In a week, the Sooners open spring drills with the highest of expectations. OU is the favorite to open up as the preseason No. 1.
As the team begins its quest for an eighth national championship, here are six storylines to keep an eye on in the spring:
AARON COLVIN'S MOVE TO STRONG SAFETY
The pride of Owasso will be the player to watch this spring, as he attempts to transition from cornerback to strong safety as OU efforts to get its best defensive backs on the field at once, and fill a void at safety where the Sooners have graduated both starters.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound sophomore is undersized for a safety, but over the last two years, the Sooners had success transitioning Jonathan Nelson from a corner to a safety.
Other than linebacker, safety is the most mentally difficult position in Brent Venables' system. But Colvin is sharp, and the Sooners obviously feel better with him handling defensive assignments alongside Javon Harris at the back end than someone with no game experience.
If the experiment becomes a success, OU will be able to get its five best defensive backs (Colvin, Harris, nickelback Tony Jefferson, and corners Demontre Hurst and Jamell Fleming or Gabe Lynn, should Fleming not be admitted back to school) on the field.
But Colvin could always slide back to corner this fall, either as a starter or backup (depending on what happens with Fleming) if safety turns out not to be the answer.
GABE LYNN IN THE STARTING LINEUP
Colvin's position switch didn't occur in a vacuum. How the Sooners felt about the progress of Lynn played its part. Should Colvin stick at safety, Lynn could be a starter next fall. At the least, the team's No. 3 cornerback.
Remember, Lynn was the No. 1 player in the state coming out of Jenks High School in 2009, and is stocked with potential.
If Lynn can begin to live up to some of his billing, OU will enjoy the luxury of options with its secondary.
BRANDON WILLLIAMS IN THE BACKFIELD
Although Williams hasn't been on campus long, the blue-chip freshman running back already has ascended to second on the depth chart for the spring.
That means he should get plenty of carries in the closed scrimmages and Red-White Spring Game to prove he's ready to help the Sooners now.
Scatback Roy Finch, still easing his way back after December foot surgery, continues to be the presumptive starter for next season.
But Williams, who has 4.4 speed, seems poised to make the kind of spring splash wideout Kenny Stills did last spring. If he does, pencil him in along with Finch and Brennan Clay in what should be an exciting and explosive backs rotation.
DARYL WILLIAMS' PUSH FOR TIME AT TACKLE
The Sooners return a pair of bookends in Donald Stephenson and Jarvis Jones who have a combined 20 starts on the offensive line.
But neither player has been a model of consistency. Week 11, Stephenson lost his starting job to Jones at left tackle last season; Jones has been in and out of the starting lineup in his two years at OU.
Bob Stoops, and others, praised Daryl Williams' development many times last season. Now the redshirt freshman will get to show what he can do with the varsity offense.
Stephenson and Jones remain the starters, but should they stumble, Williams, OU's starting left tackle in 2012, will be there waiting.
THE BATTLE FOR BACKUP QUARTERBACK
Drew Allen and Blake Bell have become close friends as reserve quarterbacks. But on the field this spring, they'll be competing for the edge to become the No. 2 quarterback behind Landry Jones in the fall.
Allen has more time in the offense; Bell has more upside. This spot is truly up for grabs.
THE EMERGENCE OF THE 2010 RECEIVERS
All five receivers from the Class of 2010 — Stills, Trey Franks, Joe Powell, Sheldon McClain and Justin McCay — appeared on the spring two-deep. That figures to change when Dejuan Miller comes back fully and Trey Metoyer steps on campus this summer. But this has the chance to be a special group, especially if McClain and McCay come along.