NORMAN -- On ESPN's "Training Days with the Oklahoma Sooners," junior defensive end David King raced around the edge to record a sack. Then another.
"Good job, David. That's three for you today," said coach Bob Stoops, giving King a congratulatory hand slap. "That's the way to come around the corner. Keep it up."
It was just a helmet, pads and shorts practice. Second day of two-a-days. King actually tapped quarterback Landry Jones on the shoulder instead of bringing him to the ground. But clips on ESPN's one-hour special was indicative of how much King has improved since last season.
On OU's revised depth chart released on Monday, Ronnell Lewis continues to be listed as a starter opposite Frank Alexander. But it's uncertain whether Lewis will be eligible for Saturday night's season opener against Tulsa.
Regardless how the Lewis saga unfolds, King will be part of the defensive end rotation. And he could have a major impact for the No. 1 ranked Sooners.
Linebacker Corey Nelson was praised for having as good a spring as anyone on the roster. But defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright said King would be near the top of OU's most improved list since the Sooners defeated Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl.
"I thought he was the most improved player last spring on our (entire) defense," Wright said. "He continued to improve and make strides in fall camp. He's gotten a lot better. He's developed into not only a better player but as a leader on the field which is what I really like about him.
"We need some leadership up front, losing Jeremy Beal, who was the quiet assassin. He never said a whole lot. But when Jeremy spoke everybody listened like EF Hutton (commercial)... (King) has been a real plus with the younger guys."
King, who got bigger, stronger and faster in the off-season, started the first three games last season at defensive tackle. He was later moved to defensive end. In a limited role, he recorded 11 tackles and one sack.
He now weighs 275. He also reduced his time in the 40-yard dash from 4.7 to 4.6.
"Not only is he bigger and stronger, he's a lot faster," Wright said. "Most of it is maturity, eating right. And he's done a heck of a job in the weight room. David is a weight room nut. He's a workout guy. He loves the weight room."
King said the extra weight and strength is a huge asset against mammoth offensive tackles.
"It gives me a little punch," King said. "And I haven't dropped off my speed any."
When the Sooners switch to their 50 defense, playing three down linemen and four linebackers, King can move inside. The Houston Strake Jesuit Prep product said he's comfortable inside or at end. King, though, is most valuable using his speed off the corner.
Led by Beal, who finished second in career sacks, the Sooners compiled 37 sacks last season, second in the Big 12, one behind Missouri.
With Alexander, King and possibly Lewis, in addition to linebacker and secondary blitzes, the Sooners once again could rank near the top of the conference.
"Everybody knows Jeremy was a great player," King said. "It's all about stepping up and filling his shoes. I think (as a group) we'll be better than last year because everybody is buying into being a leader. We're not leaning on just one person. We're doing it as a collective group."
Whether Lewis is part of that collective group Saturday night is uncertain. With or without Lewis, OU's defense faces a challenge against dual threat TU quarterback G.J. Kinne.
The Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, Kinne threw for 3,650 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. He also led the Golden Hurricane in rushing.
"Watching their bowl game against Hawaii, they throw a bunch of different things at you," King said. "They like to hurry up tempo. And you have to keep an eye on that quarterback. We have to make sure we keep him in the pocket."