NORMAN — Considering its best and most experienced player didn't participate, the Oklahoma secondary performed pretty well overall in Saturday's spring football game.
Still, the unit was far from perfect and definitely enters summer workouts and fall camp with lots to improve. But what the OU defensive backfield — most notably, its cornerbacks — needs most is depth. That was plainly apparent Saturday.
Sophomore receiver Trey Metoyer finished with a game-high six receptions and 122 yards, but many of his most impressive moments came against junior walk-on cornerback Brandon Young.
“Obviously the depth at corner is something we just don't have right now,” said defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “It's something we need to develop in this program and I think we recruited guys that can be relied upon.”
Senior cornerback Aaron Colvin earned first-team All-Big 12 honors last season, but gone is graduated three-year starter Demontre Hurst. Promising sophomore Gary Simon, considered a potential 2013 starter opposite Colvin, was dismissed from the team in February.
Sophomore Cortez Johnson and redshirt freshman Zack Sanchez played with the first-team defense Saturday, when Colvin sat out as many experienced, elite college football players traditionally do in spring games.
Johnson didn't play last season after transferring from Arizona, where he started a few games as a true freshman in 2011, when Mike Stoops was the Wildcats' head coach.
“Cortez has shown signs that he can be a quality player in this league,” Stoops said. “Consistency will be a big factor for that.”
The good news, though, is cornerback help is on the way. Incoming freshmen Dakota Austin, L.J. Moore and Stanvon Taylor arrive soon, and at least one of them will surely be expected to contribute early and often.
Moore (6-feet-1, 175 pounds), a four-star corner from Central East High in Fresno, Calif., announced Oklahoma as his college choice late in the afternoon on signing day. Taylor (5-11, 175), from Tulsa East Central, was No. 1 on The Oklahoman's final 2013 Super 30 rankings of the state's top college football prospects.
Austin (5-11, 167) received his scholarship offer from Oklahoma late in the process and committed on the spot. The Lancaster, Texas, native played at the same high school as Hurst and current OU safety Quentin Hayes.
“Now that's putting a lot on a couple young freshmen corners,” Stoops said. “They say they want the challenge. They're going to get it. Hopefully they'll rise to the occasion. Hopefully we recruited the right guys and we'll have the right guys to look at whether they can move in front of some of these guys here. We'll see.”
The lacking experience at cornerback will put lots more pressure on Colvin, who considered skipping his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.
“It's been somewhat of a challenge,” Colvin said of assuming a leadership role. “You have to be more patient. ... I'm trying to lead more by example, but at the same time if a guy needs stepping on, I'll do that as well. I've had to step up more and talk more and be more vocal, but it's been good.”