NORMAN — Four new members of the Oklahoma football team arrived on campus this week and will participate in spring football practices.
Freshmen Justice Hansen (quarterback) and Dimitri Flowers (athlete) started college classes Monday and were joined by junior-college transfers Isaac Ijalana (tight end) and Devante Bond (linebacker) as the Sooners’ 2014 early enrollees.
Four-star wide receiver Dallis Todd, from La Mirada, Calif., had planned to enroll early also, but couldn’t because of his high school’s first semester doesn’t end until late January.
Of the four early enrollees, only Hansen — an Edmond Santa Fe product — appears unlikely to compete for immediate playing time.
Trevor Knight seemingly has a firm grip on the Sooners’ starting quarterback position after leading Oklahoma to a 45-31 upset of No. 3 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Knight was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
OU is also expected to return senior Blake Bell, junior Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Cody Thomas.
“I can’t really say anything about that,” Hansen said last week when asked about his role in spring practices. “All I can do is go in, work as hard as I can, learn the offense as best as I can, try to jell with the team as best as I can. Other than that, I don’t make any true decisions. It’s really the coaches.”
Flowers (6-foot-3, 219 pounds), from San Antonio, is expected to play a role similar to that of departed team captain and fullback Trey Millard, a four-year starter whose college career ending prematurely in late October when he tore his ACL.
Millard was a blocking back, a tight end and occasionally a featured back in the Sooners’ offense.
The tight end, an important piece of Oklahoma’s offense throughout most of the Bob Stoops era, hasn’t been as prominently featured the last couple of seasons, but Ijalana, from California’s Pierce Community College, could help propel the position’s comeback.
“I’m real excited to be a part of spring football so I can get out there, be part of the team, get a whole concept of the offense,” Ijalana said in a telephone interview last month.
Bond, from Sierra Community College in Roseville, Calif., signed with Miami (Fla.) last February, but couldn’t become academically eligible in time to join the Hurricanes for the 2013 season. He committed to OU in November.
The Sooners return several linebackers who played key roles last season, but the unit was still thin at times, giving Bond an opportunity to make an immediate impact.