NORMAN — No news was good news last week for Oklahoma football.
Defensive end Jeremy Beal, slot receiver Ryan Broyles, linebacker Travis Lewis and running back DeMarco Murray decided to return for another season instead of entering the NFL Draft.
Now, with their return, combined with OU’s recruiting class all but a couple of players from being finished, the 2010 depth chart has come into focus:
Landry Jones capped his redshirt freshman campaign with a career-high 418 passing yards and three touchdowns in the Sun Bowl, all but ending the 2010 quarterback derby. Count on Drew Allen, who redshirted this past season, to be his backup, and talented incoming freshman Blake Bell to spend the season redshirting and learning the offense.
→Projected starter: Jones
Murray came back to school for his senior season to be "the guy” in the Sooner backfield. That’s exactly what he’ll be as the only returning OU back with any significant experience. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the back that spells Murray. Jermie Calhoun is probably the favorite, especially since Jonathan Miller will be coming off knee surgery. But don’t rule out hotshot incoming freshmen Brennan Clay and Roy Finch, whose playmaking abilities will make it difficult not to play them in some capacity right away.
→Projected starter: Murray
A position of weakness could become a position of strength. That’s if Dejuan Miller and Jaz Reynolds play the way they did in the Sun Bowl. The duo combined to make nine catches for 120 yards. With Broyles manning the slot, all Miller, Reynolds and Brandon Caleb need to do is fill complementary roles. Broyles could end up becoming the most prolific pass-catcher in school history.
→Projected starters: Broyles, Miller, Reynolds
He’s no Jermaine Gresham, but walk-on Trent Ratterree proved to be serviceable. Ratterree came up with the finest game in his career against Stanford, reeling in three catches for 86 yards, including a 36-yard grab inside the Stanford 5-yard line that set up OU’s go-ahead touchdown. If Eric Mensik moves back from tackle, he will provide the team with a power-blocking tight end to sidekick Ratterree and James Hanna, a flex specialist. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson is also high on the potential and versatility of Bishop McGuinness product Gabe Ikard, who redshirted this past season. Don’t count out blue-chip commitment Austin Haywood from making some kind of impact, either.
→Projected starter: Ratterree
The key to success next season lies here. Can the offensive line bounce back from a lackluster season? Part of that will depend on whether center Ben Habern (broken fibula) and guard/tackle Jarvis Jones (fractured heel) can return from significant injuries. Both will miss spring drills, which will inhibit the unit from progressing much as a group in the off-season. If OU can’t land a junior-college tackle, Cory Brandon will probably be the favorite to start at left tackle, where he played admirably in OU’s final two games.