Here’s my best guess as to OU’s depth chart on Sept. 4. Not a lot of surprises, although some newcomers could shake up a few spots.
QB – Landry Jones, Drew Allen, Blake Bell
I’ve heard from plenty of Sooner fans who believe Allen could still push the ‘Stache for the starting job. There were plenty of times in 2009 when I hoped that would be the case.
Not happening–Jones is firmly entrenched as the No. 1 signal caller, and the OU coaching staff seems pretty pleased with his development this spring.
RB – DeMarco Murray, Jermie Calhoun, Mossis Madu, Jonathan Miller, Roy Finch
Could Jermie Calhoun have played in the Red-White Game? Maybe I’m reading too much into this one, but it doesn’t sound like his injuries were all that serious. That makes me think OU coach Bob Stoops is pretty certain Calhoun is ready to see some real action in 2010, even if Murray is the feature back.
From what I’ve seen on film, the shifty incoming freshman scatback Finch could get some reps in the fall for a change of pace.
FB – Marshall Musil, Trey Millard
MetaMusil looks like a keeper to me. No idea if Millard can really play.
WR – Ryan Broyles, Dejuan Miller, Jaz Reynolds; Brandon Caleb, Kenny Stills, Cameron Kenney
On the heels of the spring game, it seems clear that the situation at receiver remains pretty fluid. Broyles is a given and should get some All-America talk when the hype machine kicks into gear. In OU’s three-wide sets, Miller and Reynolds appear most likely to join Broyles, at least to start the season.
Obviously, Stills was a revelation in spring ball, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stoops try to work him into the rotation slowly.
TE – Trent Ratteree, James Hanna, Lane Johnson
I’d feel a lot better if Hanna would step up and win the job, but he clearly has lots left to prove to offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. The steady senior Ratterree likely has the inside track on the starting job.
LT – Donald Stephenson, Jarvis Jones
At this point, Stephenson looks like the anchor of OU’s offensive line. (One piece of advice, Donald: Click it or ticket.)
LG – Stephen Good, Tavaris Jeffries
Good looks like a great bet to get the call at left guard this season, although I could see offensive line coach James Patton trying him at tackle some come fall. Jeffries still seems pretty raw. With his size, however, it would be great to see him work his way onto the field.
C – Ben Habern, Brian Lepak, G. Ikard
The Sooners would be best served having plenty of capable centers ready for action. Habern has had a tough time staying healthy in his two years in Norman, making reliable backups a must. Lepak filled in admirably after OU lost Habern for the season in 2009, but, talent-wise, he’s still a step down.
Maybe utility man Jarvis Jones will work some at center?
RG – Tyler Evans, Bronson Irwin
Plenty of beef at right guard between these two. Evans showed plenty of promise last season. If the coaches decide Irwin isn’t ready yet, Jeffries could probably step in if needed.
RT – Jarvis Jones, Cory Brandon, Eric Mensik
At the moment, Brandon’s name is written in pencil on the first team. Once Jones finally heals up, though, I’m guessing he beats out Brandon. Mensik did yeoman’s work at tackle in the final two games of the 2009 season. I don’t see him as a long-term solution on the o-line, although he’ll still do in a pinch.
DE – Jeremy Beal, David King, Pryce Macon
Beal’s shocking decision to return for his senior year leaves the Sooners loaded at defensive end. Unfortunately for the youngster King, who’s been biding his time on the bench, that means fewer opportunities on the field. Macon made some hay this spring, raising his prospects of finally seeing some meaningful time.
DT – Jamarkus McFarland, Casey Walker
McFarland has the makings of OU’s next great defensive tackle. Walker? Well, it would be nice if he could just hold down the fort for a couple plays at a time.
DT – Stacey McGee, Adrian Taylor, Justin Chaisson
I know the word around Norman is that Taylor’s rehab is going great. Isn’t that always the case for a guy coming off a major injury? McGee better be ready.
DE – Frank Alexander, R.J. Washington
Alexander makes up the second half of OU’s devilish pass-rushing duo. The Sooners have shown a propensity to rotate defensive ends, so Washington should finally make his long-awaited debut in 2010.
WLB – Travis Lewis, Jaydan Bird
Beal may be OU’s defensive superstar, but Lewis is the heart and soul. Jaydan Bird is no slouch; he’d probably start for the majority of Big 12 teams this season.
MLB – Austin Box, Tom Wort, Daniel Franklin
Plenty left to play out here. Box has the experience and has played well when pressed into service in the past. I think that gives him a leg up on the British Bulldog, who’s coming off a major knee injury. Wort had the coaching staff raving last year, though, and I think he’ll be on the field pretty frequently on running downs.
SLB – Ronnell Lewis, Joseph Ibiloye
The Hammer could move to the middle at some point. For now, however, he’s the frontrunner to start at the SAM position. Ibiloye will probably rotate in on passing downs and start against pass-happy opponents.
FCB – Demontre Hurst, Gabe Lynn
Hurst is a heckuva of DB for his size and could turn out to be a playmaker on defense. Lynn looks like a capable backup.
BCB – Jamell Fleming, Marcus Trice
Going into the spring, I really expected Trice or Jonathan Nelson would get the nod here. Yet, Fleming apparently came on strong and basically won the job. Should he stumble in the fall, moving Nelson to corner looks like the most likely option.
S – Quinton Carter, Kevin Brent
Carter probably stakes claim to the title of the conference’s best safety this year. He’ll flatten some asses in the process. While he got plenty of hype as a recruit, Brent’s health issues seem to be holding him back.
S – Jonathan Nelson, Javon Harris
Nelson has earned his stripes and is versatile enough to shift over to corner if needed. Harris is a question mark.
NB – Joseph Ibiloye, Tony Jefferson
As I mentioned earlier, Ibiloye could play a hybrid safety-linebacker position against spread offenses. (Think Nic Harris.)
The really intriguing name here is Jefferson, who immediately made a name for himself as a spring early enrollee. The San Diego native is making a strong case for being more than just a special teams demon in the fall. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables will make room for this dynamic, physical defender.