams but with the talk thus far it sounds like the coaches are going to find a way to work him in at linebacker.
DE Charles Tapper Chances of a Redshirt 35% - It's kind of crazy when you consider how much speculation there was surrounding whether or not Tapper would even make it to Norman, then straight to talk of him legitimately seeing the field two weeks into practice. He has the frame of a future NFL edge rusher and talk is his first step has really wowed the coaches.
RB Damien Williams Chances of a Redshirt 0% - As many of you know, I've made no secret of my unofficial position as the driver of the Williams bandwagon. Reports leaking out of practice have dampened my spirits just a tad, but I remain convinced he has a role in this offense. I still believe when he gets the ball in his hands he'll make plays and the more often he does that, the more difficult it will be for them to take him out of the game.
WR Derrick Woods Chances of a Redshirt 55% - At one point, it looked like all of the true freshman wide receivers would be forced to play. But the talk as of late has been just how impressive the wide receivers have been and while Woods has been a part of that talk, it just makes more sense to me for him to redshirt if at all possible. He's definitely the most raw as a receiver prospect and there remains talk that he could have an even brighter future as a safety.