NORMAN — Who will start on Oklahoma’s offensive line in 2009? That question will begin to be answered Tuesday, when spring practice starts for the Sooners.
On a team that returns a Heisman quarterback, the entire backfield, two high-quality receiving targets and nine starters on defense, the offensive line could be the determining factor in whether OU can contend for a national title again next season. The Sooners lose four starters from last year’s group, including Big 12 offensive lineman of the year Jon Cooper, as well as two-time All-American Duke Robinson. Phil Loadholt and Brandon Walker were also all-conference performers. Replacing players of that caliber won’t be easy. But it doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare in Norman. The lone returning starter is tackle Trent Williams, who despite being projected as a second-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft chose to return to school for his senior season. Williams will swing from right to left tackle to provide protection to quarterback Sam Bradford’s blindside. "Trent could be a lock-down player at left tackle,” OU offensive line coach James Patton said. The Sooners have another experienced piece to build around in senior guard Brian Simmons, who, though not a returning starter, has played in significant moments as a reserve the past two seasons.