NORMAN — Over and over Wednesday, Oklahoma coaches and players kept bringing up the same comparison when Dimitri Flowers’ name was mentioned.
“He’s very similar to Trey (Millard),” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. “If he had the same number on and grew some dreads, you’d look from behind and think it was him — and with the way he plays.
“We’re elated about him.”
Wide receivers coach Jay Norvell. Tight ends coach Jay Boulware. Running back Keith Ford.
All brought up Millard’s name when asked about Flowers, the early enrollee who was recruited to play Millard’s fullback/H-back/tight end role.
Flowers’ time might come even quicker than anticipated. Oklahoma coaches knew there would be a hole to fill, losing not only Millard but three senior running backs off last year’s team. But the 6-foot-1, 234-pound Flowers is progressing even better than expected.
“He’s a very natural receiver,” Norvell said after making the comparison to not only Millard but Jermaine Gresham. “He has an ability to adjust in space, and you can play them on the edge. You can play in the backfield.”
Flowers’ high school coach at San Antonio’s Churchill High, Glenn Hill, encouraged Flowers to graduate a semester early to begin his college career.
“I think anyone that can do that should,” Hill said. “If you can do that and clearly academically he can, there’s really no negative to it. You get to knock out a bunch of hours in college, get used to the rigors of college and you get extra practice out of it.
“What are you going to stay here for? Prom?”
Hill used Flowers in a variety of ways — running back, slot receiver, wide receiver, even quarterback.
“We moved him around really to try to create as many mismatches as we could,” Hill said. “It sounds like they’re going to do pretty much what we did with him. You take a guy like that and get him lined up against linebackers, you’ve got a mismatch. Then you’ve got the safeties back there that aren’t as big and physical as he is.”
With Millard gone, Aaron Ripkowski is likely to step into that role like he did after Millard was injured late last season.
But there will be room in the offense for Flowers.
“Oh definitely, no question,” Stoops said. “And he’s shown every indication that he’ll be ready for it.”
Flowers opened eyes Wednesday with a short-yardage diving catch against solid coverage.
“We’re elated about Dimitri every day,” Stoops said. “He’s very natural.”
Flowers’ intellect — both on and off the football field — have made the transition to OU a smooth one.
“He makes fantastic grades,” Hill said. “He was one of our National Merit Scholarship finalists. You take the football out of it, and he was going to get scholarships academically. You take that kind of personality, that kind of brains and everything else he has and he’s going to be successful.”
That’s translated on the field.
“He knows a lot more than the average freshman,” Boulware said. “I feel very confident in putting him out there right now, and as he continues to progress, I think we have something there.”