Which first-year starter will make the biggest impact in 2008, cornerback Brian Jackson or wide receiver Quentin Chaney?
Both players have pretty big shoes to fill and both have performed well in limited playing time up to this point. I'm going with QC because I don't expect the Sooner offense to backtrack from what worked so well throughout 2007 — passing the ball. Chaney doesn't yet have Malcolm Kelly's hands, but he does have his size and speed. Sam Bradford will be better this year — even if his stats aren't — and that means big things for Chaney and the receiving corps. Look for a strong Red-White game from the senior and an even stronger 2008 season.
OU has plenty of offensive skill players coming back, like DeMarco Murray and Jermaine Greshman, with whom Chaney will share the spotlight. But what OU doesn't have returning is a lockdown cornerback, which they may now have in budding star Brian Jackson. A team's No. 1 corner will always have a bigger impact than its No. 3 receiver.
Murray and Gresham are terrific threats to be sure. But neither of them can stretch the field the way Chaney will. Neither can fellow wideouts Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson. And unless Adron Tennell (torn ACL) or Jameel Owens (incoming freshman) explode in the fall, Chaney won't be looking over his shoulder. You can't say the same for Brian Jackson. The OU coaching staff doesn't have a lot of patience for defensive backs who get burned (see: Keenan Clayton circa 2006).
Easy on Clayton, he's going to be a good player next season. As for Chaney, where has OU had patience for him? He's played in just a handful of games and he's going to be a senior. Owens or Broyles could take away his playing time. The reason Jackson will have the biggest impact is because he won't be allowing anyone to run past him and he won't be benched. He's already proven to be a solid player this spring. By the fall, he may be better than solid.
By Blake Jackson and Jake Trotter