All of a sudden, the 2014 season appears to be Oklahoma's most anticipated since 2009, when quarterback Sam Bradford was returning after winning the Heisman Trophy.
The Sooners spent the entire 2013 season struggling to establish an offensive identity, and the back-and-forth at quarterback between Trevor Knight and Blake Bell didn't help that cause.
Knight won the job out of fall camp because of his mobility and dynamic playmaking skills, but he never fully showcased his passing ability until the Sugar Bowl.
After completing 32 of 44 pass attempts for 348 yards and four touchdowns against the revered Alabama defense, Knight looks like a bona fide superstar heading into 2014.
Many of the Sooners' best defensive players are young, too, like cornerback Zack Sanchez; linebackers Eric Striker and Dominique Alexander; and defensive end Charles Tapper.
Jordan Phillips was the team's best defensive lineman until his season-ending back surgery in October, and Stoops said Friday that Phillips will return next year.
Because the Sooners lose senior backs Brennan Clay and Roy Finch, Mixon should compete immediately for significant playing time. OU also has a 2014 commitment from four-star prospect Samaje Perine of Pflugerville, Texas, and returns Keith Ford, who displayed his tremendous potential in limited opportunities this season as a true freshman.
Stoops is prohibited by NCAA rules from speaking publicly about specific recruits, but seemed genuinely excited about the next few weeks Friday morning.
“I think we are in great shape, from what we are hearing and the way we've been communicating with guys,” Stoops said. “Hopefully that all comes to fruition in a few days.”