NORMAN — Oklahoma enters the 2013 football season strong in some position groups, but relatively thin experience-wise in others, most notably on the defensive line and in the secondary.
Here's a look at five newcomers who could make an immediate impact in their first year as Sooners.
HATARI BYRD, FR., SS
Ht., Wt.: 6-1, 190
Why he'll contribute: Byrd said in late January that he'd been promised a starting position on Oklahoma's defense right away. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops shot down that idea in his signing day news conference, but Byrd's talent will give him an opportunity to play early. Junior Quinton Hayes and senior Gabe Lynn worked as starters through the spring, but neither has much experience in those positions.
Why he might not: Hayes didn't play last year because of a yearlong suspension, and Lynn has struggled some at both cornerback and nickelback over the past two seasons. If they each prove to be good fits for the safety spots, Byrd's opportunity for regular playing time could diminish.
DANNON CAVIL, FR., WR
Ht., Wt.: 6-5, 205
Why he'll contribute: Oklahoma lost both Kenny Stills and Justin Brown from last year's team, so a tall, sure-handed receiver could easily find his niche in a unit headlined by smaller, slot guys. He enrolled early and gained valuable experience through spring practices.
Why he might not: Senior Lacoltan Bester left spring football as a first-team wideout. Jaz Reynolds returns after being suspended all of last season, and if he continues working his way back into coaches' good graces, he'll be a factor. Sophomore Durron Neal also had an impressive spring.
L.J. MOORE, FR., CB
Ht., Wt.: 6-1, 170
Why he'll contribute: Aaron Colvin is the Sooners' only experienced cornerback returning, so Moore will absolutely have every opportunity to play an immediate role. Walk-on Brandon Young worked as a second-team corner in the spring game, drawing attention to the unit's depth issues.
Why he might not: If sophomore Cortez Johnson, who sat out last year after transferring from Arizona, takes firm control of a starting spot opposite Colvin, Moore won't have much of a chance to make a big, immediate impact.
QUINCY RUSSELL, JR., DT
Ht., Wt.: 6-3, 311
Why he'll contribute: Russell should immediately compete to play on Oklahoma's thin, inexperienced defensive line. Every significant contributor at defensive tackle last season was a senior, and sophomore Jordan Phillips remains a raw talent.
Why he might not: Russell signed with Texas out of high school, but academic issues forced him to take the junior-college route instead. There remains some question about whether or not he's actually qualified for OU yet.
JOSIAH ST. JOHN, JR., OT
Ht., Wt.: 6-6, 305
Why he'll contribute: Oklahoma enters 2013 dangerously thin depth-wise at the offensive tackle spots. Starters Daryl Williams and Tyrus Thompson are both very experienced, but there isn't much help backing them up. St. John should provide some insurance there right away.
Why he might not: St. John wasn't an early enrollee, and — as with any newcomer — there's always the possibility that immediate contribution is too much to ask. Coaches will definitely need St. John, though, whether his role on the 2013 line is big or small, and they'll need him to be a quick learner.