Bob Stoops said he believes incoming junior-college defensive tackle Quincy Russell will finish his last classes next week and arrive in Norman shortly after that.
“We're still finishing some classes,” Stoops said. “We're hopeful that will be finished next week.”
Asked about Russell cutting it close to the beginning of OU's fall classes, Stoops responded, “We're a long way from classes. We expect him to hopefully be done next week.”
Russell (6-foot-4, 315 pounds) signed with Texas out of high school before academics forced him to begin his collegiate career at Trinity Valley Community College.
THOMPSON'S SURGERY SUCCESSFUL
Sooners co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said there wasn't anything extraordinary about the play that led to quarterback Kendal Thompson's broken foot in Thursday's opening practice.
“He planted, made a cut and his foot gave out,” Heupel said. “There wasn't anything that happened — he didn't trip; he didn't get fallen on. It's one of those freak instances he's going to have to come back from.”
The sophomore underwent surgery Thursday afternoon.
“There was nothing unexpected and they felt really good about it and how it all went,” Stoops said. “That puts Kendal back in the mix very early in the season.”
Thompson is expected to miss six weeks, although Stoops said he could be back even quicker.
Stoops said Blake Bell and Trevor Knight, who are competing for the starting job, and true freshman Cody Thomas would split the practice reps that had been going to Thompson.
JUCO O-LINEMEN COULD START
Oklahoma returns five offensive line starters with experience, but Stoops said that doesn't mean the Sooners' new junior-college linemen couldn't steal their starting positions.
OU added tackle Josiah St. John and guards Dionte Savage and Tony Feo in the offseason.
“They definitely are guys that have the ability to play in this league and play well,” Stoops said. “They'll be in this rotation and if not fighting for starting jobs.”
HEUPEL EXPECTS BIG THINGS FROM FINCH
Roy Finch found himself on the outs last season.
Bouncing between wide receiver and running back before the season, Finch fell out of favor and wound up with just nine touches on offense all season — more than half against Florida A&M.
“For whatever reason, I don't think he was playing the way he's capable of at any of the positions,” Heupel said.
There has been a chance in Finch, now a senior, this offseason, according to Heupel.
“His maturity, the way he's approached this offseason in the weight room, academically, at practice, meetings — he's been tremendous,” Heupel said. “He's been mature in a great way. Because of that, I feel like he's going to have a great year.”
Finch came in as a Parade All-American and rushed for nearly 400 yards as a true freshman before upping his total to 605 — while more than tripling his receptions — as a sophomore.
But with Trey Millard and Brennan Clay getting additional touches and the addition of Damien Williams in the backfield, Finch got squeezed out.
NEW RECEIVERS MAKING STRIDES
Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jay Norvell said he's impressed with his new crop of wideouts through three days of camp.
“The younger players have an opportunity to compete,” Norvell said. “K.J. Young and Austin Bennett, those guys have done a really good job. They show a quick understanding and they show athletic ability. They've shown playmaking ability. These are real critical days at camp because we've just started and we have three practices in. But we can kind of see and have a taste of what they are capable of doing.
“In the next week, we put the pads on and things start to get real hot and heavy and we'll see how they respond.”
BYRD EARNS HIGH PRAISE
Through three days of preseason practices, freshman safety Hatari Byrd has worked at three different positions — nickelback, dimeback and safety, OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said.
“He's very knowledgeable,” Mike Stoops said. “He's easy to coach. He wants to be great. His maturity level is one of the highest I've seen this early on in his career. His maturity physically, we know what he looks like, but his maturity mentally and athletically.
“It's a very unique set of tools to work with a kid this young. He may be the biggest, fastest guy that we've seen at this young of an age.”
Byrd (6-1, 198 pounds) and fellow freshman safety Ahmad Thomas each have opportunities to earn early playing time because of the Sooners' inexperienced secondary.
But Mike Stoops said of Byrd, “He's the guy we'll probably lean on the heaviest.”
BARRETT CHOOSES TCU
Oklahoma and Ole Miss were thought to be the front-runners for Dallas Skyline offensive lineman Ty Barrett.
But Barrett (6-foot-4, 309 pounds) decided to stay close to home, committing to TCU on Saturday night.
Barrett also had Texas Tech in his top four.
The Sooners have one offensive lineman committed for the 2014 class — Alex Dalton of Troy, Ohio. Both of OU's 2015 commits are offensive linemen.
GRISSOM: COTTON BOWL START A ‘GREAT MOMENT'
The 2012 season was a bit strange for junior defensive end Geneo Grissom.
He moved to tight end just before the season began, and was initially expected to start there. But midway through the year, he decided defensive end was a better fit and moved back.
Grissom saw some playing time late in the regular season, but earned his first career start in the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M.
“I started playing a lot more in a few of the previous games, but that Cotton Bowl game, that was a big moment for me,” Grissom said. “It was a great moment, very exciting.”
Grissom is expected to be a starter on OU's inexperienced defensive line when the 2013 season begins, and said he's motivated by the people doubting the unit.
“Nobody wants to be told that they're not expected to be very good,” Grissom said. “It's a kick-force for us to get better every day in camp.”