One of the beauties of college football is the constant change in personnel. It keeps teams honest as far as how they recruit because no matter how good a roster is, it can look totally different from one season to the next. Talent always needs to be replaced, and depth has to be built. It’s no surprise that the Oklahoma Sooners have been one of the more successful teams in doing each of those things at some very key positions (on offense, at least), and perhaps no unit has seen more consistency than the offensive line over the past few seasons.
Back to Back(2016/2017) years with all 5 OL named All Big 12 #OUDNA pic.twitter.com/4J32JBkyzO— Bill Bedenbaugh (@OU_CoachB) February 21, 2018
Last season, the Sooners boasted one of the top offensive line units, headlined by All-American left tackle Orlando Brown. Replacing Brown — who declared for the NFL Draft back in January — will be a story to follow as this next season approaches, but another story worth keeping up with will be starting center Erick Wren’s replacement. By all accounts, redshirt freshman Creed Humphrey is the player in line to anchor the o-line, and if you’ve been paying attention, you know he’s not just a body who is going to simply fill an empty slot on the depth chart. Of course, before he can take over as the starting center, he’ll have to win the starting job over veteran Jonathan Alvarez, who redshirted in 2017. If he does (and I think he will), Humphrey is the kind of cat who can mix up the philosophy of an entire offense.
In the not-too-distant past, Oklahoma has excelled at the center position. Oklahoma fans have been spoiled with stand-up guys like Gabe Ikard, Ty Darlington and Erick Wren leading the way in some prolific offenses. While each of those guys brought something a little different to the table, each of them were also a bit more suited for pass protection. That’s all well and good when the offensive game plan is set up for that, but with Oklahoma’s personnel now looking as run-oriented as ever with Kyler Murray likely taking over at QB and running backs like Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon in the backfield, it’s time the Sooners employ a run-game enforcer at the center position.
That’s where Creed Humphrey comes in. This guy is no joke. Since day one, his coaches and teammates have raved about his strength and tenacity. Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh is one of the best in the business, and with his track record, any praise from him isn't just coach-speak. The man tells it like it is, and he knows exactly what he’s talking about. This is what Bedenbaugh was saying about Humphrey before last season:
#Sooners freshman @creed_humphrey's recently received some high praise from Bill Bedenbaugh -- "He's got some things you can't coach." pic.twitter.com/aiLiKkLjQj— Nate Feken (@TheGreat_Nate) August 10, 2017
If that isn’t a vote of confidence, I don’t know what is. At 6’5” and 319 pounds, Humphrey could very likely be the biggest, strongest and, above all, nastiest center to ever play for the Oklahoma Sooners. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not insinuating that Humphrey is not a force to be reckoned with as a pass protector, because he absolutely has the type of skill set to do both at a very high level. All I’m spotlighting is that the strength in the Shawnee native’s skill set translates directly to the running game in a very big way. Creed has the potential to be the type of road-grating center that hasn’t been seen at Oklahoma in quite some time.
So if you can’t tell by now, I’m extremely excited to see Creed Humphrey in action. More importantly, I want to see how different this offense looks with him involved. Attempting to run the ball down a defense’s throat with a guy like Anderson or Sermon is an appealing option when a guy of Humphrey’s ilk in the middle of it all.
Follow Crimson & Cream Machine on Twitter!