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State of the Sooners: Oklahoma’s special teams entering the 2014 spring game

by Jason Kersey Modified: April 9, 2014 at 10:45 am •  Published: April 9, 2014

Oklahoma's Michael Hunnicutt (18) gives high fives to fans as he leaves the field after the Bedlam college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma's Michael Hunnicutt (18) gives high fives to fans as he leaves the field after the Bedlam college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

NORMAN — Today begins a unit-by-unit look at the 2014 Oklahoma football team to prepare you for the Sooners’ spring game on Saturday.

Ryan Aber and I will have three posts per day between today and Friday. The items will post at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. each day.

To kick this off — pun intended — we’ll look at the OU special teams.

PUNTER
No.; Name; Cl.; Ht.; Wt.
44; Jed Barnett; Sr.; 6-2; 227
38; Jack Steed; So.; 6-5; 210

Punter analysis: Barnett improved dramatically over the course of his first season in Norman, and played exceptionally well in the Sooners’ 33-24 Bedlam upset of Oklahoma State, pinning the Cowboys at their own 1-yard line twice. He didn’t perform well at all in his first spring game last April; OU fans should expect a much better showing Saturday.

KICKER
No.; Name; Cl.; Ht.; Wt.
18; Michael Hunnicutt; Sr.; 6-1; 176
39; Nick Hodgson; Sr.; 6-2; 191

Kicker analysis: Hunnicutt has converted 86.1 percent of his career field-goal attempts and was a semifinalist for last year’s Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation’s top kicker each year. Hodgson did well as Oklahoma’s kickoff specialist a year ago. Both of these guys will be missed in 2015.

PUNT RETURNER
No.; Name; Cl.; Ht.; Wt.
3; Sterling Shepard; Jr.; 5-10; 193
15; Zack Sanchez; So.; 5-11; 176
12; Derrick Woods; So.; 6-1; 188

KICK RETURNER
No.; Name; Cl.; Ht.; Wt.
28; Alex Ross; So.; 6-1; 209
21; Keith Ford; So.; 5-11; 205
83; Austin Bennett; So.; 6-0; 163
34; Daniel Brooks; So.; 5-8; 176

Returners analysis: A lot can change between now and the season opener, but as of Tuesday afternoon, the above depth chart accurately represents where the Sooners are regarding return men. Shepard as a punt returner is a no-brainer; he was great in that spot back in his Heritage Hall High School days and seems like a natural replacement for Jalen Saunders. The kick return spots are less clear, and it will be interesting to see who actually lines up deep for the Sooners’ first return of the 2014 season.

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


by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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