"He's really done things right all winter and spring and summer from what I understand," Stoops said. "We'll see how he progresses. I'm not going to sit here and brag on him. He hasn't played, yet. He didn't play all last year.
"Until he can show some kind of consistency I'm not willing to say that he has matured. To a degree off the field he has. On the field we'll see. That's yet to be seen."
Stephenson redshirted in 2007, played in seven games as a reserve in 2008 and was ineligible last season. Teammates say his improved discipline was evident this spring and summer.
"He's gained some weight but is still quick," said defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland. "His game is really phenomenal. He approaches it with no facial expression. He just goes and plays his game."
Eight offensive linemen made at least one start last season. Stephenson, who has not attended either of OU's two offensive media interview sessions, is expected to make his first start Sept. 4 against Utah State.
"He's matured quite a bit," said right tackle Eric Mensik. "This summer he worked really hard. It's amazing to see the progress he's made. He's a phenomenal athlete. His potential is amazing."
Again, there's the P word.
"That's (always) been the case," Stoops said. "He had a heck of a lot of talent a year ago and never played a down. That talent there's a lot more that goes into it to be a great player. Hopefully he can do that."