NORMAN — Continuing our unit-by-unit look at the 2014 Oklahoma football team, here is a look at the Sooners’ defensive backfield entering Saturday’s spring game.
15; Zack Sanchez; So.; 5-11; 176
22; Cortez Johnson; Jr.; 6-2; 201
27; Dakota Austin; So.; 5-11; 151
6; Stanvon Taylor; So.; 5-11; 173
Cornerbacks analysis: The battle between Austin, Taylor and Johnson to be the Sooners’ second starting cornerback has been closely watched, and while I initially believed Taylor would win the job, I’m now leaning toward Austin after interviewing him Tuesday. He sounded supremely confident that he was the frontrunner for the job. Austin was the corner who came off the bench for one play when Aaron Colvin had to briefly leave the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. After being the youngest defensive backfield starter last fall, Sanchez is all of a sudden one of the group’s veterans.
4; Hatari Byrd; So.; 6-1; 198
XX; Steven Parker; Fr.; 6-1; 186
10; Quentin Hayes; Sr.; 6-0; 193
13; Ahmad Thomas; So.; 6-1; 215
2; Julian Wilson; Sr.; 6-2; 199
19; Eric Striker; Jr.; 6-0; 219
Safeties analysis: Byrd and Thomas both entered last season with extremely high expectations, but neither played much on defense in 2013. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said the Sooners are using a walk-on as a second-team cornerback, so expect Parker, a former Jenks standout, to immediately enter the rotation next fall. Wilson is sitting out this spring after shoulder surgery, and while he’s out, Striker and Thomas are working at the nickel spot. When we first started hearing about Striker working at nickelback, I wasn’t sure if I believed it, but the more I hear, the more sense it makes. He could end up being valuable at both linebacker and nickel in 2014.
Here’s a full schedule for the “State of the Sooners” series:
Wednesday, 9 a.m..: Special teams
Wednesday, noon.: Defensive backs
Wednesday, 3 p.m.: Linebackers
Thursday, 9 a.m.: Defensive linemen
Thursday, noon: Offensive linemen
Thursday, 3 p.m.: Tight ends
Friday, 9 a.m.: Wide receivers
Friday, noon: Running backs
Friday, 3 p.m.: Quarterbacks