With the 2011 season in the rear-view mirror, it's time to look ahead — yes, already — to 2012. Here's a quick look at Oklahoma's depth chart, with a nod toward what the Sooners will be looking to add in the 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes.
Starter: Landry Jones
Backups: Drew Allen, Blake Bell, Kendal Thompson
Jones coming back obviously changed the face of this position, and Bell is young enough that OU can be picky in who it targets at the position. It will need at least one in the 2013 class, though. A lot of schools around the country — all of them, basically — would be giddy with excitement to have their program's all-time leading passer back. Allen was a little ahead of Bell last season as the No. 2, even though Bell got more experience via the Belldozer package.
Starter: Roy Finch
Backups: Dominique Whaley, Brennan Clay, Trey Millard, Alex Ross*
We'll list Finch as the starter, while Whaley recovers from ankle surgery. Indications are, though, that Whaley will be ready for the season. With Brandon Williams and others transferring, the coaches let Clay know he'd be needed. Bob Stoops continues to talk about the need to get Millard the ball more. The coaches might like to redshirt Ross, but they might not have that luxury. OU has said it might look JUCO at the position, and it recently offered Illinois prospect David Smith, but it could survive with another back or two in 2013. Losing Williams was certainly a blow for the future; can't overlook that.
Starters: Kenny Stills, Jaz Reynolds, Kameel Jackson
Backups: Trey Franks, Trey Metoyer*, Durron Neal* Sterling Shepard*, Derrick Woods*
Very thin here in experience, but the Sooners have signed the position extremely well in the 2012 class — and that's not even considering their continued pursuit of Dorial Green-Beckham. They're still counting on Metoyer, at Hargrave prep in Virginia, to be an immediate contributor. Neal and Woods are top 100-type players. Could Shepard fill the Ryan Broyles-jitterbug void? Basically, Justin McCay and Sheldon McClain's transfers force the newcomers into action sooner. Who's going to emerge? As long as the Mike Leach system lives on, OU will never stop seeking top-flight receivers.
Backups: John-Philip Hughes, Brannon Green**, Taylor McNamara*, Laith Harlow*
Hard to name a starter when the primary guys aren't even on campus. Green has the junior college experience, and McNamara has the higher billing out of high school. Even if these guys pan out, Green's time will soon be up. The staff has to be vigilant to fill the spots left by Austin Haywood and Max Stevenson. James Hanna and Trent Ratterree were gone, anyway. Don't forget Millard here, too, but the more he's in the backfield the better off OU will be.
Starters: Daryl Williams, Gabe Ikard, Ben Habern, Tyler Evans, Lane Johnson
Backups: Adam Shead, Tyrus Thompson, Bronson Irwin, Austin Woods.
As much as running back and receiver will be juggling acts, the O-line is as strong as any in the country. Shead would be a starter virtually anywhere else, and he might emerge in the spring and summer months. This doesn't even count redshirt freshmen (Nila Kasitati comes to mind) who sat last season. The commits (Ty Darlington, Kyle Marrs and John Michael McGee) were omitted since they will likely be redshirted, given the depth and experience. OU can continue to sign linemen who fit the system. Zach Banner remains a 2012 target.
Starters: R.J. Washington, David King, Stacy McGee, Jamarkus McFarland, Casey Walker
Backups: Geneo Grissom, Chuka Ndulue, Marquis Anderson, Chaz Nelson**
Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis are gone, but Washington and King could have impacts similar to those of Alexander and Lewis in 2011. The staff thinks a lot of both Grissom and Ndulue. If not for the depth of the position in 2011, they would have played more already. The top three tackles are back, which lessens the blow of the transfers of Josh Aladenoye and Torrea Peterson. Nelson is another of the JUCO products. Will need a nice haul in 2013 to sustain momentum — and especially at the now-thin tackle position. Maybe Kasitati moves back?
Starters: Corey Nelson, Tom Wort, Tony Jefferson
Backups: Joe Ibiloye, Jaydan Bird, Kellen Jones, P.L. Lindley
We'll leave Jefferson here for now, though the scheme could certainly alter to move him full time to free safety. Depends on what kind of base the coaches want to run, and whether Ibiloye is dependable enough to play more at nickel and/or sam. Lindley is a name that came up recently when Wort was asked what redshirt freshmen impressed him. Curious to see what sort of strides Jones makes after a full year on campus. He was playing more as the year went on. Still a young position. Eric Striker is the only linebacker commit so far. OU will need more in as soon as possible, or it'll again be going the JUCO route.
Starters: Gabe Lynn, Demontre Hurst, Aaron Colvin, Javon Harris
Backups: Quentin Hayes, Lamar Harris, Kass Everett**
Before you get in an uproar about Lynn, who struggled big time against Texas Tech, remember that he was a sophomore in 2011. And, again, if OU is in a pinch, Jefferson could easily move back to safety and Colvin could go to corner. Or something. There are options. One is Everett, the third JUCO newcomer. Saturday's decommitment of De'Vante Harris hurts; he had a great week at the Under Armour game. Brandon Beaver remains a 2012 target. The Sooners will obviously continue to scout and sign the corner and safety spots. Again, 2013 will need to be a big year for the secondary.
** signed (JUCO)