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OU football: Sooners have questions in some areas, answers in others

The starting lineup for Oklahoma heading into football two-a-days seems set except for a few spots.
by Michael Baldwin Published: April 15, 2012

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.

The subject?

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.

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by Michael Baldwin
Redhawks, Barons, MLB, NFL Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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