* OU’s lack of depth on the offensive line for the spring is underscored by 1) freshman tight end Gabe Ikard being the top backup at center and 2) incoming freshman Bronson Irwin being the top backup at left guard. The Sooners should have more players to work with on the line come August, barring injury. But with Ben Habern and Jarvis Jones expected to miss the spring, OU will remain thin there for awhile. Still, it’s hard to believe that Ikard will remain on the line with Austin Woods, Habern and Brian Lepak all expected to man the position in the fall. Like Brody Eldridge, Ikard will probably be an emergency center. But who knows? If Ikard shows something at center in the spring, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson could leave there full time.
* It’s not really a surprise, but the fact that Jaz Reynolds is starting at WR over Brandon Caleb shows just what the Sooner staff feels about the rising sophomore’s performance late in the season, notably the Sun Bowl. Reynolds had a pair of crucial third-down catches that went for first downs in that game. It appears the starting job is now his to lose.
* Eric Mensik is back at tight end. Mensik was solid in two games at right tackle, which is why many believed he may stay considering OU’s lack of boides on the line couple with its rising total of bodies at tight end (Trent Ratterree, James Hanna, Austin Haywood, Trey Millard, Lane Johnson, allegedly Gabe Ikard). But with Ikard now working at center and Haywood questionable to qualify and Johnson still viewed as somewhat of a project, perhaps moving Mensik back to tight end makes sense numbers wise.
* Bob Stoops has been touting the talent of left tackle Donald Stephenson for the last two months. Now, it seems Stoops has backed up that talk by penciling in Stephenson as the starter at left tackle, ahead of Cory Brandon, who currently remains at right tackle. Stephenson, who was suspended all of last season by Stoops for off-the-field reasons, has some talent. How he develops as a starter in protecting Landry Jones’ blind side will be paramount for OU getting to the 10-win mark next season.
* Quick trivia: who was the No. 1 recruit from the class of 2008? Well, you won’t find him on this depth chart. Defensive end R.J. Washington continues to be overtaken. First it was fellow class of 2008 member David King. Now, it’s Justin Chaisson, listed as Frank Alexander’s backup at end instead of Washington. This is a pivotal year for Washington. If he falls behind Chaisson on the depth chart, then Washington will find it very difficult to garner playing time in a Sooner uniform, especially with talented freshman Geneo Grissom on the way as well.
* Marshall Musil’s all-around game apparently has placed him ahead of Brandon Crow on the chart at fullback. But that doesn’t mean Crow won’t play. Expect the senior to see the field in short-yardage situations as a blocking fullback, similar to the role he played last season.
* Mossis Madu is currently backing up Ryan Broyles in the slot. That experiment, however, hasn’t gone completely to plan, as Madu has been slow to develop in his new position (to little fault of his own; Madu is a lifelong tailback). Madu could take some snaps at running back in the spring, especially since the staff is likely to take it easy on starter DeMarco Murray, and third-stringer Jonathan Miller is recovering from knee surgery. With Jermie Calhoun all that’s left to take live reps, seeing what Madu can provide at running back might be worth the look.
* Cameron Kenney needs a big spring. If he fails to produce, WR coach Jay Norvell will take a hard look at moving up freshman Kenny Stills in the spring, and freshman Justin McCay in the fall in the rotation.
* The LBs are currently placed where expected. Tom Wort in the middle, Travis Lewis on the weak side, Ronnell Lewis on the strong side. Look for safety Joe Ibiloye to get a lot of work at strong-side ‘backer too. He’ll play a lot there next season in passing downs as the nickel back. Austin Box is going to be key for the Sooners. He’s listed on the strong side right now, which makes sense. Box’s previous experience is in the middle and on the weak side. Spending the spring learning strong side will give Brent Venables the option of inserting Box at any of the three LB spots and feel comfortable he’ll know what he’s doing.
* Jonathan Nelson, as expected, is being moved back to corner to compensate for the graduation of Brian Jackson and early NFL departure of Dom Franks. Demontre Hurst is listed as the other corner. This is an educated guess, but Nelson is probably on the boundary side because he’s a couple inches taller than Hurst, and about 10 pounds heavier. The boundary corner usually needs to be a little more physical. Hurst has good speed, so putting him on the field side also makes sense. That leaves the original 2009 safety starters: FS Quinton Carter and SS Sam Proctor, who was replaced by Nelson in the starting lineup midway through this past season.