Sophomore safety Ahmad Thomas enrolled early at Oklahoma last spring to begin working toward a potential starting spot as a true freshman.
That never materialized, but Thomas did play lots on special teams, and is in line for a bigger role on the Sooners’ 2014 defense.
“It was hard, but you know, I already knew I had good players ahead of me, so I know I’ve gotta compete more,” Thomas said of last season, when Gabe Lynn and Quentin Hayes locked down the starting safety spots.
Hayes is returning as a senior, but Lynn has graduated. Also, last year’s starting nickelback, Julian Wilson, is sitting out the spring after shoulder surgery, so Thomas is getting some work there, too.
“He's a guy who can do a lot of different things, but as a young player, you don't want to throw too much at him too fast,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “But I think Ahmad's got a good feel for his position. Now we can start moving him around.”
NORVELL EXCITED ABOUT NEW WR TALENT
Oklahoma loses three key wide receivers off last year’s team in Jalen Saunders, Lacoltan Bester and Jaz Reynolds, but co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Jay Norvell said that is what’s so exciting about college football.
“It’s never the same in college football,” Norvell said. “You always have to coach new players, and it’s fun to coach new players. I think that’s the exciting thing about college football is there are very few incumbents, or guys who come back and have themselves established. It’s fun to see kids grow and mature.
“That’s why I’m here. That’s why I love coaching college football is to see those kind of kids grow.”
Norvell said the spring is his favorite time to coach, because there is no game planning; everything is about coaching fundamentals.
“It’s the most enjoyable time really for me to coach because you’re truly teaching the game,” Norvell said.
Junior Sterling Shepard is the most experienced returning receiver and the clear leader of the group. Junior Durron Neal; sophomores Derrick Woods and Austin Bennett; and redshirt freshmen Dannon Cavil, Jordan Smallwood and K.J. Young are some of the guys competing for playing time next season.
Sophomore Trevor Knight, on being the most experienced of OU’s quarterbacks: “It’s weird because up until this year I’ve been considered one of the youngest guys and one of the shortest guys, and now I feel like I’m one of the bigger guys and I’m the oldest guy on campus now.”