The Oklahoma Sooners have enjoyed the spoils of the Sugar Bowl after defeating a juggernaut in the Alabama Crimson Tide (in case you weren't keeping score, Oklahoma took down both teams featured in the MNC by a combined 28 points). Of course, with every recruiting class there will be a handful of those who choose to enroll early. This week, four players arrived on campus ready to get a head start while participating in the upcoming spring practices. Included in the group is Justice Hansen, Devante Bond, Issac Ijalana, and Dimitri Flowers. However, the question remains, which of these four standouts will have an immediate impact upon the 2014 season?
Justice Hansen - QB
It is common knowledge around the program that incoming quarterbacks usually take a redshirt their true freshman year. The expectation with Hansen is that he will follow suit. Trevor Knight shined in the Sugar Bowl and locked down, at least from the fan perspective, the starting role. While we fans may be putting all of our stock in a single performance, it is an outing that is simply too hard to ignore. Behind Knight, Oklahoma has another talented option in Blake Bell who brings an entirely different skill set to the table. While Knight and Bell compliment each other well, Kendall Thompson holds down the dark horse role. Cody Thomas provides additional depth as he finished out his redshirt season. Possessing four viable options in front of Hansen, it is highly unlikely that he have an immediate impact upon this 2014 team.
Devante Bond - LB
Built in the same mold as one Eric Striker, this JUCO product will prove to be a formidable force in the pass rush. Recently, the Oklahoma coaching staff struck gold as Dominique Alexander found himself thrust into the limelight due to an injury suffered by Corey Nelson. Needless to say, there is young talent on the roster at the linebacker position. With a pass happy league slowly making a transition to the veer option and a balanced attack, pressure off the edges continues to hold value. Bond could be the answer to the riddle of the 3-4 defense while also providing depth. His skill set makes him a player the coaching staff simply cannot keep off the field. I say look for him to contribute often under Mike Stoops direction.
Issac Ijalana - TE
The Sugar Bowl played witness to a slight resurgence of the tight end position for this Sooners squad. Brannon Green, a blocking tight end, exhausted his eligibility with the final game of the season leaving Taylor McNamara and Connor Knight as the next two up, both of whom will be redshirt sophomores. If Oklahoma continues to utilize the position, Ijalana could come in and compete for the starting job immediately. Fans have clamored for a Jermaine Gresham type player to return to the field. Could a deceptively athletic Ijalana finally be the answer? The impact depends heavily on the involvement of the position in the offense combined with how healthy McNamara remains throughout the season. But, JUCOs are not brought in to ride the pine.
Dimitri Flowers - ATH
At 6-3, 219 Flowers is drawing some lofty expectations before playing a down in the crimson and cream. The program sold this talented athlete on a possible future role similar to that of Trey Millard. Others think he may fit the mold of Garret Mills out of Tulsa. Make no mistake, Flowers has great hands coming out of the backfield and has been known to split out wide. Adding some weight in the off-season will benefit this kid tremendously moving forward regardless of the expectations. Versatility, Flowers best attribute makes him, undoubtedly, an early contributor in 2014.
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