NORMAN — In 1976, Billy Brooks, Lee Roy Selmon and Joe Washington all went high in the first round of the NFL Draft. Not since has Oklahoma had to replace that kind of star power in one year.
Until now. Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams and Jermaine Gresham all are expected to go in the first round of next month’s draft, which would be the highest number in program history. Even though Bradford played sparingly and Gresham not at all last season due to injuries, the program has been defined by those four players in recent ears. Next season, slot receiver Ryan Broyles, running back DeMarco Murray, defensive end Jeremy Beal and linebacker Travis Lewis will supply the star power as OU regroups from a disappointing 2009 season. But after that? Spring ball is a time to cultivate a program’s future batch of stars. Here are four up-and-coming names that will be on full display during the next two months: →Linebacker Ronnell Lewis: Nicknamed "The Hammer,” Lewis proved worthy of that moniker during the Sun Bowl when he delivered a couple of slobber-knocking hits. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables will attempt to find Lewis a home during the spring. But whether that’s on the outside or the inside, Lewis should add to the grand linebacker tradition at OU before his time is done. →Cornerback Demontre Hurst: From the day he stepped on campus, Hurst has stood out, drawing loads of praise last preseason.