THE SOONERS HAD SUCCESS WITH ERIC MENSIK going from tight end to tackle. In light of Jarvis Jones’ torn patella ligament, they’re wondering if Lane Johnson can make a similar transition. Johnson played quarterback at his junior college, was recruited to OU as a tight end and last season flipped to defensive end. Now, the Sooners are considering auditioning Johnson at right tackle.
“Lane has a good idea about it, but he is doing really well at d-end and so we worry about even giving him a little peek,” Stoops said. “But he’s up to 275 and he has about eight percent body fat. He is about 6-10 — kidding, but Lane is huge.
“Lane actually has more years than Eric Mensik did, so that may be something that we stumble into. We are going to look at it and make sure that Lane has a good idea, and a good attitude and he seems to like it. He thought, ‘Hey it is worth it if it will get me a look.’”
Johnson’s chances of getting on the field might actually be better at tackle. The Sooners are stacked at defensive end with Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis and R.J. Washington, David King and Geneo Grissom. But at tackle, his competition is Josh Aladenoye and Daryl Williams. Neither player has started a game.
IF JOSH ALADENOYE WINS the starting right tackle job, it will be in large part because of the work he’s put in the weight room. Aladenoye came to campus overweight at almost 360 pounds. He now weighs 315 and is beginning to show some natural quickness.
“He’s got a chance,” line coach James Patton said. “We have to refine some technique with him. Jarvis was quick footed and a really good athlete. Josh is the same kind of way he just needs to play more. He needs to get more reps. He’s getting that right now.”
IN KENNY STILLS, OU had arguably the most productive freshman wideout in school history last season. Stills’ freshman outburst has overshadowed the other four receivers in the recruiting class of 2010. But with Stills banged up with a hamstring tweak, some of those wideouts like Sheldon McClain and Justin McCay have been getting a lot of work with the first-team offense.
“You know, they’re getting better,” Stoops said. “Sheldon is coming on and he is beginning to get a little more consistent. Justin is doing better and showing up with his big body and making plays. Joe (Powell) is too, but Joe is still a little too inconsistent here and there, but they are getting better, which is exciting to see”
The chances for any of those three to break the receiving rotation, however, are slim. In addition to Stills, the Sooners bring back All-American Ryan Broyles, Trey Franks and Dejuan Miller back at wideout, and also signed arguably the No. 1 wideout in the country in Trey Metoyer.
SPEAKING OF METOYER, position coach and co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said “hopefully” Metoyer will qualify academically and be with the team this fall. Norvell didn’t expound, but at this point, it’s too early to know if Metoyer will make it or not.
But if the Sooners can get Metoyer to campus, he should compete for a substantial role in the offense immediately. Metoyer is top 10 in the Texas high school football record books for career receptions, yards and touchdowns.
SPEAKING OF MILLER, the 6-foot-4 junior stepped back on the practice field this week. Miller is coming off a season-ending knee injury.
“He will be fairly limited in how much he gets, but he looked good out there,” Stoops said. “We had been holding him out of a lot of team stuff, but he had been doing some individual stuff, but he looks good.”
Said Broyles: “He needs to get some more confidence in the knee. But he’s a veteran, he knows what’s expected of him.”
BROYLES STEADILY has been adding weight to what three years ago was a skinny frame. Last season Broyles played at 185 pounds. Broyles got up to 195, but expects to play at his target weight of 192 during the season.
“I can tell the difference,” he said. “When I get into contact, I don’t notice it as much.”
DEFENSIVE TACKLE DANIEL NOBLE IS BACK AND FEELING BETTER than ever after returning from a concussion that ended the second half of his freshman season.
Noble was beginning to surge following a banner performance in a win over Texas. But the following week, he was chasing Iowa State’s quarterback when an offensive lineman wheeled around and popped him in the head. Noble was diagnosed with a concussion. Noble thought he’d be back soon. But the concussion kept lingering.
“There were some bad days,” he said. “Headaches and fatigue. Just a bad place for me.”
Noble said the most frustrating part of the injury was the lack of a timetable.
“With a knee injury, the trainers tell you in six months you’ll be here, in eight months you’ll be here. With concussions you don’t really know,” said Noble, who eventually saw an Oklahoma City neurologist. “I was talking to the trainers to see where I was going, and they couldn’t really give me a definite timeline. They were just kind of, ‘You’ll get better when you’re better.’”
Noble ultimately got better. He’s had a great winter, according to Stoops. Now, he’s trying to work his way back into the rotation at defensive tackle, where the Sooners desperately needed him last season.
“Through all the winter, I’ve been feeling great,” Noble said. “I had great workouts. I got back to feeling like I should feel, back ready to play football. It’s been a relief, definitely.”
THE SOONERS MIGHT HAVE UNEARTHED another Brian Lepak. Drew Serruto, a walk-on transfer from Eastern Michigan has been getting some reps on the interior of the offensive line at guard and center.
Serruto attended high school in Centerville, Ohio, before accepting a scholarship to play at Easter Michigan. Patton says he has no idea how Serruto ended up all the way in Norman, but he could prove to be a valuable reserve.
“He’s got good feet, good quickness,” Patton said.
Serruto was with the team last year, but on the defensive line.