NORMAN — In the Bob Stoops era, Oklahoma has annually been blessed with players who have emerged from the shadows to contribute to the team’s success. Last year, those players were running back Mossis Madu, defensive end Frank Alexander, safety Quinton Carter and linebacker Travis Lewis, among others. Despite OU’s crowded backfield, Madu earned playing time before rushing for three touchdowns in the Big 12 Championship game. Alexander recovered from a knife wound to record 3½ sacks during conference play. Carter emerged as a hard-hitting enforcer in the secondary. And Lewis, who was third-team on the depth chart last August, became the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. The following Sooners who will also enter this season out of the spotlight and out of the starting lineup seem capable of making similar surprise impacts:
Joseph Ibiloye, Fr., safetyWas praised for his aptitude and ability to pick up the defensive scheme while redshirting last season; at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, has prototypical size for a safety and could eventually play outside linebacker in time if he adds some weight; similar style to Nic Harris, but possesses more speed.
Desmond Jackson, So., cornerback/safetyEntered the offseason in the doghouse after being suspended for the national title game by Stoops for an undisclosed reason; but had a terrific spring capped by a strong showing in the Red-White Spring Game at cornerback, prompting Stoops to point out afterward that he "had fun watching” Jackson play.
Emmanuel Jones, Sr., safetyA junior-college transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma, Jones ended up starting the spring game because of a rash of injuries in the defensive backfield and held his own; should be part of the safety rotation, which no one could’ve predicted before the spring.
David King, Fr., defensive endBeat out R.J. Washington for the fourth defensive end spot in the spring, no small feat, considering Washington was the top prep defensive end a couple of years ago; still somewhat raw, but like Alexander has a ton of upside with his 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame.
Brian Lepak, Jr., center/guardTransfer from Colorado State has turned out to be a lifesaver for the interior of the offensive line, which lost three players (Kody Cooke, Jason Hannan and Alex Williams) during the offseason; is still a walk-on, but is sure to earn a scholarship as OU’s top backup at guard or center.
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