Oklahoma football: Trevor Knight the boost of enthusiasm Sooner Nation needed

JENNI CARLSON COMMENTARY — What had been a pretty blasé offseason quickly turned interesting when Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops named redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight the starter.
by Jenni Carlson Published: August 30, 2013

Stephen McMurtrey decided earlier this week to plunk down $39.95 for the pay-per-view broadcast of the Oklahoma game because of Trevor Knight.

After the eye-opening praise he heard coming from Norman and the jaw-dropping highlights he found on the internet, McMurtrey was fired up to see the recently anointed starting quarterback.

But then, the lifelong Sooner fan realized he might not even be the most excited person in his house about Knight getting the nod.

“Why don't we go to the game?” his wife asked.

Even though it will cost quite a bit more than $39.95, she didn't have to ask twice.

Trevor Knight has yet to do anything on the field for the Sooners, but even before he takes his first college snap Saturday night against Louisiana-Monroe, he has done something big for the Sooner Nation. He has given fans reason to be excited.

Knight has been a jolt of enthusiasm.

Only a couple weeks ago, there were signs that Sooner fans were largely blasé about this season.

Attendance at Meet the Sooners Day was way down, estimated to be about half of what it was a year ago. Part of that is because of the kids-only policy for the autograph session, but this wasn't the first year with that policy. Other years haven't been nearly so bad.

Sales of single-game tickets have also been slow. They started Aug. 1 and were slow enough that the athletic department issued a statement after two weeks to remind fans that tickets remained. Usually, most of those single-game tickets are gobbled up quickly.

But since Bob Stoops announced that Knight would be the starter instead of Blake Bell, there's a new vibe pulsing through the Sooner Nation. Knight might be an unknown commodity, having never played a down of college football, but when your teammates start comparing you to Johnny Manziel — what the dual-threat, super-speedy Heisman Trophy winner has done on the field, not off of it — that gets folks fired up.

“There is reason to be excited again in Sooner country,” season ticket holder Cory Warlick said.

His excitement started building when word started trickling out of Norman that Knight might be something special. Warlick, a Choctaw resident, figured Knight would be a good option if Bell needed relief.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight isn't the only player in college football making a much anticipated debut this weekend. Here's a look at three other newbies who have fans buzzing.

* Dontre Wilson, RB, Ohio State: Buckeye coach Urban Meyer has raved about the true freshman, saying he has “electric speed”. And playing alongside Braxton Miller in Ohio State's spread offense, Wilson should have plenty of space to show what he's got.

Check him out: 11 a.m. Saturday vs. Buffalo, ESPN2

* Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida: The true freshman is the son of Fred Taylor, a former Gator who spent 13 seasons in NFL. With the loss of starting running back Matt Jones, the Gators need playmakers, so Taylor should get every opportunity to make an early impression.

Check him out: 11:21 a.m. Saturday vs. Toledo, ESPN3.com

* Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: The redshirt freshman is big, 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds. He's got a strong arm. He's got athletic moves. No wonder he's been compared with Cam Newton.

Check him out: 7 p.m. Monday at Pittsburgh, ESPN

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