NORMAN — The Sooners got back one electrifying runner.
And, apparently, have added another.
Sophomore Roy Finch, who missed the Fiesta Bowl due to a recurrence of a stress fracture injury, was back on the field Monday for Oklahoma's first spring practice.
The opening-day buzz, however, centered on true freshman Brandon Williams, who's only been on campus two months. But already turning heads.
“Along with our team activities in conditioning, we have some one-on-one competitive situations in front of the whole team, and he really stood out,” coach Bob Stoops said of Williams, who appeared as the No. 2 running back on OU's initial spring depth chart. “He's got speed, has great power and strength and can run forever. ... very, very competitive and tough, has got a bunch of talent.
“He's going to be exciting to watch. We're very optimistic about him.”
Despite the graduation of three-year starter DeMarco Murray, the cupboard in Norman remains well stocked with capable backs.
Finch, a central figure in OU's late-season surge in 2010, averaged 4.7 yards per carry and rushed for 398 yards despite missing six games. The Sooners also boast the versatile Brennan Clay and the hard-running Jonathan Miller, who's back after sitting out the last year-and-a-half recovering from a knee injury.
But the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Williams seems to be more than capable of carving out a substantial role in the offense and equipping the Sooners with yet another big-play threat.
“Brandon is a blazer. He's super fast,” Miller said. “He's going to be real good for us.”
At Brookshire (Texas) Royal High School, Williams was more than good. Averaging 9.8 yards per carry, Williams rushed for 2,438 yards and 33 touchdowns, leading Royal's charge into the Class 3A playoffs. Both Rivals and Scout rated him the No. 3 running back in the country.
So far, Williams hasn't disappointed.
“He's a hardworking kid, has got a great attitude,” said running backs coach Cale Gundy. “Got a little bounce to him, a little smile to him; his teammates have taken a liking to him because of his attitude.
“And they see the explosiveness that he has, the way he flies around.”