New Oklahoma assistant Jay Boulware has coached specials teams all around the country for several years, so he knows good kick returners when he sees them.
And Boulware thinks he's inherited a couple of special ones in Jalen Saunders and Roy Finch.
“None of these kids that I've been around at my last two stops are nearly as talented as these guys are as return men,” Boulware said. “I tell those kids all the time, there's no reason why they shouldn't be the most feared return units in the country, because they are that talented in my opinion.
“Normally special teams coordinators don't say that unless it's true, and it is true.”
In 2008, Boulware was Iowa State's special teams coordinator when Leonard Johnson set the NCAA's single-game record for kick return yardage with his 319-yard showing against Oklahoma State.
Finch returned kicks an average of 31 yards last season, including a 100-yard kick-return touchdown against Kansas. Also back on the kick return unit is Brennan Clay, who returned 20 kicks for 507 yards last year.
For most of last season, Justin Brown returned punts. But Saunders averaged 17.6 yards on his five punt returns, which included a dynamic 81-yard touchdown return against Oklahoma State.
“It's gonna be up to the other 10 members to do their jobs effectively, because if they do their jobs and get on guys, there's gonna be some excitement that happens on the Oklahoma football field,” Boulware said.
Oklahoma lost a 2014 commitment Tuesday, when four-star wide receiver Armanti Foreman informed Sooner coaches that he was opening his recruitment back up.
“It's nothing against the university,” Darreck Foreman, Armanti's father, told ESPN.com. “We did it in fairness to the University of Oklahoma, their fans, Coach (Bob) Stoops and Coach (Jay) Norvell, who has been absolutely wonderful.”
Armanti Foreman (6-foot, 174 pounds), from Texas City, Texas, committed to OU last fall. His dad told ESPN.com that the Sooners were still in the mix, but that his son felt like he'd rushed his decision.
OU currently has two players committed for its recruiting class of 2014, three-star defensive back Vontre McQuinnie, from Lancaster, Texas, and four-star running back Samaje Perine, from Pflugerville, Texas.
GRISSOM SETTLED BACK AT DEFENSIVE END
Junior defensive end Geneo Grissom had a pretty hectic sophomore season.
Grissom requested a position change to tight end before the summer of 2012, and entered the season as OU's expected starter at the position. But he failed to get the playing time he expected there, and asked midway through the year to move back.
“Just wasn't happy with my time I was getting,” Grissom said. “:I figured, you know, I got recruited here to play D-end, so why not stick to what I know?”
Grissom began seeing more and more playing time on defense as the season progressed, and he even started Oklahoma's Cotton Bowl loss.
“It was kind of a last-minute deal,” Grissom said of starting. “I had been working hard, trying to make a name for myself. The cards just fell.”
Despite the position changes, Grissom is one of the Sooners' more experienced returning defensive linemen. Most of the starters and contributors on the 2012 defensive front were seniors.
The Sooner defensive line is working under new assistant coach Jerry Montgomery, who was previously on Michigan's staff.
“Man, he's great,” Grissom said. “The techniques that we're learning, great help. He's just an all-around good guy. Fun to play for.”
Senior guard Bronson Irwin, on the possibility of having a more mobile quarterback in 2013: “Having a quarterback that's elusive is always nice for an offensive line. If you get caught in a tight situation in pass protection, that adds a little bit more with the ability to get yourself out of trouble, which is helpful for us.”