Oklahoma football: Outtakes, observations from first week of training camp

NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 29: Cornerback Jordan Thomas
NORMAN, OK - OCTOBER 29: Cornerback Jordan Thomas /

All of the offseason talk and wishful thinking about Oklahoma football in 2017 became real time this week as the Sooners opened their first preseason training camp under new head coach Lincoln Riley.

No one was probably more anxious for the start of training camp than the first-year head coach who is still also acting as the Sooners offensive coordinator. Riley, who at 33 years of age is one of the youngest head coaches in Oklahoma’s storied football history (albeit two years older than the legendary Bud Wilkinson when he took the head job in 1947), liked what he saw this first week of preseason practice for the 2017 college football season.

Riley told reporters this week that he is starting to feel more comfortable being the head coach and that he has begun to delegate some of the offensive responsibilities to free him up to work with the defense and special teams units.

One of the things Riley says that impresses him the most about the Sooner team he inherited from retired head coach Bob Stoops is the leadership that exists in all of the position groups. This could prove to be a pivotal factor in Oklahoma’s success in defending its back-to-back Big 12 championships in the coming season.

Here is a quick-huddle summary of some of the more noteworthy developments after one week of training camp and with 28 days before the 2017 season opener with the University of Texas-El Paso:

  • One of the biggest concerns in preseason training is the possibility of one or more players sustaining a serious injury. The Sooners unfortunately are one for one in this category after the first week of training camp practice sessions. Redshirt-junior offensive lineman Alex Dalton will miss the entire 2017 season with a knee injury he sustained off the field over the summer  and before he even made it to training camp.
  • There is a quarterback battle shaping up in training camp, although not for starter, where Baker Mayfield is firmly entrenches. Sophomores Austin Kendall and Kyler Murray, the Texas A&M transfer, are competing for the backup role behind Mayfield. Murray missed the first couple of days of training camp this week for what was reported to be personal reasons. Murray reportedly was very impressive moving in an out of the pocket his first two days on the practice field.
  • Riley reported that Baker Mayfield has spent extra time this summer and during the opening week of camp getting on the same page with the new receivers as well as the running backs.
  • RB Rodney Anderson, who has missed the past two seasons with injuries has looked good in practice, including in contact drills. Sophomore Abdul Adams appears to be running No. 2 at the position and could even beat out Anderson as lead back by the time the season starts. Newcomer Marcelias Sutton is also in the mix.
  • Sophomore WR Nick Basquine, considered one of the leaders among the unproven, young OU receiver corps, suffered a non-contact Achilles injury on Friday and has been pronounced out for the season. That is a tough blow for a group of receivers lacking in depth and experience.
  • Jeff Badet, the senior graduate transfer from Kentucky, is the most experienced of the OU receivers and has looked as such on the practice field this week. The OU coaches have marveled at the speed of sophomore wide receiver Marquise Brown and are also reporting that freshmen receivers Charleston Rambo and CeeDee Lamb are as good as advertised.
  • The starting linebacker trio appears pretty well set with Ogbonnia “Obo” Okoronkwo and Caleb Kelly on the outside of the new 4-3 defensive alignment and Emmanuel Beal on the inside. There is a spirited battle going on for the backup linebacker roles among junior Curtis Bolton, sophomores Ricky DeBerry and Mark Jackson, Jr. and redshirt freshman Jon-Michael Terry.
  • Another position battle is going on for the starting free-safety spot opposite strong safety Steven ParkerSooner defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks says senior Will Johnson is competing with sophomore Chanse Sylvie and freshman Robert Barnes for that position. All three have looked strong early in camp, according to Cooks. About Barnes, Cooks says he is very athletic, tall and rangy and is so smart he is doing some things that sophomores and juniors don’t do.