The starting lineup for Oklahoma heading into football two-a-days seems set except a few spots.
Where will defensive coordinator Mike Stoops plug in Aaron Colvin? Probably cornerback, in front of Lamar Harris, which leaves Javon Harris as the starting strong safety.
Who is the starting left offensive tackle? It was believed to be Lane Johnson, who started at right tackle last year. Tyrus Thompson, though, was the starter in the spring game, which means the Sooners have three starting-caliber offensive tackles.
Will wide receiver Trey Metoyer start as a true freshman? He should. Whether he starts Metoyer should be on the field as much as any receiver.
Who will start at tight end? Junior college transfer Brannon Green.
Going beyond the starting lineup, one intriguing aspect of spring ball is discovering which backup players took a step forward.
Who are players that could contribute as reserves in 2012, potential starters in the future?
On defense, two names were mentioned frequently during interview sessions the past six weeks — redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jordan Phillips and redshirt freshman linebacker Frank Shannon.
Phillips was a hot topic at coach Bob Stoops' post-spring game interview session.
Phillips, 6-foot-6, 329 pounds, isn't your typical in-the-trenches defensive tackle.
“He's exactly what you want,” Stoops said. “That's what we're looking for. He's going to be an excellent defensive tackle... He's a big presence inside. He bats (down) balls. He can run. He's not as strong as he needs to be now, but he will be in time. I'm ecstatic about a young guy and what his potential can be.”
Phillips, from Towanda, Kan., performed a standing back flip when he arrived on campus a year ago and can two-hand dunk a basketball.
“He's going to be scary good,” said sophomore defensive end Chuka Ndulue, another young player moving up the depth chart. “I watch him play with leverage and say, ‘How is he playing that low but still on his feet?' He's a big dude. He's fast. He's very athletic.”
Ndulue is of Nigerian descent. He arrived in the United States in the seventh grade, a 135-pound soccer player. By his sophomore year, he was 205 pounds and too big for soccer. So he switched to football.
Late last season, after Ronnell Lewis suffered an injury, Ndulue earned a few snaps as a redshirt freshman. This spring, he's taken more strides.
“He's a great story,” said defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright. “He's done a great job of making the transition to American football. He went through a high school system in Texas and has been in our system here two years.
“Obviously, there's been a learning curve from the football standpoint. He continues to go through that. But he's to the point of really exploding and becoming a really good football player. He's strong, he's explosive. He has good speed. He loves to play, a great practice player.”
Shannon is vying for a spot on the two-deep. The Dallas Skyline product and senior linebacker Aaron Franklin both made an impression this spring. Franklin recorded five tackles in the spring game.
“They both have good feet, they're tough,” Stoops said. “They play hard. They're very conscientious. They're going to play.”
In the secondary, Lamar Harris, a senior, and junior Joe Powell showed potential at cornerback.
Harris was the starting cornerback opposite veteran Demontre Hurst in the spring game, but Colvin could land there. Powell, a former wide receiver, is making enough plays to get noticed.
On offense, left guard Adam Shead will be listed as a backup heading into two-a-days when senior center Ben Habern returns from a neck injury.
Gabe Ikard is expected to move back to left guard, but Shead, a sophomore, started five games last season. Shead arguably has played as well as any offensive linemen.
Daryl Williams, a sophomore, was the opening game starter last season. When he suffered an ankle injury, Johnson seized the job. Williams reestablished himself this spring.
Veterans on the O-line with more than 100 combined career starts will have to earn their way. Six or seven linemen are capable of starting, but there are only five spots.
Even though he'll be the “fourth” offensive tackle, probably a year away from playing a key role, Derek Farniok (6-foot-9, 325 pounds) created a buzz.
“Derek Farniok has had a huge winter and spring,” Stoops said. “He's really come on, doing a nice job. He's where you want him to be and getting better.”
The Sooners broke in two tight ends this spring. Freshman Taylor McNamara made progress and compiled three catches in the spring game. But it's Green who is the projected starter.
Green, 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, compiled only 15 receptions last season at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College. He was viewed as more as a blocker.
“We recruited him because of his size and toughness, but he's really caught the ball well,” Stoops said. “That's been a positive. He has great hands. He's made all kinds of grabs, which is exciting.”