OU football: Future looks bright
I know it’s been a troublesome season for Oklahoma football. I also know this. The Sooners can get victory No. 10 Friday night against Iowa in the Insight Bowl, and the Sooners will take Sun Devil Stadium with just five senior starters. And four senior backups.
That’s a remarkably low number. OU could still lose juniors to the NFL Draft, notably quarterback Landry Jones. But if Jones returns, he’s got a ton of experienced teammates.
The only senior starters are offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, tight end James Hanna, defensive end Frank Alexander, linebacker Travis Lewis and cornerback Jamell Fleming. That’s some good ballplayers, especially the three defenders. But OU returns a ton of talent, too. The backups who are seniors are offensive lineman Stephen Good, tight end Trent Ratterree, receiver Dejuan Miller and safety Sam Proctor.
The Sooners likely will start eight sophomores against Iowa: guard Gabe Ikard, receivers Kenny Stills and Trey Franks, tailback Roy Finch, fullback Trey Millard, safeties Aaron Colvin and Tony Jefferson, and linebacker Tom Wort.
Bob Stoops said that in the practices leading up to the Insight Bowl, the younger players realize their time is now. “I think they always sense when you get in these bowl games that some of the practices leading up, that the seniors are out a little quicker, and they are getting more opportunities, more snaps. And they are further along than they were in the fall. I think they already start to sense their role coming up, that they are going to have more of a role and more opportunities and they start to realize these guys are going to be gone here in a few weeks. ‘I’m now in that position where I can be a leader, or I should be if I’m doing the right things.’”
Jones’ return would make it virtually automatic that the Sooners will be labeled Big 12 favorites in 2012. But OU will get some consideration either way, because of all the young talent returning.
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