In 2011, the Oklahoma Sooners were the most hyped team in college football.
One year later, the Sooners are beginning spring practice in almost complete obscurity after a disappointing 9-3 2011 season.
“This is a time of year where a lot of guys are on and you start to see who is making the most plays most consistently,” Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said at his opening press conference Monday.
The Sooners will have 15 practices between March 5 and the annual spring game on April 14. Oklahoma will also have six practices and a full scrimmage before spring break begins on March 19, something Stoops said he intended for a variety of reasons.
“(You get) a chance to spread the practices out more and if you get an ankle injury or some type of slight injury that might sideline a guy for a week,” Stoops said. “By the time they go onto break and get back there’s about 10 or 11 days before we are on the field again. So, we don’t miss as much time with them, either.”
The Sooners welcomed six newcomers to the football field Monday, as well as two new coaches. Mike Stoops and Tim Kish joined the Sooners coaching staff in the offseason after Brent Venables left to take the defensive coordinator position. Mike Stoops joined the staff before Venables left, but Kish was hired to coach linebackers after Venables’ departure.
Oklahoma was particularly happy to welcome freshman early enrollee Taylor McNamara and junior college transfer Brannon Green, both tight ends, to the field, since the Sooners have just one tight end on the spring roster in addition to those two.
Cornerback Kass Everett, defensive tackle Jordan Wade, and defensive end Chaz Nelson are all expected to contribute in big ways at their respective positions. Everett and Nelson will be expected to step up in particular due to Oklahoma’s needs at those positions.
“Chaz has been really great in the winter,” Stoops said “When they (defensive ends) come in and work like he has, he is going to help too. So, I think we are going to be in good shape.”
Wide receiver Trey Metoyer, originally a member of the Sooners’ 2011 signing class, is participating in his first practices as a Sooner, after spending the fall at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. Stoops said Metoyer has been working extremely hard and is pleased with the progress.
“A lot of young guys when they first get here have a hard time maybe handling the pace of everything,” Stoops said. “It has really been exciting to watch how he has worked and how competitive he has been and the work ethic and the physical ability to handle it all, the strength the running all of it.”
Metoyer will be joined soon by five other wideouts Oklahoma signed in the 2012 recruiting class, far and away the best class of receivers Stoops has signed, and possibly in the history of the program.
“That is what you want – as many receivers as we like to play and as fast as sometimes we play – we need to play six receivers at least,” Stoops said. “Hopefully they will all make improvement and have consistency and do the things we need so that we can play that many.”
Several Sooners will be missing spring practice recovering from injuries. Safety Aaron Colvin, defensive tackle Casey Walker, running back Dominique Whaley, and center Ben Habern will be watching from the sidelines, but will be ready by the time fall practice begins in August. Stoops originally said Tom Wort would be out for the spring, but said Wort was good to go before practice Monday afternoon.
Wide receiver Jaz Reynolds was a surprise participant in practice Monday, after suffering a kidney ailment that made his football career somewhat questionable. Stoops said Reynolds will have a procedure after the end of spring practice.
Much was made about the Sooners’ national title chances in 2011, but the season ended in disappointment. Maybe the obscurity is what the doctor ordered for the 2012 Sooners.
Stay tuned to Rant Sports for all your OU spring football coverage. Coming up, we’ll take a look at the biggest questions facing the Sooners in the spring.