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Chat transcript: OU writer Ryan Aber talks spring football, Big 12 hoops and more

by Ryan Aber Published: February 12, 2014

NewsOK Sports 10:42 a.m. Ryan Aber will be here at 11 a.m. to answer questions. You can start submitting your questions now.
Ryan Aber 11:00 a.m. All right, time to get started. Keep the questions coming.
Kyle 11:00 a.m. Do you think Michiah Quick will have an impact in the slot like Shepherd did his Freshman season?
Ryan Aber 11:02 a.m. I do. I think Quick has the potential to provide a big impact there and they'll need him to. Outside of Shepard, there isn't much returning at wide receiver as far as production. Durron Neal and Derrick Woods have shown potential at time but have yet to do it on the field. Some young guys are going to get playing time and get it early and Quick seems the most likely.
Guest 11:02 a.m. What holes are there to fill on defense?
Ryan Aber 11:04 a.m. The biggest are on the back end, where they'll have to replace cornerback Aaron Colvin and safety Gabe Lynn. There are quite a few candidates there at both spots. Like wide receiver, some freshmen are likely to see time.
Stevie 11:04 a.m. Who paid for Deondre Clark's stretch limo?
Ryan Aber 11:05 a.m. I would think and hope it would've been himself/his family. Haven't heard anything different. Was an interesting entrance for a ceremony that happened several days after he signed. But on that note, most of these ceremonies are similarly meaningless, since the actual signing typically take place first thing in the morning.
Russell W. 11:05 a.m. Can OU close the gap on Kansas? If there's a banged up Embiid, Sooners can win!!
Ryan Aber 11:07 a.m. Certainly if Embiid is out when the Sooners play KU, they've got a better chance at winning. Not only does that take out Embiid's significance offense but it frees Ryan Spangler up inside. If KU stumbles a bit (more) with Embiid out and he's still out or severely limited against the Sooners, they've got a chance.
Alan 11:07 a.m. Which OU football recruit is most likely to contribute right away?
Ryan Aber 11:07 a.m. I still think Joe Mixon. RB is a position of need and it'll really come down to him and Keith Ford. I think Mixon carries the load though Ford will have a significant role.
Roger R. 11:08 a.m. If Marcus Smart was at OU, do you think he would have had the same downward spiral as he has?
Ryan Aber 11:09 a.m. Hard to say that. I will say, though, that Lon Kruger's players love playing for him. They both the technical way he coaches and the manner in which he goes about it.
Kirk 11:09 a.m. You used to cover high schools. Who was better in your opinion, Stevie Clark or Jordan Woodard?
Ryan Aber 11:11 a.m. I thought Woodard was the better overall and Clark was the better shooter. The way that Woodard gutted through the state tournament last year and hit the game-winning shot was one of the more impressive things I've seen at the high school level. That said, I enjoyed Clark immensely too. I hope he gets things back on track.
Guest 11:11 a.m. Incredibly impressed w/ what Lon Kruger has done so far. How long do you think he's at OU? Does he finish his career there?
Ryan Aber 11:12 a.m. I think there's a good chance he does. OU is the right place for him for several reasons. He's never going to get stocks of McDonald's All-Americans but he's going to recruit solid players who are coachable and who he can get everything out of.
Miles 11:13 a.m. Will the Sooners be double digit favorites going into Bedlam
Ryan Aber 11:14 a.m. I'd say it'd be right in the 8-11 range. OU's bench has been solid recently, especially with the improvement of D.J. Bennett. OSU's bench is awfully thin without Cobbins, Clark and now Smart. I was impressed with what the Cowboys got of of the bench in the second half last night against Texas. I don't expect OSU to roll over in their building, even without those three.
Guest 11:14 a.m. Does Kruger have any big recruits coming in that can make them even better?
Ryan Aber 11:16 a.m. They've got a couple who have a chance to contribute next year. They're really excited about 6-7 power forward Dante Buford from Florida and 6-9 center Khadeem Lattin from the Houston area. If Lattin shows he can be a solid presence at the 5, then that could free Ryan Spangler to move over to the 4 where he's more comfortable.
Guest 11:16 a.m. Did Bob Stoops make any staff changes after the season?
Ryan Aber 11:17 a.m. No staff changes this time around after the shakeup last year. Jerry Montgomery, Bill Bedenbaugh and Jay Boulware were all solid additions both on the field and in recruiting. They'll have an even bigger impact for the 2015 class.
Guest 11:18 a.m. What of the signees from last week do you think have a chance to start as freshmen?
Ryan Aber 11:19 a.m. I'd say Mixon, Quick and Parker would be the most likely. Dimitri Flowers, Samaje Perine and Dallis Todd could also factor in.
Bandito 11:19 a.m. I think Deondre still ends up at OU. It's one of those things where there will be too much time for mom and fam to be in his ear. Maybe OU lets it slide now because they know he'll be back sometime down the line.
Ryan Aber 11:20 a.m. Well, either LSU would have to let him out of his LOI or he'd have to sit. I think that ship has sailed. Clearly his mom wanted him to stay close but he wanted to go to LSU. I think it would be good for him, given what has happened with Stevie, to get away from the area for school.
Terri Jeanne 11:20 a.m. How do you think the Sugar Bowl win effected the Junior Day festivities?
Ryan Aber 11:21 a.m. No doubt it's given them a recruiting boost and not only in this class. It has once again raised OU's national perception which, regardless of what Bob Stoops said, wasn't what it once was. The win over Alabama is the kind that can help for a few years, as long as the on-field production is there next year. I expect OU to be the Big 12 favorite next season.
don 11:21 a.m. Do u think that DJ Ward will have a presence this year considering how well the current Dline finished the season?
Ryan Aber 11:23 a.m. It'll be hard for him to squeeze in there in a significant way but I wouldn't be surprised to see him used in spot duty. He's still a physically impressive player and is smart on the football field. The question is how much rust there will be after two years without seeing action in a game.
Mark 11:23 a.m. Anyone missing spring practice due to injury?
Ryan Aber 11:24 a.m. Julian Wilson doesn't figure to be out there as he recovers from an injury that doesn't appear likely to linger into the fall. Outside of that, Jordan Phillips and Adam Shead could be out.
Terri Jeanne 11:24 a.m. How do the skills of Justice Hansen compare to Trevor Knight?
Ryan Aber 11:25 a.m. They're pretty similar. Trevor is probably a little quicker but Justice can be a pretty elusive player when he needs to as well. As far as arms, I'd probably give Justice the edge on strictly arm strength.
Brent 11:25 a.m. Do you think the trial-by-fire for Sanchez and Hayes will make them better going into next season, or does Stoops trust the young guys he has coming in to take over starting roles (Parker, etc.)?
Ryan Aber 11:26 a.m. Yeah, I think both of those guys performed admirably last season, although both had their moments (though what DB doesn't get burned a time or two?). There will be some young guys who will see action but Sanchez is most definitely locked in and Hayes is very likely so.
Guest 11:27 a.m. Are the Sooners going to be able to build off the defensive unit that played in the Sugar Bowl I know Grissom is gone Colvin is gone but don't we still have most of the DT that played that game????
Ryan Aber 11:28 a.m. If Grissom is gone, that's big news. We just talked to him last week. He's going to be a senior next year. They lose Colvin and Lynn but return most of the rest of the defense as it was the second part of the season.
Guest 11:29 a.m. Ryan you stated that Lon can't get Mcdonald's All- Americans to come to OU why do you think that is we aren't good enough at the game of basketball or are the facilities just not good enough??
Ryan Aber 11:30 a.m. I think certainly facilities and support are two of the factors, though it's also just not his style as a recruiter. He wants to get guys who will fit into his system and fit into the culture of the program. Obviously there are big-time guys that he's going to go after but he doesn't automatically recruit guys just because they're blue chip talents. It's served him well when you compare it to the style of Jeff Capel before him.
Nate 11:30 a.m. Am I the only one who doesn't understand why DJ Bennett only gets 5-10 minutes a game? When he's in, he is a rim protector!
Ryan Aber 11:31 a.m. Easy: When Bennett's on the floor, that means Ryan Spangler isn't. Bennett has been much better of late, especially on interior defense, but Spangler is their MVP right now.
Nate 11:31 a.m. Any word on why Trey Franks left the team? Did he not think he would have a decent shot at playing this year?
Ryan Aber 11:33 a.m. Looks like he saw the writing on the wall that his playing time would be limited and decided to leave with his degree. I figured he'd be a kick returner this season given he was the only one with experience. But also, the Sooners needed to open some spots with the signing class they brought in.
Nate 11:33 a.m. Lets say Trevor Knight goes down in the first 3 weeks of the season. Who is coming in to play quarterback?
Ryan Aber 11:33 a.m. According to the coaches, it would be either Cody Thomas or Justice Hansen. If the injury happens that early, though, with all of their goals still ahead of them, I'd be stunned if Blake Bell didn't move back to quarterback though.
Ryan Aber 11:34 a.m. I'll keep going for a bit to answer a few more questions.
Guest 11:34 a.m. What is your expectations of the baseball team and your thoughts on the new coach?
Ryan Aber 11:35 a.m. Just in my limited interactions with him and talking to some players, they really enjoy playing for Pete Hughes. It'll be interesting to see how that staff meshes with two assistants who are former D-I head coaches. There is an emphasis on defense, especially in replacing Gray and Overton from the staff last year. Hughes isn't big on small ball but they are trying to cut down on strikeouts and draw more walks with a revised approach with two strikes.
Nate 11:36 a.m. Is Corey Nelson going to try to play in the NFL, or is his football career over?
Ryan Aber 11:36 a.m. He's going to give it a try last I heard. I hope he gets a shot. He had a fantastic senior season going before his injury. It'd be nice for him to get a chance to leave the game on his own terms.
Dan 11:36 a.m. So, you seem to think Alex Ross is going to just be bypassed by these incoming frosh RBs... Accurate?
Ryan Aber 11:38 a.m. He's got a shot but he's got some work to do. Ford was ahead of him last year and then when Ross did get a shot, it did not go well. OU coaches did speak well of Ross on signing day but he's got a hole to dig out of.
Guest 11:38 a.m. I for one am impressed with the job Mike Stoops and company have done to improve the defense in such a short time? What say you?
Ryan Aber 11:40 a.m. Absolutely. The defense was the team's question mark going into the season and it didn't take long to realize that it would be their strength. A lot of that came from the play up front of the defensive line plus Eric Striker. I didn't expect the transformation to come that quick but no doubt Mike Stoops did an excellent job this season.
Justin 11:40 a.m. What does Bradford's future look like with the Rams? Is this a make or break season for him?
Ryan Aber 11:40 a.m. Yeah, it's time for the Rams (and Bradford) to take a step forward and he's got to stay healthy otherwise the Rams could start looking elsewhere for a QB.
Ryan Aber 11:41 a.m. OK, that's all the time I've got for today. Thanks for keeping the questions coming and look forward to next week's chat.
by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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