Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said senior Julian Wilson’s move to cornerback “went as good as I could have ever hoped for.”
So what took so long?
Wilson, who was recruited as a cornerback out of Southmoore in 2010, started all 13 of Oklahoma’s games at nickelback last season.
Stoops said Wilson was rushing the quarterback more last year than he was dropping into coverage, and OU coaches want junior linebacker Eric Striker — one of the nation’s elite pass rushers — to do more of that this season.
“We started thinking — Mike (Stoops, the defensive coordinator) and the defensive coaches — who would you rather have rushing, Eric or Julian? It’s pretty evident it wouldn’t be (Wilson),” Stoops said. “In some instances, not having a nickel on the field as much fit moving Julian out there.”
Wilson said that despite the fact that he’s been named the starter for Saturday’s season opener against Louisiana Tech, he isn’t getting comfortable because of the talented players behind him.
“It feels good, but the work is far from being done,” Wilson said. “I can’t sit back and get comfortable now that I’m the starter because there’s a lot of young guys pushing for spots.
“Those young guys are out there competing every day. So really I’m holding my playing ability to a higher standard now that I am the starter.”
FORD HAPPY HE DIDN’T REDSHIRT LAST YEAR
Oklahoma sophomore running back Keith Ford expected to redshirt last season, especially with three seniors — Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Damien Williams — ahead of him on the depth chart.
“I had some doubt in my mind my freshman year because I knew there were three seniors in front of me, but you know, I just kept having faith and working hard,” Ford said. “I didn’t get redshirted so I was really happy about that.”
Ford appeared in 10 games as a true freshman, carrying the ball 23 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. The Cypress, Texas, native is battling with fellow sophomore Alex Ross to be the Sooners’ primary ballcarrier in 2014.
“At the end of the day, when we're in there, we make sure both of us are running as hard as we can,” Ford said. “That's just the thing, the bond, the friendship that we have. We want both of us to do good and to do great things.”
DARLINGTON READY TO PLAY
Oklahoma junior center Ty Darlington started one game as a true freshman in place of Gabe Ikard, but has spent most of the last two seasons on the sideline waiting his turn.
With Ikard graduated, Darlington has taken over the starting center spot full-time.
“It really has been a long time since I got to just play football, just step on the field and play every down,” Darlington said. “Even getting back to high school, never having in a long time played multiple games in a row where I play the entire game. So it’s going to be a fun opportunity.”
Darlington, from Apopka, Fla., played just enough in 2013 to not qualify for a redshirt season. Now, the former four-star prospect is ready to take on a leadership role on the Sooners’ deep offensive line.
“I can’t wait to get out there,” Darlington said. “There is a whole new energy because it’s game week. You can feel it around the locker room and the team.”
STOOPS WILL APPEAR ON ‘MIKE & MIKE’
Stoops will appear on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” radio show with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic at 8:10 a.m. Wednesday.
The popular radio show is available locally on WWLS-AM 640, and is also simulcast in its entirety on ESPN2.
‘Mike & Mike’ is also available on ESPNRadio.com and on the ESPN Radio smart phone app.
Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, asked about OU’s scout-team offense, which includes quarterback Baker Mayfield and receiver Dorial Green-Beckham: “It's a pretty good scout team. They don't see that every year, no. You’ll have to ask Mike (Stoops), but I'm sure that doesn't hurt his work.”