NORMAN — Several freshmen will play immediately, both on offense and on defense, coach Bob Stoops announced on Monday.
Stoops had been complimentary of defensive backs Demontre Hurst and Marcus Trice throughout the preseason, but named several others who will also play throughout the season during his weekly press conference.
Offensive lineman Tyler Evans, defensive lineman Jamarkus McFarland, linebackers Ronnell Lewis and Jaydan Bird and wide receiver Jaz Reynolds were all named by Stoops as players who will contribute in their first season.
Other freshmen who could see the field are defensive backs Gabe Lynn and Javon Harris, along with offensive lineman Josh Aladenoye.
"Who aren't we playing?" Stoops said, adding that other freshmen could see playing time as the season progressed.
While a lack of depth at linebacker provided opportunities for Lewis and Bird, Stoops said that plenty of freshmen, like Hurst, had earned playing time by outplaying upperclassmen.
"They're showing the ability to do what we ask them to do and make plays," Stoops said. "And we feel, 'Hey, let's give them those chances.'"
Bob Stoops quoteboard
On when new starting center Brody Eldridge would switch from wearing No. 50 at center to No. 83 at tight end:
"What would prompt that would probably be just getting Ben (Habern) some snaps. Depending on how Brody's handling and feeling about it as well, there's a lot of work in there. Does he need some air? Does he need some time? Also, there are some three tight end situations we get in that Brody is an awful good part of that and we may want to throw a few snaps of those in there at times, and he's a great guy out there on that edge."
On shuffling around the offensive line this late in the preseason:
"We've done it to give ourselves some depth, because our numbers aren't maybe what you want them to be. Hopefully, all the recruits are listening to that, we need more offensive line numbers. But you've got a guy who, if you're a center, you can play guard. If you've got a really big guard he can play tackle, too. And now that creates competition. If one guy isn't playing as well as he needs to play, well, we'll just move this guy from tackle to guard and he'll play. Or this guy from guard to tackle, and he'll play. That creates competition and it creates depth."
On improving kickoff coverage:
"We have different drills. We work different drills to try and simulate half of a return or part of a return, and separate from the block and understand spacing. And then, as you get into game week, you work the different schemes that you expect to see."
On senior defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger, who is returning from foot and back injuries and fell off the week one depth chart after being listed as a reserve throughout camp:
"DeMarcus is still a ways away. How much (playing time) he gets probably will be more limited."