We're less than two weeks away from the start of spring football and this is an Oklahoma squad that, while returning a number of starters, will also have their fair share of new faces at a couple key positions. With that in mind, we thought now was as good a time as any to give you some possible candidates that could emerge this spring. As you all know, many a name has been made for himself in spring football and while it may not always translate to success and/or playing time in the actual season, occasionally you do get your Dominique Whaley's so you just never know who could be that next great Sooner.
Before we get started, just to be clear this is only for spring football. So guys who haven't enrolled yet and aren't on campus won't be included. So if you're reading this and don't see a guy like Courtney Gardner, or Sterling Shepard, or Durron Neal and wonder "What is this idiot thinking not including _______?!?" Those guys won't be here this spring, so that is why you won't see any of them listed below. Okay, now that we've got that out of the way we can get started.
As many OU fans know, spring football can be a tricky thing. Last year around this time, we continued to hear the praises of the previously mentioned Dom Whaley, a at the time walk-on running back, only to shrug them off as the coaches using him to motivate the other backs on the roster. Then we get the opener against Tulsa and Whaley goes off for 100+ yards and four touchdowns and suddenly those coaches didn't sound quite as foolish as we once thought.
So the moral to the story is that evaluations based on the extremely limited access we get (thanks Bob!) during the spring is very much an inexact science. So we'll take some educated guesses and you can join in with your comments on guys you think could breakout or just guys you'd like to see breakout.
WR Trey Metoyer- Might as well get the most obvious one out of the way first, right? Metoyer's arrival to Norman was delayed, but that hasn't tempered the excitement of OU fans to see him in the crimson and cream. With an opening at wide receiver created this spring due to Jaz Reynolds absence, Metoyer has a legitimate opportunity to earn significant playing time with a strong spring.
DT Jordan Phillips- At 6'6" 320 pounds, Phillips is already a physical force for just a redshirt freshman. However, don't let his size fool you into thinking he's not athletic. Everyone around the program's favorite story about him is how when he showed up for his first day at practice, he did a standing backflip. With three seniors on the depth chart ahead of him his snaps may be somewhat limited during the season, but on the flip side of things that is the perfect recipe for a young player in the spring. The coaches know what they have in the upper classmen, so a guy like Phillips will get a ton of snaps this spring and could play his way into the DT rotation.
TE Brannon Green- You have to like a guy who has been on campus for less than two months and is already starting to be called "Moose." Green was the JUCO tight end the Sooners signed and will be expected to contribute immediately. Probably not so much in the passing game when you consider OC Josh Heupel had two seniors at TE last year and still didn't utilize the position much in his offense. So it's not likely with a wholesale change at the position that Heupel will feature it this season. But Green has the ability to be an absolute force in the run game as he's an exceptional blocker at the TE position.
LB Frank Shannon- Shannon is a guy that you continue to hear about when players or coaches talk about a guy who stands out in practice. He spent last year redshirting, but is almost assured of playing time this season. He's a guarantee to be on special teams, but there has already been some talk of him getting time in the LB rotation as well.
OG Nila Kasitati- This might be a year early given how set the Sooners are at guard for this season, but Kasitati might prove to be too good to keep off the field. Probably best known at this point for doing the 'Haka' during ESPN's All-Access featuring Oklahoma last year, the talented redshirt freshman could be a valuable asset to the OU run game. Similar to CCM favorite Adam Shead, Kasitati plays with a real mean streak and is adept at finishing his block.
CB Bennett Okotcha- Incoming JUCO signee Kass Everett is expected to win the starting job opposite Demontre Hurst, but if Okotcha has anything to say about it he won't do so easily. Okotcha is another member of OU's 2011 class who redshirted last year, but has also drawn praise from both players and coaches for his coverage ability. It would be somewhat surprising if Everett doesn't win the job, but don't be shocked if Okotcha pushes him throughout both spring and summer.
There are several others we can think of, but why take away all your fun in pointing them out with your comments. So let us know who you think are the most likely players to stand out this spring or a player you'd really like to see step up and make a name for themselves.