Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
With Aaron Colvin as the lone returning starter, the Oklahoma secondary will have a very different look in 2013.
Additions: Dakota Austin, Hatari Byrd, Cortez Johnson, L.J. Moore, Stanvon Taylor, Ahmad Thomas
Storyline: Outside of the defensive line, no position group on this Oklahoma roster suffered the amount of turnover this OU secondary did heading into 2013. With Aaron Colvin being the lone returning starter, the Sooners will have their work cut out for them in piecing together their defensive backfield.
There are a number of possible scenarios both for this spring and even more so this summer once Hatari Byrd, L.J. Moore, and Stanvon Taylor arrive in Norman.
At this point we're not sure whether or not the former Arizona Wildcat, Cortez Johnson, will be playing corner or safety, but the assumption here is he's more needed at the corner position. If for some reason he's not a corner, things could be really scary for the Sooners opposite Colvin.
It will be interesting to see how a guy like Julian Wilson (or even Lynn if he gets beat out for the starting job) is used in this defense. If Oklahoma really is transitioning to a 3-4 scheme, there really isn't a traditional spot for a nickelback. Mike Stoops could always get creative and throw either out at an outside linebacker spot on an obvious passing down, but much like the 3-4 rumors that's really just speculation at this point.
Mike Stoops is very excited about both Stanvon Taylor and L.J. Moore, so with the lack of depth at corner both could see time as true freshmen. Moore is a guy who is similar to Johnson in that he could play either corner or safety, but he's expected to start his career at corner. Taylor is a dynamic athlete who is probably a bit raw as a corner prospect, but someone who possesses a considerable upside.
The biggest disappointment here being the fact that Gary Simon is no longer with the program. Prior to the news of his leaving, he was one of the most likely candidates to start opposite Colvin.
In what will surely become a recurring theme over both the spring and summer, the Oklahoma secondary may be inexperienced but there is no shortage of young talent. And looking at that projected depth chart, said young talent likely won't have the luxury of a redshirt year before being asked to contribute.
Battle To Watch: Ahmad Thomas & Hatari Byrd vs. Gabe Lynn & Quentin Hayes. Ever since their respective faxes came in on National Signing Day, the expectation has been that both Thomas and Byrd could likely be Oklahoma's starting safeties for the season opener.
Oklahoma returns essentially zero experience at the safety spot with both Lynn and Hayes having played at times, but rarely back at a true safety spot. Lynn has primarily played as a nickelback and Hayes has really been limited mainly to special teams.
So both starting jobs could be up for grabs and with Thomas already in Norman having enrolled early, he would appear to have a leg up on his competition. However, don't make the mistake of assuming just because Byrd won't be here until this summer that it will hurt his chances. He is very athletic, especially for his size, and unlike most true freshman is physically ready to come in and play immediately.
Overview: After a year in which the Oklahoma secondary was arguably one of the best in the Big 12, things could be very different in 2013. The exceptional job Hurst, Colvin, Jefferson, and Harris did last season was only enhanced with how little of a pass rush the defensive line in front of them generated. Given how much the Sooners lose off last year's squad, it's very unrealistic to expect a similar performance in 2013.
While there is talent, almost all of it has yet to prove themselves at this level. In a perfect world, both Thomas and Byrd would already be on campus. Unfortunately, this is not the case but at least one of the two will be here to take part in spring practices.
With our only opportunity to watch this team in the spring being the actual Red/White game, we probably won't learn much about this secondary until this summer, when all of the candidates are on campus.