The 2013 NFL Draft has come and gone, the Oklahoma Sooners showcased their new young players to Sooners’ faithful at the Red-White game, and now football will remain dormant until fall practices start in three long, agonizing months. With the lull in football action upon us, here is a look at what we learned, both from the spring practices and from the names that left the team to make their mark in the NFL.
2013 Oklahoma Sooners Returning Stars
The 2013 Oklahoma Sooners will be starting over in most areas. Starting quarterback Landry Jones is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Two of the three starting receivers are gone, with Kenny Stills at the New Orleans Saints and Justin Brown with the Steelers. The leader in tackles, Tony Jefferson, and the leader in interceptions, Javon Harris, both went un-drafted and both signed on as free agents with the Arizona Cardinals.
The only statistical leaders still in Norman are RB Damien Williams (946 yards) and sack leader Chuka Ndulue (5).
2013 Oklahoma Sooners Offense
Luckily, while Stills and Brown are both gone, the star receiver for much of the season returns in Jalen Saunders and should easily slide in to the starting receiver slot for the Sooners. The Oklahoma offense should be fine with him in that role, because honestly Trent Dilfer has no clue what he was talking about when he called OU’s receivers brutal. He is joined by superstar sophomore Sterling Shepard and Trey Metoyer, a five-star recruit who under-performed in his first season at OU.
As for the 2013 Oklahoma Sooners quarterback position, the battle heading into the spring game was between Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson. All three players bring something special to the table, but at the end of spring, it was Bell who remained the frontrunner to hold the starters role. Despite this, Trevor Knight still looks like the future for the Sooners at the position.
The running back position will continue with Damien Williams and Brennan Clay splitting the carries, although word is that returning fullback Trey Millard will get a lot more looks than just as a fullback catching screens.
2013 Oklahoma Sooners Defense
When Mike Stoops returned in 2012 and took over the defense from Brent Venables, people looked to him as a savior. However, in his first year back in Norman, he had more stumbles than victories against the stronger Big 12 teams. With Tony Jefferson, Demontre Hurst and Javon Harris all gone, he will have to rebuild the defensive backfield from scratch and it looks like he might have found a star in Cortez Johnson, a transfer from Arizona who should start at cornerback from Day 1. Aaron Colvin should start opposite him, and honestly, the corner position should be stronger than it was last year.
The strongest position in a Mike Stoops defense has always been the linebackers, but they were pretty weak in 2012. In 2013, Stoops looks like he has re-stocked the position that once featured names like Torrance Marshall, Rocky Calmus and Teddy Lehman. The 2013 Oklahoma Sooners linebacker unit will include Corey Nelson, Frank Shannon and Aaron Franklin, three men who look like they could be the defensive stars.
Ever since Mike Stoops left, the defensive line has been hit and miss and the last couple of years have been kind of embarrassing. 2013 is just as scary, with only three defensive tackles on the roster when spring started. Chuka Ndulue, the 2012 sack leader, moved to tackle and Jordan Phillips was great in the Red-White game. However, this is the biggest spot on the team that needs work.
Bob Stoops will have the fall practices to tweak things and make sure his roster is stacked at the key positions. We know more now than we did when the Texas A&M Aggies blew out the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl, but there are still questions that needs answered before we know if the 2013 Oklahoma Sooners football team will contend for the national title.