“You can't have linebackers out there matched up on the skill players we see week in and week out. We have to have some flexibility to get into some other stuff. We don't want that advantage to always be slanted to the offense when you have linebackers out there.”
SPRING CAMP NEARING AN END
Fifteen spring practices, in addition to classroom responsibilities, can be a grind for some players, especially younger players who are competing for spots on the depth chart.
“It's gone good,” Mike Stoops said. “You get tired at the end of spring. It's heading into our fifth week. I think the kids will be anxious to get it over with. But it's been successful. We're gaining an identity.”
With practices closed to fans and the media, one intriguing question each spring and fall: which players are standing out?
Two names you hear frequently defensively are linebackers Frank Shannon and Daniel Franklin. Both have made an impression this spring.
DEFENSIVE LINE IS BANGED UP
Defensive linemen Casey Walker, Stacy McGee and David King have all played sparingly during spring camp with minor injuries.
“We've been mixing and matching,” Stoops said. “We don't have a lot of continuity in our defensive line at this point. We haven't had it all spring. But we're developing a lot of young players. That's what I'm kind of excited about.
“But we have to get our (three) starters back in there. We're without some pieces right now.”
Young players like Jordan Phillips, Damon Williams, Torrea Peterson and Marquis Anderson are getting more reps. Phillips is unique. The redshirt freshman is 6-foot-6, 330 pounds but extremely athletic.
Defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland witnessed Phillips perform a standing-still back-flip early upon his arrival before the acrobatic move was prohibited. He's seen Phillips slam dunk a basketball two-handed, the ultimate sign of a great vertical leap.
“When I saw him do that it was amazing,” McFarland said. “But we've got versatility. We have guys with speed, guys with size, run stuffers and pass rushers. Coaches are working to put us all in the right spot.”